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still liable to mortal sin. (It is characteristic of Fénelon that he
contradicts, without rejecting, the substitution-doctrine plainly
stated in the sentence from Catherine of Genoa.)

In his letter to the Pope, which accompanies the "Explanation of the
Maxims," Fénelon thus sums up his distinctions between true and false
Mysticism: -

1. The "permanent act" (i.e. an indefectible state of union with God)
is to be condemned as "a poisoned source of idleness and internal

2. There is an indispensable necessity of the distinct exercise of
each virtue.

3. "Perpetual contemplation," making venial sins impossible, and
abolishing the distinction of virtues, is impossible.

4. "Passive prayer," if it excludes the co-operation of free-will, is

5. There can be no "quietude" except the peace of the Holy Ghost,
which acts in a manner so uniform that these acts seem, _to
unscientific persons_, not distinct acts, but a single and permanent
unity with God.

6. That the doctrine of pure love may not serve as an asylum for the
errors of the Quietists, we assert that hope must always abide, as
saith St. Paul.

7. The state of pure love is very rare, and it is intermittent.

In reply to this manifesto, the "Three Prelates[311]" rejoin that
Fénelon keeps the name of hope but takes away the thing; that he
really preaches indifference to salvation; that he is in danger of
regarding contemplation of Christ as a descent from the heights of
pure contemplation; that he unaccountably says nothing of the "love of
gratitude" to God and our Redeemer; that he "erects the rare and
transient experiences of a few saints into a rule of faith."

In this controversy about disinterested love, our sympathies are
chiefly, but not entirely, with Fénelon. The standpoint of Bossuet is
not religious at all. "Pure love," he says almost coarsely, "is
opposed to the essence of love, which always desires the enjoyment of
its object, as well as to the nature of man, who necessarily desires
happiness." Most of us will rather agree with St. Bernard, that love,
as such, desires nothing but reciprocation - "verus amor se ipso
contentus est: habet præmium, sed id quod amatur." If the question had
been simply whether religion is or is not in its nature mercenary, we
should have felt no doubt on which side the truth lay. Self-regarding
hopes and schemes may be schoolmasters to bring us to Christ; it
seems, indeed, to be part of our education to form them, and then see
them shattered one after another, that better and deeper hopes may be
constructed out of the fragments; but a selfish Christianity is a
contradiction in terms. But Fénelon, in his teaching about
disinterested love, goes further than this. "A man's self," he says,
"is his own greatest cross." "We must therefore become strangers to
this self, this _moi._" Resignation is not a remedy; for "resignation
suffers in suffering; one is as two persons in resignation; it is only
pure love that loves to suffer." This is the thought with which many
of us are familiar in James Hinton's _Mystery of Pain_. It is at
bottom Stoical or Buddhistic, in spite of the emotional turn given to
it by Fénelon. Logically, it should lead to the destruction of love;
for love requires two living factors,[312] and the person who has
attained a "holy indifference," who has passed wholly out of self, is
as incapable of love as of any other emotion. The attempt "to wind
ourselves too high for mortal man" has resulted, as usual, in two
opposite errors. We find, on the one hand, some who try to escape the
daily sacrifices which life demands, by declaring themselves bankrupt
to start with. And, on the other hand, we find men like Fénelon, who
are too good Christians to wish to shift their crosses in this way;
but who allow their doctrines of "holy indifference" and "pure love"
to impart an excessive sternness to their teaching, and demand from us
an impossible degree of detachment and renunciation.

The importance attached to the "prayer of quiet" can only be
understood when we remember how much mechanical recitation of forms of
prayer was enjoined by Romish "directors." It is, of course, possible
for the soul to commune with God without words, perhaps even without
thoughts;[313] but the recorded prayers of our Blessed Lord will not
allow us to regard these ecstatic states as better than vocal prayer,
when the latter is offered "with the spirit, and with the
understanding also."

