The Hermetic Museum, Vol. I, by Arthur Edward Waite, , at sacred-texts.com
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"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives simply, and without upbraiding, and it shall be given to him."—JAMES i., 5.
MOTTO OF THE AUTHOR:
"The Centre of the World—a Grain of Sand."
To the Worthy and Christian Reader.
BELOVED and pious reader, above all, ye who are Sons of Wisdom and the Doctrine, some years ago Almighty God, in answer to my daily prayers, opened my eyes by the light of His Holy Spirit (Who was sent us through Christ by the Father, and from Whom we receive all wisdom), and enabled me to discover the True Centre in the Centre of the Triangle and the one true Matter of the precious Philosopher's Stone, so that I now hold it in my hands; but it took me five years longer to discover how the blood of the Red Lion and the glue of the White Eagle were to be extracted, and how these were to be mixed in their natural proportions, enclosed, sealed, and committed to the secret fire. Nor did I even then find the arcanum without constant and untiring application. I have, indeed, studied the writings, parables, and various figures of the philosophers with singular industry, and laboured hard to solve their manifold wonderful enigmas, most of which are simply the vain products of their imaginations. It was long before experience taught me that all their obscure verbiage and high pretensions are mere folly and empty phantasms (as is amply testified by our leading Sages). Then I understood that their preparations (of which we read in Geber, Albertus Magnus, and others), their purgations, sublimations, cementations, distillations, rectifications, circulations, putrefactions, conjunctions, solutions, coagulations, calcinations, incinerations, mortifications, revivifications, &c., as also their tripods, athanors (furnaces), reverberatory alembics, excrements of horses, ashes, sand, stills, pelican-violas, retorts, fixatories, &c., are mere plausible impostures and frauds. This must be apparent to any one who considers the truth of the matter. Nature, who, in her noble simplicity, delights in her own
proper substance, knows nothing of these futilities. Hence Theophrastus (Sec. Mag. de Phil. Lap.) rightly says of those who seek the substance of the Stone in wine, imperfect bodies, blood, bismuth, mercury, sulphur, wine, dung, orpiment, and in plants, as chelidonia, hyssop, ivy, &c., that they are full of lies and thievery—deceiving the credulous, milking their purses dry, and, as to the rest, following their own foolish fancies, that are quite unable to realise the requirements of Nature. (Tell me now who will help me with the minerals of the earth, distillations of water, &c.?) Some of them take new wine and urine for the purpose of changing them into metals. To hear them talk, you might suppose all that is sold at the apothecaries to be good for metals. Thou foolish man, dost thou not perceive that none of these things have anything to do with them?
You might as well try to sever Nature, as endeavour to make metals out of blood. Make a man out of a horse, or a milch cow out of a mouse: this would be according to the same method of multiplication. Art cannot change or overstep the natural order of the universe. If a woman bring forth a male child, you cannot change him into a little girl. From this rule, which evidently obtains throughout Nature, any sane person may gather where, and how, we must look for, and find, our Blessed Matter. But let no one imagine, or suffer any quack to delude him into the belief, that he has all that he requires when the substance has been made known to him either by God, or by one of the initiated. Let him not suppose that the solution and purification are a very simple matter. He could fall into no more serious mistake. He has scarcely got beyond the most elementary stage of his task. Let me once more tell him that I spent five entire years, after discovering the true Matter of the Stone, in the search after the right method of manipulating it, until at length, in the sixth year, the key of power was entrusted to me by the secret revelation of the most High God. That same key the ancient Patriarchs, Prophets, and Sages have always kept secret. "For if," says Monarcha, in a certain passage, "they had described it in an universally intelligible manner, and placed it within the reach of every labourer and porter, it would have been a great theft, and no true mystery; moreover, many evils would arise from such a profanation of the arcanum, which would also
be manifestly contrary to God's will." For these and other reasons (which I have stated in the Epilogue), lest I should seem to be hiding the talent committed to me by God, I have in this my "Golden Age Come Back" (as far as Nature and God allow) revealed the Great Mystery of the Sages, which, through the grace of God, I have seen with these eyes, and handled with these hands. The just and pious reader will regard my undertaking with a kindly eye, and not suffer seeming contradictions to mislead him: the theory of and practice of this Art, and the laws which obtain in the Republic of the Chemists, forbade me to write more openly or plainly. I hope and trust that, nevertheless, all who look upon this book with the eyes of the mind, pore over it by day and by night, and pray to God from the bottom of their hearts, will, together with me, enjoy the wonderful hidden fruits of philosophy. In this way the Brethren of the true Golden Cross, and the elect members of the philosophic communion, are and remain joined together in a great confederation.
