Table of Contents
Extracts from the Teutonic Theosopher
by Jakob Boehme
A letter written to one in temptation and trouble of mind, shewing whence it ariseth.
Our salvation is in the life of Jesus Christ in us.
"Dear Sir, my fellow-member, and brother in Christ our saviour; my cordial wish and cooperative desire of the divine love and grace premised: I desire to let you know in Christian love, that I have considered your condition in a Christian sympathy and fellow-feeling; and have brought it before the gracious compassion of the Most High, to see what He would be pleased to let me know therein.
Whereupon Sir, I must tell you, that I in the same gracious compassion obtained such an insight and vision of your condition and temptation, that the ground and cause of it is made known to me; and I will set it down in brief for a memorandum, that you may consider and ponder it seriously by your self.
The first cause of such strong working temptation, is the supernatural super-abundant and unspeakable love of God; (that is, the Divine good will, and then the creatural will of man struggling one against another) that the humane will refuseth fully to resigne and give itself up with total confidence unto such great grace of God, which is tendred unto it out of pure love; but seeketh itself and its own love of transitory things; and loveth itself, and the beings of this world more than God.
Therefore man's own nature (which in its own centre without the love of God, standeth in mere anguish, strife, enmity, and unquiet contrariety) tempteth him; into which also the devil shooteth his false desire, to lead man astray from such high grace, and love of God.
This temptation is the greatest; and it is even the combat which Christ maintaineth with his love (shed forth into the nature of man) against such selfness, also against God's anger, sin, death, Devil, and hell, in which combat, the humane Dragon must be devoured by the love of Christ, and changed into an angelical Image.
And if the love of God in Christ had not an influence in you, you should have none of this combat, but the Dragon (viz. The false devilish will) would maintain his natural right [and possession without any such conflict or disturbance.]
Now therefore this perplexing, and distressing temptation is wrought very sensibly in nature by the Dragon, who is in travelling anguish with his own nature, when such great love of God commeth into him and would change his natural right into a divine [self-denying] will.
For here Christ [the Serpent-destroyer] standeth in man, in hell, and stormeth, or assaulteth the strong prey-fort of the Devil, whence ariseth such strife; where Christ and Lucifer fight for the soul, as God hath given you to see, and know experimentally in the first temptation.
Thus Christ bruiseth the head of the serpent, and the serpent stingeth Christ in the heel, and the poor soul standeth in the middest in great trembling and sadness, and can do nothing, but only stand still in hope; it is not able also to lift up its face before God; and power forth its effectual prayers; for the Dragon turneth its face towards the vanity of this world, and shewes it the beauty, and glory of this world; and mocketh it, because it will become another creature; and represent unto it the kingdom in which it liveth and its natural ground.
And here the soul standeth with Christ in the wilderness, the forty days temptation; where the might, glory, riches, and pleasure of this world is tendred unto it; alluring it to elevate itself, and enter into its own self-will.
The second temptation of Lucifer, and the selfish Dragon of nature, is this, that when the soul has tasted the divine love, and hath been once illuminated, then the soul will have that same light for its own propriety, and work therein in its own power and ability as in its own peculiar possession; understand, the nature of the soul, which being without God's light is a Dragon as Lucifer, that I say will have it for its own propriety; but this Dragon will not resign up his natural light; he will be a maker and disposer of the Divine power, and live therein in great joy in his fiery [selfish] nature; and this cannot be.
This Dragon (viz. The fiery nature) must be changed with its own will into a love-fire and forgoe his natural rights; but he is unwilling to do it; but he in such a change or transmutation looketh for an own-self power, and yet findeth none, and therefore he beginneth to doubt of grace, because he seeth that in such working he must forsake his natural desire and will; and hence he continually is afraid, and will not dye in the Divine light from his own natural Right, but always thinketh that the light of Grace (which worketh without such sharpness and fiery might) is false light.