The quietistic controversy in France was carried on in an atmosphere
of political intrigues and private jealousies, which in no way concern
us. But the great fact which stands out above the turmoil of calumny
and misrepresentation is that the Roman Church, which in sore straits
had called in the help of quietistic Mysticism to stem the flood of
Protestantism, at length found the alliance too dangerous, and
disbanded her irregular troops in spite of their promises to submit to
discipline. In Fénelon, Mysticism had a champion eloquent and learned,
and not too logical to repudiate with honest conviction consequences
which some of his authorities had found it necessary to accept. He
remained a loyal and submissive son of the Church, as did Molinos; and
was, in fact, more guarded in his statements than Bossuet, who in his
ignorance of mystical theology often blundered into dangerous
admissions[314]. But the Jesuits saw with their usual acumen that
Mysticism, even in the most submissive guise, is an independent and
turbulent spirit; and by condemning Fénelon as well as Molinos, they
crushed it out as a religious movement in the Latin countries.

To us it seems that the Mysticism of the counter-Reformation was bound
to fail, because it was the revival of a perverted, or at best a
one-sided type. The most consistent quietists were perhaps those who
brought the doctrine of quietism into most discredit, such as the
hesychasts of Mount Athos. For at bottom it rests upon that dualistic
or rather acosmistic view of life which prevailed from the decay of
the Roman Empire till the Renaissance and Reformation. Its cosmology
is one which leaves this world out of account except as a training
ground for souls; its theory of knowledge draws a hard and fast line
between natural and supernatural truths, and then tries to bring them
together by intercalating "supernatural phenomena" in the order of
nature; and in ethics it paralyses morality by teaching with St.
Thomas Aquinas that "to love God _secundum se_ is more meritorious
than to love our neighbour.[315]" All this is not of the essence of
Mysticism, but belongs to mediæval Catholicism. It was probably a
necessary stage through which Christianity, and Mysticism with it, had
to pass. The vain quest of an abstract spirituality at any rate
liberated the religious life from many base associations; the
"negative road" is after all the holy path of self-sacrifice; and the
maltreatment of the body, which began among the hermits of the
Thebaid, was largely based on an instinctive recoil against the poison
of sensuality, which had helped to destroy the old civilisation. But
the resuscitation of mediæval Mysticism after the Renaissance was an
anachronism; and except in the fighting days of the sixteenth century,
it was not likely to appeal to the manliest or most intelligent
spirits. The world-ruling papal polity, with its incomparable army of
officials, bound to poverty and celibacy, and therefore invulnerable,
was a _reductio ad absurdum_ of its world-renouncing doctrines, which
Europe was not likely to forget. Introspective Mysticism had done its
work - a work of great service to the human race. It had explored all
the recesses of the lonely heart, and had wrestled with the angel of
God through the terrors of the spiritual night even till the morning.
"Tell me now Thy name" ... "I will not let Thee go until Thou bless
me." These had been the two demands of the contemplative mystic - the
only rewards which his soul craved in return for the sacrifice of
every earthly delight. The reward was worth the sacrifice; but "God
reveals Himself in many ways," and the spiritual Christianity of the
modern epoch is called rather to the consecration of art, science, and
social life than to lonely contemplation. In my last two Lectures I
hope to show how an important school of mystics, chiefly between the
Renaissance and our own day, have turned to the religious study of
nature, and have found there the same illumination which the mediæval
ascetics drew from the deep wells of their inner consciousness.


[Footnote 284: Rousselot, _Les Mystiques Espagnols_, p. 3.]

[Footnote 285: Among the latter must be mentioned the growth of
Scotist Nominalism, on which see a note on p. 187. Ritschl was the
first to point out how strongly Nominalism influenced the later
Mysticism, by giving it its quietistic character. See Harnack,
_History of Dogma_ (Eng. tr.), vol. vi. p. 107.]

[Footnote 286: Cf. the beginning of the _Vida de Lazarillo de Tormes,
corregida y emendada por Juan de Luna_ (Paris, 1620). "The ignorance
of the Spaniards is excusable. The Inquisitors are the cause. They are
dreaded, not only by the people, but by the great lords, to such an
extent that the mere mention of the Inquisition makes every head
tremble like a leaf in the wind."]

[Footnote 287: Pedro Malon de Chaide: "Las cosas en Dios son mismo

[Footnote 288: Alejo Venegas in Rousselot, p. 78: Louis de Leon, who
is indebted to the _Fons Vitæ_.]

[Footnote 289: Louis de Leon: "The members and the head are one

[Footnote 290: Diego de Stella affirms the mystic paradox, that it is
better to be in hell with Christ than in glory without Him (_Medit._

[Footnote 291: Juan d'Avila: "Let us put a veil between ourselves and
all created things."]

