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heart does not find them incompatible. Perhaps no one has spoken
better on this matter than the Rabbi Gamaliel, of whom it is reported
that he prayed, "O Lord, grant that I may do Thy will as if it were my
will, that Thou mayest do my will as if it were Thy will." But
quietistic Mysticism often puts the matter on a wrong basis. Self-will
is to be annihilated, not (as St. Teresa sometimes implies) because
our thoughts are so utterly different from God's thoughts that they
cannot exist in the same mind, but because self-interest sets up an
unnatural antagonism between them. The will, like the other faculties,
only realises itself in its fulness when God worketh in us both to
will and to do of His good pleasure.

St. Juan of the Cross, the fellow-workman of St. Teresa in the reform
of monasteries, is a still more perfect example of the Spanish type of
Mysticism. His fame has never been so great as hers; for while
Teresa's character remained human and lovable in the midst of all her
austerities, Juan carried self-abnegation to a fanatical extreme, and
presents the life of holiness in a grim and repellent aspect. In his
disdain of all compromise between the claims of God and the world, he
welcomes every kind of suffering, and bids us choose always that which
is most painful, difficult, and humiliating. His own life was divided
between terrible mortifications and strenuous labour in the
foundation of monasteries. Though his books show a tendency to
Quietism, his character was one of fiery energy and unresting
industry. Houses of "discalced" Carmelites sprang up all over Spain as
the result of his labours. These monks and nuns slept upon bare
boards, fasted eight months in the year, never ate meat, and wore the
same serge dress in winter and summer. In some of these new
foundations the Brethren even vied with each other in adding voluntary
austerities to this severe rule. It was all part of the campaign
against Protestantism. The worldliness and luxury of the Renaissance
period were to be atoned for by a return to the purity and devotion of
earlier centuries. The older Catholic ideal - the mediæval type of
Christianity - was to be restored in all its completeness in the
seventeenth century. This essentially militant character of the
movement among the Carmelites must not be lost sight of: the two great
Spanish mystics were before all things champions of the
counter-Reformation.

The two chief works of St. Juan are _The Ascent of Mount Carmel_, and
_The Obscure Night of the Soul_. Both are treatises on quietistic
Mysticism of a peculiar type. At the beginning of _La Subida de Monte
Carmelo_ he says, "The journey of the soul to the Divine union is
called _night_ for three reasons: the point of departure is privation
of all desire, and complete detachment from the world; the road is by
faith, which is like night to the intellect; the goal, which is God,
is incomprehensible while we are in this life."

The soul in its ascent passes from one realm of darkness to another.
First there is the "night of sense," in which the things of earth
become dark to her. This must needs be traversed, for "the creatures
are only the crumbs that fall from God's table, and none but dogs will
turn to pick them up." "One desire only doth God allow - that of
obeying Him, and carrying the Cross." All other desires weaken,
torment, blind, and pollute the soul. Until we are completely detached
from all such, we cannot love God. "When thou dwellest upon anything,
thou hast ceased to cast thyself upon the All." "If thou wilt keep
anything with the All, thou hast not thy treasure simply in God."
"Empty thy spirit of all created things, and thou wilt walk in the
Divine light, for God resembles no created thing." Such is the method
of traversing the "night of sense." Even at this early stage the forms
and symbols of eternity, which others have found in the visible works
of God, are discarded as useless. "God has no resemblance to any
creature." The dualism or acosmism of mediæval thought has seldom
found a harsher expression.

