Theosophical University Press Online Edition
Morat, 29th July, 1795.
MANY thanks, my dear and respected brother, for your admirable letter of 29th Messidor. The pains you have taken to write me in such detail call for all my gratitude.
How true what you say of the depths of our friend B.'s writings but, happily, they have this in common with our sacred Scriptures, that even the simple, with a little attention, find passages in them which will serve to nourish and strengthen them. But to penetrate into these writings altogether, extraordinary assistance is needed, with much time, and a very pure spirit. Gichtel, though so enlightened, worked many years before be reached the bottom.
I am very far indeed from having arrived at this degree. I must, however, give thanks to Providence that many parts which, a year or two ago, were unintelligible enigmas, now appear to me not only plain, but even luminous, and able to throw light upon what surrounds them.
. . . . Nobody wishes for a happy issue to the great drama which is now acted in your country more than myself. . . . Providence will take care of His own. . . .
. . . . As for our young lady of Zurich, I never receive any news of her directly; it is her friend Miss S., born and living in Bale, who occasionally gives me some. Miss Lavater is married; I believe, so far, she is moulded in excellent principles. Miss S. has lately also entered the right way, to my great satisfaction. She has sent me a piece of news which has given me pleasure, and which serves to confirm what we already supposed a priori concerning the Northern School. This is what she writes me: "A lady of Copenhagen (Countess Rowenslow), a disciple of the Northern School, like Lavater, has written to the latter, that, disgusted with the contradictions met with in that school, she had left it, and that she esteemed herself very happy in having sought and found a more simple way." I hope this communication will, in a measure, open L.'s eyes; it has confirmed our two young friends in the good way.
Let us now turn to our friend at Munich, who so justly interests you. I have heard from him. His health is a little better, although he still writes letters far too short for me. He looks upon numbers and makes use of them as steps by which to climb higher. They appear to me, in his hands, to be an intermediate instrument to communicate with the virtues. He quotes them in his book for the solution of all kinds of problems; I believe even, that, by them he receives articulate answers which he translates into our vulgar tongue. He does not the less, it seems, from time to time, enjoy some more direct favours; he sees, without any inter-medium, into the pneumatic world, which corresponds to the second principle of friend B. This he calls, in one of his letters, the "raised curtain." Then the language and ideas have no longer any resemblance to our common ideas and language. I will send you his book with pleasure; but, first, I warn you that it is in two thick volumes 8vo., written purposely in the style and with the expressions of our modern philosophy, that is, with Kant's nomenclature, which is to be found in no dictionary, and which costs even Germans a year's labour to understand. This terminology is posterior to all our dictionaries; and in my projected work, which I mentioned to you, I intended first to publish a volume of definitions and explanations of the language now used by the thinkers of Germany. You see the reading of our friend's work would occupy a great deal of your precious time, and at the end of this arduous undertaking you would have learned nothing which you did not know before. Nevertheless, if you desire to have it, I will send it. As for myself, I do not anticipate being able to finish it this year.
You said in your preceding letter, speaking of the 3-4/7, that these figures agreed very well with the numbers you had learned in your first school. No doubt each of these numbers, 3, 4, 7, represents an idea; but you know that the same number has several different significations, and I beg you will tell me what meaning my Munich friend here attaches to each in particular, and what is the advantage of their combination in this way? Au reste, without in any wise wishing to depreciate numbers — for it is not for me to judge of a thing which I do not know — I hope to reach the end of my race without them. It seems to me that the principal advantage my friend derives from them is, that, after attaching certain ideas to each number, he adds them together arithmetically, and the result he again simplifies by an addition: for instance, when he has obtained say 2.7.2 by an addition, he reduces this number by a new addition to 11, and this 11 again to 2, and this 2 indicates the answer he looked for, namely, the primitive idea conveyed in No. 2.
We now come to the part of your excellent letter which treats of the pronunciation of the Great Name. "Nothing can be truly conveyed to us by any human means, if the Spirit, the Word (Logos), and the Father are not born in us." This is a fundamental truth to which I give all my consent; it is the basis of friend B.'s doctrine. My only surprise, the astonishment in which my mind was lost, as I told you in my last, turned solely on the importance which friend B. himself seemed to attach to the material pronunciation of the great name; for, what I wrote you on 1st July, viz., that, in this pronunciation, the sensible joined the insensible, to act in concert, is indicated and literally expressed in Boehme's third Theosophic question; where it is also said that every word that is pronounced becomes substantial, acts as substance, and ceases to be a mere expression of thought. See 'Mysterium Magnum,' ch. xxii. This doctrine alone can explain the power of the pronunciation of the Great Name: when the thought which dictated it proceeds from the second principle. On the other hand, thoughts which become substantial by pronunciation, proceeding from the other two principles, denote their origin by distinctive marks of their own.
