The Mysterium Magnum

by Jacob Boehme

device width goes here


Jacob Boehme

Translator's Comments

To the Reader

by John Sparrow, translator

John Sparrow

John Sparrow

THIS book of the Mysterium Magnum, being an exposition of Genesis, if it be read through and weighed with good attention, will remove those mists from their eyes that have not diligently perused the other writings of the author, Jacob Behm, which hath occasioned their being offended by the stumbling blocks that have lain in their way, from the misreports and relations of others who have but superficially looked upon them, and taken up surmisings at the second or third hand, and so come to be bereaved of the greatest benefit to their understandings which they would infallibly gain, if they would follow the advice in the last paragraph of the last chapter of this book, where the author says: We admonish the reader that when he finds somewhat in any place of our deep sense to be obscure, that he do not condemn it according to the manner of the evil world; but diligently read and pray to God, who will surely open the door of his heart, so that he will apprehend it and be able to make use of it, to the profit and salvation of his soul.

And that I also may be helpful to the furtherance of the reader, I shall descant a little upon that which may draw him with the cords of love, and clear his thoughts from some objections that perhaps hinder his setting upon the perusal of these precious writings.

Let us a little examine, though cursorily, what is done towards the satisfaction of the desire to understand: and we may observe that whosoever will bring anything to pass, must be furnished with skill beforehand, or else have a teacher stand by to direct: wherefore are all writings, but that others at a distance either for time or place may be informed of that which else they could not so easily know; what serve the registry of arts, philosophy, and histories for, but to tell succeeding generations what was in the times of their forefathers, yet that which hath been transmitted from age to age is but a relation of things done outwardly or words spoken, and few or no footsteps mentioned of the most ancient skill, which possessed the thoughts and minds of the wise men, at least, none have expressed the original ground, ways, and proceedings of their understandings, by which they arrived to such attainments: tho' Holy Scripture is the most ancient and exact, yet it everywhere, though about most hidden depths, only makes a bare relation.

For instance, at first it says thus: In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth: and that God said, Let there be Light, and there was Light. But it nowhere expounds what the Beginning, God, the Creation, the Heavens, the Earth, and the Light, are, nor how God did then create, or how spoke and it was done; nor how done with speaking or without; Moses knew it all; and likely some of the people in that age for whom he wrote it, did understand them, or else he would have written more particularly, for he could not intend to express that which they could not fully apprehend; I cannot but think, the same God that taught him so eminently by his spirit, had so fitted the people that they were capable to receive instruction by his words; and why not we also, by the same spirit of God, since they were written for our instruction as well as theirs: how great a gift then must it needs be, that is given to this author, to expound these things fundamentally as he has done.

The best part of man's skill consists in the knowledge of those materials that are the subject of man's working and producing of effects; it is no direct method to go about to teach youths arts and not first sufficiently furnish them with the knowledge of matter enough, to make use of, in the exercise of those arts: in mechanic works we are able to discover that many materials happen to be spoiled in the using, so that afterwards the best use of them cannot be made, as timber, bricks, stone.

The beginnings of things are therefore to be looked into, that amendment may be made of that which is amiss, for one error there will hazard the loss of labour in all that is built upon it, and ignorance in such things does apparently stop the bringing forth any exact work for the use and benefit of the body of man, but the minds, spirits, and souls of men, which are the materials of arts and sciences, called liberal, we scarce offer to look to the husbandry, planting and meliorating of such things; though in divine skill as well as natural, we have a pattern for doing it, in that Paul did plant, and Apollos did water, though God gave the increase.

But we spend our time and thoughts so much about wordly profit and pleasures, that we care for no more knowledge than will serve the turn of the outward man, and though we hear of deeper skill that the wise men had who first invented those most useful things enjoyed and practised by us, for the necessary support of our life; we hardly believe that was ever done which we cannot do, when it is clear, that if we had their skill we might do as they did: and if the Holy Scriptures did not mention that so great works were done by Moses, the Prophets, Christ, and the Disciples, we would not believe such things had ever been done. For we are commonly so far from thinking the great works of the skilful in Egypt to have been real, that contrary to the express words of the text, theirs are accounted not real serpents, as when Moses did bid Aaron lay down his rod and it became a serpent, and the Egyptians laid down their rods and they became serpents, but Aaron's rod devoured all the rods of the Egyptians: for all this, men will suppose that the Egyptians' rods were not turned into true serpents as Aaron's was, but that they were mere delusions of the devil; and what makes us backward to believe the truth in this, but because we know not, what the rods were, nor the serpents, nor how they were so changed: which being in Exodus, the author would have explained if he had lived to perform his purpose upon the whole five Books of Moses, as he did begin and perfect this of Genesis. Neither is the transformation of Nebuchadnezzar believed, that his hairs were turned feathers and his nails into claws, as in Dan. iv. 33.

