Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Coleridge's Literary Remains, Volume 4 online

. (page 4 of 27)
Online LibrarySamuel Taylor ColeridgeColeridge's Literary Remains, Volume 4 → online text (page 4 of 27)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

century to believe the written words of a dead Apostle in opposition to
the words of a living Bishop, seeing that the same spirit which guided
the Apostles dwells in and guides the Bishops of the Church? This at
least is certain, that the later the age of the writer, the stronger the
expression of comparative superiority of the Scriptures; the earlier, on
the other hand, the more we hear of the 'Symbolum', the 'Regula Fidei',
the Creed.

Chap. XXXII. p. 362.

The history of the Prophet Jonas is so great that it is almost
incredible; yea, it soundeth more strange than any of the poets'
fables, and (said Luther) if it stood not in the Bible, I should take
it for a lie.

It is quite wonderful that Luther, who could see so plainly that the
book of Judith was an allegoric poem, should have been blind to the book
of Jonas being an apologue, in which Jonah means the Israelitish nation.

Ib. p. 364.

For they entered into the garden about the hour at noon day, and
having appetites to eat, she took delight in the apple; then about two
of the clock, according to our account, was the fall.

Milton has adopted this notion in the Paradise Lost - not improbably from
this book.

Ib. p. 365.

David made a Psalm of two and twenty parts, in each of which are eight
verses, and yet in all is but one kind of meaning, namely, he will
only say, Thy law or word is good.

I have conjectured that the 119th Psalm might have been a form of
ordination, in which a series of candidates made their prayers and
profession in the open Temple before they went to the several synagogues
in the country.


But (said Luther) I say, he did well and right thereon: for the office
of a magistrate is to punish the guilty and wicked malefactors. He
made a vow, indeed, not to punish him, but that is to be understood,
so long as David lived.

O Luther! Luther! ask your own heart if this is not Jesuit morality.

Chap. XXXIII. v. 367.

I believe (said Luther) the words of our Christian belief were in such
sort ordained by the Apostles, who were together, and made this sweet
'Symbolum' so briefly and comfortable.

It is difficult not to regret that Luther had so superficial a knowledge
of Ecclesiastical antiquities: for example, his belief in this fable of
the Creed having been a 'picnic' contribution of the twelve Apostles,
each giving a sentence. Whereas nothing is more certain than that it was
the gradual product of three or four centuries.

Chap. XXXIV. p. 369.

An angel (said Luther) is a spiritual creature created by God without
a body for the service of Christendom, especially in the office of the

What did Luther mean by a body? For to me the word seemeth capable of
two senses, universal and special: - first, a form indicating to A. B. C.
&c., the existence and finiteness of some one other being
'demonstrative' as 'hic', and 'disjunctive' as 'hic et non ille'; and in
this sense God alone can be without body: secondly, that which is not
merely 'hic distinctive', but 'divisive'; yea, a product divisible from
the producent as a snake from its skin, a precipitate and death of
living power; and in this sense the body is proper to mortality, and to
be denied of spirits made perfect as well as of the spirits that never
fell from perfection, and perhaps of those who fell below mortality,
namely, the devils.

But I am inclined to hold that the Devil has no one body, nay, no body
of his own; but ceaselessly usurps or counterfeits bodies; for he is an
everlasting liar, yea, the lie which is the colored shadow of the
substance that intercepts the truth.

Ib. p. 370.

The devils are in woods, in waters, in wildernesses, and in dark pooly
places, ready to hurt and prejudice people, &c.

"The angel's like a flea,
The devil is a bore; - "
No matter for that! quoth S.T.C.
I love him the better therefore.

Yes! heroic Swan, I love thee even when thou gabbiest like a goose; for
thy geese helped to save the Capitol.

Ib. p. 371.

I do verily believe (said Luther) that the day of judgment draweth
near, and that the angels prepare themselves for the fight and combat,
and that within the space of a few hundred years they will strike down
both Turk and Pope into the bottomless pit of hell.

Yea! two or three more such angels as thyself, Martin Luther, and thy
prediction would be, or perhaps would now have been, accomplished.

Chap. XXXV. p. 388.

Cogitations of the understanding do produce no melancholy, but the
cogitations of the will cause sadness; as, when one is grieved at a
thing, or when one doth sigh and complain, there are melancholy and
sad cogitations, but the understanding is not melancholy.

