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_clothed upon_ with our heavenly habitation. The body of our
humiliation is to be changed and glorified, according to the mighty
working whereby God is able to subdue all things unto Himself. And
therefore our whole spirit and soul _and body_ must be preserved
blameless; for the body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, not the
prison-house of a soul which will one day escape out of its cage and
fly away.

St. Paul's conception of Christ as the Life as well as the Light of
the world has two consequences besides those which have been already
mentioned. In the first place, it is fatal to religious individualism.
The close unity which joins us to Christ is not so much a unity of the
individual soul with the heavenly Christ, as an organic unity of all
men, or, since many refuse their privileges, of all Christians, with
their Lord. "We, being many, are one body in Christ, and severally
members one of another.[98]" There must be "no schism in the
body,[99]" but each member must perform its allotted function. St.
Augustine is thoroughly in agreement with St. Paul when he speaks of
Christ and the Church as "unus Christus." Not that Christ is
"divided," so that He cannot be fully present to any individual - that
is an error which St. Paul, St. Augustine, and the later mystics all
condemn; but as the individual cannot reach his real personality as an
isolated unit, he cannot, as an isolated unit, attain to full
communion with Christ.

The second point is one which may seem to be of subordinate
importance, but it will, I think, awaken more interest in the future
than it has done in the past. In the 8th chapter of the Epistle to the
Romans, St. Paul clearly teaches that the victory of Christ over sin
and death is of import, not only to humanity, but to the whole of
creation, which now groans and travails in pain together, but which
shall one day be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the
glorious liberty of the sons of God. This recognition of the
spirituality of matter, and of the unity of all nature in Christ, is
one which we ought to be thankful to find in the New Testament. It
will be my pleasant task, in the last two Lectures of this course, to
show how the later school of mystics prized it.

The foregoing analysis of St. Paul's teaching has, I hope, justified
the statement that all the essentials of Mysticism are to be found in
his Epistles. But there are also two points in which his authority has
been claimed for false and mischievous developments of Mysticism.
These two points it will be well to consider before leaving the

The first is a contempt for the historical framework of Christianity.
We have already seen how strongly St. John warns us against this
perversion of spiritual religion. But those numerous sects and
individual thinkers who have disregarded this warning, have often
appealed to the authority of St. Paul, who in the Second Epistle to
the Corinthians says, "Even though we have known Christ after the
flesh, yet now we know Him so no more." Here, they say, is a distinct
admission that the worship of the historical Christ, "the man Christ
Jesus," is a stage to be passed through and then left behind. There is
just this substratum of truth in a very mischievous error, that St.
Paul _does_ tell us[100] that he _began_ to teach the Corinthians by
giving them in the simplest possible form the story of "Jesus Christ
and Him crucified." The "mysteries" of the faith, the "wisdom" which
only the "perfect" can understand, were deferred till the converts had
learned their first lessons. But if we look at the passage in
question, which has shocked and perplexed many good Christians, we
shall find that St. Paul is not drawing a contrast between the
earthly and the heavenly Christ, bidding us worship the Second Person
of the Trinity, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, and to cease
to contemplate the Cross on Calvary. He is distinguishing rather
between the sensuous presentation of the facts of Christ's life, and a
deeper realisation of their import. It should be our aim to "know no
man after the flesh"; that is to say, we should try to think of human
beings as what they are, immortal spirits, sharers with us of a common
life and a common hope, not as what they appear to our eyes. And the
same principle applies to our thoughts about Christ. To know Christ
after the flesh is to know Him, not as man, but as _a_ man. St. Paul
in this verse condemns all religious materialism, whether it take the
form of hysterical meditation upon the physical details of the
passion, or of an over-curious interest in the manner of the
resurrection. There is no trace whatever in St. Paul of any aspiration
to rise above Christ to the contemplation of the Absolute - to treat
Him as only a step in the ladder. This is an error of false Mysticism;
the true mystic follows St. Paul in choosing as his ultimate goal the
fulness of Christ, and not the emptiness of the undifferentiated

