The Confessions of Jacob Boehme, by Jacob Boehme, ed. W. Scott Palmer , at sacred-texts.com
WHERE will you seek for God? Seek him in your soul that is proceeded out of the eternal nature, the living fountain of forces wherein the divine working stands.
O that I had but the pen of a man, and were able therewith to write down the spirit of knowledge! I can but stammer of great mysteries like a child that is beginning to speak; so very little can the earthly tongue express of that which the spirit comprehends. Yet I will venture to try whether I may incline some to seek the pearl of true knowledge, and myself labour in the works of God in my paradisical garden of roses; for the longing of the eternal nature-mother drives me on to write
and to exercise myself in this my knowledge.
No money, nor goods, nor art, nor power can bring you to the eternal rest of the eternal paradise, but only the knowledge in which you may steep your soul. That is the pearl which no thief can steal away; seek after it and you will find the noble treasure.
Our skill and understanding are so cramped and narrowed that we have no more any knowledge of paradise at all. And except we be born anew, the veil of Moses lies continually before our eyes, and we suppose that was paradise whereof he said: God placed Adam in the garden of Eden which he had planted, that he might till it.
O beloved man, paradise is the divine Joy. It is the divine and angelical Joy, yet it is not outside the place of this world. When I speak of the fountain and joy of paradise, and of its substance, what it is, I
have no similitude for it in this world; I stand in need of angelical speech and knowledge to express it; and though I had them yet I could never express it with this tongue. It is well understood in the mind, when the soul rides in the chariot of the Spirit, but I cannot express it with the tongue; yet will I stammer with the children till another mouth be given me to speak with.
And seeing somewhat is lent me from the grace of the power of God, that I might know the way to paradise, seeing also that it behoves everyone to work the works of God in which he stands, I will not neglect my task but will labour as much as I can on the way.
Although I shall scarce be able to spell out the letters in this so high a way, yet my labour shall be enough that many will have to learn in it all their life long. He that thinks he knows it well, he has not yet learnt the first letter of paradise, for no
[paragraph continues] Doctors are to be found in this school, but only learners.
There is nothing that is nearer to you than heaven, paradise, and hell. Unto which of them you are inclined and towards which of them you walk, to that in this lifetime you are most near. There is a moving between each two of them; and you have both movings in you. God beckons to you in the one, and calls you; and the Devil beckons to you in the other, and calls you; with whom you go, with him you enter in. The Devil has in his hand power, honour, pleasure, and worldly happiness; and the root of these is death and hell-fire. God has in his hands crosses, persecution, misery, poverty, ignominy and sorrow; and the root of these is a fire also. But in this fire there is a light, and in the light virtue and in the virtue paradise. In paradise are the angels, and among the angels is Joy. Dim and fleshly eyes cannot behold it; but when the Holy Ghost comes into the soul
it is born anew in God, and then it becomes a child of paradise and has the key of paradise, and sees into the midst thereof.
If you be born of God, then you understand God, paradise, the kingdom of heaven and hell, the entrance thereinto of the creatures and the creation of this world; but if not, then the veil is before your eyes as it was before the eyes of Moses. Therefore saith Christ: Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.
If you do not understand this writing, seek the humble lowly Heart of God, and that will bring a small seed from the tree of paradise into your soul; and if you abide in patience then a great tree will grow out of that seed, as you will think has come to pass with this author. For he is to be esteemed as a very simple person, in comparison of the great learned men; but Christ saith: My power is strong in the weak; yea Father, it hath so pleased thee to hide these things from the wise and
prudent, and thou hast revealed them to babes and sucklings; the wisdom of this world is foolishness in thy sight. And although now the children of the world are wiser in their generation than the children of light, yet their wisdom is but a corruptible thing, and this wisdom continues eternally.
Seek for the noble pearl; it is much more precious than this whole world; it will never more depart from you. Where the pearl is, there will your heart be also; you need not in this life seek any further after paradise, joy and heavenly delight; seek but the pearl, and when you find that, then you find paradise and the kingdom of heaven.
I have perused many masterpieces of writing, hoping to find the high and deep wisdom of God, the pearl of the understanding of man; but I could find nothing of that which my soul lusted after. I have found very many contrary opinions, and at
times I have found some who forbid me to search, but I cannot know with what reason except it be that the blind grudge at the eyes of them that see.
With all this my soul is become very disquiet within, and has been as full of pain and anguish as a woman at her travail; and yet to no end till I followed the words of Christ when he said: You must be born anew, if you will see the kingdom of God. This at first confounded me; I supposed that such a thing could not be done in this world, but only at my departure out of this world. And then my soul was at first in anguish, longing after the pearl; but, yielding itself, at last obtained the jewel. Therefore I will write, for a memorial to myself and for a light to them that seek. For Christ said: None lights a candle and puts it under a bushel, but sets it upon a table that all that are in the house may see by the light of it. To this end he gives the pearl of divine wisdom and knowledge
to them that seek, that they should impart it to the desirous for their healing, as he has very earnestly commanded.
Indeed Moses writes that God made man of the dust of the earth. And that is the opinion of very many. I also should not have known how that was to be understood, and I should not have learned it out of Moses, nor out of the glosses put upon his words. The veil would have continued still before my eyes, though I was much troubled thereby. But when I found the pearl, then I looked Moses in the face, and found that he had wrote very right, but that I had not rightly understood it.
Now the question is: What is God's image? Behold, and consider the Deity, and then you will light upon it. God is not an animal man; and man should be the image and similitude of God, wherein God may dwell. God is a spirit; three principles are in him, that is, the sources and powers of the darkness, of the light,
and of this world. He would make such an image as should have all these three and so be rightly a similitude of himself. Therefore Moses may be well understood to say that God created man and did not make him of a lump of earth. But the forming power in which God created him is the matrix of the earth, out of which the earth was generated; and the matter in which he created him is a quintessence of the stars and elements, and came forth from the heavenly matrix which is also the root of the earth.
Now the soul stands in two gates, and touches two principles, the eternal darkness and the eternal light of the Son of God, as God the Father himself does. Thus it may be in heaven and in paradise, and enjoy the unutterable joy of God the Father which he has in his Son, and it may hear the inexpressible words of the Heart of God.
There the soul feeds on all the words of
[paragraph continues] God, for these are the food of its life; and it sings the paradisical songs of praise concerning the pleasant fruit of paradise which grows in the divine virtue and is the food of the heavenly and eternal body.
Can this be no joy and rejoicing? Should not that be a pleasant thing, to eat heavenly bread with the many thousand sorts of angels, and to rejoice in their communion and fellowship? What can possibly be named which can be more pleasant? Where there is no fear, no anger, no death; where every voice and speech is of the divine salvation, power, strength and might; and this voice going forth into eternity. There is the place where Paul heard words unutterable that no man can express.