Our friend B. also shows the immense power of words pronounced by our mouth in v. 23 to 25 of his 'Fifth Theosophic Question,' compared with St. Paul's Epistle to Romans x. 8. Add to this a determined will, to which all things are possible, if we use it in the order of nature ('Myst. Mag.' xi. 9). If we bring these data together, all difficulty in explaining this mystery is removed. Here it is according to friend B.'s doctrine:
"When the sacred fire of divine love unites with the fire of man's natural movement, manifested by the action of his voice and speech, in which his will finds vent, and becomes, as it were, substantial, then he attains the true pronunciation." . . . . The sixth form indicates the pronunciation, and the seventh produces the work which is its result. Although my friend at Munich has never told me that he had read the works of our favourite author, I am, nevertheless, persuaded his doctrine is the same; and our rendezvous on the frontier was not intended for the communication of mere material acts. That meeting was prevented, much to my regret; but our friend B. has just made up for it by the passage I have quoted, and which I have hit upon while I am writing. I hope my principles, founded on these bases, will not differ from your views, which you were kind enough to communicate to me; if so, I shall be well pleased. One word more as to my caring for what is sensible, a propos of which you quote a fact for which I have to thank you. I know nothing of the relations of numbers, as you are aware; and the French language, as well as the other few I am acquainted with, have this difficulty in common, that they sometimes confound the genus with the species. We can avoid it only by determining the species we would talk of. There is one kind of the sensible for which I have no predilection at all, whilst there is another which I look upon as the fountain of living water. For example, the material sensible has no attraction for me except when it serves as a means; as soon as it is looked upon as an end, I think it injurious. People, for instance, who eat only for the pleasure of good living, would never be pleasant company for me: I use ananas only in my comparisons, not on my table; and the only coffee I drink is what my friends send me in their letters; for that from the Levant would inflame my blood, and I have given it up these thirty years. The material enjoyments which serve me for relaxation are the pleasures of sight, sometimes of hearing; the varied scenes of my country, and the sight of vegetative nature, supply the former, and the very imperfect attempts of my daughter on the piano, provide the others.
There is also a spiritual sensible which so many people are now running after. This I confess has no more charm for me than the first, and, to speak plainly, much less. But, let us understand each other. By this kind of sensible I mean that spiritualism which offers such piquant attractions to our age, the subaltern marvellous, the external physical manifestation of powers, whether produced with or without mediums. I have known adepts of both sorts: I might have entered that path several years before Providence procured me your acquaintance, and that of our friend Boehme; but, the possessor of these arcana who offered to introduce me into that region, who was not only my countryman, but also member of our government, was so unsteady in his conduct, and irregular in his habits, that I even avoided all conversation which led in that direction. The thing itself seemed to me to come from a very doubtful source, and you will easily imagine that our friend's writings have further increased my repugnance to it. But there is a third sensible, which I will call the central sensible, which is the charm of my life, and often procures me the most delicious enjoyments; it is in the centre of the three principles: it is not Sophia; but if the soul continues faithful, this tincture becomes Sophia's abode: perhaps this power may be the same that you call the CROWN. . . . But enough of this: I stop, and beg you ever to favour me with your prayers and your friendship.
2 Fructidor, An III.
LIKE yourself, my dear brother, I feel how much study and perseverance are needed to understand our friend B. However, he tells us himself the point to which we ought to tend, to be able to do without books. Nevertheless, even if we had attained to this high degree, I should still be for General Gichtel's recipe, that prayer was meat for the soul, and reading its drink, and, assuredly, the best beverage we could take, is the treasure our friend B. has given to the world. . . . Thank you for details about the Northern School, and your friend's works. After what you say of the bulk of these last, and their contents, I think it would be useless for me to attempt to read them. As for his numbers, which he correctly looks upon as a scale, I believe that, if he works them only by addition, he deprives them of their chief virtue, which is to be found in their multiplication. I cannot enlarge upon his method, which is unknown to me. My own, which I never make use of except when required, teaches me that every number expresses a law, either divine, or spiritual, whether good or bad, or elementary, &c., as you may see in the allegory of the book of ten leaves in one of my published works; that what distinguishes the same numbers in these different classes is the roots from which they are derived; that these roots are known only by multiplication, because they perform the part of factors, whilst addition, as it merely gives a product, leaves us in uncertainty to what class this product ought to belong: for example, in the divine order, 3 is the holy ternary, 4 is the act of its explosion, and 7 the universal product and infinite immunity of the wonders of this explosion. In this class, these numbers will not give themselves to any operation of man; and, if I should come to one of them as a result of my manipulations, I should not, for all that, be describing these divine numbers, because their roots spring out of their own centres, and ought to come forth as blossoms, instead of being put together by way of addition. In the spiritual order, especially in Man, these numbers are already removed from the divine sphere: we may work them, and they will always give us the representation of the same wonders; but only as images, like the Akarim of the Hebrews, that is, coming after. I here speak only of man's rights; for his essence being the continual work of the Divinity, I dare not attempt to calculate it, which is what made me say that we had some affinity with God in number. But as to our rights, number 3 belongs to us only by number 12, united, or added; number 4 is known to us only by its own explosion or multiplication, which gives us 16; and number 7, which is the union or addition of this 16, describes our temporal (3) and spiritual (4) supremacy, or the immensity of our destiny as Man, without therefore deserving the reproach of making ourselves equal with God, since, notwithstanding our superb likeness to Him, we also differ from Him immeasurably; a difference which we could not alter if we were to represent ourselves altogether like Him, by numbers which we thought were primitives, when they are only results. This little sample may give you an idea of the vast career of numbers, whose properties, virtues, and differences extend and multiply themselves as much as the classes to which they can be applied. But, you are right in saying that you can arrive successfully at your journey's end, without this knowledge: I only try to show you, according to the proverb, That all is not gold that glitters.
