The Cloud Upon the Sanctuary, by Karl Eckartshausen, , at sacred-texts.com
As infinity in numbers loses itself in the unit, and as the innumerable rays of a circle are united in one single centre only, it is likewise with the Mysteries; their hieroglyphics and infinite number of emblems have the object of exemplifying but one single truth. He who knows this has found the key to understand everything all at once.
There is but one God, but one truth, and one way which leads to this grand Truth. There is but one means of finding it.
He who has found this way possesses everything in its possession: all wisdom in one book alone, all strength in one force, every beauty in one single object, all riches in one treasure only, every happiness in one perfect felicity. And the sum of all these perfections is Jesus Christ, who was crucified and who lived again. Now, this great truth, expressed thus, is, it is true, only an object of faith, but it can become also one of experimental knowledge, as soon as we are instructed how Jesus Christ can be or become all this.
This great mystery was always an object of instruction in the Secret School of the invisible and interior Church; this great knowledge was understood
in the earliest days of Christianity under the name of Disciplina Arcana. From this secret school are derived all the rites and ceremonies extant in the Outer Church. But the spirit of these grand and simple verities was withdrawn into the Interior, and in our day it is entirely lost as to the exterior.
It has been prophesied long ago, dear brothers, that all which is hidden shall be revealed in these latter days; but it has also been predicted that many false prophets will arise, and the faithful are warned not to believe every spirit, but to prove them if they really come from God, i John iv. 5. The apostle himself explains how this truth is ascertained. He says, "Hereby know ye the Spirit of God, every spirit which confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit which confesseth not is not of God." That is to say, the spirit who separates in Him the Divine and human is not from God.
We confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, and hence the spirit of truth speaks by us. But the mystery that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of wide extent and great depth, and in it is contained the knowledge of the divine-human, and it is this knowledge that we are choosing to-day as object for our instruction.
As we are not speaking to neophytes in matters of faith, it will be much easier for you, dear brothers, to receive the sublime truths which we will present
to you, as without doubt you have already chosen as object for your holy meditation various preparatory subjects.
Religion considered scientifically is the doctrine of the re-union of man separated from God to man re-united to God. Hence its sole object is to unite every human being to God, through which union alone can humanity attain its highest felicity both temporally and spiritually.
This doctrine, therefore, of re-union is of the most sublime importance, and being a doctrine it necessarily must have a method by which it leads and teaches us. The first is the knowledge of the correct means of re-union, and secondly the teaching, after the knowledge of the correct means, how these means should be suitably co-ordinated to the end.
This grand concept of re-union, on which all religious doctrine is concentrated, could never have been known to man without revelation. It has always been altogether outside the sphere of scientific knowledge, but this very ignorance of man has made revelation absolutely necessary to us, otherwise we could, unassisted, never have found the means of rising out of this state of ignorance.
Revelation entails the necessity of faith in revelation, because he who has no experience or knowledge whatsoever of a thing must necessarily believe that he wishes to know and have experience. If faith fails, there is no desire for revelation, and the
mind of man closes by itself, its own door and road for discovering the methods revealed by Revelation only. As action and re-action follow each other in nature, so also inevitably revelation and faith act and re-act. One cannot exist without the other, and the more faith a man has the more will revelation be made to him of matters which lie in obscurity. It is true, and very true, that all the veiled truths of religions, even those heavily veiled ones, the most difficult ones to us, will one day be revealed and justified before a tribunal of the most rigid Justice; but the weakness of men, the lack of penetration in perceiving the relation and correspondence between physical and spiritual nature, requires that the highest truths should only be imparted gradually. The holy obscurity of the mysteries is thus on account of our weakness, because our eyes are enabled only gradually to bear their full and dazzling light. In every grade at which the believer in Revelation arrives, he obtains clearer light, and this progressive illumination continues the more convincing, because every truth of faith so acquired becomes more and more vitalised, passing finally into conviction.
Hence faith is founded on our weakness, and also on the full light of revelation which will, in its communication with us, direct us according to our capabilities to the gradual understanding of things, so that in due order the cognisance of the most elevated truths will be ours.