In the night of sense, the understanding and reason are not blind; but
in the second night, the night of faith, "all is darkness." "Faith is
midnight"; it is the deepest darkness that we have to pass; for in the
"third night, the night of memory and will," the dawn is at hand.
"Faith" he defines as "the assent of the soul to what we have
heard" - as a blind man would receive a statement about the colour of
an object. We must be totally blind, "for a partially blind man will
not commit himself wholly to his guide." Thus for St. Juan the whole
content of revelation is removed from the scope of the reason, and is
treated as something communicated from outside. We have, indeed,
travelled far from St. Clement's happy confidence in the guidance of
reason, and Eckhart's independence of tradition. The soul has three
faculties - intellect, memory, and will. The imagination (_fantasia_)
is a link between the sensitive and reasoning powers, and comes
between the intellect and memory.[298] Of these faculties, "faith (he
says) blinds the intellect, hope the memory, and love the will." He
adds, "to all that is not God"; but "God in this life is like night."
He blames those who think it enough to deny themselves "without
annihilating themselves," and those who "seek for satisfaction in
God." This last is "spiritual gluttony." "We ought to seek for
bitterness rather than sweetness in God," and "to choose what is most
disagreeable, whether proceeding from God or the world." "The way of
God consisteth not in ways of devotion or sweetness, though these may
be necessary to beginners, but in giving ourselves up to suffer." And
so we must fly from all "mystical phenomena" (supernatural
manifestations to the sight, hearing, and the other senses) "without
examining whether they be good or evil." "For bodily sensations bear
no proportion to spiritual things"; since the distance "between God
and the creature is infinite," "there is no essential likeness or
communion between them." Visions are at best "childish toys"; "the fly
that touches honey cannot fly," he says; and the probability is that
they come from the devil. For "neither the creatures, nor intellectual
perceptions, natural or supernatural, can bring us to God, there
being no proportion between them. Created things cannot serve as a
ladder; they are only a hindrance and a snare."

There is something heroic in this sombre interpretation of the maxim
of our Lord, "Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he
hath, he cannot be My disciple." All that he hath - "yea, and his own
life also" - intellect, reason, and memory - all that is most Divine in
our nature - are cast down in absolute surrender at the feet of Him who
"made darkness His secret place, His pavilion round about Him with
dark water, and thick clouds to cover Him.[299]"

In the "third night" - that of memory and will - the soul sinks into a
holy inertia and oblivion (_santa ociosidad y olvido_), in which the
flight of time is unfelt, and the mind is unconscious of all
particular thoughts. St. Juan seems here to have brought us to
something like the torpor of the Indian Yogi or of the hesychasts of
Mount Athos. But he does not intend us to regard this state of trance
as permanent or final. It is the last watch of the night before the
dawn of the supernatural state, in which the human faculties are
turned into Divine attributes, and by a complete transformation the
soul, which was "at the opposite extreme" to God, "becomes, by
participation, God." In this beatific state "one might say, in a
sense, that the soul gives God to God, for she gives to God all that
she receives of God; and He gives Himself to her. This is the
mystical love-gift, wherewith the soul repayeth all her debt." This
is the infinite reward of the soul who has refused to be content with
anything short of infinity (_no se llenan menos que con lo Infinito_).
With what yearning this blessed hope inspired St. Juan, is shown in
the following beautiful prayer, which is a good example of the
eloquence, born of intense emotion, which we find here and there in
his pages: "O sweetest love of God, too little known; he who has found
Thee is at rest; let everything be changed, O God, that we may rest in
Thee. Everywhere with Thee, O my God, everywhere all things with Thee;
as I wish, O my Love, all for Thee, nothing for me - nothing for me,
everything for Thee. All sweetness and delight for Thee, none for
me - all bitterness and trouble for me, none for Thee. O my God, how
sweet to me Thy presence, who art the supreme Good! I will draw near
to Thee in silence, and will uncover Thy feet,[300] that it may please
Thee to unite me to Thyself, making my soul Thy bride; I will rejoice
in nothing till I am in Thine arms. O Lord, I beseech Thee, leave me
not for a moment, because I know not the value of mine own soul."