In treatises of magic are histories of strange actions, where the particular way and manner whereby they were effected is omitted: and spiritual magic operations in nature are not at all looked into, being esteemed satisfactory to the question, What are the hidden virtues of minerals, stones, plants, beasts, men? to answer, that they are occult qualities, as the powers and virtues of the loadstone, attractive of iron, and tending to the poles of the earth, are called: and the knowledge of these is so far remote from our reach, that we must first inquire the place where, and the manner how they may be discerned.

To which end we make many outward experiments, and thereby happen to cause nature to produce her wonderful effects: but few examine how the spirit of Nature works therein, she works under a veil or shell, within which, the Spirit produces all its wonders, and so spiritual things are hid from our outward eyes, though visible things are a glass wherein the resemblance and similitude of all spiritual things are represented; yet of all glasses the mind itself is the more clear and undeceiving, to behold the motions of that working Spirit; all things are there, to be seen, intimately; if we will search how things come there to be produced, and what makes so many various thoughts and representations; we shall there perceive a workmaster, the Spirit which created everything in the world, and in the mind, and he who yields to that Spirit, it will make known to him its own workings within and without; that, it is, which opens our understandings when we apprehend anything; and this is the Mighty God, the creator of all things, who knows when, and where, and how, itself made everything, and wrought in all wisdom, both of angels and men, and to this Spirit we must always have recourse as this author advises us, or we can have no true knowledge at all.

Which way would any go that they may be able to perform an excellent thing, would they not first inquire of friends or others whether they knew of any that had attained the thing, if it were concerning a piece of fine workmanship, suppose a clock or watch, sure we would ask where such a thing may be had, and we should as readily be directed to go to those that sell, but perhaps none of them were to be seen in our native habitation; if so, we would desire some to write to a rare artist abroad beyond sea, in the Indies if it were not elsewhere to be had, entreating him to describe the making of it, in a letter to a friend of his with us, and if he should return an answer concerning the parts of it, the standing, or other defects, when it is foul, or a tooth broken, or string slipt, or any other fault; this would be prized highly from so skilful a man, and we would presently look out for his friend in our own country that understandeth the language to expound this letter, that we may have the right meaning thereof: yet when that is done, we could not thereby be instructed about the materials, how to begin, what tools to have, and many other particulars, requisite to the understanding of the thing; without still further and further directions, from him: and therefore we are desirous to speak with the party himself who was able to give such directions; but then if we should hear, that person were dead who made them best and had written that letter: what advice should we next take: we should seek out whether any books or other letters have been written by that artist, and for men most conversant in reading the writings of that nature, by which means competent knowledge what the thing is may be obtained; and the same course must be taken concerning any subject whether natural or divine; this is done with much toil and expense of time and cost; but if we could have notice where one for a pattern were to be gotten we might begin to look into it, and so imitate though but weakly at first, and by a long tract of experience come to a more exact knowledge than can be attained by all the books in the world, much more than if all the learned men were set together accurately to expound those books that could be most diligently composed concerning such a thing. This contrivance is in case the party that invented or made the thing be dead, and not to be spoken with himself, for if he were alive, he could soon teach one capable of learning, how to do it as well as himself: and then by exercise that party comes to amend the invention in every particular, and makes it exact at last: and thus are divine attainments also both sought, found and gotten: these are the tedious searches that most men wander in about mechanic things. It is frequent with men, to be apprentices seven years to learn a trade, or as they properly call it a mystery, and because it is their employment by which men get their livelihoods, they are loath to divulge it, lest thereby they come short of what else they might comfortably enjoy for the maintenance of themselves and families; yet so much pains is taken for a poor transitory benefit.