Those objects which are quite unknown to human sense are necessarily belonging to the domain of faith.
Man can only adore and be silent, but if he wishes to demonstrate matters which cannot be manifested objectively, he necessarily falls into error.
Man should adore and be silent, therefore, until such time arrives when these objects in the domain of faith become clearer, and, therefore, more easily recognised. Everything proves itself by itself as soon as we have acquired the interior experience of the truths revealed through faith, so soon as we are led by faith to vision, that is to say, to full cognisance.
In all time have there been men illuminated of God who had this interior knowledge of the things of faith demonstrated objectively either in full or partly, according as the truths of faith passed into their understanding or their hearts. The first kind of vision was called divine illumination. The second was entitled divine inspiration.
The inner sensorium was opened in many to divine and transcendental vision, called ecstacy because this inner sensorium was so enlarged that it entirely dominated the outer physical senses.
But this kind of man is always inexplicable, and he must remain such always to the man of mere sense who has no organs receptive to the transcendental and supernatural, "the natural man receiveth
not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged," 1 Cor. xi. 14, i.e., because his spiritual senses are not open to the transcendental world, so that he can have no more objective cognisance of such world than a blind man has of colour; thus the natural man has lost these interior senses, or rather, the capacity for their development is neglected almost to atrophy.
Thus mere physical man is, in general, spiritually blind, one of the further consequences of the Fall. Man then is doubly miserable; he not only has his eyes blindfolded to the sight of high truths, but his heart also languishes a prisoner in the bonds of flesh and blood, which confine him to animal and sensuous pleasures to the hurt of more elevated and genuine ones. Therefore, are we slaves to concupiscence, to the domination of tyrannical passions, and, therefore, do we drag ourselves as paralysed sufferers supported on crutches; the one crutch being the weak one of mere human reason, and the other, sentiment—the one daily giving us appearance instead of reality, the other making us constantly choose evil, imagining it to be good. This is, therefore, our unhappy condition.
Men can only be happy when the bandage which intercepts the true light falls from their eyes, and when the fetters of slavery are loosened from their hearts. The blind must see, the lame must walk,
before happiness can be understood. But the great and all-powerful law to which the felicity or happiness of man is indissolubly attached is the one following—"Man, let reason rule over your passions!"
For ages has man striven to teach and to preach, with, however, the result, after so many centuries, of but the blind always leading the blind; for in all the foolishness of misery into which we have fallen, we do not yet see that man wants more than man to raise us from this condition.
Prejudices and errors, crimes and vices, only change from century to century; they are never extirpated from humanity; reason without illumination flickers faintly in every age, in the heavy air of spiritual darkness; the heart, exhausted with passions, is also the same century after century.
There is but One who can heal these evils, but One who is able to open our inner eyes, but One who can free us from the bonds of sensuality.
This One is Jesus Christ, the Saviour of Man, the Saviour because He wishes to obliterate from us all the consequences which follow as result from the blindness of our natural reason, or the errors arising from the passions of ungoverned hearts.
Very few men, beloved brothers, have a true and exact conception of the greatness of the idea meant by the Redemption of Man; many suppose that Jesus Christ the Lord has only redeemed or re-bought
us by His Blood from damnation, otherwise the eternal separation of man from God; but they do not believe that He could also deliver all those who are bound in Him and confide in Him, from all the miseries of this earth plane!
Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the World; He is the deliverer from all human wretchedness, and He has redeemed us from death and sin; how could He be all that, if the world must languish perpetually in the shades of ignorance and in the bonds of passions? It has been already very clearly predicted in the Prophets that the time of the Redemption of His people, the first Sabbath of time, will come. Long ago ought we to have acknowledged this most consolatory promise; but the want of the true knowledge of God, of man, and of nature has been the real hindrance which has always obstructed our sight of the great Mysteries of the faith.
You must know, my brothers, that there is a dual nature, one pure, spiritual, immortal, and indestructible, the other impure, material, mortal, and destructible. The pure nature was before the impure. This latter originated solely through the disharmony and disproportion of substances which form destructible nature. Hence nothing is permanent until all disproportions and dissonances are eradicated, so that all remains in harmony.