In conclusion, that the learned and worthy Christian reader may know my Christian name and my surname, I will remove every cause of complaint by making it known in the following manner. Let all and sundry be certified that the number of my name is 1613: by this number my whole name is written in the book of Nature with two dead ones, and seven living ones. After that, the letter 5 is the fifth part of B, and 15 the fifth part of 12. With this information you must be satisfied. Written at Tannenberg, March 23rd, 1622.
Epigram to the Sons of Wisdom and the Doctrine.
I have sought; I have found; I have often purified; and I have joined together; I have matured it: Then the golden tincture has followed, which is called the Centre of Nature (hence so many opinions, so many books, so many parables). It is the Remedy, I openly declare it, for all metals, and for all sick persons. The solution is of God.
The Author's Famulus.
p. 56 p. 57
AS I pondered in my mind the marvels of the Most High, and the duty of fervent love to our neighbours, which He laid upon us; I remembered the wheat harvest, when Reuben, the son of Leah, found Dudaim in the field, which Leah gave to Rachel for the love of the Patriarch Jacob. Then I was carried forward, being plunged in profound thought, to the time of Moses, who rendered potable the golden calf (which Aaron had formed) by reducing it to powder in the fire, throwing it into the water, and giving it the children of Israel to drink; and I marvelled greatly at the wonderful and masterly destruction of the metal by the man of God. But when I reflected upon the matter, the truth was borne in upon my mind, and my eyes were opened like those of the disciples at Emmaus, who knew their Master in the breaking of bread; and my heart burned within me. Then I retired to rest, that I might consider the matter further (on the morrow), and fell into a deep slumber; when, behold, Solomon appeared to me in all his power, wealth, and glory, and with him came his whole harem: sixty were queens, eight hundred concubines, and of virgins there was a countless number. One of them was his most beautiful dove, and was dearest to his heart. They formed a procession according to the Catholic rite, in the centre of which was one greatly praised and beloved, whose name was like ointment poured out, and whose fragrance was sweeter than that of spices; the fiery spirit of this person was the Key for the opening of the Temple, for entering the Holy of Holies, and taking hold on the horns of the Altar.
When the procession had been performed in the manner aforesaid, Solomon shewed me the One Centre in the Triangle
of the Centre, and opened my understanding. Then I observed that a woman stood behind me, who had bared her breast, from a deep wound in which blood and water gushed forth. Her thighs were like two half-moons, made by the Master; her navel was like a round goblet; her belly like a heap of wheat, set about with roses; her breasts like two young roes that are twins; her neck like a tower of ivory; her eyes like the fish-pools in Heshbon, by the Gate of Bathrabbim; her nose like the Tower of Lebanon, which looketh towards Damascus; her head like Carmel, and the hair of her head like royal purple. Her garments, which were rancid, ill-savoured, and full of venom, lay at her feet, whither she had cast them; and at length she broke forth into these words: "I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them? The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; they took away my veil from me." Thereupon I fell to the ground with great and ignorant terror. But Solomon bade me rise, and said: "Fear not; for you see Nature bared, and the most secret of all secrets that is found beneath the sky and earth: She is beautiful as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners—and nevertheless the pure and chaste virgin of whom Adam was formed and created. The entrance of her tabernacle is sealed. She lives in gardens, sleeps in the double cave of Abraham, in the field of Hebron, and her palace is in the depths of the Red Sea, and in transparent caverns. The air bare her, the fire nourished her: therefore she is the Queen of the earth, and has honey and milk in her breasts; her lips are as a dropping honeycomb; honey and milk are under her tongue; and the smell of her garments is to the wise like the smell of Lebanon—but to the ignorant an abomination." And Solomon said further: "Awake, and see my whole harem, and say what it is like." And straightway his whole harem was stripped naked. Yet could I not find or judge, and my eyes were sealed lest I should know the secret. When Solomon saw my infirmity, he set that naked woman apart from the rest of the harem, and said: "Thy thoughts are vain, and thy mind is sunburnt; thy memory is shrouded in a thick mist, so that thou canst judge nothing
