The Signature of All Things

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The Signature of All Things

By Jacob Boehme

Of Heaven and Hell


The scholar asked his master, saying; Whither goeth the soul when the body dieth?

His master answered him; There is no necessity for it to go any whither.

What not! said the inquisitive Junius: Must not the soul leave the body at death, and go either to heaven or hell?

It needs no going forth, replyed the venerable Theophorus: Only the outward mortal life with the body shall separate themselves from the soul. The soul hath heaven and hell within itself before, according as it is written, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, neither shall they say, Lo here! or Lo there! For behold the kingdom of God is within you." And which soever of the two, that is, either heaven or hell is manifested in it, in that the soul standeth.

Here Junius said to his master; This is hard to understand. Doth it not enter into heaven or hell, as a man entereth into an house; or as one goeth through an hole or casement, into an unknown place; so goeth it not into another world?

The master spake and said; No. There is verily no such kind of entering in; forasmuch as heaven and hell are everywhere, being universally co-extended.

How is that possible? said the scholar. What, can heaven and hell be here present, where we are now sitting? And if one of them might, can you make me believe that ever both should be here together?

Then spoke the master in this manner: I have said that heaven is everywhere present; and it is true. For God is in heaven; and God is everywhere. I have said also, that hell must be in like manner everywhere; and that is also true. For the wicked one, who is the devil, is in hell; and the whole world, as the apostle hath taught us, lieth in the wicked one, or the evil one; which is as much as to say, not only that the devil is in the world, but also that the world is in the devil; and if in the devil, then in hell too, because he is there. So hell therefore is everywhere, as well as heaven; which is the thing that was to be proved.

The scholar, startled hereat, said, Pray make me to understand this.

To whom the master: Understand then what heaven is: it is but the turning in of the will into the love of God. Wheresoever thou findest God manifesting himself in love, there thou findest heaven, without travelling for it so much as one foot. And by this understand also what hell is, and where it is. I say unto thee, it is but the turning in of the will into the wrath of God. Wheresoever the anger of God doth more or less manifest itself, there certainly is more or less of hell, in whatsoever place it be. So that it is but the turning in of thy will either into his love, or into his anger; and thou art accordingly either in heaven or in hell. Mark it well. And this now cometh to pass in this present life, whereof St. Paul speaking, saith, "Our conversation is in heaven." And the Lord Christ saith also; "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give them the eternal life; and none shall pluck them out of my hand." Observe, he saith not, I will give them, after this life is ended; but I give them, that is, now in the time of this life. And what else is this gift of Christ to his followers but an eternity of life; which for certain, can be nowhere but in heaven. And also if Christ be certainly in heaven, and they who follow him in the regeneration are in his hand, then are they where he is, and so cannot be out of heaven: Yea, moreover none shall be able to pluck them out of heaven, because it is he who holdeth them there, and they are in his hand which nothing can resist. All therefore doth consist in the turning in, or entering of the will into heaven, by hearing the voice of Christ, and both knowing him, and following him. And so on the contrary it is also: Understandest thou this?

His scholar said to him; I think, in part, I do. But how cometh this entering of the will into heaven to pass?

The master answered him; This then I will endeavour to satisfy thee in; but thou must be very attentive to what I shall say unto thee. Know then, my son, that when the ground of the will yieldeth up itself to God, then it sinketh out of its own self, and out of and beyond all ground and place, that is or can be imagined, into a certain unknown deep, where God only is manifest, and where he only worketh and willeth. And then it becometh nothing to itself, as to its own working and willing; and so God worketh and willeth in it. And God dwells in this resigned will; by which the soul is sanctified, and so fitted to come into divine rest. Now in this case when the body breaketh, the soul is so thoroughly penetrated all over with the divine love, and so thoroughly illuminated with the divine light, even as a glowing hot iron is by the fire, by which being penetrated throughout, it loseth its darkness, and becometh bright and shining. Now this is the hand of Christ, where God's love thoroughly inhabiteth the soul, and is in it a shining light, and a new glorious life. And then the soul is in heaven, and is a temple of the Holy Ghost, and is itself the very heaven of God, wherein he dwelleth. Lo, this is the entering of the will into heaven; and thus it cometh to pass.