I have read over all the passages you refer to on the subject of pronunciation. I approve them all with all my heart; and none of them refute what I wrote you on the subject. I find one, indeed, in my favour, viz., 'Myst. Mag.,' ii. 9, where it is said that the Fiat is always in creation. If this is true of the temporal fiat, with much more reason will it be of the spiritual fiat; and the more permanent its activity, the more I am led to expect my own activity directly from it. Although what comes to me through a man may be substantial, since the chief of names must have the privilege of belonging to all that proceeds from us in truth, still, I do not think I ought to expect as much fruit from it, as if that Name itself broke the seal. (V. Quest. 25.) In short, Nature is what I like — Nature in all kinds: this is what I continually recommend to everybody. Besides, I am not sure that it might not be doing injury to that great Name to reduce it to an uniform pronunciation. Perhaps it varies according to the gifts it would deploy in us, which is another reason in favour of my idea. But this is only a conjecture; on which I have nothing decisive. All that a man has to do, is, to nourish in himself, and to animate in others, the Starke Begierde, the strong desire, which is the secret of magic. 'Myst. Mag.,' ii. 9, is the key that will open every door. Thus you see Boehme, you, and myself, have only one idea, according to the beautiful passage you send me: "If the sacred fire of divine love," &c.
As for the different kinds of the sensible, I readily accept your descriptions. The sensible, in the fact I mentioned, is of two kinds, which always go in concert. The inward sensible, or love, and the visible sensible, but still interior, does not belong to the third principle. The reason why the person in question cannot distrust this visible, yet not mixed elementary sensible, is: 1st, that it came to him naturally, and without human research; 2ndly, that it has become the regulator, and, as it were, the thermometer of the first inward sensible, so that the rectitude or the visible inclination of the one is always exactly in accordance with the good or bad state of the other. I consider the second as a ramification of the former; and if man's hand had been in it, I should not have had so much confidence in it. The same with the voice of love and anger; it also came naturally; it also is an exact regulator for the mind and understanding, as the other is for the heart. It is sensible also, without being a production of the elements, and often serves to confirm the person's opinion, or rather his tact, on thoughts which occur to him, or words which he utters; it is so brief and simple that it never much tires him; the side the voice takes, the species of its sound, and the modes of being of the person, are three things which always correspond with each other. I will say no more about this voice; but I shall perhaps please you in saying that the figure of the Crown in question is found, minus its ornaments, in p. 184 of 'Myst. Mag.'; for the triangle is its ground. Judge of that person's delight, after eighteen years of enjoyment, thus to find it in friend Boehme, with such interesting developments. And, if God still continue to look upon him with an eye of mercy, he may one day hope for great consolations. Amen.
. . . . I congratulate you on having under your roof, an image of yourself, who can recreate your ears with her harmony. If fortune ever permit us to meet, I may perhaps be audacious enough to offer to accompany her on my violin; for I practised it in my youth, and although I do not retain much of it, I still occasionally take it up; and nothing would more encourage me to do so than to contribute to your recreation.
. . . . Adieu, my dear brother. . . . Have you reflected about the eighth planet, discovered by Herschel? I should be glad to know your mode of reconciling this discovery with the 5ry. [Qy. 7ry? — Tr.] planetary system adopted by all savants, and by our friend B. himself.
Morat, 9th September, 1795.
YOUR letter of 2 Fructidor, so full of detail, has given me a real pleasure. I unite with you, my dear brother, and General Gichtel, in regarding reading as the soul's drink. The reading of books dictated by the good spirit, is a means, in the hands of Providence, for our advancement: let us profit by it. Our friend was in a different position, although the sun did not always shine for him; for, at times, he was unable to understand his own works. See Letter xii. 11.
I thank you for the details you have taken the pains to communicate to me on the subject of numbers. You confirm me in my view: Gichtel never knew a word about numbers; and our friend B. acquired all his knowledge before he had heard speak of numbers. See Letter xii. 6.
As for my Munich friend, I may some day say a few words about his leading ideas; but I voluntarily confess to you that I feel no decided taste for the study of numbers. Let us suppose for a moment, in the way he looks upon it, that the knowledge of the primitive signs having led him to forms, to mediums, one of these mediums brought him a manifestation, — so be it; but has not the enemy also a medium? And this medium, is it not the spirit of the world? And does not this last readily unite with the medium of the operator? &c. &c. These are conjectures; tell me if I am mistaken.
Besides the fact that these proceedings commonly give more than is asked for, and more than people know what to do with, I know some people who proceed altogether elementarily, letting a ray of the sun fall on ten glasses mysteriously arranged; when, as they pretend, they obtain, through the refraction of this ray, the manifestation of immutable virtues and truths. Did you ever hear of this way? Fifteen years ago such a thing would have excited all my curiosity; at present, I know not how, it excites only my indifference.