[Footnote 292: This side of Platonism appears in Pedro Malon, and
especially in Louis de Granada. Compare also the beautiful ode of
Louis de Leon, entitled "Noche Serena," where the eternal peace of the
starry heavens is contrasted with the turmoil of the world -

"Quien es el que esto mira,
Y precia la bajeza de la tierra,
Y no gime y suspira
Y rompe lo que encierra
El alma, y destos bienes la destierra?
Aqui vive al contento,
Aqui reina la paz, aqui asentado
En rico y alto asiento
Esta el amor sagrado
De glorias y deleites rodeado." ]

[Footnote 293: After his release he was suffered to resume his
lectures. A crowd of sympathisers assembled to hear his first
utterance; but he began quietly with his usual formula, "Deciamos
ahora," "We were saying just now."]

[Footnote 294: The heresy of the "Alombrados" (Illuminati), which
appeared in the sixteenth century, and was ruthlessly crushed by the
Inquisition, belonged to the familiar type of degenerate Mysticism.
Its adherents taught that the prayers of the Church were worthless,
the only true prayer being a kind of ecstasy, without words or mental
images. The "illuminated" need no sacraments, and can commit no sins.
The mystical union once achieved is an abiding possession. There was
another outbreak of the same errors in 1623, and a corresponding sect
of _Illuminés_ in Southern France.]

[Footnote 295: The real founder of Spanish quietistic Mysticism was
Pedro of Alcantara (d. 1562). He was confessor to Teresa. Teresa is
also indebted to Francisco de Osuna, in whose writings the principles
of quietism are clearly taught. Cf. Heppe, _Geschichte der
quietistichen Mystik_, p. 9.]

[Footnote 296: The fullest and best account of St. Teresa is in Mrs.
Cunninghame Graham's _Life and Times of Santa Teresa_ (2 vols.).]

[Footnote 297: "Hæ imaginariæ visiones regulariter eveniunt vel
incipientibus vel proficientibus nondum bene purgatis, ut communiter
tenent mystæ" (_Lucern. Myst. Tract_, v. 3).]

[Footnote 298: So in Plotinus [Greek: phantasia] comes between [Greek:
physis] (the lower soul) and the perfect apprehension of [Greek:

[Footnote 299: St. Juan follows the mediæval mystics in distinguishing
between "meditation" and "contemplation." "Meditation," from which
external images are not excluded, is for him an early and imperfect
stage; he who is destined to higher things will soon discover signs
which indicate that it is time to abandon it.]

[Footnote 300: The reference is to Ruth iii. 7.]

[Footnote 301: The somewhat feminine temper of Francis leads him to
attach more value to fanciful symbolism than would have been approved
by St. Juan, or even by St. Teresa. And we miss in him that steady
devotion to the Person of Christ, and to Him alone, which gives the
Spaniards, in spite of themselves, a sort of kinship with evangelical
Christianity. St. Juan could never have written, "Honorez, reverez, et
respectez d'un amour special la sacrée et glorieuse Vierge Marie. Elle
est mère de nostre souverain père et par consequent nostre grand'mère"

[Footnote 302: The three parts into which the book is divided deal
respectively with the "darkness and dryness" by which God purifies the
heart; the second stage, in which he insists, complete obedience to a
spiritual director is essential; and the stage of higher

[Footnote 303: "Colà c' ingolfiano e ci perdiamo nel mare immenso
dell' infinita sua bontà in cui restiamo stabili ed immobili."]

[Footnote 304: It is interesting to find the "prayer of quiet" even in
Plotinus. Cf. _Enn_. v. 1. 6: "Let us call upon God Himself before we
thus answer - not with uttered words, but reaching forth our souls in
prayer to Him; for thus alone can we pray, alone to Him who is

[Footnote 305: He speaks, too, of "inner recollection" (il
raccoglimento interiore), "mirandolo dentro te medesima nel più intimo
del' anima tua, senza forma, specie, modo ò figura, in vista e
generate notitia di fede amorosa ed oscura, senza veruna distinzione
di perfezione ò attributo."]

[Footnote 306: Cf. Bp. Burnet: "In short, everybody that was thought
either sincerely devout, or that at least affected the reputation of
it, came to be reckoned among the Quietists; and if these persons were
observed to become more strict in their lives, more retired and
serious in their mental devotions, yet there appeared less zeal in
their whole deportment as to the exterior parts of the religion of
that Church. They were not so assiduous at Mass, nor so earnest to
procure Masses to be said for their friends; nor were they so
frequently either at confession or in processions, so that the trade
of those that live by these things was terribly sunk."]