Be pleased, sir, to proceed, said the scholar, and let me know how it fareth on the other side.

The master said: The godly soul, you see, is in the hand of Christ, that is in heaven, as he himself hath told us; and in what manner this cometh to be so, you have also heard. But the ungodly soul is not willing in this life-time to come into the divine resignation of its will, or to enter into the will of God; but goeth on still in its own lust and desire, in vanity and falsehood, and so entereth into the will of the devil. It receiveth thereupon into itself nothing but wickedness; nothing but lying, pride, covetousness, envy, and wrath; and thereinto it giveth up its will and whole desire. This is the vanity of the will; and this same vanity or vain shadow must also in like manner be manifested in the soul, which hath yielded up itself to be its servant; and must work therein, even as the love of God worketh in the regenerated will, and penetrate it all over, as fire doth iron.

And it is not possible for this soul to come into the rest of God; because God's anger is manifested in it, and worketh in it. Now when the body is parted from this soul, then beginneth the eternal melancholy and despair; because it now findeth that it is become altogether vanity, even a vanity most vexatious to itself, and a distracting fury, and a self-tormenting abomination. Now it perceiveth itself disappointed of everything which it had before fancied, and blind, and naked, and wounded, and hungry, and thirsty; without the least prospect of being ever relieved, or obtaining so much as one drop of the water of eternal life. And it feeleth itself to be a mere devil to itself, and its own vile executioner and tormentor; and is affrighted at its own ugly dark form, appearing as a most hideous and monstrous worm, and fain would flee from itself, if it could, but it cannot, being fast bound with the chains of the dark nature, whereinto it had sunk itself when in the flesh. And so not having learned nor accustomed itself to sink down into the divine grace, and being also strongly possessed with the idea of God, as an angry and jealous God, the poor soul is both afraid and ashamed to bring its will into God, by which deliverance might possibly come to it. The soul is afraid to do it, as fearing to be consumed by so doing, under the apprehension of the Deity as a mere devouring fire. The soul is also ashamed to do it, as being confounded at its own nakedness and monstrosity; and therefore would, if it were possible, hide itself from the majesty of God, and cover its abominable form from his most holy eye, though by casting itself still deeper into the darkness, wherefore then it will not enter into God; nay, it cannot enter with its false will; yea, though it should strive to enter, yet can it not enter into the love, because of the will which hath reigned in it. For such a soul is thereby captivated in the wrath; yea, is itself but mere wrath, having by its false desire, which it had awakened in itself, comprehended and shut up itself therewith, and so transformed itself into the nature and property thereof.

And since also the light of God Both not shine in it, nor the love of God incline it, the soul is moreover a great darkness, and is withal an anxious fire-source, carrying about an hell within itself, and not being able to discern the least glimpse of the light of God, or to feel the least spark of his love. Thus it dwelleth in itself as in hell, and needeth no entering into hell at all, or being carried thither; for in what place soever it may be, so long as it is in itself, it is in the hell. And though it should travel far, and cast itself many hundred thousand leagues from its present place, to be out of hell; yet still would it remain in the hellish source and darkness.

If this be so, how then cometh it, said the scholar to Theophorus, that an heavenly soul doth not in the time of this life perfectly perceive the heavenly light and joy; and the soul which is without God in the world, doth not also here feel hell, as well as hereafter? Why should they not both be perceived and felt as well in this life as in the next, seeing that both of them are in man, and one of them (as you have shewed) worketh in every man?