The incorrect conception regarding spirit and matter is one of the principal causes which prevent
many verities of faith from shining in their true lustre.
Spirit is a substance, an essence, an absolute reality. Hence its properties are indestructibility, uniformity, penetration, indivisibility, and continuity. Matter is not a substance, it is an aggregate. Hence it is destructible, divisible, and subject to change.
The metaphysical world is one really existing perfectly pure and indestructible, whose Centre we call Jesus Christ, and whose inhabitants are known by the names of Angels and Spirits.
The physical world is that of phenomena, and it possesses no absolute truth, all that we call truth here is but relative, the shadow and phenomena only of truth.
Our reason here borrows all its ideas from the senses, hence they are lifeless and dead. We draw everything from external objectivity, and our reason is like an ape who imitates what nature shows him outwardly. Thus the light of the senses is the principle of our earthly reason, sensuality the motive for our will, tending therefore to animal wants and their satisfaction. It is true, however, that we feel higher motives imperative, but up to the present we do not know either where to seek or where to find.
In this world everything is corruptible; it is useless to seek here for a pure principle of reason and morality or motive for the Will. This must be sought for in a more exalted world—there, where
all is pure and indestructible, where there reigns a Being all wisdom and all love. Thus the world neither can nor will become happy until this Real Being can be received by humanity in full and become its All in All.
Man, dear brothers, is composed of indestructible and metaphysical substance, as well as of material and destructible substance, but in such a manner that the indestructible and eternal is, as it were, imprisoned in the destructible matter.
Thus two contradictory natures are comprehended in the same man. The destructible substance enchains us to the sensible, the other seeks to deliver us from these chains, and to raise us to the spiritual. Hence the incessant combat between good and evil.
The fundamental cause of human corruption is to be found in the corruptible matter from which man is formed. For this gross matter oppresses the action of the transcendental and spiritual principle, and is the true cause, hence, of the blindness of our understanding, and the errors of our inclinations.
The fragility of a china vessel depends upon the clay from which it is formed. The most beautiful form that clay of any sort is able to receive must always remain fragile because the matter of which it is formed is also fragile. Thus do men remain likewise frail notwithstanding all our external culture.
When we examine the causes of the obstacles
keeping the natural man in such deep abasement, they are found in the grossness of the matter in which the spiritual part is, as it were, buried and bound.
The inflexibility of fibres, the immovability of temperaments, that would wish to obey the refined stimulation of the spirit, are, as it were, the material chains which bind them, preventing in us the action of the sublime functions of which the spirit is capable.
The nerves and fluidity of the brain can only yield us rough and obscure notions derived from phenomena, and not from truth and the things themselves; and as we cannot, by the strength of our thinking powers alone, have sufficient balance to oppose representations strong enough to counteract the violence of external sensation, the result is that we are governed by our sensations, and the voice of reason which speaks softly internally is deafened by the tumultuous noise of the elements which keep our mechanism going.
It is true that reason strains to raise itself above this uproar, and wishes to decide the combat, seeking to restore order by the light and force of its judgment. But its action is only like the rays of the sun constantly hidden by clouds.
The grossness of all the matter in which material man consists, and the tissue of the whole edifice of his nature, is the cause of that disinclination which holds the soul in continual imperfection.
The heaviness of our thinking power in general is consequent upon dependence upon gross and unyielding matter, this same matter forming the true bonds of the flesh, and is the true source of all error and vice. Reason, which should be an absolute legislator, is continually slave to sensuality, which raises itself as regent and, governing the reason that is drooping in chains, follows its own desires.
This truth has been felt for long, and it has always been taught that reason should be sole legislator. It should govern the will and never be governed itself.
Great and small feel this truth; but no sooner is it desired to put it in execution than the animal will vanquishes reason, and then the reason subjugates the animal will; thus in every man the victory and defeat are alternate, hence this power and counter-power are the cause of this perpetual oscillation between good and evil, or the true and the false.
