The Confessions of Jacob Boehme, by Jacob Boehme, ed. W. Scott Palmer , at sacred-texts.com
THE law of God and also the way to life is written in our hearts; it lies in no man's supposing, nor in any historical opinion, but in a good will and well doing. The will leadeth us to God or to the Devil; it availeth not that thou hast the name of a Christian, salvation doth not consist therein. A heathen and a Turk is as near to God as thou who art under the name of Christ; if thou bringest forth a false ungodly will in thy deeds, thou art as much without God as a heathen that hath no desire nor will to him. And if a Turk seeketh God with earnestness, though he walketh in blindness, yet he is of the company of those that are children without understanding, and he reacheth to God
with the children which do not yet know what they speak; for this lies not in the knowing but in the will.
We are all blind concerning God; but we put our earnest will into him and into goodness, and so desire him; then we receive him into our will, so that we are born in him in our will.
Dost thou boast of thy calling, that thou art a Christian? Indeed let thy conversation be accordingly, or else thou art but a heathen in the will and in the deed. He that knoweth his Master's will and doeth it not must receive many stripes.
Dost thou not know what Christ said concerning the two sons? When the father says to one of them, Go and do such a thing, and he said he would; and the other said, No; the first went away and did it not, but the other, that said No, went away and did it, and so did the will of his father; the one that was under the name of obedience did it not.
And we are all such, one and another; we bear the name of Christ and are called Christians and are within his covenant: we have said, Yes, we will do it; but they that do it not are unprofitable servants and live without the will of the Father.
But if the Turks, as also the Jews, do the Father's will, who say to Christ, No, and discern him not; who is now their judge to thrust them out from the will of the Father? Is not the Son the Heart of the Father? If they honour the Father they lay hold also on his Heart, for beyond his Heart there is no God.
Dost thou suppose that I encourage them in their blindness that they should go on as they do? No: I show thee thy blindness, O thou that bearest the name of Christ! Thou judgest others, and yet dost the same thing which thou judgest in others, and so thou wilfully bringest the judgement of God upon thyself.
He that saith: Love your enemies, do
well to them that persecute you, doth not teach you to condemn and despise, but he teacheth you the way of meekness; you should be a light to the world, that heathens may see that you are the children of God.
If we consider ourselves according to the true man, who is a similitude and image of God, then we find God in us, yet ourselves without God. And the only remedy consisteth herein, that we enter again into ourselves and so enter into God in our hidden man. If we incline our wills in true earnest singleness of mind to God, then we go with Christ out from this world, out from the stars and elements, and enter into God; for in the will of earthly reason we are children of the stars and elements, and the spirit of this world ruleth over us.
But if we go out from the will of this world and enter into God, then the spirit of God ruleth in us and establisheth us for his children. Then also the garland of
paradise is set upon the soul, and it becometh a child without understanding after this world. It hath lost the ruler of this world, who once ruled it and led it in the earthly reason.
O man! consider who leadeth and driveth thee, for eternally without end is very long. Temporal honour and goods are but dross in the sight of God; it all falleth into the grave with thee and cometh to nothing: but to be in the will of God is eternal riches and honour; there, there is no more care, but our Mother careth for us in whose bosom we live as children.
Thy temporal honour is thy snare and thy misery; in divine hope and confidence is thy garden of roses.
Dost thou suppose again that I speak from hearsay? No, I speak the very life in my own experience; not in an opinion from the mouth of another, but from my own knowledge. I see with my own eyes;
which I boast not of, for the power is the Mother's. I exhort thee to enter into the bosom of the Mother, and learn also to see with thy own eyes: so long as thou dost suffer thyself to be rocked in a cradle and dost desire the eyes of others thou art blind. But if thou risest up from the cradle and dost go to the Mother, then thou shalt discern the Mother and her children.
O how good it is to see with one's own eyes! We are all asleep in the outward man, we lie in the cradle and suffer ourselves to be rocked asleep by the outward reason; we see with the eyes of the dissimulation of our play-actors, who hang bells and baubles about our ears and cradles, that we may be lulled asleep or at least play with baubles, and they may be lords and masters in the house.
Rise up from thy cradle: art thou not a child of the Mother, and moreover a child and lord of the house, and an heir
to its goods? Why sufferest thou thy servants thus to use thee? Christ saith: I am the Light of the World, he that followeth me shall have the light of the eternal life. He doth not direct us to the play-actors, but only to himself. With the inward eyes we must see in his light: so we shall see him, for he is the Light; and when we see him then we walk in the light. He is the Morning Star and is generated in us and riseth in us, and shineth in our bodily darkness.