Even in Luther's lowest imbecilities what gleams of vigorous good sense!
Had he understood the nature and symptoms of indigestion together with
the detail of subjective seeing and hearing, and the existence of
mid-states of the brain between sleeping and waking, Luther would have
been a greater philosopher; but would he have been so great a hero? I
doubt it. Praised be God whose mercy is over all his works; who bringeth
good out of evil, and manifesteth his wisdom even in the follies of his
servants, his strength in their weakness!

Ib. p. 389.

Whoso prayeth a Psalm shall be made thoroughly warm.

'Expertus credo'.

19th Aug. 1826.

I have learnt to interpret for myself the imprecating verses of the
Psalms of my inward and spiritual enemies, the old Adam and all his
corrupt menials; and thus I am no longer, as I used to be, stopped or
scandalized by such passages as vindictive and anti-Christian.


The Devil (said Luther) oftentimes objected and argued against me the
whole cause which, through God's grace, I lead. He objecteth also
against Christ. But better it were that the Temple brake in pieces
than that Christ should therein remain obscure and hid.



In Job are two chapters concerning 'Behemoth' the whale, that by
reason of him no man is in safety. * * These are colored words and
figures whereby the Devil is signified and showed.

A slight mistake of brother Martin's. The 'Behemoth' of Job is beyond a
doubt neither whale nor devil, but, I think, the hippopotamus; who is
indeed as ugly as the devil, and will occasionally play the devil among
the rice-grounds; but though in this respect a devil of a fellow, yet on
the whole he is too honest a monster to be a fellow of devils. 'Vindiciæ

Chap. XXXVI. p. 390.

'Of Witchcraft'.

It often presses on my mind as a weighty argument in proof of at least a
negative inspiration, an especial restraining grace, in the composition
of the Canonical books, that though the writers individually did (the
greater number at least) most probably believe in the objective reality
of witchcraft, yet no such direct assertions as these of Luther's, which
would with the vast majority of Christians have raised it into an
article of faith, are to be found in either Testament. That the 'Ob' and
'Oboth' of Moses are no authorities for this absurd superstition, has
been unanswerably shewn by Webster. [5]

Chap. XXXVII. p. 398.

To conclude, (said Luther), I never yet knew a troubled and perplexed
man, that was right in his own wits.

A sound observation of great practical utility. Edward Irving should be
aware of this in dealing with conscience-troubled (but in fact
fancy-vexed) women.


It was not a thorn in the flesh touching the unchaste love he bore
towards Tecla, as the Papists dream.

I should like to know how high this strange legend can be traced. The
other tradition that St. Paul was subject to epileptic fits, has a less
legendary character. The phrase 'thorn in the flesh' is scarcely
reconcilable with Luther's hypothesis, otherwise than as doubts of the
objectivity of his vision, and of his after revelations may have been
consequences of the disease, whatever that might be.

Ib. p. 399.

Our Lord God doth like a printer, who setteth the letters backwards;
we see and feel well his setting, but we shall see the print yonder in
the life to come.

A beautiful simile. Add that even in this world the lives, especially
the autobiographies, of eminent servants of Christ, are like the
looking-glass or mirror, which, reversing the types, renders them
legible to us.

Ib. p. 403.

'Indignus sum, sed dignus fui - creari a Deo', &c. Although I am
unworthy, yet nevertheless 'I have been' worthy, 'in that I am'
created of God, &c.

The translation does not give the true sense of the Latin. It should be
'was' and 'to be'. The 'dignus fui' has here the sense of 'dignum me
habuit Deus'. See Herbert's little poem in the Temple:

Sweetest Saviour, if my soul
Were but worth the having,
Quickly should I then control
Any thought of waving;
But when all my care and pains
Cannot give the name of gains
To thy wretch so full of stains,
What delight or hope remains?

Ib. p. 404.

The chiefest physic for that disease (but very hard and difficult it
is to be done) is, that they firmly hold such cogitations not to be
theirs, but that most sure and certain they come of the Devil.

More and more I understand the immense difference between the
Faith-article of 'the Devil' ([Greek: tou Ponaeroù]) and the
superstitious fancy of devils: 'animus objectivus dominationem in'
[Greek: tòn Eimì] 'affectans'; [Greek: oútos tò méga órganon Diabólou

Chap. XLIV. p. 431.

