Mystics are religionists who profess a pure and sublime devotion, accompanied with a disinterested love of God, free from selfish considerations; and who believe that the writings which reveal to them the story of the supernatural have a mystic and hidden sense, which must be sought after in order to comprehend their true import. Under this name some understand all those who profess to know how they are inwardly taught of God. Mystics have existed from the time when men's thoughts began to be turned inward upon themselves. "In all religious writings in which the affections come in," says a writer in the Saturday Review, "there must be, if it is real, an element more or less of what must bear the name of mysticism. It is simply the same thing as saying that there cannot be poetry without feeling, or art without insight, or affection and friendship without warmth of heart." Yet as there are false poetry and false art, and extravagant and false affections, so there is a false and mistaken direction, as well as a true and right one, of the religious affections; and it seems hardly saying too much to affirm that the mischief done to religion and to human society by the misdirection of the religious affections is, as far as we can see, out of all proportion greater than that done by intellectual error, and by the divisions created by what has been deemed intellectual error. Perhaps it is only to be paralleled in the mischief done by misdirected social affections. Intellectual error at least does not directly sap men's strength; and often, in the earnest conflict to which it leads, it provokes the force which is to overthrow it or keep it in check. But the disasters arising out of the misdirection of the religious affections have been of a more fatal nature. They include not merely all the train of evils attending on what is forced, unreal, and hollow, but the irreparable exhaustion, and weakness, and failure of tone, which succeeds the fever of minds wound up to overstrained states of exaltation; the credulity, the mad self-conceit, and the perverse crookedness which never can be cured; and in opponents and lookers-on, influenced by the reaction of disgust, there result the scepticism, the hardness, and the mocking and cruel temper, which the sight of folly, and possibly selfishness, clothing themselves with the most august claims and taking the holiest names in vain, must inevitably call forth and confirm.
Christian mysticism declares, in the language of Pascal, that the head has reasons of its own which the reason knows not of; or, in the words of Paul, that the wisdom of God is a mystery which the natural man receiveth not (1Co 2:6-16). In this general sense nearly all Christians now recognise an element of mysticism in the Gospel; i.e., they recognise that Christian experience has depths which the natural reason cannot sound; that there are truths which the spiritual sense perceives, but which the natural sense, or reason, cannot recognise or demonstrate, though it may perceive that they are consonant with, or at least not antagonistic to, reason. It will be readily seen, however, from what we have said above, that this doctrine is liable to perversion; and, historically, it has been perverted. In a historical survey of the Mystics, we find that they embrace various classes, from those who held the orthodox doctrines of the Church, but in the form of an experience rather than as a dogma or system of philosophy, to those who not only undervalue but actually repudiate all doctrinal theology, and reduce theology from a system of truth to a dream. Yet all of them, however widely apart in many respects, agree in this, that they seek to develop in the human heart disinterestedness of love, without other motives, and profess to feel, in the enjoyment of the temper itself, an abundant reward, while passive contemplation is the state of perfection to which they aspire. They lay little or no stress upon the outward ceremonies and ordinances of religion, but dwell chiefly upon the inward operations of the mind. It is not uncommon for them to allegorize certain passages of Scripture; at the same time they do not deny the literal sense as having an allusion to the inward experience of believers. "Thus," according to them, the word Jerusalem, which is the name of the capital of Judaea, signifies, allegorically, the Church militant, morally, a believer, and, mysteriously, heaven." That sublime passage also in Genesis, "Let there be light, and there was light," which is, according to the letter, physical light, signifies, allegorically, the Messiah, morally, grace, and, mysteriously, beatitude, or the light of glory. All this appears to be harmless, yet we must be careful not to give way to the sallies of a lively imagination in interpreting Scripture. Thus Woolston is said to have been led to reject the Old Testament by spiritualizing and allegorizing the New. That among this class of devout men there was often genuine piety, with a living faith which realized Christ within them the hope of glory, is not to be doubted. But delusion soon sprang up, and men, given to mental introversion, mistook the dreams of their own distempered imagination for realities. Sudden impressions were cherished as the illapse of the Spirit, and pictures of morbid fancy were hailed as exhibiting the odors, hues, and riches of a spiritual paradise.