All these things appear to be distant from the right way; far from trying to operate outwardly, we ought to cease working, even inwardly; we must say to ourselves, that, to succeed, good must be done in us, not by ourselves, but by Him who dwells in us; that to be well governed, we must not be ruled by ourselves, and our own wills, but by His will alone who dwells in us; that the truths it is necessary for us to know, to work out our salvation, are not discovered and thought by ourselves, but by Him who perfects and regulates our thoughts; that even our prayers, however zealous they may be, have no power, no efficacy, and act only in the source they spring from, if we do not desire, if we do not ask to obtain according to the will and power of the Almighty, and not according to our own will.
How, and to what degree, the prayers of self, though fervent, are answered, is witnessed in two striking examples, which some people might take, at first sight, for miraculous facts, although they really come from a very inferior degree of the marvellous. The first example is in what I briefly quoted to you in the life of Gichtel — the widow's fervent prayer; a prayer which ascended to the source it came from, and produced the manifestation which was to decide him to marry the widow. But he soon saw that it all proceeded from no great elevation, and was not drawn away by it.
The second example is a well-known fact amongst the educated in England, and is to be found in an excellent work of Leland's against deism. It happened to Lord Herbert of Cherbury, a celebrated adversary of the Christian religion. He relates it himself. Lord Herbert was in doubt whether he ought to publish his favourite work, 'De Veritate.' One summer's day, alone in his chamber, not a cloud in the sky, not a breath of wind in the air, his window facing the south, all nature was in a perfect calm. Herbert took his book 'De Veritate' in his hand, fell on his knees, and prayed to God that, if the publication of his treatise would serve for His glory, he would give him a sign of approval, without which he would not publish it. He had hardly finished speaking these words when he heard some distinct sweet sounds, which were like no earth-born sounds, and which came from Heaven, from a spot which he could point out exactly. Herbert arose; he thought his prayer was heard, and attests before God, in his work, the truth of the fact. Leland does not deny it, but did not know how to explain it, and believed it to be the work of the heated imagination of an author in love with the excellence of his work. But I think, if Gichtel had known of it, he would have explained it differently.
The grand point in our work of regeneration, is, it appears to me, with God's help, to subdue all that does not come from Himself. But we must beware of destroying any of His work, and our gradually enlightened reason is also His work.
I now come to the part of your letter in which you kindly impart to me your reflections on pronunciation. I subscribe with all my heart and soul to the passage wherein you say: "I should not expect so much fruit from it as I should if that Name itself broke the seal which still covers it." This corresponds exactly with my axiom. For a thing to be well done, in this line, God must be the doer of it Himself. The creature ought not to forget that he is only an instrument, for, as soon as he tries to become a doer, the work at once shows it!
What you tell me about the visible sensible is very different from what I spoke to you of in my last letter under the name of subaltern marvellous. "It came naturally, unsought by man, and it always accompanies the interior sensible." Tell me all you can, I beg you, of that person and his state. Did the visible sensible accompany the inward sensible at first, and through the early years of his development? Tell me also, if you please, how that person attained that Crown. The commencement, doubtless, was in self-abnegation; this 'nothing,' was it not led into a view of the pleasures of the inner life — from which there is only one step to the wish to enjoy them? this wish would have produced desires, and the desires forms; all this deserves not only the attention of those who think on these matters, but particularly of the person who enjoys this favour. The 'Starke Begierde' you speak of, will, no doubt, have had most to do in the formation of this treasure. I wish him, from the bottom of my heart, all the consolation which he must naturally expect from our Benefactor.
It would be a sweet pleasure to me to be permitted, some day, to see you here, and my daughter would be very happy to accompany you on her piano.
. . . . The discovery of Uranus, by Herschel, did not cause me any great sensation. Suppose the discovery be confirmed, that is, that Uranus belongs to our system and not to another, which may, perhaps, still require some time to affirm positively, then we have one planet more. Boehme, not having made observations himself, took the number generally accepted. This number does not seem to me important enough to deserve a revelation from above, any more than the system of Ptolemy or that of Tycho. The sacred Scriptures speak after what strikes the senses empirically, not scientifically; for though the latter might be the true way, nobody in those days would have understood it.
Adieu, &c. . . .
P. S. — There is a subject on which I should be very glad to have your opinion. Do you think that, with our friend B.'s principles, we may — I do not say conjecture, but prove, that souls, after their separation from the body, have intercourse with each other, and that those of one kind continue the friendships they had in this world? It is a generally received opinion that we shall see our friends again in another world. But, so far, I have found probabilities only, and no proof, either in the sacred Scriptures or the writings of our respected friend, such as to put this question at rest. I allude, of course, to the period which precedes the last judgment, commencing at our death. As this opinion has so wide a bearing, I hope you will reflect seriously upon it.
Amboise, 26 Fructidor, M.
I HAVE returned to my native place, to be present at the primary assemblees. In spite of all I could say or do, I have been made one of the electors, which I do not like; but, whatever disagreeables the thing may have, it has not, at any rate, that of its being my own choosing, and this consoles me. Besides, being an elector is different from being a deputy, and I shall be engaged only for eight or ten days. Since my return, I could not refrain from visiting the library at which I worked last year, and give a nod of recognition to Sister Margaret of the 'Holy Sacrament.'