I truly advise all those (said Luther) who earnestly do affect the
honor of Christ and the Gospel, that they would be enemies to Erasmus
Roterodamus, for he is a devaster of religion. Do but read only his
dialogue 'De Peregrinatione', where you will see how he derideth and
flouteth the whole religion, and at last concludeth out of single
abominations, that he rejecteth religion, &c.

Religion here means the vows and habits of the religious or those bound
to a particular life; - the monks, friars, nuns, in short, the regulars
in contradistinction from the laity and the secular Clergy.

Ib. p. 432.

Erasmus can do nothing but cavil and flout, he cannot confute. If
(said Luther) I were a Papist, so could I easily overcome and beat
him. For although he flouteth the Pope with his ceremonies, yet he
neither hath confuted nor overcome him; no enemy is beaten nor
overcome with mocking, jeering, and flouting.

Most true; but it is an excellent pioneer and an excellent 'corps de
reserve', cavalry for pursuit, and for clearing the field of battle, and
in the first use Luther was greatly obliged to Erasmus. But such utter
unlikes cannot but end in dislikes, and so it proved between Erasmus and
Luther. Erasmus, might the Protestants say, wished no good to the Church
of Rome, and still less to our party: it was with him 'Rot her and Dam

Chap. XLVIII. p. 442.

David's example is full of offences, that so holy a man, chosen of
God, should fall into such great abominable sins and blasphemies;
when as before he was very fortunate and happy, of whom all the
bordering kingdoms were afraid, for God was with him.

If any part of the Old Testament be typical, the whole life and
character of David, from his birth to his death, are eminently so. And
accordingly the history of David and his Psalms, which form a most
interesting part of his history, occupies as large a portion of the Old
Testament as all the others. The type is two-fold-now of the Messiah,
now of the Church, and of the Church in all its relations, persecuted,
victorious, backsliding, penitent. N.B. I do not find David charged with
any vices, though with heavy crimes. So it is with the Church. Vices
destroy its essence.


The same was a strange kind of offence (said Luther) that the world
was offended at him who raised the dead, who made the blind to see,
and the deaf to hear, &c.

Our Lord alluded to the verse that immediately follows and completes his
quotations from Isaiah. [6] I, Jehovah, will come and do this. That he
implicitly declared himself the Jehovah, the Word, - this was the

Chap. XLIX. p. 443.

God wills, may one say, that we should serve him freewillingly, but he
that serveth God out of fear of punishment of hell, or out of a hope
and love of recompence, the same serveth and honoreth God not freely;
therefore such a one serveth God not uprightly nor truly.

_Answer_. This argument (said Luther) is Stoical, &c.

A truly wise paragraph. Pity it was not expounded. God will accept our
imperfections, where their face is turned toward him, on the road to the
glorious liberty of the Gospel.

Chap. L. p. 446.

It is the highest grace and gift of God to have an honest, a
God-fearing, housewifely consort, &c. But God thrusteth many into the
state of matrimony before they be aware and rightly bethink

The state of matrimony (said Luther) is the chiefest state in the
world after religion, &c.

Alas! alas! this is the misery of it, that so many wed and so few are
Christianly married! But even in this the analogy of matrimony to the
religion of Christ holds good: for even such is the proportion of
nominal to actual Christians; - all _christened_, how few baptized! But
in true matrimony it is beautiful to consider, how peculiarly the
marriage state harmonizes with the doctrine of justification by free
grace through faith alone. The little quarrels, the imperfections on
both sides, the occasional frailties, yield to the one thought, - there
is love at the bottom. If sickness or other sorer calamity visit me, how
would the love then blaze forth! The faults are there, but they are not
imprinted. The prickles, the acrid rind, the bitterness or sourness, are
transformed into the ripe fruit, and the foreknowledge of this gives the
name and virtue of the ripe fruit to the fruit yet green on the bough.

Ib. p. 447.

The causers and founders of matrimony are chiefly God's commandments,
&c. It is a state instituted by God himself, visited by Christ in
person, and presented with a glorious present; for God said, 'It is
not good that the man should be alone': therefore the wife should be a
help to the husband, to the end that human generations may be
increased, and children nurtured to God's honour, and to the profit of
people and countries; also to keep our bodies in sanctification.

(Add) and in mutual reverence, our spirits in a state of love and
tenderness; and our imaginations pure and tranquil.

In a word, matrimony not only preserveth human generations so that the
same remain continually, but it preserveth the generations human.

Ib. p. 450.