The forms of thought and modes of action in which mysticism has been developed in different periods and among different nations are almost infinitely varied. Mysticism has appeared in the loftiest abstract speculation, and in the grossest and most sensuous idolatry. It has allied itself with theism, atheism, and pantheism. Vaughan, in his Hours with the Mystics, divides Mystics into three classes: the Theopathetic, the Theosophic, and the Theurgic. Under the first class, or the Theopathists, are included all those who resign themselves, in a passivity more or less absolute, to an imagined divine manifestation. The Theosophists, again, are those who form a theory of God, or the works of God, which has not reason, but an inspiration of their own for its basis. Finally, the Theurgists include all who claim supernatural powers generally through converse with the world of spirits.
Minds predisposed to mysticism have been found in every age and in every country. The earliest mysticism, that of India, as exhibited in the Bhagavat Gita, SEE HINDUISM, appears not in a rudimental and initial form, but fully developed, and as complete as it has ever manifested itself in modern Christendom. The Jewish Mystics are to be found at an early period among the ascetic Therapeutae, a sect similar to the Essenes. "The soul of man," said they, "is divine, and his highest wisdom is to become as much as possible a stranger to the body, with its embarrassing appetites. God has breathed into man from heaven a portion of his own divinity. That which is divine is indivisible. It may be extended. but it is incapable of separation. Consider how vast is the range of our thought over the past and the future, the heavens and the earth. This alliance with an upper world of which we are conscious would be impossible were not the soul of man an indivisible portion of that divine and blessed Spirit. Contemplation of the Divine Essence is the noblest experience of man; it is the only means of attaining to the highest truth and virtue, and therein to behold God is the consummation of our happiness here." Jewish mysticism, combined with the profound philosophy of Plato, gave rise to the Neo-Platonic school, which, as shown in the teaching of Plotinus, its founder, was thoroughly mystical. The Mystic, according to this sect, contemplates the divine perfections in himself; and in the ecstatic state, individuality, memory, time, space, phenomenal contradictions and logical distinctions, all vanish.
In the Church, Mystics sprang up in its earliest days. They were to be met with in large numbers in the 2d and 3d centuries. But little is known of them historically. Their existence and influence, however, is manifest from the strange theological coloring of the writings of some Church fathers. The principles from which Christian mysticism sprang are more readily ascertained, and we are enabled to trace it back to the allegorizing exegesis of the Alexandrian school of theology, the remote source of which may be found in the writings of Philo (q.v.). The historical treatises of this writer were evidently composed for Hellenistic readers, and set forth such facts of Jewish history as were known to every child under synagogal discipline. His allegorizing treatises were addressed to that particular phase of the Jewish mind which is dimly indicated in the Proverbs of Solomon. more clearly in the writings of the Son of Sirach, and which became a rule of life in the Therapeutee of Alexandria. At Alexandria the literary Jew added the study of Plato to the teachings of the Law, and learned to qualify the anthropomorphism of the latter by the transcendental notions of the Deity conveyed in the purest form of Greek philosophy. By a natural progression the anthropopathic descriptions of the Sacred Book were spiritually interpreted as divine allegory, and in time the whole letter of the Law was regarded only as a veil that screened deep mystical truths from the vulgar gaze; σχεδὸν τὰ πάντα ἀλληγορεῖται are the words of Philo. This is the true origin of the allegorizing school of exegesis that was developed in the catechetical school of Alexandria by Clement and Origen, and continued elsewhere by Theophilus of Antioch, Hilary, Cyril of Alexandria, Ephraem Syrus, and the elder Macarius.