Truly that woman was a prodigy of virtue, as our friend B. was a prodigy of light. I yield willingly to our good nun all the mummeries of her profession, when I see the pearl and the true gold at the bottom of the crucible. She also was a general of an army, like friend Gichtel, and drove back the hostile armies which had entered Burgundy and threatened the town of Beaume, where her convent was situated. Besides, numerous communications of the highest order, whose rays which penetrate through her work — which is only an abridgment — are all in conformity with our great principles. I believe this woman is, in the executive order, as sublime as our friend is in the didactic.
Adieu, my dearest brother: let us pray, and still pray. If you knew how far we are, we savants, from where our good Margaret was in prayer! I blush with shame. I looked for this work through all the booksellers in Paris, and could not find it.
Veuilly, 10th Oct. 1795.
I HOPE, my dear respected brother, you received my letter of 9 September, in which I acknowledged yours of 2 Fructidor, adding some questions on which I am expecting your elucidations, with the impatience with which I always look for your letters. . . . I still hear occasionally from my friend at Munich, and he is so satisfied with his numbers, that I must, in spite of myself, acquire the leading points of this order, that I may be able to speak his language. If you have a few moments at liberty, be kind enough to tell me what he really means by 3m4/7. He loves numbers because he seems to owe much to them. What is quite certain, is, that our Munich friend is an extraordinary man, whatever way Providence may have led him. If I were not so overloaded with business, I would try to make an abstract of his doctrine of numbers, to send to you; it is infinitely more complicated than what I sent you. He lately assured me that he never learned anything from anybody on subjects of pneumatology.
What you said in your previous letter about the Crown, has made an impression on me, and given rise to the desire to know how the person in question attained the possession of that treasure. Was it by a strong and persevering will to acquire this advantage, or by the relinquishment of all direct will, that he obtained it?
. . . . Many thanks for what you say of our admirable sister Margaret. I shall be well pleased to know more of her.
I am here on the border of the lake, getting in my vintage; it is opposite to Morat; I am alone with my receiver and one servant. The 'Life of Antoinette Bourignon' has accidentally fallen into my hands. It is accompanied with one of her treatises; and notwithstanding the bad translation by somebody who did not know German, I have found, contrary to what I had heard in disparagement of this maid, that all was very good. I will try to procure her works in French. She was a great admirer of our friend B. Our General Gichtel saw her at Amsterdam; but he could not get on with her. I have discovered the little point which separated them, which was only a misunderstanding. Our general thought this maid's vocation ought to be like his; and herein, I think, he was mistaken. You see I have read her with impartiality, since the general's authority has not made me alter my judgment about her.
Adieu, my respected brother; remember me in your prayers; join your vows to mine, that Providence may soon bring all men of desire into port, and enable them to obtain what alone can give them life.
Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
Tours, 28 Vend., An IV. (18 Oct.)
I WAS waiting for your second letter, Sir, to answer the previous one.
. . . . The principles you lay down in your letter of 9 September are nearly all acknowledged and agreed to between us. So I will say no more about the mechanical means which you justly despise, nor about the deceitful experiences of people, such as the adventure of Lord Herbert. What is once agreed upon between us should stand. Your taste for scrutinizing wants to get to the origin of the Crown; I think we should do it wrong, if we seek anywhere but in itself. It is one of those cases in which science would be injurious to truth; and we may be sure that the more simple a science is the grander it is. I admit, if you like, that genealogy of 'nothing,' representation, willing, and forms; all this to me is only accessory, perhaps only the envelopes with which the thing veils its operation; the truth, the deep truth, is that this Crown is sown in every man; and as all grain bears its fruit, it is not surprising that this should do the same in its season; and the form of this fruit derives simply from the nature of its root, without the handiwork of our desires having any part therein, unless it be to disfigure it. See the answer to the first of the 'Forty Questions.'
The CROWN is designated just as it is, from the beginning, in several other parts of our dear Boehme. Here you have the eternal root of our eternal plant, with which we are to be nourished throughout eternity. Amen.
I do not think that our friend Boehme was undecided about our planetary system. He states the number so often, that he leaves no doubt on the subject; and if you will remember his seven Eigenschaften of the eternal nature, you will agree with me. For my part, I can get out of the difficulty only by admitting, with him, but seven operative principles; but not, on that account, limiting the operating organs. This is only an idea I throw out; perhaps it may elucidate itself some day.
As for your question about the intercourse of souls before the last judgment, you will no doubt remember what our friend says of those which show themselves for some time after their bodily death, as long as the sidereal substance with which they are impregnated, is not dissipated. I do not know in what part he expounds this principle; I have not brought all his works with me; on so short a journey I could not have made use of them; but I think you will find something to satisfy you on this head in the 'Three Principles.' Moreover, it is here question only of friends in the Spirit of this world; and this is not what imports us, since, on the contrary, it is a misfortune for such acquaintances to be continued beyond the tomb; it is no less true, that, with still more cause, the others will be continued likewise. See what our friend says of the society of saints in paradise; see what the Scriptures say thereon, when they tell us at the death of each patriarch that he was gathered to his people; see, even in the xv. chap. second Maccabees (yielding it what degree of faith you can), the dream of Judas Maccabeus, in which the high priest Onias and the prophet Jeremiah, both dead, nevertheless show themselves united in a holy zeal for the Jewish people, &c. I give you, Sir, all the testimonial proofs I can collect on the subject. As for the ground of the matter, it cannot be doubted, if we reflect on its principles; and if these have not been maturely meditated, the proofs of testimony will not have much weight. I come to your second letter.