Outward things are not worth the knowing, but in reference to the sustaining our life in which we are to labour in this world to the glory of our Creator; neither is this life worthy to be compared to that which is future and endureth for ever; yet the whole learning of physic is to procure health, and prevent sickness which causeth death to the present life, but hurts not the soul nor spirit as to eternity: but let health be wanting and all other things bestowed upon men on earth are of no value, no trading, getting of estates and gain of riches, to the settling and assuring whereof that it may be enjoyed, in which the lawyer's advice is wholly employed, has no delight in it. Some care is requisite to provide for wife, children, kindred and friends, in leaving that they have, free from entanglements, to posterity after them: yet though the exactest course be taken that the learnedst counsel can devise, the casualty of every case is such that desperate expenses happen to the ruin of vast estates; so vain is all that part of learning without health.

And then, the riches and fullest plenty of all earthly things which set the whole world on work; honour and power of dominion, stately palaces, pleasant gardens, groves, walks, meadows, fields, prospects of land, rivers, seas; full tables, dainty fare, delicate attire, great attendance, all usefulness of convenient houses, coaches, horses, beds of down, gorgeous apparel, increase of all cattle for food and clothing, fruits of the earth, all variety of commodities fetched from all parts of the world; as Solomon's navy brought gold, silver, ivory, apes and peacocks (1 Kings x. 22), so we have the same things, and precious stones, pearls, spices of all sorts, fragrant perfumes, silks, parrots, and fine singing birds, brought in by shipping in abundance.

All recreative pleasures and exercises of body, which require much time, pains and cost to be spent in them, wherein men labour for that which is not bread: yet these have their lawful use, in that men thereby become helpful and beneficial one to another, and so necessity hath brought forth many exquisite mechanic arts. There are also rare endowments of mankind, the exercises of the minds of men, as grammar for languages, logic in discoursings, rhetoric in persuasions for reconciling different affections, to the peace and comfort of human society; delight of pleasant music; arithmetic, that fundamental requisite for accountants in all commerce and traffic, without which nothing of great moment can be managed. Geometry in surveying, architecture, geography, optics or perspective, picture, sculpture, graving. Also astronomy which regulates the order of times in the transaction of civil affairs, and in navigation, husbandry, chronology: And lastly, astrology, whereby is hinted to us the pre-discovery of the change of seasons to dearth or plenty, the inclination of years, countries or persons to sickness or health, to purity or impurity of the air, dryness or moisture. And whatsoever more the arts called liberal do furnish man with, are not esteemed where there is not health of body.

And were it not that the performances, effects and works that are wrought in this mortal life, do follow the soul in the world to come, and are represented distinctly and particularly to the soul as thoughts to the mind; and as the actions of great victors are set forth in shows of triumph: it were in vain to spend our time here in anything but drowsiness and sleep: if the enjoyment of our works were not the fruit of our labours; as in the Revelation it is said, Blessed are those that die in the Lord, for they rest from their labours, and their works follow them (Rev. xiv. 13): the manner whereof being well understood would cause such circumspection and care in men, that they would endeavour to have only such works as wherein they shall have joy, and not such as shall be burned and the person suffer loss though the soul be saved, as through fire: and this at that day when the thoughts of all hearts shall be laid open; as if they were plainly limned before us in a picture to the life, and every secret thought shall be brought to judgment: the cabinet councils of the close Cabals, of emperors, kings, princes and states, and the lustful imaginations when the mouth speaks holy things in highest devotions, and the body acting in demurest posture; the cheating intentions in fairest pretences of love and friendship; the lies and falsehoods in multiplicities of words for self-ends; for if Elisha could tell what was whispered in the secret chamber of the King of Syria (2 Kings vi. 12), shall anything be hidden, when all things shall be made manifest; and then of every idle sword that a man shall speak he shall give an account at the day of judgment; also we shall be judged for all things that were done in the body, whether they be good or evil: This is easily confessed to be truth, because written in the Holy Scriptures; but who knows how and in what sense it shall be really so, and in what manner performed; and lays it seriously to heart.

Such things as these are only mentioned in the Scripture; the knowledge whereof would make the soul delighted whether there be health of body or not; and it is far surpassing all other books: because they set down all things necessary to eternal salvation so plainly that the meanest capacity may learn them, and it will be the greater condemnation that men neglect so great salvation as is there discovered; they were written by those who knew exactly the mysteries of salvation, and do direct us into the paths thereof: how excellent is the understanding of them then, and how acceptable and profitable are those writings that expound them clearly: But we are for the most part willing to let the understanding of them go, or at most desire a literal knowledge only; for, those that mention the mystical exposition of things, are suspected to be deceivers; as if, though men do not so well apprehend divine and natural mysteries as they might do, we shall judge them for offering to search after, and but complaining of the want of such learning, as does teach the understanding of them.