If man wishes to be led to the true in such manner that we can only act after the laws of reason, and from the purified will, it is absolutely necessary to constitute the pure reason sovereign in man. But how can this be done when the matter out of which many men is formed is more or less brutal, divisible and corruptible, hence misery, illness, poverty, death, want, prejudices, errors, and vices, the necessary consequence of the
limitation of the immortal spirit in the bonds of brute and corruptible matter. Sensuality is bound to rule if reason be fettered.
Yes, friends and brothers, such is the general fate of man, and as this state of things is propagated from man to man, it may in all justice be called the hereditary corruption of man.
We observe, in general, that the powers of reason act upon the heart, but in relation only to the specific constitution of the matter of which man is made. Thus it is extremely remarkable when we think that the sun vivifies this animal matter according to the measure of the distance from this terrestrial body, that it makes it suitable to the functions of animal economy, but at one degree more or less raised from spiritual influence. Diversity of nations, their properties with regard to climate, the variety of character, passions, manners, prejudices and customs, even their virtues and their vices, depend entirely upon the specific constitution of the matter from which they are formed, and in which the imprisoned spirit operates accordingly. Man's capacity for culture is modified to this constitution, likewise his science, which can only affect people as far as there is matter present, susceptible to such modification, and in this modification consists the capacity for culture suitable to such people, which suitability depends partly on climate, partly on descent.
Generally, we find in each zone man much the
same everywhere, weak and sensual, wise just in so far as his physical matter allows reason to triumph over the sensuous, or foolish if the sensuous obtains mastery over the more or less fettered spirit. In this lies the evil and the good specially belonging to each nation, as well as to each isolated individual. We find in the world at large the same corruption inherent in the matter from which man is made, only under various forms and modifications.
From the lowest animal condition of savage nature man rises to the idea of the social state, primarily through his wants and desires, strength and cunning, qualities especially animal, inherently his as the animal develops thence gradually into other forms.
The modifications of these fundamental animal tendencies are endless; and the highest degree to which human culture as acquired by the world, has attained, up to the present has not carried things further than the putting of a finer polish on the substance of his animal instincts. This means to say we are raised from the rank of the brute to that of the refined animal.
But this period was necessary, because on its accomplishment begins a new era, when the animal instincts being fully developed, there commences the stage of evolution of the more elevated desires towards light and reason.
Jesus Christ has written in our hearts in exceedingly
beautiful words this great truth, that man must seek in his common clay for the cause of all his sorrows. When He said, "The best man, he who strives the most to arrive at truth, sins seven times a day," He wished to say by this, in the man of the finest organisation, the seven powers of the spirit are still closed, therefore the seven sensuous actions surmount them daily after their respective fashions.
Thus the best man is exposed to error and passions; the best man is weak and sinful; the best man is not a free man, and, therefore, exempt from pain and trouble; the best man is subject to sickness and death, and why? Because all these are the natural inevitable consequences incidental to the qualities of the corrupt matter of which he is formed.
Therefore, there could be no hope of higher happiness for humanity so long as this corruptible and material forms the principal substantial part of his being.
The impossibility of mankind to transport itself, of itself, to true perfection, is a despairing thought, but, at the same time, one full of consolation, because, in consequence of this radical impossibility, and because of it, a more exalted and perfect being than man permitted himself to be clothed in this mortal and destructible envelope in order to make the mortal immortal, and the destructible indestructible; and in this object is to be
sought the true reason for the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the actual substantial Word by which all is made, and which existed from the beginning, Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God working in everything, was as the centre of Paradise of the world and of light. He was the only real organism by which alone Divine strength could be communicated, and this organism is of immortal and pure nature, that indestructible substance which gives new life and raises all things to happiness and perfection. This pure incorruptible substance is the pure element in which spiritual man lived.
From this perfect element, which God only can inhabit, and the substance out of which the first man was formed, from it was the first man separated by the Fall. By the partaking of the Tree of Good and Evil, of the mixture, the good and incorruptible principle with the bad and corruptible one, he was self-poisoned, so that his immortal essence retreated interiorly, and the mortal, pressing forward, clothed him externally. Thus, then, disappeared immortality, happiness, and life, and mortality and death were the results of this change.