rightly. But if thou art on the watch, and makest good use of thy present opportunity, the bloody sweat and snowy tears of this virgin will have power to restore thee, and to strengthen and clarify thy intellect and memory that thy eyes may see the secret wonders of the Most High, the height of the things above, the depth of the things beneath, and that thou mayst clearly understand the powers and operation of all Nature, and of the elements. Thy intellect shall be silver, and thy memory golden. The colour of all precious stones shall appear before thy eyes; thou shalt know their birth, and separate the good from the bad, the sheep from the goats. Thy life shall be peace, but the bells of Aaron shall rouse thee from sleep, and the lyre of David, my father, from drowsiness." These words of Solomon awed and terrified me still more; in part I was adread at such emphatic speech, and in part also at the splendour and glory of the King's harem. But King Solomon seized my right hand, and led me through a wine cellar into a most splendid secret palace, where he refreshed me with flowers and apples. The windows were of transparent crystal, and I gazed through them. And he said: "What do you see?" I said: "I see the former chamber whence we came, and on the left stands thy royal harem, and on the right naked virgins. Their eyes are redder than wine, and their teeth whiter than milk. But the garments that lie at their feet are fouler, blacker, and more unsightly than the river Kidron." "Choose out one of these," said Solomon, "to be your love. I esteem the virgins even as my own harem. And the more their loveliness delights me, the less am I deterred by their foul garments." With this, the King turned himself and spoke most kindly to one of his queens. There was in the chamber a mistress of about a hundred years of age. She was arrayed in a grey robe, and had a black fillet on her head, that was embroidered with many brilliant jewels, and lined within with red, yellow, and blue silk; her mantle was heavily ornamented with all kinds of Turkish and Indian colours and figures. This ancient woman nodded to me, and swore piously that she was the mother of that naked virgin, and that she was a pure, chaste, and sealed virgin, who had never before suffered the eye of man to dwell upon her, nor had any one ever touched her. She was the virgin of whom the
[paragraph continues] Prophet had spoken: "Behold, we have a secret son, who with others has been changed. Behold, a virgin has conceived, the virgin that is called Apdorossa, that is, the sealed one, who suffers not others." Because her daughter was still unmarried, she had concealed her dowry beneath her feet, lest in the present war she should be deprived of her wealth by soldiers. But I was not to be deterred by her foul garments, but to choose her daughter from among all the rest for my beloved one, and the pleasure of my life. If I did so she would give me a lye with which I could cleanse her garments. Moreover, with her hand I should receive the flowing salt, the incombustible oil, and an inestimable treasure. She was about to declare this to me more in detail, when Solomon turned round, looked askance at me, and said: "I am the wisest of men, and my pleasant harem and the glory and the beauty of my queens excel the gold of Ophir. The ornaments of my concubines shame the rays of the sun, and the beauty of my virgins the light of the moon. My virgins are heavenly, my wisdom inscrutable, my mind past finding out."
Then I answered, while I bowed down to the ground with awe: "Behold, if I have found grace in your eyes—for I am lowly—give me that naked virgin whom I have chosen from among all, to preserve my life. Her garments are old, defiled, and foul, but I will purge them, and love her with all my heart. Let her be my sister, my spouse, since one glance of her eyes has stolen away my heart, and I am sick with love for her." On hearing this Solomon straightway gave her to me. With that there arose a tumult in the harem, which roused me from my sleep. Now I knew not what had happened to me; but I took it for some dream, and thereupon until the light dawned I was full of subtle thoughts. But when I had risen, and poured forth my prayers, behold, I saw the garments of the naked virgin lying by my bedside, and when I saw not her, my hair stood on end, and I was covered with a cold perspiration. But I took heart and recalled my dream, and endeavoured to remember whether it had been real or not. But seeing that my pondering could explain nothing, I would by no means look again upon the garments, much less did I dare to touch them. So I changed my chamber, and, out of sheer ignorance, left those garments
lying there a long time. For I feared that if I touched them or turned them over, something remarkable would happen to me. Now the poisonous odour of the garments which I had inhaled in my sleep was so sickening that my eyes could not see the time of grace, or my heart understand the great wisdom of Solomon.