To whom Theophorus presently returneth this answer: The kingdom of heaven is in the saints operative and manifestative of itself by faith. They who carry God within them, and live by his Spirit, find the kingdom of God in their faith; and they feel the love of God in their faith, by which the will hath given up itself into God, and is made Godlike. In a word, all is transacted within them by faith, which is to them the evidence of the eternal invisibles, and a great manifestation in their spirit of this divine kingdom, which is within them. But their natural life is nevertheless encompassed with flesh and blood; and this standing in a contrariety thereto, and being placed through the Fall in the principle of God's anger, and environed about with the world, which by no means can be reconciled to faith, these faithful souls cannot but be very much exposed to attacks from this world, wherein they are sojourners; neither can they be insensible of their being thus compassed about with flesh and blood, and with this world's vain lust, which ceaseth not continually to penetrate the outward mortal life, and to tempt them manifold ways, even as it did Christ. Whence the world on one side, and the devil on the other, not without the curse of God's anger in flesh and blood, do thoroughly penetrate and sift the life; whereby it cometh to pass that the soul is often in anxiety when these three are all set upon it together, and when hell thus assaulteth the life, and would manifest itself in the soul. But the soul hereupon sinketh down into the hope of the grace of God, and standeth like a beautiful rose in the midst of thorns, until the kingdom of this world shall fall from it in the death of the body: And then the soul first becometh truly manifest in the love of God, and in his kingdom, which is the kingdom of love; having henceforth nothing more to hinder it. But during this life she must walk with Christ in this world; and then Christ delivereth her out of her own hell, by penetrating her with his love throughout, and standing by her in hell, and even changing her hell into heaven.

But in that thou moreover sayest, why do not the souls which are without God feel hell in this world? I answer: They bear it about with them in their wicked consciences, but they know it not; because the world hath put out their eyes, and its deadly cup hath cast them likewise into a sleep, a most fatal sleep. Notwithstanding which it must be owned that the wicked do frequently feel hell within them during the time of this mortal life, though they may not apprehend that it is hell, because of the earthly vanity which cleaveth unto them from without, and the sensible pleasures and amusements wherewith they are intoxicated. And moreover it is to be noted, that the outward life in every such one hath yet the light of the outward nature, which ruleth in that life; and so the pain of hell cannot, so long as that hath the rule, be revealed. But when the body dieth or breaketh away, so as the soul cannot any longer enjoy such temporal pleasure and delight, nor the light of this outward world, which is wholly thereupon extinguished as to it; then the soul stands in an eternal hunger and thirst after such vanities as it was here in love withal, but yet can reach nothing but that false will, which it had impressed in itself while in the body; and wherein it had abounded to its great loss. And now whereas it had too much of its will in this life, and yet was not contented therewith, it hath after this separation by death, as little of it; which createth in it an everlasting thirst after that which it can henceforth never obtain more, and causeth it to be in a perpetual anxious lust after vanity, according to its former impression, and in a continual rage of hunger after those sorts of wickedness and lewdness whereinto it was immersed, being in the flesh. Fain would it do more evil still, but that it hath not either wherein or wherewith to effect the same, left it; and therefore it doth perform this only in itself. All is now internally transacted, as if it were outward; and so the ungodly is tormented by those furies which are in his own mind, and begotten upon himself by himself. For he is verily become his own devil and tormentor; and that by which he sinned here, when the shadow of this world is passed away, abideth still with him in the impression, and is made his prison and his hell. But this hellish hunger and thirst cannot be fully manifested in the soul, till the body which ministered to the soul what it lusted after, and with which the soul was so bewitched, as to doat thereupon, and pursue all its cravings, be stripped off from it.

I perceive then, said Junius to his master, that the soul having played the wanton with the body in all voluptuousness, and served the lusts thereof during this life, retaineth still the very same inclinations and affections which it had before, then when it hath no opportunity nor capacity to satisfy them longer; and that when this cannot be, there is then hell opened in that soul, which had been shut up in it before, by means of the outward life in the body, and of the light of this world. Do I rightly understand?

Theophorus said, It is very rightly understood by you. Go on.

On the other hand (said he) I clearly perceive by what I have heard, that heaven cannot but be in a loving soul, which is possessed of God, and bath subdued thereby the body to the obedience of the spirit in all things, and perfectly immersed itself into the will and love of God. And when the body dieth, and this soul is hence redeemed from the earth, it is now evident to me, that the life of God which was hidden in it, will display itself gloriously, and heaven consequently be then manifested. But notwithstanding, if there be not also a local heaven besides, and a local hell, I am still at a loss where to place no small part of the creation, if not the greatest, For where must all the intellectual inhabitants of it abide?