The second point in which St. Paul has been supposed to sanction an
exaggerated form of Mysticism, is his extreme disparagement of
external religion - of forms and ceremonies and holy days and the like.
"One man hath faith to eat all things; but he that is weak eateth
herbs.[101]" "One man esteemeth one day above another, another
esteemeth every day alike." "He that eateth, eateth unto the Lord, and
giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not,
and giveth God thanks." "Why turn ye back to the weak and beggarly
rudiments, whereunto ye desire to be in bondage again? Ye observe
days, and months, and seasons, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I
have bestowed labour upon you in vain.[102]" "Why do ye subject
yourselves to ordinances, handle not, nor taste, nor touch, after the
precepts and doctrines of men?[103]" These are strongly-worded
passages, and I have no wish to attenuate their significance. Any
Christian priest who puts the observance of human ordinances -
fast-days, for example - at all on the same level as such duties as
charity, generosity, or purity, is teaching, not Christianity, but that
debased Judaism against which St. Paul waged an unceasing polemic, and
which is one of those dead religions which has to be killed again in
almost every generation.[104] But we must not forget that these vigorous
denunciations _do_ occur in a polemic against Judaism. They bear the
stamp of the time at which they were written perhaps more than any other
part of St. Paul's Epistles, except those thoughts which were connected
with his belief in the approaching end of the world. St. Paul certainly
did not intend his Christian converts to be anarchists in religious
matters. There is evidence, in the First Epistle to the Corinthians,
that his spiritual presentation of Christianity had already been made an
excuse for disorderly licence. The usual symptoms of degenerate
Mysticism had appeared at Corinth. There were men there who called
themselves "spiritual persons[105]" or prophets, and showed an arrogant
independence; there were others who wished to start sects of their own;
others who carried antinomianism into the sphere of morals; others who
prided themselves on various "spiritual gifts." As regards the last
class, we are rather surprised at the half-sanction which the apostle
gives to what reads like primitive Irvingism;[106] but he was evidently
prepared to enforce discipline with a strong hand. Still, it may be
fairly said that he trusts mainly to his personal ascendancy, and to his
teaching about the organic unity of the Christian body, to preserve or
restore due discipline and cohesion. There have been hardly any
religious leaders, if we except George Fox, the founder of Quakerism,
who have valued ceremonies so little. In this, again, he is a genuine

Of the other books of the New Testament it is not necessary to say
much. The Epistle to the Hebrews cannot be the work of St. Paul. It
shows strong traces of Jewish Alexandrianism; indeed, the writer
seems to have been well acquainted with the Book of Wisdom and with
Philo. Alexandrian idealism is always ready to pass into speculative
Mysticism, but the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews can hardly be
called mystical in the sense in which St. Paul was a mystic. The most
interesting side of his theology, from our present point of view, is
the way in which he combines his view of religious ordinances as types
and adumbrations of higher spiritual truths, with a comprehensive view
of history as a progressive realisation of a Divine scheme. The
keynote of the book is that mankind has been educated partly by
ceremonial laws and partly by "promises." Systems of laws and
ordinances, of which the Jewish Law is the chief example, have their
place in history. They rightly claim obedience until the practical
lessons which they can teach have been learned, and until the higher
truths which they conceal under the protecting husk of symbolism can
be apprehended without disguise. Then their task is done, and mankind
is no longer bound by them. In the same way, the "promises" which were
made under the old dispensation proved to be only symbols of deeper
and more spiritual blessings, which in the moral childhood of humanity
would not have appeared desirable; they were (not delusions, but)
_illusions_, "God having prepared some better thing" to take their
place. The doctrine is one of profound and far-reaching importance. In
this Epistle it is certainly connected with the idealistic thought
that all visible things are symbols, and that every truth apprehended
by finite intelligences must be only the husk of a deeper truth. We
may therefore claim the Epistle to the Hebrews as containing in
outline a Christian philosophy of history, based upon a doctrine of
symbols which has much in common with some later developments of

In the Apocalypse, whoever the author may be, we find little or
nothing of the characteristic Johannine Mysticism, and the influence
of its vivid allegorical pictures has been less potent in this branch
of theology than might perhaps have been expected.


[Footnote 56: In referring thus to the Book of Job, I rest nothing on
any theory as to its date. Whenever it was written, it illustrates
that view of the relation of man to God with which Mysticism can never
be content. But, of course, the antagonism between our personal claims
and the laws of the universe must be done justice to before it can be

[Footnote 57: Jer. xxxi. 31-34.]

[Footnote 58: Isa. xxxiii. 14-17.]

[Footnote 59: See Appendix D, on the devotional use of the Song of

[Footnote 60: Leathes, _The Witness of St. John to Christ_, p. 244.]