After the garments had lain five years in the chamber, I at length determined to throw them into the fire, and change my dwelling. In the night after I had formed this resolution, that ancient woman appeared to me in a dream, and rebuked with the following angry words: "Most ungrateful of mortals, the garments of my daughter, beneath which lie concealed those priceless jewels, have now been committed to thee for more than five years. Yet in all that time thou hast not cleansed or purified them, and now thou thinkest to burn them; is it not enough that thou art the cause of my daughter's death?" Then I answered, wrathfully: "How am I to understand thy words? Wouldst thou make me out to be a robber, though during those five years I have never seen thy daughter, or heard a syllable about her? How can I possibly be the cause of her death?" Here she took me up: "All this is true. Nevertheless thou hast sinned grievously against God, and on that account hast not received from me my daughter, or the lye of the Sages wherewith to cleanse her garments. For since thou wert from the very first horrified at the sight of my daughter's garments, the planet Saturn, her grandfather, was wroth, and changed her into what she was before her birth. Moreover, thou hast offended him by despising her, and being the cause of her death, corruption, and final destruction. She it is of whom Senior thus speaks: 'Woe, woe unto me! Bring me a naked woman, while my body was yet invisible, and I had not yet become a mother, till I should be born a second time; then I brought forth all the strength of the vegetable roots, and carried off the victory in my essence.'" These words sounded strange and mysterious to me, yet I manfully repressed my wrath, and solemnly protested that I knew nothing of her daughter's decease, and certainly had not been the cause of her death, corruption, and destruction; that I had kept her garments five years in my chamber, but had been
prevented by my great blindness from understanding their use; and that I felt innocent before God and men. My excuse satisfied the ancient woman; she looked kindly at me, and said: "I see that thy conscience is pure from guilt, and for thy innocence thou shalt receive a great reward. Therefore, I will reveal to thee this matter faithfully, but secretly. My daughter, for the great love she bare thee, has left thee under her garments a grey box wrapped in a thick, black, mouldy cloth." With this she gave me a glass bottle full of lye, and continued: "Purge that box well of the dirt and bad smell with which the garments have infected it, and then thou shalt want no key, but the box will open of its own accord, and in it thou shalt find two things, viz., a white silver casket full of polished diamonds, and a rich robe intertissued with precious solar jasper stones. All these treasures belonged to my dear daughter, and she left them all to thee before she was transformed and perished. If thou wilt skilfully transpose this treasure, carefully purify it, and silently and patiently place it in some warm, moist, vaporous, and transparent chamber, and guard it there from cold, wind, hail, swift lightning, and all outward injury, till the season of the wheat harvest, thou shalt perceive and behold the great glory and beauty of thine heritage."
When she had thus spoken, I awoke, and devoutly prayed that God might grant me wisdom to find the box which had been described to me in my dream. Then I instituted a careful search among the garments, and was soon rewarded with success; but the cloth in which the box was wrapped was so hard and so firmly glued to it that I could not tear it off; moreover, I could not cleanse it with lye, or cut it with iron, steel, or any other metal. So I did not know what in all the world I should do, and began to think that it was a poisoned cloth, and to call to mind the saying of the Prophet: "Though thou wash thee with nitre and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me saith the Lord God."