Whereas our Saviour himself taught his disciples the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. And the Apostle Paul taught the mysteries of the Gospel, of Godliness, of Christ, of Faith, and of the Resurrection.

To them that were without, all things were done in parables (Mark iv. 11), but Christ expounded the meaning of them apart to his disciples. The Scriptures instruct us, not only as to the mere relation of things done, but so that the man of God may be made perfect and ready to every good work: This man of God is the inward man, the child of God, the hidden man of the heart; Christ in us; whose flesh and blood, except we eat and drink, we have no part in him; these words of spirit and life he spake when he was yet alive upon the earth before his suffering, which made his disciples cry out this is a hard saying who can bear it; not considering that his heavenly Divine flesh and blood was in their souls, and that they did there eat and drink thereof; for they had part in him though they knew not how, at that time; yet the mortal flesh and blood shall not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, being the old man of corruption, which is earth, and to earth shall return. These are great mysteries, and as well after they are made known as before; for they are the hidden secret operations of spiritual things, and the spirit of man only of all earthly creatures is capable to understand them; there are indeed lying wonders, spiritual wickednesses in high places, that make up the mystery of iniquity; these only deceive the soul of man by their working in the heart in the love of them, to the bringing forth their evil fruits, and not the knowing of them in the mystery, for therein they were well known to the Apostles. If men pretend they know mysteries and are not able to teach them, they are to blame, but not those that seek after them and speak what they find, and stir up others not to rest contented with that which they have, when they may get more rich treasure by searching after it.

The history of Christ, and of all other things mentioned in the Scriptures, are infallibly true, that he was born of the Virgin Mary, that he is the Saviour of the world, was crucified at Jerusalem, rose again from the dead, ascended into heaven; the relating of this does not fully satisfy a soul; for the devils believe and know it all, and what has been discovered and spoken from God by words since the beginning of the world, and tremble: and so may we if we learn not the mystery, signified in and by the history, and feel that Christ is born in us, in a pure, clean, chaste heart, and understand the knowledge of Christ and him crucified, than which the Apostle Paul desired not to know anything else, among the Corinthians; this was not the bare knowledge of the history, for he said in a certain place, though we once knew Christ according to the flesh: as they did that conversed with him upon earth, yet now know we him so no more; then, how did he know him, but in the spirit, in the mystical knowledge?

Infinite are the mysteries mentioned in the Scriptures concerning God, angels, men, the world, eternity, time, the creation, fall, sin, corruption, the curse, misery, death, judgment, hell, devils, damnation: Christ, redemption, justification, salvation, free grace, free will, resurrection; Paradise: the Holy Ghost, sanctification, restitution, blessedness, eternal life and glory. These all concern the soul which is the eternal part of man, which no other books do teach the assured knowledge of, but the Scriptures. How should we therefore esteem that which teaches things so satisfactory, and necessary, for the soul to learn, to eschew, or attain, in reference to eternity. Other writers have written from observations made upon experience by the outward senses from external objects, but that skill goes no further than the shell and cover of things, the spirit in nature being invisible to the outward eyes as well as the divine Spirit: they that wrote from the Holy Spirit had inward senses, for it is written, That which we have seen with our eyes, [1] which we have heard with our ears, and which our hands have handled of the word of life, declare we unto you; they also saw with their eyes, things unutterable, such as no eye [2] hath seen, or ear heard, or hath entered into the heart of man to conceive, yet things which God hath undoubtedly prepared for them that love him: some of which that are unutterable, have been declared and left recorded for us by the holy men, and nowhere but in the Scriptures, which hath stirred up the industry of some to collect and transmit those writings to posterity: and in the time of the Apostles men were diligent in reading the Old Testament, which were the only Scriptures then, and our Saviour bids the Jews search them, saying, For in them ye think to have eternal life, and they are they that testify of me (John v. 39).

[1. Inward, spiritual. 2. Outward, carnal.]