I sent you in my last but one a little summary of my idea on (3-4)/7. Our friend B. said all this when he showed us the eternal Ternary bursting into Four, and acting with it in the universality of the septenary manifestation, which, thus, is nothing else but itself, and the living play of the eternal covenant, by which eternal liberty is found at once within and without. I can say nothing of our Munich friend's ideas, in relation to this immense ground, since I do not know what they are. If, with all your occupations, you could still put on paper, even though at intervals, a few extracts of his principles on this subject, I should profit by it, and would give you my opinion. I am not surprised that these things came to his knowledge naturally: this was the case with friend B. . . .
You come again to the origin of the CROWN; it was not a strong will that obtained it; for, assuredly, the person in question did not so much as know there was that CROWN. I will not say, either, that it was altogether resignation, without any distinct will; for, all his life long, that person has had a profound desire to come out of the abyss, and has ever put God before all things. But I refer you to the first page of my letter, and repeat that it is a natural fructification. In this person, the inner sensible was long before the visible sensible. But it has grown since; it grows for him daily; and, before he dies, he hopes for a still larger development. God's will be done. Amen.
Our electoral duties are over, to general satisfaction. I shall return home immediately, but not without prospects of other little journeys. Write to me, however, to the same address, till further advice.
I thought I might put Marguerite on the same line, at least, as General Gichtel. He repulsed the enemy; she announced the defeat of hers, particularly that of the Austrian army, commanded by General Galas, in 1636. He slept little; she slept not at all. As for the Bourignon you mention, I agree with you, all is excellent; and I also would try to get her, if it were not so difficult to get anything. But at present it is impossible. . . . I congratulate you on your being able to walk, at your leisure, and in peace, on the tranquil borders of your lakes. As for us, for these six years we have been walking on the borders of fire, with the continual fear of falling in. But I have been sufficiently taught that God is everywhere, hardly ever to lose sight of it, in our never-ending storms; and I like to think we shall see them crowned with sweet consolations. Let us always say, nevertheless: His will be done. Amen.
Adieu, my dear brother: second me in my work with your prayers.
Morat, 7th Nov. 1795.
NOTHING more true, my dear and respected brother, than that the CROWN is sown in all men, and, in due season bears its fruit. No doubt the hand of our desires, which aims at direct possession of this fruit, contributes nothing to its attainment. Nevertheless, without our strong will, all our energy, and all our perseverance, we shall never attain it. This, at first sight, looks paradoxical, but it is not.
. . . . Many thanks for your brief explanation of the hieroglyph 3-4/7. I now see that it means, in plain language, that God, in and with man, produces all true manifestations. This is a principle none ever doubted. My Munich friend becomes more interesting daily, especially since he answers me in good and beautiful German; and does not shroud himself in enigmas. In his last letter, he says, amongst other things, "that the name which is above every name, is different from the Tetragrammaton, and from the J.H.V.H." Speaking of these great names he greatly extols a passage in your 'Tableau Naturel,' vol. ii. p. 98, 99, and 143, which I have not at present before me. As for me, in my narrow sphere, I believe the name mentioned in Exodus vi. 3, and that hinted at by my friend, are the same; and that we find this sublime name at full length in the Sacred Writings, as St. Peter pronounced it Acts iii. 6, and iv. 10, 11, 12.
In a few days I hope to make the acquaintance of your interesting Sister Margaret. You cannot think, how these riches have lately accumulated in my library. I have quite recently made the discovery of the writings of a man of the same power as our general. It is very satisfactory and useful to confront these different witnesses, who, each in his way, throws light upon some new angle of the great doctrine.
. . . . Mons. de Wit at last bethought himself of sending me the parcel he had for me, and I have, with the liveliest satisfaction, just read your work which you call a pamphlet: it is the most profound work which has ever been written on the French revolution; one page of this book contains more important truths than perhaps six thousand volumes which have fatigued the press on this subject. You have solved the greatest difficulties in the theory of social order; and you have done it wisely, so as not to wound too deeply.
In regard to the great principles of religion, I approve your using the Holy Book, not as fundamental proofs; it was far better to bring them forward as necessary confirmations.
The political part of your work contains great and luminous truths. For the present state of France, it contains special consolations and admirable remedies. But, after mature reflection, I could not at all advise you, at the present moment, to have it translated into German. The world, no doubt, is a great hospital, in which every nation occupies a room; but although every division may be infected with the same type of disease, the individual patients are different, and the diseases show themselves with different degrees of malignity; so that the remedy which might do wonders in one wing of the building, might produce a contrary effect in another. . . . I will send a copy by the earliest opportunity, to my friend at Munich.
Adieu, my dear brother. Let us pray for each other. As for me, it is a duty which has become dear to my soul.
Amboise, 7 Frimaire, An IV.
No, my dear brother, there is no paradox in your first proposition. Without our desires, we can obtain nothing; but our desires ought to bear directly on our union with God, and the fulfilling of His will. When, afterwards, He thinks fit to make use of us, or to grant us some favour, He is not troubled about the means. Thus, it is of those means, it behoves us to be careful.
