Of the Preparation of a Man to qualify him for the Search of this Treasure; and of the first Matter (prima materia) of the Stone.
THE preparation for this work is simply this:--Learn to cast away from thee all vile affections--all levity and inconstancy of mind; let all thy dealings be free from deceit and hypocrisy; avoid the company of vain young men; hate all profligacy, and profane speaking.
Keep thy own, and thy neighbours' secrets; court not the favours of the rich; despise not the poor, for he who does will be poorer than the poorest.
Give to the needy and unfortunate what little thou canst spare; for he that has but little, whatever he spares to the miserable, God shall amply reward him.
Be merciful to those who offend thee, or who have injured thee; for what must that man's heart be, who would take heavy vengeance on a slight offence? Thou shalt forgive thy brother until seventy times seven.
Be not hasty to condemn the actions of others, lest thou shouldst, the next hour, fall into the very same error; despise scandal and tattling; let thy words be few.
Study day and night, and supplicate thy Creator that he would be pleased to grant thee knowledge and understanding; and that the pure spirits may have communication with, and influence, in thee.
Be not overcome with drunkenness; for, be assured, that half the evils that befall mankind originate in drunkenness: for too great a quantity of strong liquors deprive men of their reason; then, having lost the use of the faculty of their judgment, they immediately become the recipient of all evil influences, and are justly compared to weathercocks, that are driven hither and thither by every gust of wind; so those who drown the reasonable power, are easily persuaded to the lightest and most frivolous pursuits, and, from these, to vices more gross and reprobate; for the ministers of darkness have never so favourable an opportunity of insinuating themselves into the minds and hearts of men, as when they are lost in intoxication. I pray you to avoid this dreadful vice.
Avoid gluttony, and all excess--it is very pernicious, and from the Devil these are the things that constantly tempt man, and by which he falls a prey to his spiritual adversary; for he is rendered incapable of receiving any good or divine gift. Besides, the divine and angelic powers or essences delight not to be conversant about a man who is defiled, and stinking with debauchery and excess.
Covet not much gold, but learn to be satisfied with enough; for to desire more than enough, is to offend the Deity.
Read often these ten preparatory Lessons to fit thee for the great work, and for the receiving of higher things; for the more pure thou art in heart and mind, by so much quicker shall you perceive those high secrets we teach, and which are entirely hid from the discernment of the vicious and depraved, because it never can happen that such a source of treasure can be attained merely to satisfy our more gross, earthly, and vain desires and inclinations, because here nothing must be thought to be grasped, or wrested out of this book, but to the fulfilling of a good end and purpose. When thou shalt have so far purified thy heart, as we have spoken is indispensably necessary for the receiving of every good thing, thou shalt then see with other eyes than thou dost at present--thy spiritual eye will be opened, and thou shalt read man as plain as thou wilt our books; but, for all this, depend not on the strength of thy own wisdom, for even then, when we think our hearts secure, if we do not watch them that they sleep not, the Devil, or his ministers, immediately take us at this unguarded moment, and tempts us into the actual commission of some sin or other: either he excites our appetite for lust and concupiscence, or any other deadly sin; therefore, using our blessed Redeemer's words--"What I say unto you, I say unto you all--watch!"
Perhaps, I do not doubt but, there are some that will say, when they look at our works, this fellow is all rant, all preaching--he tells us what we knew before as well as himself. To such I say, let them read our book but twice; if they do not gather something that they will acknowledge precious, (nay, be convinced that it is precious, to their own satisfaction) I will burn these writings, and they shall be no more remembered by me.
To conclude this Part: we say that the First Matter (Prima Materia) Adam brought with him out of Paradise, and left it, as an inheritance, to us his successors; had he remained in his original purity, he would have been permitted to have used it himself; but the eternal fiat was passed, that he was to "earn his bread by the sweat of his brow;" therefore he could not effect what was afterwards performed by some of his offspring.
Hermes Trismegistus, that ancient philosopher, wrote touching the attainment of this stone, which he pronounced to be of all benefit to man, and one of the greatest blessings he could possess; and although his writings contain much of the excellency of truth, being wrapped up in such symbolical figures, it renders them exceedingly difficult to be understood, yet, if comprehended, they, no doubt, contain some very great secrets by which mortal man may profit.
Now it belongs to our purpose to know what it is from which we must extract the first matter of this stone, to go on with our process, because we must have materials to work upon; for all philosophers agree that, the first matter being found, we may proceed without much difficulty. For the first matter, (I shall speak as plainly as possible) first, the grand question in debate is--Where is it to be found?--I say it is to be found in ourselves. We all possess this first matter, from the beggar to the king; every mothers' son carries it about him; and, could our ingenious chemists but find a process for the extracting, how well would all their labours be repaid. The next question naturally comes to us--How are we to draw, or attract the secret matter of the stone out of ourselves?--Not by any common means; and yet it is to be drawn into very action, and that by the most simple means, and in a manner that the attaining of the philosophers' stone would very soon follow it. I pray you, my friend, look into thyself, and endeavour to find out in what part of thy composition is the prima materia of the lapis philosophorum, or out of what part of thy substance can the first matter of our stone be drawn out. Thou sayest, it must either be in the hair, sweat, or excrement. I say in none of these thou shalt ever be able to find it, and yet thou shalt find it in thyself.
Many great philosophers and chemists, whom I have the pleasure to know, affirm that, admitting of the possibility of transmutation, it (i. e. the first matter) must be taken from the purest gold. To this I say it must not; neither has it any thing at all to do with extrinsical gold. They will say then that the pure ens of gold may be drawn from gold itself. True, it may so; but then I would ask if they could ever produce more gold than
that out of which the soul or essence was extracted; if they have, they have indeed found out a secret beyond the powers of our comprehension; because it is against reason to suppose that if a pound of gold yields a drachm of the soul or essence, that that only will tinge any more than a pound of purified lead, or ☿ because we have tried various experiments, and I have, in some of my first essays, turned both lead and mercury into good gold; but no more than that out of which the soul was extracted. But, however, not to lose our time in vain and ridiculous disputation, know that whatever prodigious things or experiments have been tried with respect to the first matter, by external subjects, either in the mineral, animal, or vegetable kingdoms, as they are called, I say in us is the power of all wonderful things, which the supreme Creator has, of his infinite mercy, implanted in our souls; out of her is to be extracted the first matter, the true argent vive, the ☿ of the philosophers, the true ens of ☉, viz. a spiritual living gold, or waterish mercury, or first matter, which, by being maturted, is capable of transmuting a thousand pts. of impure metal into good and perfect gold, which endure fire, test, or cupel.