The number of the Mystics was not large in the Church until the 6th century, when they rapidly increased, under the influence of the Grecian writings of the pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (q.v.), the then supposed and reputed disciple of St. Paul. It was at this time that is, shortly after the Constantinopolitan Council of A.D. 533 — that the Dionysian mystical views freely circulated, and made many converts. The Dionysians, by pretending to higher degrees of perfection than other Christians, and practicing great austerities, rapidly advanced their cause, especially in the Eastern provinces. Dionysian opinions were set forth in the works entitled Mystical Theology, the Divine Names, the Heavenly Hierarchy, and the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy. The object of the author of these writings was to give a Platonic development and coloring to the deep mysteries of the Christian faith, and to lead the soul on by contemplative energy to adunation with the Deity. The highest attainment in Christian philosophy he teaches is to behold in spirit and to become one with God, who is neither darkness nor light, neither negative nor positive. Three steps lead to this blissful consummation: purification, illumination, and vision (ἐποπτεία)terms adopted from the various grades of Eleusinian initiation (Plut. Demetr. 26). A more direct application of the terminology of heathen mysticism was made by this writer when he gave its title to the work De Mystica Theologia. A copy of the pretended works of Dionysius was sent by Balbus to Louis the Meek in the year 824, which kindled the flame of mysticism in the Western provinces, and, filling the Latins with the most enthusiastic admiration of these new opinions, considerably influenced the thought of the Western Church of the Middle Ages. John Scotus Erigena' translated the writings of Dionysius into Latin by the command of Charles the Bald, and left them as a model, of which the St. Victoire schoolmen afterwards made use. We have seen in the article DIONYSIUS SEE DIONYSIUS that these writings are believed to be the work of the 5th or 6th century. One of the most recent critics on this subject, Dr. Westcott (Contemp. Rev. May 1867), attributes the authorship to some writer of the Edessene school at the latter end of the 5th or commencement of the 6th century. The immediate source of Dionysian mysticism was certainly the Symposizim of Plato, in which the function of Eros is described as the medium of intimate communication between God and man; filling every void place throughout the universe, and binding together all its parts, celestial and mundane, in one compact body of love (Symposium, 202, E). Says one, the Mystics of the early Church, led on by Dionysius, "proceeded upon the known doctrine of the Platonic school, which was also adopted by Origen and his disciples, that 'the divine nature was infused through all human souls;' or that the faculty of reason, from which proceed the health and vigor of the mind, was an emanation from God into the human soul, and comprehended in it the principles and elements of all truth, human and divine." "All that exists," says Vaughan, in describing the Dionysian sentiments, "this Mystic regards as a symbolical manifestation of the superexistent. What we call creation is the divine allegory. In nature, in Scripture, in tradition, God is revealed only in figures. This sacred imagery should be studied, but in such study we are still far from any adequate cognizance of the divine nature. God is above all negation and affirmation; in him such contraries are at once identified and transcended. But by negation we approach most nearly to a true apprehension of what he is. Negation and affirmation, accordingly, constitute the two opposed and yet simultaneous methods he lays down for the knowledge of the Infinite. These two paths, the Via Negativa (or Apophatica) and the Via Affirmativa (or Cataphatica), constitute the foundation of his mysticism. They are distinguished and elaborated in every part of his writings. The positive is the descending process. In the path downwards from God, through inferior existences, the Divine Being may be said to have many names: the negative method is one of ascent; in that God is regarded as nameless, the inscrutable Anonymous. The symbolical or visible is thus opposed, in the Platonist style, to the mystical or ideal. To assert anything concerning a God who is above all affirmation is to speak in figure — to veil him. The more you deny concerning him, the more of such veils do you remove. He compares the negative method of speaking concerning the Supreme to the operation of the sculptor, who strikes off fragment after fragment of the marble, and progresses by