Whence it commeth, that the outward reason (which however is blind [and seeth nothing aright if itself]) continually thinketh: O! who knoweth how it is with thee, whether it be true or not, that God hath illuminated thee, that he is in thee? It may likely proceed from such a fansie; thou seest not the like in other people, and yet they think to be saved as well as thou; thou makest thyself thereby only the fool of the world, and standest in fear and trembling at God's anger, more then those who comfort themselves only with the promise of grace upon the future revelation.
Thus it commeth to pass, that then the internal ground doth fight and pant after the inflammation and motion of the light, and faine would have it; but the nature is able to do nothing; it is as if it were wholly rejected of God, which is also true, as to the self-will; for God hath planted a new will into it; it must die to its own will, and be changed into God's will.
And because the will of nature must here dye and resign up its own right to the will of God, therefore such grievous temptations are therein; for the Devil will not have his Prey-Fort to fall, or be demolished; for if Christ shall live in Man, then the spirit of self-lust and imagination must dye; and yet it doth not wholly dye in the time of this life by reason of the flesh, but it dyeth dayly, and and yet liveth; and therefore there is such contest, which no wicked man feeleth; but only those who have put on Christ, in whom Christ fighteth with Lucifer.
The Third temptation is in the strong hold of the devil, namely, in the will, and mind, as also in flesh and blood; where the false centres lye in man, as a peculiar self-will to the proud temporal life, to the lust of the flesh, to earthly things; also many curses of men which have been wished upon his body and soul, through his temptation; all the sins which have grounded and concentred, and yet stand in the Astral spirit as a strong Fort; in which Christ now fighteth, and will destroy it; which strong hold of might, pleasure, and beauty of this world, the humane will doth still esteem and hold for its propriety and best treasure, and will not resign it up, and be obedient to Christ.
Therefore beloved Sir, and Christian brother, I tell you, and give you to understand what our loving Lord Jesus Christ hath shewn me in my consideration; examine yourself, what your temptation is; our dear Lord said, We must forsake all, and follow him; and so we should be right Christ-like poor.
Now if you yet stick with your mind in the self lust, imagination, and love of the earthly things, then therein (namely in those Centres which yet work in you) you have such Temptation.
But if you will follow my child-like councell, I tell you this, that when such temptation doth arise in you, you must then imagine nothing else to yourself, save the bitter suffering and dying of our Lord, and consider his reproach and scorn, his contempt, and poverty in this world, which he hath undergone and done for us poor men; and resign your desire and whole will there into, that you would very faine be conformable to his Image, and with all unfaigned willingness follow him in this process (or way of life), and patiently endure whatsoever is laid upon you to suffer, and that willingly for his sake; and desire only to be conformable or like unto him; and for his love sake and will, be content to be abject, despised, in contempt, and affliction, that you might but maintain and keep this his Love in you, and will no longer to your self, but only what Christ willeth through you.
Dear Sir, I fear me, there is yet somewhat in you, that is displeasing to Christ, by reason whereof there is such strife in you; Christ willeth, that you should with him dye to your own will, in his death, and arise in his will, and live with him; and Christ is at present in your soul, and striveth for your soul.
Let all earthly will go, and resign up your self wholly and fully; let joy and sadness, comfort and conflict, be all one unto you; and so you shall with Christ be a conqueror over the world, Devil, Death, and Hell; and at last find by experience what Christ hath been in you; and wherefore this happened unto you, which hath been the process of all children of Christ: I speak out of Christian affection.
Dated on the day of Christ going to his suffering and dying: An. Dom. 1623."
"The Epistles of Jacob Behmen", aliter, the teutonicus philosophus,
very usefull and necessary for those that read his writings,
and are full of excellent and plaine instructions how to attaine to the life of Christ.
London, 1649, John Sparow's first English Edition,
Printed by M. Simmons for Gyles Calvert,
Translated out of the German by John Ellistone.