Such faith, hope, and love were suffered to cast gleams of light upon
the saint's gloomy and thorn-strewn path. But nevertheless the text of
which we are most often reminded in reading his pages is the verse of
Amos: "Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness and not light? even
very dark, and no brightness in it?" It is a terrible view of life and
duty - that we are to denude ourselves of everything that makes us
citizens of the world - that _nothing_ which is natural is capable of
entering into relations with God - that all which is human must die,
and have its place taken by supernatural infusion. St. Juan follows to
the end the "negative road" of Dionysius, without troubling himself at
all with the transcendental metaphysics of Neoplatonism. His nihilism
or acosmism is not the result of abstracting from the notion of Being
or of unity; its basis is psychological. It is "subjective" religion
carried _almost_ to its logical conclusion. The Neoplatonists were led
on by the hope of finding a reconciliation between philosophy and
positive religion; but no such problems ever presented themselves to
the Spaniards. We hear nothing of the relation of the creation to God,
or _why_ the contemplation of it should only hinder instead of helping
us to know its Maker. The world simply does not exist for St. Juan;
nothing exists save God and human souls. The great human society has
no interest for him; he would have us cut ourselves completely adrift
from the aims and aspirations of civilised humanity, and, "since
nothing but the Infinite can satisfy us," to accept nothing until our
nothingness is filled with the Infinite. He does not escape from the
quietistic attitude of passive expectancy which belongs to this view
of life; and it is only by a glaring inconsistency that he attaches
any value to the ecclesiastical symbolism, which rests on a very
different basis from that of his teaching. But St. Juan's Mysticism
brought him no intellectual emancipation, either for good or evil.
Faith with him was the antithesis, not to _sight_, as in the Bible,
but to reason. The sacrifice of reason was part of the crucifixion of
the old man. And so he remained in an attitude of complete
subservience to Church tradition and authority, and even to his
"director," an intermediary who is constantly mentioned by these
post-Reformation mystics. Even this unqualified submissiveness did not
preserve him from persecution during his lifetime, and suspicion
afterwards. His books were only authorised twenty-seven years after
his death, which occurred in 1591; and his beatification was delayed
till 1674. His orthodoxy was defended largely by references to St.
Teresa, who had already been canonised. But it could not be denied
that the quietists of the next century might find much support for
their controverted doctrines in both writers.

St. Juan's ideal of saintliness was as much of an anachronism as his
scheme of Church reform. But no one ever climbed the rugged peaks of
Mount Carmel with more heroic courage and patience. His life shows
what tremendous moral force is generated by complete self-surrender to
God. And happily neither his failure to read the signs of the times,
nor his one-sided and defective grasp of Christian truth, could
deprive him of the reward of his life of sacrifice - the reward, I
mean, of feeling his fellowship with Christ in suffering. He sold "all
that he had" to gain the pearl of great price, and the surrender was
not made in vain.

The later Roman Catholic mystics, though they include some beautiful
and lovable characters, do not develop any further the type which we
have found in St. Teresa and St. Juan. St. Francis de Sales has been a
favourite devotional writer with thousands in this country. He
presents the Spanish Mysticism softened and polished into a graceful
and winning pietism, such as might refine and elevate the lives of
the "honourable women" who consulted him. The errors of the quietists
certainly receive some countenance from parts of his writings, but
they are neutralised by maxims of a different tendency, borrowed
eclectically from other sources.[301]

A more consistent and less fortunate follower of St. Teresa was Miguel
de Molinos, a Spanish priest, who came to Rome about 1670. His piety
and learning won him the favour of Pope Innocent XI., who, according
to Bishop Burnet, "lodged him in an apartment of the palace, and put
many singular marks of his esteem upon him." In 1675 he published in
Italian his _Spiritual Guide_, a mystical treatise of great interest.

Molinos begins by saying that there are two ways to the knowledge of
God - meditation or discursive thought, and "pure faith" or
contemplation. Contemplation has two stages, active and passive, the
latter being the higher.[302] Meditation he also calls the "exterior
road"; it is good for beginners, he says, but can never lead to
perfection. The "interior road," the goal of which is union with God,
consists in complete resignation to the will of God, annihilation of
all self-will, and an unruffled tranquillity or passivity of soul,
until the mystical grace is supernaturally "infused." Then "we shall
sink and lose ourselves in the immeasurable sea of God's infinite
goodness, and rest there steadfast and immovable.[303]" He gives a
list of tokens by which we may know that we are called from meditation
to contemplation; and enumerates four means, which lead to perfection
and inward peace - prayer, obedience, frequent communions, and inner
mortification. The best kind of prayer is the prayer of silence;[304]
and there are three silences, that of words, that of desires, and that
of thought. In the last and highest the mind is a blank, and God alone
speaks to the soul.[305] With the curious passion for subdivision
which we find in nearly all Romish mystics, he distinguishes three
kinds of "infusa contemplazione" - (1) satiety, when the soul is filled
with God and conceives a hatred for all worldly things; (2) "un
mentale eccesso" or elevation of the soul, born of Divine love and its
satiety; (3) "security." In this state the soul would willingly even
go to hell, if it were God's will. "Happy is the state of that soul
which has slain and annihilated itself." It lives no longer in itself,
for God lives in it. "With all truth we may say that it is deified."