. . . . The hieroglyph 3-4/7 is the text of that proposition which you say none of us ever doubted; and I think it is sweet to read the texts of these high truths which have lost so much by being shut up in our vulgar tongues, and the regions of ordinary ideas.
From what you say, I am much interested in your friend at Munich. What he says of the Divine Names means perhaps more than you think. The name spoken of in the Acts, I have not the least doubt, is above the Tetragrammaton; but I am also persuaded that there is one we wait for which is above that. That of Acts is only the way of deliverance. We still want that of rejoicing; it is the one promised in the Apocalypse; it is that Name which no man knoweth save him who receiveth it. Let us walk very respectfully, my dear brother, in this high way: our reason, our knowledge all vanish here, before the Great Light.
I confess to you that I feel the greatest desire to see this Munich friend, as well as yourself. Perhaps France is now approaching the term of her terrible trials, and perhaps Providence may furnish me with the needful means; as for myself, since the utter ruin of our assignats, a property large enough for a little individual like me, gives me barely enough for candles and shoes. But if that fine morning were to break upon me one day, my first steps would be towards your cantons for the conversation of well-informed people would be more profitable to me than my solitary reading. Tell me, I pray, does your friend speak French? I know so little German, especially that needed for conversation, that I consider I know none.
I congratulate you on your daily acquisitions. Sister Margaret will certainly interest you for her virtues, if not for her science.
As for my political work, it has nowhere yet received so much honour as from you; it has hardly been looked at in my country. My country is no riper than others, for the reception of deep thoughts; and I published mine only because a friend urged me to write; but I well knew, that, in putting it forward, the corner-stone would be rejected. I do not the less believe I have done a good work which the Master will accept, and this is all I want. I approve your reserve as to its translation into German; I believe, with you, it is not the right time; and this would make it more dangerous with you than with us, for here, since our revolution, we may say anything, the only trouble being that we shall not be read, if we are not liked. . . . If you find any one on your way whom it might suit, make use of the order I sent you on my bookseller. I thought of our Zuricher (Lavater — Tr.) this morning, but I do not know whether it would be to his taste.
I have been thinking also of the strange hand you use in writing to me; for several of your letters, for instance, the first, are in a different hand from the later ones. Have you the measure of that person's understanding so to employ him? and do you see no impropriety in allowing him to participate in the wonders which occupy ourselves? I leave it to your wisdom to determine.
. . . . Adieu, dear brother: may God fill you more and more with His blessings.
Berne, 13th Dec. 1795.
I SHOULD have replied at once, my dear respected brother, to your letter of 4th Frimaire, had I not been prevented. I am back again in our capital, and business pours upon me. Our friend B., in his 'Three Principles,' xxvii. 20, speaks of the impossibility of intercourse between heterogeneous souls, one of which, after separation from earth, is in the bosom of the Eternal, and the other, supposed to be vicious, and still crawling upon the earth, is vice versa. But, the intercourse inquired about in one of my letters was that which might be possible between two homogeneous, tender, loving souls, one of which has passed to a better world, without the one which remains having diminished its attachment to her, and with whom time has not had its usual effect, but, on the contrary, seems to have drawn the ties closer. Friend B. leans strongly towards the affirmative as to communications of the latter kind. General principles also seem to support this view, for, if we enter into what he calls the second principle, then the veil which hides from us the sight of the inhabitants of this principle is drawn aside, and allows a free intercourse. Now, my doubts did not turn on this part of the question, but on the possibility of communication between a soul in its earthly covering, not yet arrived at a sufficient degree of development to see the veil drawn, and a soul which is disengaged from its earthly covering, and consequently is in a different region. I see no chance of success for the dweller here below, but in sleep. This question interests my heart; but I try to subdue all will on this subject, as on all others, so as to give up all to the Master of all. If I were not to make another step forward in our course, for the rest of my life, I should still think I had gained everything, if I attained to submit to Him my will, my desires, and my dislikes, in all that happens to me. But I am still only a little apprentice in this school. All smiles outwardly, whilst I experience poignant griefs at home; besides which, your revolution has given me a terrible blow, from which I shall never recover.
My Munich friend is still an enigma for me; certain it is that he is a man of immense reading: he has read the scarcest and most precious works on numbers, and on the use of the Great Name; he thinks highly of Sanckoniaton. But I do not find in him that precision, distinctness, and justness of mind to which I am accustomed in your letters, and I can hardly persuade myself that he is so far advanced as he thinks he is. It is not for me to judge; but it is not impossible that, for want of inward purifying, he may yet be backward in practice. Perhaps, also, he is in too great a hurry to write and get into print; for he is of wonderful fertility in this way; he is not satisfied with writing on this subject only, he writes in twenty tones, all different from each other. His facility is unequalled, and he has thereby become one of the most prolific writers of Germany. He seems to have a good opinion of the Northern School, which he is acquainted with. He told me that he had great esteem for our friend B. But I cannot find that he has studied him — rather the contrary. He asks questions to which he obtains answers, which he considers as coming from a high source. I repeat, he is an enigma to me. In this uncertainty I suspend my judgment, and draw into my shell. I become daily less curious about knowledge; I am eager only for that which will teach me to deny myself, to strip myself — the rest will come when our great Benefactor thinks proper. I need not tell you that I desire as much as you do that Providence might bring us together. The end of your country's trials cannot be far off; meanwhile, I can understand that you cannot leave it at present. . . .