A little after, the Bereans searched the Scriptures daily to see whether what Paul taught were so or no: Now if any other books would have informed them of those things, they would have sought in those also; but we read not that they did so. This also adds to their excellency, that he who was not behind the chiefest Apostles tells Timothy who was also an Evangelist, and had known the Scriptures as a child, that they are able to make him wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus: how precious is that which can make us wise to salvation: this hath been said of the Old Testament: but concerning the epistles of Paul, the Apostle Peter testifies of them, that some do wrest them as they do also the other Scriptures: and the worth of the New Testament further appears, in that it was written by the Apostles, to whom God spake by his Son, and therein have revealed him, of whom all the Prophets of old have testified; and therein also are expressed some of the mysteries that have been hid since the world began, and in this it is paramount to all other books: and this has provoked the industry of the most able learned men for many hundreds of years to translate them into several languages out of the original Hebrew and Greek, and so by the variety of the idiom of the several speeches, the sense is the more explained, as the literal expositions out of some of those translations into anyone tongue not varying the phrase, being compared with another, will manifest: they have also taken pains to interpret the meaning of the words, some from one ground and reason, some from another, collected, by the understandings of several builders of one sect or other in religion; causing differences of opinion in all churches of dissenting brethren, each party having several reasons for the divers meanings of the same text of Scripture, but the ground of the mistake is from the working of the faculty of reason upon the subject that is spoken of; the faculty of understanding upon the inward ideas represented in the mind is the same in all men, and if it concludes upon outward observation it is called reason, in Greek, logos, which signifies verbum, sermo, ratio, the word, speech, reason, things meant by these are either expressed by the tongue or letters or imprinted in thoughts either from without by the senses, or from within, from God, by the understanding: the certain meaning of the words of Scripture being the jewel locked up in them, not now attainable from the Apostles by conference with them,since their decease, therefore now we should apply ourselves to the things they spoke of, which are to be inquired after in mind, and the knowledge of them to be received from God by prayer, who will open the understanding, for there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration [3] of the Almighty gives understanding (Job xxxii. 8), and he will then teach us as he did the Apostles: and as he did this author, who by the command of the Holy Spirit wrote his deep knowledge given to him of God, and has therin pointed out the way to us wherein we may understand what in us is divine and what natural, the new man, and the old: which is the aim and scope of the whole Bible: these new things and old are those that the scribe learned in the Kingdom of Heaven, brings out of his treasury, neither can any knowledge be wanting to him who enjoys Christ, for in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

[3. Or, breathing in, as Gen. ii.7.]

A man would wonder why Paul should pronounce so great a curse upon those that teach any other gospel, than the Galatians had received, saying, though we [himself or another Apostle] or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel besides that which we have preached upon you, and utters the same, if any preach any other gospel than what you have received, let him be accursed (Gal. i. 8); now what is this gospel? it is the gospel of Christ which they had received: if we knew Christ we should soon understand his gospel, and how they had received it, and know how justly they are accursed that preach any other: and when we know Christ as fully as his Apostles did, we shall understand from him more than we can find from their writings, though theirs, and the Prophets, all preaching the gospel, direct us to Christ and tell us where he is and what he is. The Apostle John says: The Word was God, and all things were made by it, and in it was life, and the life was the light of men, and that was the true light which lights every man that comes into the world. This Word Moses calls the commandment, which is in our hearts that we may do it. Paul calls it Christ, the word of faith which they preach; near us in our hearts and mouths. James calls it the engrafted word which is able to save our souls, and advises to lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and to receive it with meekness; by this it may be discerned, that the word which enlightens everyone is engrafted even in those that have filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, which is to be all laid apart, or that engrafted word cannot be received though it be able to save our souls, and seeing it is Christ in us, none does question but it will save us, being received: and this is the word by which hearing, obeying, or receiving comes, and by that hearing comes faith (Rom. x. 17), that is, Christ comes to be born in us: thus we see, where Christ is, what he is, and the powerful efficacy of him; and to know this feelingly and so receive this word is receiving the Gospel, the glad tidings of salvation which shall be to all men, that embrace him; and the preaching and declaring this, is that Gospel; that sound which is gone into all the earth (Ps. xix. 4; Rom. x. 18); it is the eternal Gospel: whosoever preaches any other besides it is accursed.

Now what this word has and does effect, and how, in the whole creation and in every creature, in all men, and in ourselves, is the Mysterium Magnum which this author declares exactly upon Genesis, wherein all mysteries are couched, there is not the least jot or tittle of all the rest of the books of Scripture that want a mystery, which may be apprehended, by observing how this author lays them open in this part; and will serve as an introduction to the understanding the whole Book of God, in nature and Scripture; and then we may read how our names are written in the Book of Life, which is the best and most comfortable lesson that any can learn, and then we shall not need that this author or any man teach us, for we shall all be taught of God, as is promised and firmly expected that it will be accomplished.