Molinos follows St. Juan of the Cross in disparaging visions, which
he says are often snares of the devil. And, like him, he says much of
the "horrible temptations and torments, worse than any which the
martyrs of the early Church underwent," which form part of "purgative
contemplation." He resembles the Spanish mystics also in his
insistence on outward observances, especially "daily communion, when
possible," but thinks frequent confession unnecessary, except for
beginners.

"The book was no sooner printed," says Bishop Burnet, "than it was
much read and highly esteemed, both in Italy and Spain. The
acquaintance of the author came to be much desired. Those who seemed
in the greatest credit at Rome seemed to value themselves upon his
friendship. Letters were writ to him from all places, so that a
correspondence was settled between him and those who approved of his
method, in many different places of Europe." "It grew so much to be
the vogue in Rome, that all the nuns, except those who had Jesuits to
their confessors, began to lay aside their rosaries and other
devotions, and to give themselves much to the practice of mental
prayer."

Molinos had written with the object of "breaking the fetters" which
hindered souls in their upward course. Unfortunately for himself, he
also loosened some of the fetters in which the Roman priesthood
desires to keep the laity[306]. And so, instead of the honours which
had been grudgingly and suspiciously bestowed on his predecessors,
Molinos ended his days in a dungeon[307]. His condemnation was
followed by a sharp persecution of his followers in Italy, who had
become very numerous; and, in France, Bossuet procured the
condemnation and imprisonment of Madame Guyon, a lady of high
character and abilities, who was the centre of a group of quietists.
Madame de Guyon need not detain us here. Her Mysticism is identical
with that of Saint Teresa, except that she was no visionary, and that
her character was softer and less masculine. Her attractive
personality, and the cruel and unjust treatment which she experienced
during the greater part of her life, arouse the sympathy of all who
read her story; but since my present object is not to exhibit a
portrait gallery of eminent mystics, but to investigate the chief
types of mystical thought, it will not be necessary for me to describe
her life or make extracts from her writings. The character of her
quietism may be illustrated by one example - the hymn on "The
Acquiescence of Pure Love," translated by Cowper: -


"Love! if Thy destined sacrifice am I,
Come, slay thy victim, and prepare Thy fires;
Plunged in Thy depths of mercy, let me die
The death which every soul that loves desires!

"I watch my hours, and see them fleet away;
The time is long that I have languished here;
Yet all my thoughts Thy purposes obey,
With no reluctance, cheerful and sincere.

"To me 'tis equal, whether Love ordain
My life or death, appoint me pain or ease
My soul perceives no real ill in pain;
In ease or health no real good she sees.

"One Good she covets, and that Good alone;
To choose Thy will, from selfish bias free
And to prefer a cottage to a throne,
And grief to comfort, if it pleases Thee.

"That we should bear the cross is Thy command
Die to the world, and live to self no more;
Suffer unmoved beneath the rudest hand,
As pleased when shipwrecked as when safe on shore."


Fénelon was also a victim of the campaign against the quietists,
though he was no follower of Molinos. He was drawn into the
controversy against his will by Bossuet, who requested him to endorse
an unscrupulous attack upon Madame Guyon. This made it necessary for
Fénelon to define his position, which he did in his famous _Maxims of
the Saints_. The treatise is important for our purposes, since it is
an elaborate attempt to determine the limits of true and false
Mysticism concerning two great doctrines - "disinterested love" and
"passive contemplation."