O how great a triumph is there in the soul when he ariseth! Then a man seeth with his own eyes, and knoweth that he is in a strange lodging, concerning which I here write what I see and know in the light.
I declare unto you that the eternal Being, and also this world, is like man. Eternity bringeth to birth nothing but that which is like itself; as you find man to be, just so is eternity. Consider man
in body and soul, in good and evil, in joy and sorrow, in light and darkness, in power and weakness, in life and death: all is in man, both heaven and the earth, stars, and elements; also the threefold God.
O man! seek thyself and thou shalt find thyself. Open the eyes of thy inward man and see rightly.
This is the noble precious stone, the philosopher's stone, which wise men find. O thou bright crown of pearl, art thou not brighter than the sun? There is nothing like thee; thou art so very manifest, and yet so very secret that among many thousand in this world thou art scarce rightly known of anyone. Yet thou art borne by many that know thee not.
Christ saith, Seek and thou shalt find. The noble stone must be sought for; a lazy man findeth it not; though he carrieth it about with him he knoweth it not. To whomsoever it revealeth itself, he hath all joy therein, for its virtue is endless. He
that hath it doth not give it away; if he doth impart it to any it is not profitable to him that is lazy, who diveth not into its virtue to learn that.
The seeker findeth the stone and its virtue and benefit together. When he findeth it and knows that he is certain of it, there is greater joy in him than the world is able to apprehend; no pen can describe nor any tongue express it in the manner of the world.
It is accounted in the world's eyes the meanest of all stones and is trodden under foot. If a man light upon it he casteth it away as an unprofitable thing. None enquire after it, though there is none upon earth but desires it. All great ones and wise seek it. Indeed they find one and think it the true stone; but they mistake it. They ascribe power and virtue to it and think they have it and will keep it. But the true stone is not thus: it needeth no virtue to be ascribed to it, all virtue
lies hid in it. He who has it, and has knowledge of it, if he seeks, may find all things whatsoever, in heaven and in earth. It is the stone which is rejected of the builders, the chief corner-stone.
O you Sophisters! that out of envy often revile honest hearts according to your own pleasure, how will you be able to stand with those lambs whom you should have led into the fresh green pastures of the way of Christ, into love, purity and humility?
I speak not this out of a desire to reproach any man; I discover only the smoky pit of the Devil that it may be seen what is in man, as well in one as in another, unless he be born anew and resisteth the spirit of the Devil and thrusteth it away from him.
There is another Devil more crafty and cunning than this, a glistering angel with cloven feet. He, when he seeth a
poor soul afraid, and desiring to repent and amend, saith, Pray, and be devout; repent for once in a way. But when the poor soul goes about to pray, he slippeth into his heart and taketh away the understanding of the heart, and putteth it into mere doubting, as if God did not hear it.
So the heart standeth and repeateth over the words of a prayer, as if it were learning to say something without book; and the soul cannot reach the centre of nature; it hath only rehearsed words, not in the spirit of a soul in the centre where the fire is kindled, but only in the mouth, in the spirit of this world. Its words vanish in the air or as those wherein God's name is taken in vain.
There belongeth great earnestness to prayer; for praying is calling upon God, entreating him and speaking with him, going out of the house of sin and entering the house of God. If the Devil offers to hinder it, then storm his hell. Set
thyself against him as he setteth himself against thee, and then thou shalt find what is here told thee. If he opposes strongly, then oppose thou the more strongly; thou hast, in Christ, greater power than he.
Do but fix thy trust and confidence upon the promise of Christ, and let thy storming be grounded in the death of Christ, in his sufferings and wounds, and in his love. Dispute no further about thy sins, for the Devil involveth himself therein and upbraideth thee for them, that thou mightest despair. If thou doubtest of the grace of God thou dost sin greatly, for he is always merciful; there is no other will in him at all but to be merciful. He cannot do otherwise; his arms are spread abroad day and night towards the poor sinner.
Make trial in this manner, and thou wilt quickly see and feel another man, with another sense and thoughts and understanding. I speak as I know and have
found by experience; a soldier knows how it is in the wars. This I write out of love, as one who telleth in the spirit how it hath gone with himself, for an example to others, to try if any would follow him and find out how true it is.