So another year passed away, and still all my patient toil and thought had met with no success. At last, to drive away melancholy, I took a walk in a certain garden; and, after some time, I sat down upon a stone and fell into a deep sleep. I slept, but my heart waked. Then the ancient woman appeared to me once more, and said: "Have you entered upon the heritage of my
daughter?" I sorrowfully replied, "I did indeed find the box, but I cannot remove the cloth, nor will the lye that thou gayest me avail to soften it." Then she laughed at my simplicity, and said: "Dost thou try to eat oysters or crabs in their shells? Must they not first be prepared by the ancient cook of the planets? I told thee to purify the grey box with the lye I gave thee, but not the cloth which is wrapped round it. The latter thou shouldest first have burned with the fire of the Sages." For this purpose she gave me some glowing coals, wrapped in a silk cloth, from which I was to obtain the subtle fire of the Sages, and told me that if with this fire I burned away the cloth I should get at the box. When she had ended, straightway there arose a north and south wind, and blew through the garden. Then I awoke again, shook off sleep, and beheld the glowing coals lying at my feet. I took them up with a grateful heart, and began to work day and night, remembering the saying of the Sages: "Fire and Azoth are sufficient for thee"; and the passage in Esdras (Bk. iv.): "And he gave me a goblet filled with fire, and when I had drunk it wisdom grew in me; and God granted me understanding, and my spirit was preserved, and my mouth opened, but nothing else was added." After forty nights I had finished 204 books, of which seventy were worthy to be read by the most wise, and were written upon box tablets. I thus continued in silence and hope, as that ancient woman had bidden me do, until at last, after a long time, my understanding, in fulfilment of Solomon's prophecy, became silver, and my memory gold.
When, in obedience to the directions of the ancient lady, I had skilfully placed the treasure of her daughter in a chamber by itself, and closed it up, I gazed upon those brilliant lunar diamonds, and solar rubies, and understood the meaning of Solomon when he says: "My Beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven; his eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set; his cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers; his lips like roses dropping fragrant myrrh; his hands are as gold rings set with the beryl; his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires; his legs are as pillars of marble set upon sockets of fine gold; his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the
cedars; his mouth is most sweet; yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O ye daughters of Jerusalem. Hold him, and suffer him not to go, till I have brought him into my mother's house, into my mother's chamber."
To these words of Solomon I could find no answer, and had already determined to take the treasure out of the chamber that I might at length enjoy quietness and peace, when I happened upon this other passage: "I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up nor awake my love till he please. She is a garden enclosed; a spring shut up; a fountain sealed; a vineyard at Baal-hamon; a vineyard at Engedi; an orchard; a spice garden; a hill of myrrh; a mountain of incense; a bed; a crown; a palm tree; a rose of Sharon; a sapphire; a beryl stone; a wall; a tower, and battlement; a garden of herbs; a fountain in a garden; a spring of living waters; a daughter of princes, and the pleasant love of Solomon; she dearly loves her mother, and is her mother's chosen one; her head is full of dew, and her locks wet with the drops of night."
These words enlightened me, and shewed unto me the aim of the wise: wherefore I patiently left the treasure in the chamber, and waited till through God's mercy all should have been happily perfected by the operation of Nature, and the labour of my hands.
Shortly afterwards, on the day Of the new moon, an eclipse of the sun was seen, which was terrible to behold, for it began with a misty greenness, somewhat shot over with other colours, but it was followed by entire blackness; all heaven and earth were shrouded in thick darkness, and men were full of fear, but I rejoiced. For I remembered God's great mercy, and the Mystery of Regeneration, as Christ Himself told us that unless a grain of wheat was cast into the earth, and decomposed, it could bring forth no fruit. Now it happened that the eclipse was covered by clouds, and the sun began to shine, but as yet three-fourths of it were darkened. And, behold, an arm held out from the clouds a letter sealed at the four corners, on which was written: "I am black, but comely, O daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the
curtains of Solomon. Look not upon me, because I am black, and burnt by the sun." Then there was seen a rainbow, and I remembered the Covenant of the Most High, and the faithfulness of my Teacher, and, behold, by the help of the planets and the fixed stars, the sun at last overcame the eclipse, and shone out once more in perfect brightness upon the mountains and valleys. Then all fear and terror were at an end, and all that had seen that day rejoiced in the Lord, and said: "Lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; the fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines, that we may gather the ripe grapes and drink wine, and be satisfied in due season with milk and the honeycomb." At the approach of evening the sky changed its aspect, and the Seven Stars rose with a lurid light, till, having completed their natural course, they paled and vanished before the Redness of the Sun. And, behold, the wise that dwelt upon earth awoke from their sleep, and gazed up to heaven, and said: "Who is it that bursts forth like the Dawn, beautiful like the Moon, mighty like the Sun, in whom there appears no spot? his fervour is kindled, and the flame of the Lord: Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it. Therefore, we will not forsake her; she is our sister, though she be small, and have no breasts. We will take her back to the house of her mother, into the transparent palace where she was before, that by sucking the breasts of her mother, she may become great like the tower of David, strengthened with battlements, on which hang a thousand shields and all the weapons of the strong. When she went forth the daughters called her blessed, the Queen and the concubines praised her." But I knelt down, and returned thanks to God, and glorified His Holy Name.