[Footnote 307: The _Spiritual Guide_ was well received at first in
high quarters; but in 1681 a Jesuit preacher published a book on "the
prayer of quiet," which raised a storm. The first commission of
inquiry exonerated Molinos; but in 1685 the Jesuits and Louis XIV.
brought strong pressure to bear on the Pope, and Molinos was accused
of heresy. Sixty-eight false propositions were extracted from his
writings, and formally condemned. They include a justification of
disgraceful vices, which Molinos, who was a man of saintly character,
could never have taught. But though the whole process against the
author of the _Spiritual Guide_ was shamefully unfair, the book
contains some highly dangerous teaching, which might easily be pressed
into the service of immorality. Molinos saved his life by recanting
all his errors, but was imprisoned till his death, about 1696. In 1687
the Inquisition arrested 200 persons for "quietist" opinions.]

[Footnote 308: This "mystic paradox" has been mentioned already. It
is developed at length in the _Meditations_ of Diego de Stella.
Fénelon says that it is found in Cassian, Gregory of Nazianzus,
Augustine, Anselm, "and a great number of saints." It is an
unfortunate attempt to improve upon Job's fine saying, "Though He slay
me, yet will I trust in Him," or the line in Homer which has been
often quoted - [Greek: en de phaei kai olesson, epei ny toi euaden
outôs.] But unless we form a very unworthy idea of heaven and hell,
the proposition is not so much extravagant as self-contradictory.]

[Footnote 309: The doctrine here condemned is Manichean, says Fénelon

[Footnote 310: St. Bernard (_De diligendo Deo_, x. 28) gives a careful
statement of the deification-doctrine as he understands it: "Quomodo
omnia in omnibus erit Deus, si in homine de homine quicquam supererit?
_Manebit substantia sed in alia forma._" See Appendix C.]

[Footnote 311: The Archbishop of Paris, the Bishop of Meaux (Bossuet),
and the Bishop of Chartres.]

[Footnote 312: If two beings are separate, they cannot influence each
other inwardly. If they are not distinct, there can be no relations
between them. Man is at once organ and organism, and this is why love
between man and God is possible. The importance of maintaining that
action between man and God must be reciprocal, is well shown by
Lilienfeld, _Gedanken über die Socialwissenschaft der Zukunft_, vol.
v. p. 472 sq.]

[Footnote 313: "Thought was not," says Wordsworth of one in a state of
rapture; and again, "All his thoughts were steeped in feeling."]

[Footnote 314: E.g., he writes to Madame Guyon, "Je n'ai jamais hesité
un seul moment sur les états de Sainte Thérèse, parceque je n'y ai
rien trouvé, que je ne trouvasse aussi dans l'ecriture." It is
doubtful whether Bossuet had really read much of St. Teresa. Fénelon
says much more cautiously, "Quelque respect et quelque admiration que
j'aie pour Sainte Thérèse, je n'aurais jamais voulu donner au public
tout ce qu'elle a écrit."]

[Footnote 315: Of course there is a sense in which this is true; but I
am speaking of the way in which it was understood by mediæval


[Greek: En pasi tois physikois enesti ti thaumaston; kathaper
Hêrakleitos legetai eipein; einai kai entautha theous.]

ARISTOTLE, _de Partibus Animalium_, i. 5.

"What if earth
Be but the shadow of heaven, and things therein
Each to other like, more than on earth is thought?"


"God is not dumb, that He should speak no more.
If thou hast wanderings in the wilderness,
And find'st not Sinai, 'tis thy soul is poor;
There towers the mountain of the voice no less,
Which whoso seeks shall find; but he who bends,
Intent on manna still and mortal ends,
Sees it not, neither hears its thundered lore."


"Of the Absolute in the theoretical sense I do not venture to speak;
but this I maintain, that if a man recognises it in its
manifestations, and always keeps his eye fixed upon it, he will reap a
very great reward."



"The creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of
corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of
God." - ROM. viii. 21.