diminution." These early Mystics, it may be added, denied that man could by labor or study excite this celestial flame in his breast; and therefore they disapproved highly of the attempts of those who, by definitions, abstract theorems, and profound speculations, endeavored to form distinct notions of truth, and discover its hidden nature. On the contrary, they maintained that silence, tranquillity, repose, and solitude, accompanied with such acts as might tend to extenuate and exhaust the body, were the means by which the hidden and internal word was excited to produce its latent virtues, and to instruct men in the knowledge of divine things. They reasoned as follows: Those "who behold, with a noble contempt, all human affairs, who turn away their eyes from terrestrial vanities, and shut all the avenues of the outward senses against the contagious influences of a material world, must necessarily return to God when the spirit is thus disengaged from the impediments which prevent that happy union; and in this blessed frame they not only enjoy inexpressible raptures from that communion with the Supreme Being, but are invested also with the inestimable privilege of contemplating truth undisguised and uncorrupted in its native purity, while others behold it in a vitiated and delusive form." Dante, himself an exponent of Plato's
Symposium, perhaps drew from thence the inspiring thought of his Beatrice. The further development of the Platonic idea by the Neo- Platonists — Plotinus, Porphyry, and Proclus — is closely copied in the abstraction of the mundane from the grosser thought, and the unity of divine contemplation to which Dionysius aspired. He ploughed, as Fabriciussa says (In Vit. Procli. Proleg. 12), with the Neo-Platonic heifer (comp. Lupton, Introd. to Dean Colet's two Treatises on Dionys. 42). The great end at which he aimed was to show how, by means of an intermediate mediatorial hierarchy, man may hold communion with these celestial powers, order above order, until he reposes on the immediate contemplation of God himself. But he seems to wander beyond the pale of the Church. The celestial hierarchy in this scheme replaces the mediatorial functions of the Redeemer of mankind; he himself defines this hierarchy (Coel. Hier. 3:1) as a divine order, science and energy standing in closest connection with the attributes of the Deity; it is, in fact, an exact reflex of those attributes. The works of Dionysius were explained as genuine in a commentary by Maximus, the monk, of Constantinople, who composed also an allegorizing work on the Liturgy, with the title of Mqystagogia, very much in the spirit of the Dionysian views. This work still has a value as exhibiting the Liturgy of the Greek Church of the 7th century.
Maximus forms a middle term between the so-called Areopagite and Erigena. We find in his Scholia on Gregory of Nazianzum the same transcendental notions of the Deity and of the divine immanence in the world of matter, which only is by virtue of that immanence.
As supra-substantial (ὑπερούσιος), God has nothing in common with any known thing, but so far as the one is manifested in being it is multiform; and conversely, the multiform, by involution, is substantially one. It anticipates the Spinozist "Alles ist Eins, und Eins ist Alles." Man having had an eternal existence in the ideality of the Divine Being, partakes of that Being. From the divine substance he comes forth, and into that substance he returns, a consummation apparently but little removed from the Nirvana (q.v.) of the Indian theosophy. Man, both in his origin and in his future destiny, is impersonal. As uniting in one the material and intellectual, he is a microcosmic representation of the universe; as the crowning effort of creation, he embodies in himself the future recapitulation of all things in God. Substantial union with the Deity is only possible in human nature; and it was made possible to all by the union of manhood and Godhead in Christ. Thereby man's spirit soars up to God through the energy of the will, and the incarnation of the Word is perpetuated in the individual. By means of his own free will man may be raised more and more above the trammels of the body, and be formed in God. As God is man by incarnation, so man through grace is divinely formed, and is one with God. God through love became man; man through love, and by virtue of the incarnation, becomes God. It is not once for all, but by an indefectible continuance in all and through all, the whole mass of humanity, that the mystery of the incarnation is perfected. These opinions were not held only by their author. The writings of Maximus, with Erigena's translation of Dionysius, circulated freely, and among the theologians of the West helped to raise scholastic