In the synod at Leipzig the lawyers concluded that secret contractors
should be punished with banishment and be disinherited. Whereupon
(said Luther) I sent them word that I would not allow thereof, it were
too gross a proceeding, &c. But nevertheless I hold it fitting, that
those which in such sort do secretly contract themselves, ought
sharply to be reproved, yea, also in some measure severely punished.

What a sweet union of prudence and kind nature! Scold them sharply, and
perhaps let them smart a while for their indiscretion and disobedience;
and then kiss and make it up, remembering that young folks will be young
folks, and that love has its own law and logic.

Chap. LIX. p. 481.

The presumption and boldness of the sophists and School-divines is a
very ungodly thing, which some of the Fathers also approved of and
extolled; namely of spiritual significations in the Holy Scripture,
whereby she is pitifully tattered and torn in pieces. It is an apish
work in such sort to juggle with Holy Scripture: it is no otherwise
than if I should discourse of physic in this manner: the fever is a
sickness, rhubarb is the physic. The fever signified! the sins
- rhubarb is Jesus Christ, &c.

Who seeth not here (said Luther) that such significations are mere
juggling tricks? _Even so_ and after the same manner are they deceived
that say, Children ought to be baptized again, because they had not

For the life of me, I cannot find the 'even so' in this sentence. The
watchman cries, 'half-past three o'clock.' Even so, and after the same
manner, the great Cham of Tartary has a carbuncle on his nose.

Chap. LX. p. 483.

George in the Greek tongue, is called a 'builder', that buildeth
countries and people with justice and righteousness, &c.

A mistake for a tiller or boor, from 'Bauer', 'bauen'. The latter hath
two senses, to build and to bring into cultivation.

Chap. LXX. p. 503.

I am now advertised (said Luther) that a new astrologer is risen, who
presumeth to prove that the earth moveth and goeth about, not the
firmament, the sun and moon, nor the stars; like as when one who
sitteth in a coach or in a ship and is moved, thinketh he sitteth
still and resteth, but the earth and the trees go, run, and move
themselves. Therefore thus it goeth, when we give up ourselves to our
own foolish fancies and conceits. This fool will turn the whole art of
astronomy upside-down, but the Scripture sheweth and teacheth him
another lesson, when Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not
the earth.

There is a similar, but still more intolerant and contemptuous anathema
of the Copernican system in Sir Thomas Brown, almost two centuries later
than Luther.

Though the problem is of no difficult solution for reflecting minds, yet
for the reading many it would be a serviceable work, to bring together
and exemplify the causes of the extreme and universal credulity that
characterizes sundry periods of history (for example, from A.D. 1400 to
A.D. 1650): and credulity involves lying and delusion - for by a seeming
paradox liars are always credulous, though credulous persons are not
always liars; although they most often are.

It would be worth while to make a collection of the judgments of eminent
men in their generation respecting the Copernican or Pythagorean scheme.
One writer (I forget the name) inveighs against it as Popery, and a
Popish stratagem to reconcile the minds of men to Transubstantiation and
the Mass. For if we may contradict the evidence of our senses in a
matter of natural philosophy, 'a fortiori', or much more, may we be
expected to do so in a matter of faith.

In my Noetic, or Doctrine and Discipline of Ideas = 'logice, Organon' - I
purpose to select some four, five or more instances of the sad effects
of the absence of ideas in the use of words and in the understanding of
truths, in the different departments of life; for example, the word
'body', in connection with resurrection-men, &c. - and the last
instances, will (please God!) be the sad effects on the whole system of
Christian divinity. I must remember Asgill's book. [7]

Religion necessarily, as to its main and proper doctrines, consists of
ideas, that is, spiritual truths that can only be spiritually discerned,
and to the expression of which words are necessarily inadequate, and
must be used by accommodation. Hence the absolute indispensability of a
Christian life, with its conflicts and inward experiences, which alone
can make a man to answer to an opponent, who charges one doctrine as
contradictory to another, - "Yes! it is a contradiction in terms; but
nevertheless so it is, and both are true, nay, parts of the same
truth." - But alas! besides other evils there is this, - that the Gospel
is preached in fragments, and what the hearer can recollect of the sum
total of these is to be his Christian knowledge and belief. This is a
grievous error. First, labour to enlighten the hearer as to the essence
of the Christian dispensation, the grounding and pervading idea, and
then set it forth in its manifold perspective, its various stages and
modes of manifestation. In this as in almost all other qualities of a
preacher of Christ, Luther after Paul and John is the great master. None
saw more clearly than he, that the same proposition, which, addressed to
a Christian in his first awakening out of the death of sin was a most
wholesome, nay, a necessary, truth, would be a most condemnable
Antinomian falsehood, if addressed to a secure Christian boasting and
trusting in 'his' faith - yes, in 'his' own faith, instead of the faith
of Christ communicated to him.