It would be possible to maintain that all our happiness consists in
finding sympathies and affinities underlying apparent antagonisms, in
bringing harmony out of discord, and order out of chaos. Even the
lowest pleasures owe their attractiveness to a certain temporary
correspondence between our desires and the nature of things.
Selfishness itself, the prime source of sin, misery, and ignorance,
cannot sever the ties which bind us to each other and to nature; or if
it succeeds in doing so, it passes into madness, of which an
experienced alienist has said, that its essence is "concentrated
egoism." Incidentally I may say that the peculiar happiness which
accompanies every glimpse of insight into truth and reality, whether
in the scientific, æsthetic, or emotional sphere, seems to me to have
a greater apologetic value than has been generally recognised. It is
the clearest possible indication that the true is for us the good, and
forms the ground of a reasonable faith that all things, if we could
see them as they are, would be found to work together for good to
those who love God.

"The true Mysticism," it has been lately said with much truth, "is
the belief that everything, in being what it is, is symbolic of
something more.[316]" All Nature (and there are few more pernicious
errors than that which separates man from Nature) is the language in
which God expresses His thoughts; but the thoughts are far more than
the language.[317] Thus it is that the invisible things of God from
the creation of the world may be clearly seen and understood from the
things that are made; while at the same time it is equally true that
here we see through a glass darkly, and know only in part. Nature half
conceals and half reveals the Deity; and it is in this sense that it
may be called a symbol of Him.

The word "symbol," like several other words which the student of
Mysticism has to use, has an ill-defined connotation, which produces
confusion and contradictory statements. For instance, a French writer
gives as his definition of Mysticism "the tendency to approach the
Absolute, morally, by means of symbols.[318]" On the other hand, an
English essayist denies that Mysticism is symbolic.[319] Mysticism, he
says, differs from symbolism in that, while symbolism treats the
connexion between symbol and substance as something accidental or
subjective, Mysticism is based on a positive belief in the existence
of life within life, of deep correspondences and affinities, not less
real than those to which the common superficial consciousness of
mankind bears witness. I agree with this statement about the basis of
Mysticism, but I prefer to use the word symbol of that which has a
real, and not merely a conventional affinity to the thing
symbolised.[320] The line is by no means easy to draw. An aureole is
not, properly speaking, a _symbol_ of saintliness,[321] nor a crown of
royal authority, because in these instances the connexion of sign with
significance is conventional. A circle is perhaps not a symbol of
eternity, because the comparison appeals only to the intellect. But
falling leaves are a symbol of human mortality, a flowing river of the
"stream" of life, and a vine and its branches of the unity of Christ
and the Church, because they are examples of the same law which
operates through all that God has made. And when the Anglian noble, in
a well-known passage of Bede, compares the life of man to the flight
of a bird which darts quickly through a lighted hall out of darkness,
and into darkness again, he has found a symbol which is none the less
valid, because light and darkness are themselves only symbolically
connected with life and death. The writer who denies that Mysticism is
symbolic, means that the discovery of arbitrary and fanciful
resemblances or types is no part of healthy Mysticism.[322] In this he
is quite right; and the importance of the distinction which he wishes
to emphasise will, I hope, become clear as we proceed. It is not
possible always to say dogmatically, "_This_ is genuine Symbolism, and
_that_ is morbid or fantastic"; but we do assert that there is a true
and a false Symbolism, of which the true is not merely a legitimate,
but a necessary mode of intuition; while the latter is at best a
frivolous amusement, and at worst a degrading superstition.[323]

But we shall handle our subject very inadequately if we consider only
the symbolical value which may be attached to external objects. Our
thoughts and beliefs about the spiritual world, so far as they are
conceived under forms, or expressed in language, which belong properly
only to things of time and space, are of the nature of symbols. In
this sense it has been said that the greater part of dogmatic theology
is the dialectical development of mystical symbols. For instance, the
paternal relation of the First Person of the Trinity to the Second is
a symbol; and the representation of eternity as an endless period of
time stretching into futurity, is a symbol. We believe that the forms
under which it is natural and necessary for us to conceive of
transcendental truths have a real and vital relation to the ideas
which they attempt to express; but their inadequacy is manifest if we
treat them as facts of the same order as natural phenomena, and try to
intercalate them, as is too often done, among the materials with which
an abstract science has to deal.

The two great sacraments are typical symbols, if we use the word in
the sense which I give to it, as something which, in being what it is,
is a sign and vehicle of something higher and better. This is what the
early Church meant when it called the sacraments symbols.[324] A
"symbol" at that period implied a mystery, and a "mystery" implied a

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