thought from its dry dialectics, and to create a taste for spiritual contemplation. They even reached the secluded monks in their cells, and led them to speculate so boldly that they fell into the wildest extravagances. One of the most favorable examples of this mediaeval monastic tendency is to be found in St. Bernard, of Clairvaux, who, in his deep appreciation of things unseen, stands forth in strong contrast with the materialism of Abelard and Gilbert de la Poree, for he went so far as to identify his own thoughts with the mind of God. Full of monastic prepossessions, Bernard spurned the flesh, and sought to rise by abstraction into the immediate vision of heavenly things. He denounced reason and the dialectics of the schools. Two canons of St. Victoire, selected apparently for their kindred tone of mystic thought — Hugo de St. Victoire being of Saxon, Richard of Irish extraction — did not, however, like St. Bernard, oppose scholasticism, but rather threw a fervor into the theology of the schools, the cold reasoning of which was seen by them to chill down religious warmth. The conception of Hugo on every other subject was "moulded by his theology, and that theology is throughout sacramental" (Maurice. Medieval Philosophy, 4:74). Mysticism, as applied to this school, means a deep appreciation of the things of faith, a realization by the spirit of the unseen world, and is very far from implying the unintelligible musings of the enthusiast, or any other "cold, formal generalization of a later period" (Maurice, Medisev. Phil. 4:41). Fuller, in his Church History, speaking of this period of mysticism, quaintly says: "The schoolmen principally employed themselves in knotty and thorny questions of divinity; indeed, as such who live in London and like populous places, having but little ground for their foundations to build houses on, may be said to enlarge the breadth of their houses in height, so the schoolmen of this age, lacking the latitude of general-learning and language, thought to enlarge their active minds by mounting up, so improving their small bottom with towering speculations — thought some of things mystical that might not, more of things difficult that could not, most of things curious that need not be known to us." Indeed, the schoolman and the Mystic were at this time generally regarded as formidable antagonists. Yet it is apparent now that the schoolman and the Mystic are not so constantly antagonistic as has been supposed, and are assuredly alike in one respect — for the buildings of the latter, with foundations both very small and very insufficient, rise into the very clouds. We wish that the architectural analogy could be carried further, and that a Theological and Scientific Building Act could forbid the erections of theories above a certain height without a proportionate solidity of foundation. At the head of the Mystics of this time stands Hugo. Yet it was not his but Walter's mysticism which was in direct antagonism with the scholastic system, his Contrat quatuor Labyrinthos Galliae being a running invective against the principles developed by the four principal Gallican schoolmen — Peter Abelard, Gilbert de la Poree, Peter Lombard, and Peter of Poitiers. Joachim a Floris opposed an apocalyptic mysticism to the dialectical theology of the school. In Bonaventura and Gerson the mystic and dialectic elements flowed on once more in harmonious action. In the 14th century the mystic tone given by the Hesychast monks of Mount Athos to the Greek Church was approved by three councils held on the subject at Constantinople A.D. 1341, 1347. and 1350. They drew their inspiration from the writings of Maximus, the annotator of the Celestial Hierarchy. In the controversy that arose in the Greek Church, Nicholas Cabasilas (archbishop of Thessalonica, A.D. 1354) stood forth as the Hesvchast champion, and his Seven Discourses of Life in Christ is one of the most effective works that mystical theology has produced. The mysticism of St. Hildegard in the 12th century, of the Swedish saint Brigitta and of Catharine de Sienna in the 14th, all form part of the same wave of thought. Paulicianism, the remote germ of the Waldensian and Albigensian sects, was rooted iu a dualistic mysticism; and the Quietists of the 17th century were still true to the Alombrado stock from which they sprang.
Asceticism not unfrequently issued from the mystical religious life, its highest instances being that of St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order. The Fratricelli of the 13th century were an offshoot from this stock. The Beguine establishments, originally asylums for the widows and daughters of Crusaders, became convents of mystical devotees, with more or less of heretical taint. SEE BEGHARDS.