In their own principle, answered the master, whether it be of light or of darkness. For every created intellectual being remaineth in its deeds and essences, in its wonders and properties, in its life and image; and therein it beholdeth and feeleth God, as who is everywhere, whether it be in the love, or in the wrath.

If it be in the love of God, then beholdeth it God accordingly, and feeleth him as he is love. But if it bath captivated itself in the wrath of God, then it cannot behold God otherwise than in the wrathful nature, nor perceive him otherwise than as an incensed and vindictive spirit. All places are alike to it, if it be in God's love; and if it be not there, every place is hell alike. What place can bound a thought? Or what needeth any understanding spirit to be kept here or there, in order to its happiness or misery? Verily, wheresoever it is, it is in the abyssal world, where there is neither end nor limit. And whither, I pray, should it go? since though it should go a thousand miles off, or a thousand time ten thousand miles, and this ten thousand times over, beyond the bounds of the universe, and into the imaginary spaces above the stars, yet it were then still in the very same point from whence it went out. For God is the place of spirit; if it may be lawful to attribute to him such a name, to the which body hath a relation: And in God there is no limit; both near and afar off is here all one; and be it in his love, or be it in his anger, the abyssal will of the spirit is altogether unconfined. It is swift as thought, passing through all things; it is magical, and nothing corporeal or from without can let it; it dwelleth in its wonders, and they are its house.

Thus it is with every intellectual, whether of the order of angels, or of human souls; and you need not fear but there will be room enough for them all, be they ever so many; and such also as shall best suit them, even according to their election and determination; and which may thence very well be called his own place.

At which, said the scholar; I remember, indeed, that it is written concerning the great traitor, that he went after death to his own place.

The master here said: The same is true of every soul, when it departeth this mortal life: And it is true in like manner of every angel, or spirit whatsoever; which is necessarily determined by its own choice. As God is everywhere, so also the angels are everywhere; but each one in its own principle, and in its own property, or (if you had rather) in its own place. The same essence of God, which is as a place to spirits, is confessed to be everywhere; but the appropriation, or participation hereof is different to every one, according as each hath attracted magically in the earnestness of the will. The same divine essence which is with the angels of God above, is with us also below: And the same divine nature which is with us, is likewise with them; but after different manners and in different degrees, communicated and participated.

And what I have said here of the divine, is no less to be considered by you in the participation of the diabolical essence and nature, which is the power of darkness, as to the manifold modes, degrees, and appropriations thereof in the false will. In this world there is strife between them: But when this world hath reached in any one the limit, then the principle catcheth that which is its own; and so the soul receiveth companions accordingly, that is, either angels or devils.

To whom the scholar again: Heaven and hell then being in us at strife in the time of this life, and God himself being also thus near unto us, where can angels and devils dwell?

And the master answered him thus: Where thou dost not dwell as to thy self-hood, and to thine own will, there the holy angels dwell with thee, and everywhere all over round about thee. Remember this well. On the contrary, where thou dwellest as to thyself, in self-seeking, and self-will, there to be sure the devils will he with thee, and will take up their abode with thee, and dwell all over thee, and round about thee everywhere. Which God in his mercy prevent.

I understand not this, said the scholar, so perfectly well as I could wish. Be pleased to make it a little more clear to me.

The master then spake: Mark well what I am going to say. Where the will of God in anything willeth, there is God manifested; and in this very manifestation of God, the angels do dwell. But where God in any creature willeth not with the will of that creature, there God is not manifested to it, neither earl he be; but dwelleth in himself, without the co-operation thereof, and subjection to him in humility. There God is an unmanifested God to the creature: So the angels dwell not with such an one; for wherever they dwell, there is the glory of God; and they make his glory. What then dwelleth in such a creature as this? God dwelleth not therein; the angels dwell not therein; God willeth not therein, the angels also will not therein. The case is evidently this, in that soul or creature its own will is without God's will, and there the devil dwelleth; and with him all whatever is without God, and without Christ. This is the truth; lay it to heart.