And now, my beloved Sons of Wisdom and the Doctrine, herein is the great Mystery of the Sages, in all the power and glory thereof, and the Revelation of the Spirit, concerning
[paragraph continues] Whom the prince and monarch Theophrastus has these words, in his Apocalypse of Hermes: "He is the only God, and holds the whole world together; through Him alone can we be true, and truly vanquish the Elements, and, obtain the Quintessence. No eye has seen, no ear has heard, neither has it entered into the heart of any man to conceive that which is in thy. mind of this Spirit of Truth. In Him alone is truth, and through Him alone Adam and the other patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were enabled to secure constant health, and a long life, and to provide for themselves great wealth. Through this Spirit the Seven Sages invented the Arts, and gained riches. With His aid Noah built the Ark, Solomon the Temple, and Moses the Tabernacle; through Him vessels of pure gold were borne into the Temple; through Him Solomon gained his excellent knowledge, and performed mighty deeds. He enabled Ezra to restore the Law; Miriam, sister of Moses, to exercise liberality; and the Prophets of the Old Covenant to predict the future. He is the Sanctification and Healing of all things, the highest knowledge, the ultimate Mystery of Nature, that is to say, the Spirit of the Lord, Who fills the whole universe, and Who brooded over the waters in the beginning—without Whose secret teaching the world cannot be understood, and Whom the whole world desires on account of His power, while the Saints have sought and longed ardently to see Him from the beginning of the world. For He dwells in the seven Planets, raises the clouds, dispels the mist, gives light to all things, changes everything into gold and silver, imparts all health, abundance, and treasure, heals the leper,, cures dropsy and gout, prolongs life, comforts the sorrowful, restores health to the sick, removes all defects, and, in short, is the Mystery of all mysteries, the Arcanum of all arcana, the true healing and Medicine of all things. He gives the desired knowledge, and is the best of all sublunar things, by which Nature is strengthened, and the heart with all the members renewed, the flower of youth kept fresh, old age driven away, diseases destroyed, and the whole earth renewed. His Nature is unsearchable, His power infinite, His excellence and glory unapproachable.
"Moreover, this Spirit presides over all heavenly things, gives health, fortune, joy, peace, love, destroys every evil after
its kind, puts an end to poverty and misery, renders men incapable of doing, saying, or thinking any evil, and gives to the godly temporal felicity, but to the wicked who abuse it, eternal punishment."
And thus, in the Name of the Holy Trinity, we will, in these few words, conclude our exposition of the Great Mystery of the Most Precious Philosophical Stone, and of the Arcanum of the Sages. To the Most High and Almighty God, the Creator of this Art, Whom it hath pleased to reveal to me, wretched, sinful man (in answer to my prayer), this most precious knowledge, be eternal praise, glory, honour, and thanksgiving; and to Him be addressed a most humble and fervent prayer that He may so direct my heart and mind, that I may not speak of this Mystery, or make it known to the wicked, lest I be found unmindful of my Vow, a Breaker of the Heavenly Seal, a perjured Brother of the Golden Cross, and guilty of the Sin against the Holy Ghost. From this may God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, the Blessed and Indivisible Trinity, in mercy PRESERVE ME. Amen, Amen, Amen.