Mysticism, which had been training men in the West for a great religious revolution, sprang up and spread rapidly also in the East. No sooner had the doctrines of Islam been proclaimed by the Arabian prophet than a class of Mystics appeared who revolted against the letter of the Koran in the name of the spirit, and boldly urged their claims to a supernatural intercourse with the Deity. For several centuries Persia was the chief seat of a body of Mohammedan Mystics, who are known by the name of Sufis; and the writings of their poets during the 13th and 14th centuries are deservedly admired by every student of Oriental literature. These Eastern Mystics sought, and in some cases claimed, an immediate knowledge of God by the direct exercise of the intuitive faculty, which is a ray of Deity, and beholds Essence. Hence the indifference which they uniformly exhibited to the various forms of positive religion. Self-abandonment and self-annihilation formed the highest ambition of the Sufi. He was bound wholly to lose sight of his individuality; by mystical death he began to live. The most extravagant among these Persian Mystics claimed identity with God, and denied all distinction between good and evil. They held the sins of the Sufi to be dearer to God than the obedience of other men, and his impiety more acceptable than their faith. 'The Sufism of the East has continued unmodified in its character down to the present day, and is actually at this moment on the increase in Persia, notwithstanding the inveterate hatred which the other Mohammedans bear to its adherents.
In the West, Germany has been the special seat of mysticism before and since the Reformation period. In the fellowships and spiritual associations which existed in Germany and the Netherlands throughout the 13th century and part of the 14th, mysticism was the predominant element; chiefly, however, in the form of mystical pantheism. This, indeed, was the common basis of the doctrine espoused on the Rhine, in the 13th century, by the "Brotherhood of the Free Spirit." Their fundamental principle, that God is the Being of all beings, the only real existence, unavoidably led them to consider all things, without exception, as comprised in him, and even the meanest creature as participant of the divine nature and life. God is, however, chiefly present where there is mind, and consequently in man. In the human soul there is an uncreated and eternal principle, namely, the intellect, in virtue of which he resembles and is one with God. Such mystical doctrines are partially a revival of the tenets of the Amaricians and of David of Dinanto, who elaborated the doctrines of the Beghards into a regular speculative system. The following brief epitome of his doctrines is given by Dr. Ullman in his Reformers before the Reformation: "God is the Being, that is, the solid, true, universal, and necessary Being. He alone exists, for he has the existence of all beings in himself; all out of him is semblance, and exists only in as far as it is in God, or is God. The nature of God, exalted above every relation or mode (aveiro), and for that reason unutterable and nameless, is not, however, mere abstract being (according to the doctrine of Amalric), or dead substance; but it is spirit, the highest reason, thinking, knowing and making itself known. The property most peculiar to God is thinking, and it is by exerting it upon himself that he first becomes God; then the Godhead — the hidden darkness — the simple and silent basis of the Divine Being actually is God. God proceeds out of himself, and this is the eternal generation of the Son, and is necessarily founded in the divine essence. In the Son, or creative Word, however, God also gives birth to all things, and as his operation, being identical with his thinking, is without time, so creation takes place in an 'everlasting now.' God has no existence without the world, and the world, being his existence in another mode, is eternal with him. The creatures, although they be in a manner set out of God, are yet not separated from him; for otherwise God would be bounded by something external to himself. Much more, the distinction in God is one which is continually doing itself away. By the Son, who is one with God, 'all things are in God,' and that which is in God is God himself. In this manner it may be affirmed that 'all things are God as truly as God is all things.' In this sense also every created object, as being in God, is good. 