I cannot utter how dear and precious to me are the contents of pages
197-199, to line 17, of this work, more particularly the section headed:

How we ought to carry ourselves towards the Law's accusations.

Add to these the last two sections of p. 201. [8] the last touching St.
Austin's opinion [9] especially. Likewise, the first half of p. 202.
[10] But indeed the whole of the 12th chapter 'Of the Law and the
Gospel' is of inestimable value to a serious and earnest minister of the
Gospel. Here he may learn both the orthodox faith, and a holy prudence
in the time and manner of preaching the same.

July, 1829.

[Footnote 1: 'Doctoris Martini Lutheri Colloquia Mensalia:' or Dr.
Martin Luther's Divine Discourses at his Table, &c. Collected first
together by Dr. Antonius Lauterbach, and afterwards disposed into
certain common-places by John Aurifaber, Doctor in Divinity. Translated
by Capt. Henry Bell. 'Folio' London, 1652.]

[Footnote 2: N. B. I should not have written the above note in my
present state of light; - not that I find it false, but that it may have
the effect of falsehood by not going deep enough. July, 1829.]

[Footnote 3: Charles Lamb. - Ed.]

[Footnote 4:

"Out of the number of 400, there were but 80 Arians at the utmost. The
other 320 and more were really orthodox men, induced by artifices to
subscribe a Creed which they understood in a good sense, but which,
being worded in general terms, was capable of being perverted to a bad

'Waterland, Vindication', &c., c. vi. - 'Ed'.]

[Footnote 5: The Displaying of supposed Witchcraft, &c. London. 'folio'.
1677. 'Ed'.]

[Footnote 6: Isaiah xxxv. 4. lxi 1. Ed. Luke iv. 18, 19.]

[Footnote 7:

"An argument proving that, according to the covenant of eternal life,
revealed in the Scriptures, man may be translated from hence, without
passing through death, although the human nature of Christ himself
could not be thus translated, till he had passed through death."

See 'Table Talk. 2nd Edit'. p. 127. 'Ed'.]

[Footnote 8: We must preach the Law (said Luther) for the sakes of the
evil and wicked, &c.]

[Footnote 9: The opinion of St. Austin is (said Luther) that the Law
which through human strength, natural understanding and wisdom is
fulfilled, justifieth not, &c.]

[Footnote 10: Whether we should preach only of God's grace and mercy or
not. From "Philip Melancthon demanded of Luther" - to "yet we must press
through, and not suffer ourselves to recoil."]

* * * * *


Pref. Part I. p. 51. Letter of Father Avila to Mother Teresa de Jesu.

Persons ought to beseech our Lord not to conduct them by the way of
seeing; but that the happy sight of him and of his saints be reserved
for heaven; and that, here he would conduct them in the plain, beaten
road, &c. * * But if, doing all this, the visions continue, and the
soul reaps profit thereby, &c.

In what other language could a young woman check while she soothed her
espoused lover, in his too eager demonstrations of his passion? And yet
the art of the Roman priests, - to keep up the delusion as serviceable,
yet keep off those forms of it most liable to detection, by medical

Life, Part I. Chap. IV. p. 15.

But our Lord began to regale me so much by this way, that he
vouchsafed me the favor to give me quiet prayer; and sometimes it came
so far as to arrive at union; though I understood neither the one nor
the other, nor how much they both deserve to be prized. But I believe
it would have been a great deal of happiness for me to have understood
them. True it is, that this union rested with me for so short a time,
that perhaps it might arrive to be but as of an 'Ave Maria'; yet I
remained with so very great effects thereof, that with not being then
so much as twenty years old, methought I found the whole world under
my feet.

Dreams, the soul herself forsaking;
Fearful raptures; childlike mirth.
Silent adorations, making
A blessed shadow of this earth!

Online LibrarySamuel Taylor ColeridgeColeridge's Literary Remains, Volume 4 → online text (page 4 of 27)