The Scholar. It is possible I may ask several impertinent questions; but I beseech you, good sir, to have patience with me, and to pity my ignorance, if I ask what may appear to you perhaps ridiculous, or may not be at all fit for me to expect an answer to. For I have several questions still to propound to you; but I am ashamed of my own thoughts in this matter.

The Master. Be plain with me, and propose whatever is upon your mind; yea, be not ashamed even to appear ridiculous, so that by querying you may but become wiser.

The scholar thanked his master for this liberty, and said: How far then are heaven and hell asunder?

To whom he answered thus: As far as day and night; or as far as something and nothing. They are in one another, and yet they are at the greatest distance one from the other. Nay, the one of them is as nothing to the other; and yet notwithstanding they cause joy and grief to one another. Heaven is throughout the whole world, and it is also without the world over all, even everywhere that is, or that can be but so much as imagined. It filleth all, it is within all, it is without all, it encompasseth all; without division, without place; working by a divine manifestation, and flowing forth universally, but not going in the least out of itself. For only in itself it worketh, and is revealed, being one, and undivided in all. It appeareth only through the manifestation of God; and never but in itself only: And in that being which cometh into it, or in that wherein it is manifested; there also it is that God is manifested. Because heaven is nothing else but a manifestation or revelation of the Eternal One, wherein all the working and willing is in quiet love,

So in like manner hell also is through the whole world, and dwelleth and worketh but in itself, and in that wherein the foundation of hell is manifested, namely, in self-hood, and in the false will. The visible world hath both in it; and there is no place but heaven and hell may he found or revealed inc it. Now man as to his temporal life, is only of the visible world; and therefore during the time of this life, he seeth not the spiritual world. For the outward world with its substance, is a cover to the spiritual world, even as the body is to the soul. But when the outward man dieth, then the spiritual world, as to the soul, which hath now its covering taken away, is manifested either in the eternal light with the holy angels, or in the eternal darkness, with the devils.

The scholar further queried: What is an angel, or a human soul, that they can be thus manifested either in God's love or anger, either in light or darkness?

To whom Theophorus answered: They come from one and the self-same original: They are little branches of the divine wisdom, of the divine will, sprung from the divine word, and made objects of the divine love. They are out of the ground of eternity, whence light and darkness do spring: Darkness, which consisteth in the receiving of self-desire; and light, which consisteth in willing the same thing with God. For in the conformity of the will with God's will, is heaven; and wheresoever there is this willing with God, there the love of God is undoubtedly in the working, and his light will not fail to manifest itself. But in the self-attraction of the soul's desire, or in the reception of self into the willing of any spirit, angelical or human, the will of God worketh difficultly, and is to that soul or spirit nought but darkness; out of which, notwithstanding, the light may be manifested. And this darkness is the hell of that spirit wherein it is. For heaven and hell are nought else but a manifestation of the divine will either in light or darkness, according to the properties of the spiritual world. 1


Scholar. What then is the body of man?

Master. It is the visible world; an image and quintessence, or compound of all that the world is; and the visible world is a manifestation of the inward spiritual world, come out of the eternal light, and out of the eternal darkness, out of the spiritual compaction or connection; and it is also an image or figure of eternity, whereby eternity hath made itself visible; where self-will and resigned will, viz. evil and good, work one with the other.

Such a substance is the outward man. For God created man of the outward world, and breathed into him the inward spiritual world for a soul and an intelligent life; and therefore in the things of the outward world man can receive and work evil and good.


Scholar. What shall be after this world, when all things perish and come to an end?

Master. The material substance only ceaseth; viz. the four elements, the sun, moon, and stars. And then the inward world will be wholly visible and manifest. But whatsoever hath been wrought by the will or spirit of man in this world's time, whether evil or good. T say, every such work shall there separate itself in a spiritual manner, either into the eternal light, or into the eternal darkness. For that which is born from each will penetrateth and passeth again into that which is like itself. And there the darkness is called hell, and is an eternal forgetting of all good; and the light is called the kingdom of God, and is an eternal joy in and to the saints, who continually glorify and praise God, for having delivered them from the torment of evil.