Many men cannot understand the idea of the Tree of Good and Evil; this tree was, however, the product of moveable but central matter, but in which destructibility had somewhat the superiority over the indestructible. The premature use of this
fruit was that which poisoned Adam, robbing him of his immortality and enveloping him in this material and mortal clay, and thenceforward he fell a prey to the Elements which originally he governed. This unhappy event was, however, the reason why Immortal Wisdom, the pure metaphysical element, clothed itself with a mortal body and voluntarily sacrificed himself, so that the Interior Powers could penetrate into the centre of the destruction, and could then ferment gradually, changing the mortal to the immortal.
Thus, when it came about quite naturally that immortal man became subject to mortality through the enjoyment of mortal matter, it also happened quite naturally that mortal man could only recover his former dignity through the enjoyment of Immortal Matter.
All passes naturally and simply under God's Reign, but in order to understand this simplicity it is requisite to have pure ideas of God, of nature, and of man. And if the sublimest Truths of faith are still, for us, wrapped in impenetrable obscurity, the reason for this is because we have up to the present dissolved the connection between God, nature, and man.
Jesus Christ has spoken to His most intimate friends when He was still on this earth, of the grand mystery of Regeneration, but all that He said was obscure to them, they could not then receive it; thus the development of these great
Truths was reserved for latter days, for it is the greatest and the last Mystery of Religion, in which all the others retreat as to a Unity.
Regeneration is no other than a dissolution of, and a release from this impure and corruptible matter, which enchains our immortal essence, plunging into deathly sleep its obstructed vital force. Therefore, there must necessarily be a real method to eradicate this poisonous ferment which breeds so much suffering for us, and thereby to liberate the obstructed vitality.
There is, however, no other means to find this excepting by religion, for religion looked at scientifically being the doctrine which proclaims the re-union with God, it must of necessity show us how to arrive at this re-union.
Is not Jesus the life giving intelligence? He gives us the principal object of the Bible and of all the desires, hopes, and efforts of the Christians. Have we not received from our Lord and Master while still He walked with His disciples, the profoundest solutions of the most hidden truths? Did not our Lord and Master when He was with them in His glorified Body after His resurrection give them the highest revelation with regard to His Person, and did He not lead them still more deeply into central knowledge of truth?
Will He not realise that which He said in His Sacerdotal prayer, St. John xvii. 22, 23: "And the glory which thou hast given to me I have given
unto them, that they may be one, even as We are one: I in them, and they in Me, that they may be perfected into One."
As the disciples of the Lord could not comprehend this great mystery of the new and last alliance, Jesus Christ transmitted it to the latter days, of the future now arriving, when He said, "And the glory which Thou hast given Me, I have given unto them, that they may be one even as We are One," St. John xvii. 22. This alliance is called the Union of Peace. It is then that the law of God will be engraven in the heart of our hearts; we shall all know the Lord; and we shall be His people, and He will be our God.
All is already prepared for this actual possession of God, this union with God really possible here below; and the holy element, the efficacious medicine for humanity, is revealed by God's Spirit. The table of the Lord is ready and everyone is invited; the " true bread of Angels " is prepared.
The holiness and the greatness of the Mystery which contains within itself every mystery here obliges us to be silent, and we are not permitted to speak more than concerning its effects.
The corruptible and destructible is destroyed, and replaced by the incorruptible and by the indestructible. The inner sensorium opens and links us on to the spiritual world. We are enlightened by wisdom, led by truth, and nourished with the torch of love. Unimagined strength
develops in us wherewith to vanquish the world, the flesh and the devil. Our whole being is renewed and made suitable for the actual dwelling-place of the Spirit of God. Command over nature, intercourse with the upper worlds, and the delight of visible intercourse with the Lord are granted also!
The hoodwink of ignorance falls from our eyes, the bonds of sensuality break, and we rejoice in the liberty of God's children.
We have told you the chiefest and most important fact, if your heart having the thirst for truth has laid hold on the pure ideas that you have gathered from all this, and have received in its entirety the grandeur and the blessedness of the thing itself as object of desire, we will tell you further.
May the Glory of the Lord and the renewing of your whole being be meanwhile the highest of your hopes!