[Footnote 61: The punctuation now generally adopted was invented
(probably) by the Antiochenes, who were afraid that the words "without
Him was not anything made" might, if unqualified, be taken to include
the Holy Spirit. Cyril of Alexandria comments on the older
punctuation, but explains the verse wrongly. "The Word, as Life by
nature, was in the things which have become, mingling Himself by
participation in the things that are." Bp. Westcott objects to this,
that "the one life is regarded as dispersed." Cyril, however, guards
against this misconception ([Greek: ou kata merismon tina kai
alloiôsin]). He says that created things share in "the one life as they
are able." But some of his expressions are objectionable, as they seem
to assume a material substratum, animated _ab extra_ by an infusion of
the Logos. Augustine's commentary on the verse is based on the
well-known passage of Plato's _Republic_ about the "ideal bed." "Arca
in opere non est vita; arca in arte vita est. Sic Sapientia Dei, per
quam facta sunt omnia, secundum artem continet omnia antequam fabricat
omnia. Quæ fiunt ... foris corpora sunt, in arte vita sunt." Those who
accept the common authorship of the Gospel and the Apocalypse will
find a confirmation of the view that [Greek: ên] refers to ideal,
extra-temporal existence, in Rev. iv. 11: "Thou hast created all
things, and for Thy pleasure they _were_ ([Greek: êsan] is the true
reading) and were created." There is also a very interesting passage
in Eusebius (_Proep. Ev._ xi. 19): [Greek: kai outos ara ên ho logos
kath' hon aei onta ta gignomena egeneto, hôsper Hêrakleitos an
axiôseie.] This is so near to the words of St. John's prologue as to
suggest that the apostle, writing at Ephesus, is here referring
deliberately to the lofty doctrine of the great Ephesian idealist,
whom Justin claims as a Christian before Christ, and whom Clement
quotes several times with respect.]

[Footnote 62: It will be seen that I assume that the first Epistle is
the work of the evangelist.]

[Footnote 63: Westcott on John xiv. 26.]

[Footnote 64: Westcott.]

[Footnote 65: Cf. _Theologia Germanica_, chap. 48: "He who would know
before he believeth cometh never to true knowledge.... I speak of a
certain truth which it is possible to know by experience, but which ye
must believe in before ye know it by experience, else ye will never
come to know it truly."]

[Footnote 66: On the second coming of Christ, cf. John v. 25, xxi. 23;
I John ii. 28, iii. 2. Scholten goes so far as to expunge v. 25 and
28, 29 as spurious.]

[Footnote 67: The allegation that the Christian persuades himself of a
future life because it is the most comfortable belief to hold, seems
to me utterly contemptible. Certain views about heaven and hell are no
doubt traceable to shallow optimism; but the belief in immortality is
in itself rather awful than consoling. Besides, what sane man would
wish to be deceived in such a matter?]

[Footnote 68: Henry More brings this charge against the Quakers. There
are, he says, many good and wholesome things in their teaching, but
they mingle with them a "slighting of the history of Christ, and
making a mere allegory of it - tending to the utter overthrow of that
warrantable, though more external frame of Christianity, which
Scripture itself points out to us" (_Mastix, his letter to a Friend_,
p. 306).]

[Footnote 69: E.g. Strauss and Grau, quoted in Lilienfeld's _Thoughts
on the Social Science of the Future_.]

[Footnote 70: The intense moral dualism of St. John has been felt by
many as a discordant note; and though it is not closely connected with
his Mysticism, a few words should perhaps be added about it. It has
been thought strange that the Logos, who is the life of all things
that are, should have to invade His own kingdom to rescue it from its
_de facto_ ruler, the Prince of darkness; and stranger yet, that the
bulk of mankind should seemingly be "children of the devil," born of
the flesh, and incapable of salvation. The difficulty exists, but it
has been exaggerated. St. John does not touch either the metaphysical
problem of the origin of evil, or predestination in the Calvinistic
sense. The vivid contrasts of light and shade in his picture express
his judgment on the tragic fate of the Jewish people, The Gospel is
not a polemical treatise, but it bears traces of recent conflicts. St.
John wishes to show that the rejection of Christ by the Jews was
morally inevitable; that their blindness and their ruin followed
naturally from their characters and principles. Looking back on the
memories of a long life, he desires to trace the operation of uniform
laws in dividing the wheat of humanity from the chaff. He is content
to observe how [Greek: êthos anthrôpô daimôn], without speculating on
the reason why characters differ. In offering these remarks, I am
assuming, what seems to me quite certain, that St. John selected from
our Lord's discourses those which suited his particular object, and
that in the setting and arrangement he allowed himself a certain
amount of liberty.]