The last judgement is a kindling of the fire both of God's love and anger, in which the matter of every substance perisheth, and each fire shall attract into itself its own, that is, the substance that is like itself: Thus God's fire of love will draw into it whatsoever is born in the love of God, or love-principle, in which also it shall burn after the manner of love, and yield itself into that substance. But the torment will draw into itself what is wrought in the anger of God in darkness, and consume the false substance; and then there will remain only the painful aching will in its own proper nature, image, and figure.

Scholar. With what matter and form shall the human body rise?

Master. It is sown a natural gross and elementary body, which in this life-time is like the outward elements; yet in this gross body there is a subtle power and virtue. As in the earth also there is a subtle good virtue, which is like the sun, and is one and the same with the sun; which also in the beginning of time did spring and proceed out of the divine power and virtue, from whence all the good virtue of the body is likewise derived. This good virtue of the mortal body shall come again and live for ever in a kind of transparent chrystalline material property, in spiritual flesh and blood; as shall return also the good virtue of the earth, for the earth likewise shall become chrystalline, and the divine light shine in everything that hath a being, essence, or substance. And as the gross earth shall perish and never return, so also the gross flesh of man shall perish and not live for ever. But all things must appear before the judgement, and in the judgement be separated by the fire; yea, both the earth, and also the ashes of the human body. For when God shall once move the spiritual world, every spirit shall attract its spiritual substance to itself. A good spirit and soul shall draw to itself its good substance, and an evil one its evil substance. But we must here understand by substance, such a material power and virtue, the essence of which is mere virtue, like a material tincture (such a thing as hath all figures, colours, and virtues in it, and is at the same time transparent), the grossness whereof is perished in all things.

Scholar. Shall we not rise again with our visible bodies, and live in them for ever? See The Forty Questions of the Soul, quest. xxi. ver. 12.

Master. When the visible world perisheth, then all that hath come out of it, and hath been external, shall perish with it. There shall remain of the world only the heavenly chrystalline nature and form, and of man also only the spiritual earth; for man shall be then wholly like the spiritual world, which as yet is hidden.

Scholar. Shall there be husband and wife, or children or kindred, in the heavenly life, or shall one associate with another, as they do in this life?

Master. Why art thou so fleshly-minded? There will be neither husband nor wife, but all will be like the angels of God, viz. masculine virgins. There will be neither son nor daughter, brother nor sister, but all of one stock and kindred. For all are but one in Christ, as a tree and its branches are one, though distinct as creatures; but God is all in all. Indeed, there will be spiritual knowledge of what every one hath been, and done, but no possessing or enjoying, or desire of possessing earthly things, or enjoying fleshly relations any more.

Scholar. Shall they all have that eternal joy and glorification alike?

Master. The Scripture saith, "Such as the people is, such is their God." And in another place, "With the holy thou art holy, and with the perverse thou art perverse." And St. Paul saith, "In the resurrection one shall differ from another in glory, as do the sun, moon, and stars." Therefore know, that the blessed shall indeed all enjoy the divine working in and upon them; but their virtue, and illumination or glory, shall be very different, according as they have been endued in this life with different measures and degrees of power and virtue in their painful working. For the painful working of the creature in this life-time is the opening and begetting of divine power, by which that power is made moveable and operative. Now those who have wrought with Christ in this life-time, and not in the lust of the flesh, shall have great power and transcendent glorification in and upon them. But others, who have only expected, and relied upon, an imputed satisfaction, and in the meanwhile have served their belly-god, and yet at last have turned, and obtained grace; those, I say, shall not attain to so high a degree of power and illumination. So that there will be as great a difference of degrees between them, as is between the sun, moon, and stars; or between the flowers of the field in their varieties of beauty, power, and virtue.

Scholar. How shall the world be judged, and by whom?

Master. Jesus Christ, that "word of God which became man," shall by the power of his divine stirring or motion separate from himself all that belongeth not to him, and shall wholly manifest his kingdom in the place or space where this world now is; for the separating motion worketh all over the universe, through all at once.

