Theologica Germanica

Chapter 53

Considereth that other saying of Christ, ’No Man can come unto Me, except the Father, which hath sent Me, draw him.’

Christ hath also said: ’No man cometh unto Me, except the Father, which hath sent Me, draw him.’ Now mark: by the Father, I understand the Perfect, Simple Good, which is All and above All, and without which and besides which there is no true Substance, nor true Good, and without which no good work ever was or will be done. And in that it is All, it must be in All and above All. And it cannot be any one of those things which the creatures, as creatures, can comprehend or understand. For whatever the creature, as creature (that is, in her creature kind), can conceive of and understand, is something, this or that, and therefore is some sort of creature. And now if the Simple Perfect Good were somewhat, this or that, which the creature understandeth, it would not be the All, nor the Only One, and therefore not Perfect. Therefore also it cannot be named, seeing that it is none of all the things which the creature as creature can comprehend, know, conceive, or name. Now behold, when this Perfect Good, which is unnameable, floweth into a Person able to bring forth, and bringeth forth the Only-begotten Son in that Person, and itself in Him, we call it the Father.

Now mark how the Father draweth men unto Christ. When somewhat of this Perfect Good is discovered and revealed within the soul of man, as it were in a glance or flash, the soul conceiveth a longing to approach unto the Perfect Goodness, and unite herself with the Father. And the stronger this yearning groweth, the more is revealed unto her; and the more is revealed unto her, the more is she drawn toward the Father, and her desire quickened. Thus is the soul drawn and quickened into a union with the Eternal Goodness. And this is the drawing of the Father, and thus the soul is taught of Him who draweth her unto Himself, that she cannot enter into a union with Him except she come unto Him by the life of Christ. Behold, now she putteth on that life of which I have spoken afore.

Now see the meaning of these two sayings of Christ’s. The one, ’No man cometh unto the Father, but by Me’; that is, through My life, as hath been set forth. The other saying, ’No man cometh unto Me, except the Father draw him’; that is, he doth not take My life upon him and come after Me, except he be moved and drawn of My Father; that is, of the Simple and Perfect Good, of which St. Paul saith; ’when that which is Perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.’ That is to say; in whatever soul this Perfect Good is known, felt and tasted, so far as may be in this present time, to that soul all created things are as nought compared with this Perfect One, as in truth they are; for beside or without the Perfect One, is neither true Good nor true Substance. Whosoever then hath, or knoweth, or loveth, the Perfect One, hath and knoweth all goodness. What more then doth he want, or what is all that ’is in part’ to him, seeing that all the parts are united in the Perfect, in One Substance?

What hath here been said, concerneth the outward life, and is a good way or access unto the true inward life; but the inward life beginneth after this. When a man hath tasted that which is perfect as far as is possible in this present time, all created things and even himself become as nought to him. And when he perceiveth of a truth that the Perfect One is All and above All, he needs must follow after Him, and ascribe all that is good, such as Substance, Life, Knowledge, Reason, Power, and the like, unto Him alone and to no creature. And hence followeth that the man claimeth for his own neither Substance, Life, Knowledge, nor Power, Doing nor Refraining, nor anything that we can call good. And thus the man becometh so poor, that he is nought in himself, and so are also all things unto him which are somewhat, that is, all created things. And then there beginneth in him a true inward life, wherein from henceforward, God Himself dwelleth in the man, so that nothing is left in him but what is God’s or of God, and nothing is left which taketh anything unto itself. And thus God Himself, that is, the One Eternal Perfectness, alone is, liveth, knoweth, worketh, loveth, willeth, doeth and refraineth in the man. And thus, of a truth, it should be, and where it is not so, the man hath yet far to travel, and things are not altogether right with him.

Furthermore, it is a good way and access unto this life, to feel always that what is best is dearest, and always to prefer the best, and cleave to it, and unite oneself to it. First: in the creatures. But what is best in the creatures? Be assured: that, in which the Eternal Perfect Goodness and what is thereof, that is, all which belongeth thereunto, most brightly shineth and worketh, and is best known and loved. But what is that which is of God, and belongeth unto Him? I answer: whatever with justice and truth we do, or might call good.

When therefore among the creatures the man cleaveth to that which is the best that he can perceive, and keepeth steadfastly to that, in singleness of heart, he cometh afterward to what is better and better, until, at last, he findeth and tasteth that the Eternal Good is a Perfect Good, without measure and number above all created good. Now if what is best is to be dearest to us, and we are to follow after it, the One Eternal Good must be loved above all and alone, and we must cleave to Him alone, and unite ourselves with Him as closely as we may. And now if we are to ascribe all goodness to the One Eternal Good, as of right and truth we ought, so must we also of right and truth ascribe unto Him the beginning, middle, and end of our course, so that nothing remain to man or the creature. So it should be of a truth, let men say what they will.

Now on this wise we should attain unto a true inward life. And what then further would happen to the soul, or would be revealed unto her, and what her life would be henceforward, none can declare or guess. For it is that which hath never been uttered by man’s lips, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive.

In this our long discourse, are briefly comprehended those things which ought of right and truth to be fulfilled: to wit, that man should claim nothing for his own, nor crave, will, love, or intend anything but God alone, and what is like unto Him, that is to say, the One, Eternal, Perfect Goodness.

But if it be not thus with a man, and he take, will, purpose, or crave, somewhat for himself, this or that, whatever it may be, beside or other than the Eternal and Perfect Goodness which is God Himself, this is all too much and a great injury, and hindereth the man from a perfect life; wherefore he can never reach the Perfect Good, unless he first forsake all things and himself first of all. For no man can serve two masters, who are contrary the one to the other; he who will have the one, must let the other go. Therefore if the Creator shall enter in, the creature must depart. Of this be assured.

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