[Footnote 71: Gal. i. 12.]

[Footnote 72: 1 Cor. xv. shows that he subsequently satisfied himself
of the truth of the other Christophanies.]

[Footnote 73: Gal, i. 15, 16.]

[Footnote 74: 1 Cor. i. and ii.]

[Footnote 75: Chrysostom _in_ I _Cor_., Hom. vii. 2.]

[Footnote 76: See Lightfoot on Col. i. 26.]

[Footnote 77: Eph. iii. 9.]

[Footnote 78: 2 Tim. i. 10 ([Greek: phôtizein]); cf. Eph. i. 9.]

[Footnote 79: 2 Cor. vii. 1.]

[Footnote 80: In spite of this, he is attacked for this passage in the
_Pseudo-Clementine Homilies_ (xvii. 19), where "Simon Magus" is asked,
"Can anyone be made wise to teach through a vision?"]

[Footnote 81: Compare a beautiful passage in R.L. Nettleship's
_Remains_: "To live is to die into something more perfect.... God can
only make His work to be truly _His_ work, by eternally dying,
sacrificing what is dearest to Him."]

[Footnote 82: Col. i. 26, ii. 2, iv. 3; Eph. iii. 2-9. I have allowed
myself to quote from these Epistles because I am myself a believer in
their genuineness. The Mysticism of St. Paul might be proved from the
undisputed Epistles only, but we should then lose some of the most
striking illustrations of it.]

[Footnote 83: Rom. vi. 4.]

[Footnote 84: Rom. viii. 11.]

[Footnote 85: St. Paul's mystical language about death and
resurrection has given rise to much controversy. On the one hand, we
have writers like Matthew Arnold, who tell us that St. Paul
unconsciously substitutes an ethical for a physical resurrection - an
eternal life here and now for a future reward. On the other, we have
writers like Kabisch (_Eschatologie des Paulus_), who argue that the
apostle's whole conception was materialistic, his idea of a "spiritual
body" being that of a body composed of very fine atoms (like those of
Lucretius' "_anima_"), which inhabits the earthly body of the
Christian like a kernel within its husk, and will one day (at the
resurrection) slough off its muddy vesture of decay, and thenceforth
exist in a form which can defy the ravages of time. Of the two views,
Matthew Arnold's is much the truer, even though it should be proved
that St. Paul sometimes pictures the "spiritual body" in the way
described. But the key to the problem, in St. Paul as in St. John, is
that pyscho-physical theory which demands that the laws of the
spiritual world shall have their analogous manifestations in the world
of phenomena. Death must, somehow or other, be conquered in the
visible as well as in the invisible sphere. The law of life through
death must be deemed to pervade every phase of existence. And as a
mere prolongation of physical life under the same conditions is
impossible, and, moreover, would not fulfil the law in question, we
are bound to have recourse to some such symbol as "spiritual body." It
will hardly be disputed that the Christian doctrine of the
resurrection of the whole man has taken a far stronger hold of the
religious consciousness of mankind than the Greek doctrine of the
immortality of the soul, or that this doctrine is plainly taught by
St. Paul. All attempts to turn his eschatology into a rationalistic
(Arnold) or a materialistic (Kabisch) theory must therefore be
decisively rejected.]

[Footnote 86: Col. iii. 1.]

[Footnote 87: Phil. ii. 6.]

[Footnote 88: Col. i. 15-17.]

[Footnote 89: Eph. i. 10.]

[Footnote 90: Col. iii. 11.]

[Footnote 91: 1 Cor. xv. 24-28.]

[Footnote 92: 1 Cor. x. 4.]

[Footnote 93: 1 Cor. xi. 7.]

[Footnote 94: Eph. iv. 13.]

[Footnote 95: Gal. ii. 20.]

[Footnote 96: Gal. iv. 19.]

[Footnote 97: 2 Cor. iii. 18.]

[Footnote 98: Rom. xii. 5.]

[Footnote 99: 1 Cor. xii. 25.]

[Footnote 100: 1 Cor. ii. 1, 2.]

[Footnote 101: Rom. xiv.]

[Footnote 102: Gal. iv. 9-11.]

[Footnote 103: Col. ii. 20-22.]

[Footnote 104: I have been reminded that great tenderness is due to
the "sancta simplicitas" of the "anicula Christiana," whose religion
is generally of this type. I should agree, if the "anicula" were not
always so ready with her faggot when a John Huss is to be burnt.]