Scholar. Whither shall the devils and all the damned be thrown, when the place of this world is become the kingdom of Christ, and such as shall be glorified? Shall they be cast out of the place of this world? Or shall Christ have, and manifest his dominion, out of the sphere or place of this world?

Master. Hell shall remain in the place or sphere of this world everywhere, but hidden to the kingdom of heaven, as the night is hidden in and to the day. "The light shall shine for ever in the darkness, but the darkness can never comprehend, or reach it." And the light is the kingdom of Christ; but the darkness is hell, wherein the devils and the wicked dwell; and thus they shall be suppressed by the kingdom of Christ, and made his footstool, viz. a reproach.

Scholar. How shall all people and nations be brought to judgement?

Master. The eternal word of God, out of which every spiritual creaturely life hath proceeded, will move itself at that hour, according to love and anger, in every life which is come out of the eternity, and will draw every creature before the judgement of Christ, to be sentenced by this motion of the world. The life will then be manifested in all its works, and every soul shall see and feel its judgement and sentence in itself. For the judgement is, indeed, immediately at the departure of the body, manifested in and to every soul: And the last judgement is but a return of the spiritual body, and a separation of the world, when the evil shall be separated from the good, in the substance of the world, and of the human body, and everything enter into its eternal receptacle. And thus is it a manifestation of the mystery of God in every substance and life.

Scholar. How will the sentence be pronounced?

Master. Here consider the words of Christ. "He will say to those on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me. I was sick, and ye visited me, in prison, and ye carne unto me.

"Then shall they answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, or in prison, and ministered thus unto thee?

"Then shall the King answer and say unto them; Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

"And unto the wicked on his left hand he will say, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, and in prison, and ye ministered not unto me.

"And they shall also answer him, and say, When did we sec thee thus, and ministered not unto thee?

"And he will answer them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have not done it unto one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

"And these shall depart into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal."

Scholar. Loving master, pray tell me why Christ saith, "What you have done to the least of these, you have done to me; and what you have not done to them, neither have you done it to me." And how doth a man this so, as that he doth it to Christ himself!

Master. Christ dwelleth really and essentially in the faith of those that wholly yield up themselves to him, and giveth them his flesh for food, and his blood for drink; and thus possesseth the ground of their faith, according to the interior or inward man. And a Christian is called a branch of the vine Christ, and a Christian, because Christ dwelleth spiritually in him; therefore whatsoever good any shall do to such a Christian in his bodily necessities, it is done to Christ himself, who dwelleth in him. For such a Christian is not his own, but is wholly resigned to Christ, and become his peculiar possession, and consequently the good deed is done to Christ himself. Therefore also, whosoever shall withhold their help from such a needy Christian, and forbear to serve him in his necessity, they thrust Christ away from themselves, and despise him in his members. When a poor person that belongeth thus to Christ, asketh anything of thee, and thou deniest it him in his necessity, thou deniest it to Christ himself. And whatsoever hurt any shall do to such a Christian, they do it to Christ himself. When any mock, scorn, revile, reject, or thrust away such a one, they do all that to Christ; but he that receiveth him, giveth him meat and drink, or apparel, and assisteth him in his necessities, doth it likewise to Christ, and to a fellow-member of his own body. Nay, he doth it to himself if he be a Christian; for we are all one in Christ, as a tree and its branches are.

Scholar. How then will those subsist in the day of that fierce judgement, who afflict and vex the poor and distressed, and deprive them of their very sweat; necessitating and constraining them by force to submit to their wills, and trampling upon them as their footstools, only that they themselves may live in pomp and power, and spend the fruits of this poor people's sweat and labour in voluptuousness, pride, and vanity?

Master. Christ suffereth in the persecution of his members. Therefore all the wrong that such hard exactors do to the poor wretches under their control, is done to Christ himself; and falleth under his severe sentence and judgement: And besides that, they help the devil to augment his kingdom; for by such oppression of the poor they draw them off from Christ, and make them seek unlawful ways to fill their bellies. Nay, they work for, and with the devil himself, doing the very same thing which he doth; who, without intermission, opposeth the kingdom of Christ, which consisteth only in love. All these oppressors, if they do not turn with their whole hearts to Christ, and minister to, or serve him, must go into hell-fire, which is fed and kept alive by nothing else but such mere self, as that which they have exercised over the poor here.