These things considered, and the author's serious admonitions to walk in the ways of holiness, self-denial, resignation, the new-birth, killing of our outward will and desires which rebel against God, might perhaps satisfy, and allay the stirring thoughts of them that suppose some evil purpose was intended in the disclosing of these deep mysteries, when as it is given to none to understand such things but to disciples of Christ; neither can so great a revelation as this author has expressed enter into any heart that is not given up to follow Christ, and to forsake his own will, living in continual repentance, and taking up his cross daily, which he has earnestly called upon all to do, in his book of The Way to Christ, and here and there his writings are strewed with such counsel as with sweet smelling flowers, curious both for shapes and colours, why therefore should his books be scandalised as wicked; it cannot but be acknowledged they have appeared to be dictated by the Holy Ghost, to the apprehensions of some that desire to walk in the fear of God and in the narrow path that leads unto life, and have found much furtherance in that way from his writings, the comfort whereof shall never be taken from them: If his writings were thoroughly weighed, men would not need that this testimony should be given of him.

But there are some that in words are so full of reproachings and bitter terms against their brethren, whose words or writings do not please their palate; that they revile one another and return bitterness for bitterness, evil for evil; whereas Michael the Archangel when he strove with the devil about the body of Moses durst not use a railing accusation, but said, the Lord rebuke thee; yet these speak evil of the things they know not: this ought not so to be, but to return good for evil; and if we know a fault in our brother, we should tell him of it in private, and if he hears us, we have won our brother; and it is far better so than to contemn, despise, scorn and find fault with the slips and failings one of another in any kind; moreover, to be reproached, is that which everyone who would be the disciple of Christ must look for in this world, and not think to be above his master; for if they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call them of his household (Matt. x. 25). Also there were, that said of Christ, he has Beelzebub (Mark iii. 22). But such names cast upon any should deter none from examining the sayings or writings of any man, that they may be discerned whether they be good or evil. It may be supposed that the persons who judge evil of this author, have received misrepresentations concerning some part of his writings, that speak of magic: as if the knowledge of magic must needs be witchcraft: when if they consider that Daniel said, Destroy not the wise men of Babylon (Dan. ii. 24); and that Daniel, otherwise called Belteshazzar (Dan. iv. 8, 9), was master of the magicians: also what the Magi or wise men of the East that came to Christ were; cannot think but they were excellent men, and had the knowledge of the Magia, in English, magic; not to be rejected, but to be sought after, with all diligence; that we may be able to disclose the secret workings, and oppose the wiles of the devil and Satan, used by his wicked magi or magicians, his instruments in this world: that (2 Kings ix. 22) the witchcrafts of the wicked Jezebel, may be discovered; and together with the mistress of witchcrafts, that sells nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts (Nahum iii. 4), and such as (Gal. iii. I) bewitched the Galatians to whom Paul wrote; may be overthrown, and destroyed utterly.

Let us study seriously to understand the things that are expressed in the words of the Scripture, that we may not be such as speak evil of what we know not.

We ought not to look at the mote that is in our brother's eye, before we have pulled the beam out of our own; much rather, ought we to be sure there is a mote in our brother's eye before we think to go about to pull it out; some censure this author's writings to be full of nonsense, who yet confess they cannot understand them, why do they then judge; for, all that I apprehend not the sense of; is not nonsense in itself; though I think it so: another great fault is found with his hard words; now, hard words are used in the most excellent Book, and never the worse for being hard: deep things and mysteries cannot be expressed in easy words; some things most excellent (Rom. viii. 26; 2 Cor. xii. 4) cannot be uttered by any words; therefore 'tis happy some other hard things may be uttered though by hard words; better than not at all: the words we account easy in the ordinary sense, are hard in their true sense and meaning: even the hard words of these writings are easier to the chimick philosophers, than α, β, γ δ to one that cannot read Greek: so one that has not been at the School of Mysteries or of Pentecost, it is hard for him to read the Christ-Cross-Row.

This author writes of the mysteries of eternity before they be produced and made perceptible to the creature, that is, before the Creation; also of the creation of angels, before Lucifer fell, and of his fall, and the creation of the world; as in this book at large: and if any will peruse him carefully they will find he mentions, three Principles of the essence of all essences, in the book of the Three Principles:

But in the abstract of the Mysterium Magnum, at the end of this book, they may perceive, that the Abyss and God is all one: and that the Abyss is God ineffable, not manifested but to himself and to whom he will reveal himself: and that, God is the Unity, in Trinity, the three eternal Principles, manifested by creation to the creature: The knowledge of which three Principles, and of the seven properties of nature, and of the ten forms of fire in the eternity, would make his writings easy and delightful.