On the former, Fénelon's teaching may be summarised as follows:
Self-interest must be excluded from our love of God, for self-love is
the root of all evil. This predominant desire for God's glory need not
be always explicit - it need only become so on extraordinary occasions;
but it must always be implicit. There are five kinds of love for God:
(i.) purely servile - the love of God's gifts apart from Himself; (ii.)
the love of mere covetousness, which regards the love of God only as
the condition of happiness; (iii.) that of hope, in which the desire
for our own welfare is still predominant; (iv.) interested love, which
is still mixed with self-regarding motives; (v.) disinterested love.
He mentions here the "three lives" of the mystics, and says that in
the purgative life love is mixed with the fear of hell; in the
illuminative, with the hope of heaven; while in the highest stage "we
are united to God in the peaceable exercise of pure love." "If God
were to will to send the souls of the just to hell - so Chrysostom and
Clement suggest - souls in the third state would not love Him
less[308]." "Mixed love," however, is not a sin: "the greater part of
holy souls never reach perfect disinterestedness in this life." We
ought to wish for our salvation, because it is God's will that we
should do so. Interested love coincides with resignation,
disinterested with holy indifference. "St. Francis de Sales says that
the disinterested heart is like wax in the hands of its God."

We must continue to _co-operate_ with God's grace, even in the highest
stage, and not cease to resist our impulses, as if all came from God.
"To speak otherwise is to speak the language of the tempter." (This
is, of course, directed against the immoral apathy attributed to
Molinos.) The only difference between the vigilance of pure and that
of interested love, is that the former is simple and peaceable, while
the latter has not yet cast out fear. It is false teaching to say that
we should hate ourselves; _we should be in charity with ourselves as
with others_.[309]

Spontaneous, unreflecting good acts proceed from what the mystics call
the apex of the soul. "In such acts St. Antony places the most perfect
prayer - unconscious prayer."

Of prayer he says, "We pray as much as we desire, and we desire as
much as we love." Vocal prayer cannot be (as the extreme quietists
pretend) useless to contemplative souls; "for Christ has taught us a
vocal prayer."

He then proceeds to deal with "passive contemplation," and refers
again to the "unconscious prayer" of St. Antony. But "pure
contemplation is never unintermittent in this life." "Bernard, Teresa,
and John say that their periods of pure contemplation lasted not more
than half an hour." "Pure contemplation," he proceeds, "is negative,
being occupied with no sensible image, no distinct and nameable idea;
it stops only at the purely intellectual and abstract idea of being."
Yet this idea includes, "as distinct objects," all the attributes of
God - "as the Trinity, the humanity of Christ, and all His mysteries."
"To deny this is to annihilate Christianity under pretence of
purifying it, and to confound God with _néant_. It is to form a kind
of deism which at once falls into atheism, wherein all real idea of
God as distinguished from His creatures is rejected." Lastly, it is to
advance two impieties - (i.) To suppose that there is or may be on the
earth a contemplative who is no longer a traveller, and who no longer
needs the way, since he has reached his destination. (ii.) To ignore
that Jesus Christ is the way as well as the truth and the life, the
finisher as well as the author of our faith.

This criticism of the formless vision is excellent, but there is a
palpable inconsistency between the definition of "negative
contemplation" and the inclusion in it of "all the attributes of God
as distinct objects." Contradictions of this sort abound in Fénelon,
and destroy the value of his writings as contributions to religious
philosophy, though in his case, as in many others, we may speak of
"noble inconsistencies" which do more credit to his heart than
discredit to his intellect. We may perhaps see here the dying spasm of
the "negative method," which has crossed our path so often in this
survey.

The image of Jesus Christ, Fénelon continues, is not clearly seen by
contemplatives at first, and may be withdrawn while the soul passes
through the last furnace of trial; but we can never cease to need Him,
"though it is true that the most eminent saints are accustomed to
regard Him less as an exterior object than as the interior principle
of their lives." They are in error who speak of possessing God in His
supreme simplicity, and of no more knowing Christ after the flesh.
Contemplation is called passive because it excludes the _interested_
activity of the soul, not because it excludes real action. (Here again
Fénelon is rather explaining away than explaining his authorities.)
The culmination of the "passive state" is "transformation," in which
love is the life of the soul, as it is its being and substance.
"Catherine of Genoa said, I find no more _me_; there is no longer any
other _I_ but God." "But it is false to say that transformation is a
deification of the real and natural soul, or a hypostatic union, or an
unalterable conformity with God.[310]" In the passive state we are


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