Scholar. But how will it fare with those, and how will they be able to stand that severe trial, who in this time do so fiercely contend about the kingdom of Christ, and slander, revile, and persecute one another for their religion, as they do?

Master. All such have not yet known Christ; and they are but as a type or figure of heaven and hell, striving with each other for the victory.

All rising, swelling pride, which contendeth about opinions, is an image of self. And whosoever hath not faith and humility, nor liveth in the spirit of Christ, which is love, is only armed with the anger of God, and helpeth forward the victory of the imaginary self, that is, the kingdom of darkness, and the anger of God. For at the day of judgement all self shall be given to the darkness, as shall also all the unprofitable contentions of men; in which they seek not after love, but merely after their imaginary self, that they may exalt themselves by exalting and establishing their opinions; stirring up princes to wars for the sake of the same, and by that means occasioning the desolation of whole countries of people. All such things belong to the judgement, which will separate the false from the true; and then all images or opinions shall cease, and all the children of God shall dwell for ever in the love of Christ, and that in them.

All whosoever in this time of strife, namely, from the Fall to the Resurrection, are not zealous in the spirit of Christ, and desirous to promote peace and love, but seek and strive for themselves only, are of the devil, and belong to the pit of darkness, and must consequently be separated from Christ. For in heaven all serve God their Creator in humble love.

Scholar. Wherefore then doth God suffer such strife and contention to be in this time?

Master. The life itself standeth in strife, that it may be made manifest, sensible, and palpable, and that the wisdom may be made separable and known.

The strife also constituteth the eternal joy of the victory. For there will arise great praise and thanksgiving in the saints from the experimental sense and knowledge that Christ in them hath overcome darkness, and all the self of nature, and that they are at length totally delivered from the strife; at which they shall rejoice eternally, when they shall know how the wicked are recompenced. And therefore God suffereth all souls to stand in a free-will, that the eternal dominion both of love and anger, of light and of darkness, may be made manifest and

I known; and that every life might cause and find its own sentence in itself. For that which is now a strife and pain to the saints in their wretched warfare here, shall in the end be turned into great joy to them; and that which hath been a joy and pleasure to ungodly persons in this world, shall afterwards be turned into eternal torment and shame to them. Therefore the joy of the saints must arise to them out of death, as the light ariseth out of a candle by the destruction and consumption of it in its fire; that so the life may be freed from the painfulness of nature, and possess another world.

And as the light hath quite another property than the fire hath, for it giveth and yieldeth itself forth; whereas the fire draweth in and consumeth itself; so the holy life of meekness springeth forth through the death of self-will, and then God's will of love only ruleth, and doth all in all. For thus the Eternal One hath attained feeling and separability, and brought itself forth again with the feeling, through death in great joyfulness; that there might be an eternal delight in the infinite unity, and an eternal cause of joy; and therefore that which was before painfulness, must now be the ground and cause of this motion or stirring to the manifestation of all things. And herein lieth the mystery of the hidden wisdom of God.

"Every one that asketh receiveth, every one that seeketh findeth; and to every one that knocketh it shall be opened. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with us all. Amen."

Heb. xii. 22, 23, 24.

"Thank ye the Lord, for ye are now come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, to the innumerable company of angels, and to the general assembly and church of the first born, who are written in heaven. "And to God the Judge of all; and to the spirits of just men made perfect; and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.

"And to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. Amen.

"Praise, glory, and thanksgiving; honour, wisdom and power, be unto him that sitteth on the throne, to our God, and the Lamb for ever and ever. Amen."



268:1 From the beginning of the Supersensual Life to the reference of this note, was found among the papers of the later editor, in the handwriting of the truely pious and learned Mr. Law, who has so enlarged and elucidated it (as the reader may see by comparing it with the original) that probably he intended it for a separate publication.



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