[Footnote 105: 1 Cor. xiv. 37.]

[Footnote 106: There seem to have been two conceptions of the
operations of the Spirit in St. Paul's time: (a) He comes fitfully,
with visible signs, and puts men beside themselves; (b) He is an
abiding presence, enlightening, guiding, and strengthening. St. Paul
lays weight on the latter view, without repudiating the former. See H.
Gunkel, _Die Wirkungen des H. Geistes nach der popul. Anschauung d.
apostol. Zeit und d. Lehre der Paulus._]


[Greek: "Dio dê dikaiôs monê pteroutai hê tou philosophou dianoia
pros gar ekeinois aei esti mnêmê kata dunamin, pros oisper theos ôn
theios esti. tois de dê toioutois anêr hupomnêmasin orthôs
chrômenos, teleous aei teletas teloumenos, teleos ontôs monos

PLATO, _Phædrus_, p. 249.


"Wohne, du ewiglich Eines, dort bei dem ewiglich Einen!
Farbe, du wechselnde, komm' freundlich zum Menschen herab!"


"Nel suo profondo vidi che s'interna,
Legato con amore in un volume,
Ciò che per l'universo si squaderna;
Sustanzia ed accidente, e lor costume,
Tutti conflati insieme par tal modo,
Che ciò ch'io dico è un semplice lume."

DANTE, _Paradiso_, c. 33.



"That was the true Light, which lighteth every man coming into the
world." - JOHN i. 9.

"He made darkness His hiding place, His pavilion round about Him;
darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies." - Ps. xviii. 11.

I have called this Lecture "Christian Platonism and Speculative
Mysticism." Admirers of Plato are likely to protest that Plato himself
can hardly be called a mystic, and that in any case there is very
little resemblance between the philosophy of his dialogues and the
semi-Oriental Mysticism of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. I do not
dispute either of these statements; and yet I wish to keep the name of
Plato in the title of this Lecture. The affinity between Christianity
and Platonism was very strongly felt throughout the period which we
are now to consider. Justin Martyr claims Plato (with Heraclitus[107]
and Socrates) as a Christian before Christ; Athenagoras calls him the
best of the forerunners of Christianity, and Clement regards the
Gospel as perfected Platonism.[108] The Pagans repeated so
persistently the charge that Christ borrowed from Plato what was true
in His teaching, that Ambrose wrote a treatise to confute them. As a
rule, the Christians did not deny the resemblance, but explained it by
saying that Plato had plagiarised from Moses - a curious notion which
we find first in Philo. In the Middle Ages the mystics almost
canonised Plato: Eckhart speaks of him, quaintly enough, as "the great
priest" (_der grosse Pfaffe_); and even in Spain, Louis of Granada
calls him "divine," and finds in him "the most excellent parts of
Christian wisdom." Lastly, in the seventeenth century the English
Platonists avowed their intention of bringing back the Church to "her
old loving nurse the Platonic philosophy." These English Platonists
knew what they were talking of; but for the mediæval mystics Platonism
meant the philosophy of Plotinus adapted by Augustine, or that of
Proclus adapted by Dionysius, or the curious blend of Platonic,
Aristotelian, and Jewish philosophy which filtered through into the
Church by means of the Arabs. Still, there was justice underlying this
superficial ignorance. Plato is, after all, the father of European
Mysticism.[109] Both the great types of mystics may appeal to
him - those who try to rise through the visible to the invisible,
through Nature to God, who find in earthly beauty the truest symbol of
the heavenly, and in the imagination - the image-making faculty - a raft
whereon we may navigate the shoreless ocean of the Infinite; and
those who distrust all sensuous representations as tending "to nourish
appetites which we ought to starve," who look upon this earth as a
place of banishment, upon material things as a veil which hides God's
face from us, and who bid us "flee away from hence as quickly as may
be," to seek "yonder," in the realm of the ideas, the heart's true
home. Both may find in the real Plato much congenial teaching - that
the highest good is the greatest likeness to God - that the greatest
happiness is the vision of God - that we should seek holiness not for
the sake of external reward, but because it is the health of the soul,
while vice is its disease - that goodness is unity and harmony, while
evil is discord and disintegration - that it is our duty and happiness
to rise above the visible and transitory to the invisible and
permanent. It may also be a pleasure to some to trace the fortunes of
the positive and negative elements in Plato's teaching - of the

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