If we would walk humbly in the sight of God, we should brotherly exhort one another, and not judge that we be not judged, for the same measure we mete shall be measured to us again: let us judge righteous judgment, and lay open that which is evil, before the sun at noonday, that all may take notice, and beware they fall not into the ditch: God that has shed abroad his love in our hearts, enlighten our understandings that we may see the wonderful things of his law, and then we shall not so readily despise one another, and receive accusations against our brethren and their doings, and so wound some through the sides of others.

If we were released from the virulency of the spirit of the outward man, which figured him in the mother's womb, and constellated him, when he was born, and when he first breathed the outward air as a seminal breath; which is prone to all manner of lusts, and draws men to sin: if this were allayed by a daily temperance, and practice to mortify our members that are on the earth, by bringing down the body daily; labouring for an humble and contrite heart, a broken spirit, and a mourning soul, repenting from the bottom of our hearts, amending our lives continually, purifying, and communing with our hearts, and not suffer any iniquity or evil to lodge in the desires of our most inward thoughts: we should soon perceive, upon filling our bodies with outward food, the stirring of lust, to swelling pride, raging malice and anger, stinging envy, greedy covetousness, grudging the good of others, pleasing lasciviousness, a wandering eye after the applause, honour, and pleasure of this world; but upon fasting, this spirit is not felt almost, in the body: as we may observe in ourselves every moment: but an inclination to love, meekness, self-denial, patience, forbearance, and all virtues, the Spirit of God, reviving in us; and we may thereby somewhat perceive, why the Prophets said: The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, thus says the Lord; whereas the word was in them before, only this spirit of life brought forth the word, from the Lord, in their hearts, into their minds and understandings that they felt it stirring or speaking anew: and further, we shall be able to discern what enemy we have to deal with in our fighting the good fight of faith: the world and the delights thereof is a great enemy, which we must overcome, or we cannot attain to the denial of ourselves, and taking up the cross of Christ, without which we cannot be his disciple; but we are subject to think, that crosses, adversities, and afflictions are our worst enemies, because we live not by faith, but by the outward spirit, which all crosses do kill in us, and by them we die daily, to that, which is the instrument of sin, whereby its desires are brought to effect: and therefore we account that our greatest friend which is our greatest enemy: it brings death, our last enemy, and is the sting thereof but by killing the desires of the flesh we shall live and do thereby daily overcome that last enemy which we must certainly have a combat with, seeing it is appointed for all men once to die, and after death comes judgment.

If we be earnest and watchful in our fight, we shall be victorious over the first death, and on such the second death can have no power, which is the effect of the judgment: But having overcome that; then, when Christ who is our life (in the faith of the Son of God) shall appear, we shall also appear with him in glory.

How excellent a thing is it now, to understand the things expressed in the Holy Scriptures, that they may not be a dead letter having no comfort in them, for none can rejoice to die except he feel the virtue of the life of Christ, killing sin in the mortal flesh; for therefore we must serve the Lord with fear and rejoice in him with trembling, because it it not safe for us to have our outward spirit wherein is the life of sin to rejoice without trembling. How cheerful would men be in soul and conscience, to run the ways of God's commandments, if they had killed sin, that they might rejoice to die; and so were filled with assured hope to enjoy the crown of victory which is laid up for them, and which Christ, through whom we have victory, shall give us.

How does it comfort an afflicted soul to consider, that afflictions, though they be grievous for a time, are not to be compared with the eternal joys that are laid up for us. But if the transcendent sayings of the holy Apostles and Prophets be not understood, they are but dead to us and so are we to them.

To conclude, let the reader know that more than half this book was translated into English by my dear kinsman, Mr John Ellistone, who departed this life at Gestingthorp in the county of Essex, on the 22nd of August 1652, about one of the clock in the morning: and so went into the mystery, where his soul enjoys the fruits of his labours of love, which those shall also do that walk in the same path, and I among the rest may in my appointed time be found in Christ worthy and capable to come to the innumerable company of angels, though now I deserve to be accounted

One of the unworthiest of the children of men, JOHN SPARROW.

top of page