I have shown your work to one of my friends, a magistrate, who will be able to appreciate it. The Zuricher would not understand it. I have not yet seen your 'Sister Marguerite,' but I have the work of a great witness, who appeared in Germany soon after our friend B. He has all the characters of authenticity, and his work contains many interesting things. His name was Engelbrecht.
Be at ease about the strange handwriting; remember the Vaucanson duck, which certainly did not know what it was eating; besides, your letters are seen by no one; so you may write as plainly as you like.
Adieu, my respected brother. I often long for your presence. . . .
Amboise, 8 Nivose, An IV.
. . . . I THINK you will find all you want, about intercourse, in the 26th of the 'Forty Questions! There is much to glean there. Add to this what I told you of the relations of the living; add again this remark, that while we look for them in the sensible principles in which they no longer are, they seek us in the spiritual and divine principle in which we are not yet. Finally, add to all this what Jesus Christ said: "Who are my brothers, my mother," &c.? "It is they who do the will of my Father," &c. And we shall here learn where to seek for those we love.
Your Munich friend, you say, is still an enigma to you. Possibly there is a mixture of qualities in him; therefore, there must be good. Before I can give you an opinion, I wait for the summary I asked for. I also asked you whether he spoke French, and you have not told me.
You speak of domestic grief, and of a terrible blow you have received from our revolution. My dear brother, if you think my soul deserving of your confidence, open yourself to me; you may thereby, perhaps, find relief.
Engelbrecht's name is not unknown to me; but I do not know his works.
I have, a fortnight since, commenced the translation of our friend B.'s 'Three Principles! This sort of work is quite a task for me; but the state of my eyesight, and the uncertainty of the future, are my inducements. And, moreover, this is one of his most important works, in which my country-men may some day see light, if I should not have the courage to undertake the whole of our beloved author's productions. I find him, frequently, rather wordy; but let us not find fault with his defects; let us thank Providence that he was permitted to speak to us at all.
Adieu, my dearest brother. The post is just starting. . . .
Berne, 28th January, 1796.
. . . . THE 26th of the 'Forty Questions' contains, no doubt, excellent things on the subject of communications. No. 16, especially, is very consolatory, because it establishes the possibility of souls which are disengaged from their earthly covering being able to see, participate in, and enjoy the sentiments addressed to them by inhabitants of this lower world. My wish, if it were lawful for me to have one, and which I am quite willing to give up, aimed at no development nor scientific revelation; an assurance of the happy state of that soul was all my desire.
As for the enigmatical part of my Munich friend's character, it does not in the least degree regard either the qualities of his heart or his attachment to religion. I have proofs of this which satisfy me as much as I am satisfied that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles. My hesitation concerns only the nature, kind, and degree of his theosophic knowledge.
Since his work on numbers, which he himself acknowledges is not clear enough to be generally useful, he has published another treatise, of which I have yet read only some fragments, but which please me much better, because they are plainer and enter more into detail. He even purposes to recast his book on numbers: he has given me his plan, that I may judge whether it will then be intelligible. I admire his indefatigability, and I think, in this way, it might be made more useful. . . . I will send you his last work, which I know only in fragments, but which will enable us to judge of the ensemble of his principal ideas; its style is clear and distinct. His new edition, on numbers, shall follow afterwards. In his last letter he says he knows Boehme only in an abridgment. There are several such abridgments, some better than others. He seems to be disgusted with his court. They have been manoeuvring to vex him: he is member of a council of censors, and, for all that, they have succeeded in prohibiting his books. He now gets them printed at Leipsic, and it is not impossible he may seek retirement in Switzerland some day. I suppose he speaks French, because he has been so long at court, but I do not know positively.
To give you a sample of Engelbrecht, I annex a short extract from a work which he made most of. If you find in it any passages which strike you, let me know. And, that you may know Antoinette Bourignon's principles, I add them also, in her own words. You will see how this extraordinary maiden, who was so unlearned as never even to have read the Scriptures, as was the case with Catholics in her days, fills up the voids which Engelbrecht left in his doctrine. Compare her principles with Boehme's.
It is by comparing the writings of the elect of different times, that we can get an opening on many essential points which all may have passed over in silence, because they believed them to be well known, or which they may have touched upon very lightly, insufficiently to be of any practical use to the reader.
You will judge at once, from the extracts from Antoinette, of her whole doctrine. I am surprised I was not struck with her writings when they first fell into my hands, fifteen years ago.
I am delighted to see you engaged in the translation of the 'Three Principles.' . . .
You ask me, as a friend, for some details on a passage in my last letter, in which I mentioned some reverses I had suffered. I hope some day to tell you verbally all about the first part of that passage. As for the influence of the revolution, it would be necessary to go into particulars, to enable you to understand it, and the wound is not yet sufficiently healed to bear this; but, in time, I promise to tell you all, if you think it would interest you. . . . I wait, and always hope for the time when your country returns to its repose, which would give me the sweet satisfaction of seeing you in mine.
Adieu, my respected friend: let us ever pray for one another. I have sent your last work, on the French Revolution, to our friend at Munich.