'According to this the whole creation is a manifestation of the Deity; every creature bears upon it a "stamp of the divine nature," a reflection of the eternal Godhead; indeed, every creature is full of God. All that is divine, however, when extraneous to the Divine Being, necessarily strives to return to its source, seeks to lay aside its finitude, and from a state of division to re-enter into unity. Hence all created things have a deep and painful yearning after union with God in untroubled rest. It is only when God, after having, by the Son, passed out of himself into a different mode of existence, returns by love, which is the Holy Spirit, into himself once more, that the Divine Being is perfected in the Trinity, and he rests with himself and with all the creatures.'" To this pantheistic mysticism was opposed a less noxious kind of mysticism, which reared itself on the basis of Christian theism. The chief representative of this theistical mysticism is Ruysbroek, by whose efforts the mystical tendency in the Netherlands and Germany underwent a complete revolution. The system of this able and excellent writer, in so far as it affects life, is thus sketched by Ullman: "Man, having proceeded from God, is destined to return and become one with him :again. This oneness, however, is not to be understood as meaning that we become wholly identified with him, and lose our own being as creatures, for that is an impossibility. What it is to be understood as meaning is that we are conscious of being wholly in God, and at the same time also wholly in ourselves; that we are united with God, and yet at the same time remain different from him. Man ought to be conformed to God, and bear his likeness. But this he can only do in so far as it is practicable, and it is practicable only in so far as he does not cease to be himself and a creature. For God remains always God, and never becomes a creature; the creature is always a creature, and never loses its own being as such. Man, when giving himself up with perfect love to God, is in union with him, but he no sooner again acts than he feels his distinctness from God, and that he is another being. Thus he flows into God, and flows back again into himself. The former state of oneness with and the latter state of difference from him are both enjoined by God, and between the two subsists that continual annihilation in love which constitutes our felicity." Gerson, himself a Mystic, attempted to involve Ruysbroek in the same charge of pantheistical mysticism which attaches to Henry Eckhart. The accusation, however, is without foundation. The mysticism of Ruysbroek, which had the double advantage of being at once contemplative and practical, was thoroughly theistical in its character, and its influence was widely felt.
In the 14th century the pantheistic theory of J. Scotus Erigena was revived by Eckhart, provincial of the Dominican Order in Saxony — the "Doctor Ecstaticus" — a man of unquestioned purity of life and great earnestness of character. The boldest metaphysical speculations were united in his system with a severe asceticism. His was a period that particularly favored the development of mystical or spiritual theology. The distraction of party warfare in state matters, the hostile attitude of the emperor towards the court of Rome, and the increasing divergence of religious opinion, gave an opportunity that was not thrown away by this Mystic theologian. Without adopting any party in particular, the Mystic devotee could combine his higher spiritual aspirations with the most opposite political and religious theories, and gain a willing ear from all. The whole heart of the people was open to him. Hence the success of Tauler as a preacher in the 14th century. He was termed "Doctor Illuminatus," as being the most enlightened preacher of his age. A living faith in the pure Word of God, he said, was better than mass attendance or bodily mortification; the sincerely pious man alone was free, the friend of God, over whom the pope had no spiritual power, for God had enfranchised and sanctified him to his free service; the spiritual and political powers were essentially distinct; neither, if the former was ever on ill terms with the civil governor, had it authority to lay its subjects under a ban. In Tauler the mystic principle was exhibited on its most practical side, and in many of his views he was the harbinger of that school of thought which brought about the Reformation of the 16th century, and which was represented by Wycliffe in England, Huss in Bohemia, Savonarola in Italy, and John Wessel in Holland, more ubiquitously throughout the continent. SEE FRIENDS OF GOD. With Tauler must be associated the name of Henry Suso, his friend and ardent admirer, a pupil of Eckhart (A.D. 1300-1365). Mysticism with him was a matter of feeling rather than of speculation. Wisdom as personified by Solomon was his theme, identified at one time with Christ, at another with his Virgin Mother. To make himself worthy of the object of his adoration, he practiced severe austerities, and claimed to be frequently favored with divine visions. His was no connected system, but a tissue of rhapsodical applications of the mystical theology of the preceding period, which he invested with fantastic and visionary forms. He adopted the view which led the schools so closely to the verge of pantheism, namely, that all created nature is a mirror in which Deity is reflected. Creation was eternally in God as the universal exemplar. No name call sufficiently declare the Deity. As Basilides termed the divine Principle οὐκ ὤν, and as Hegel in modern times has said the same thing, so Suso declared that the Deity might with as great propriety be termed an eternal nothing as a self-existent entity. He is a circle whose centre is everywhere, whose circumference is nowhere. Imitation of Christ's sufferings is the true meaning of man's regeneration. Three principal steps lead on to unity with the Deity: purification, or expulsion of all mortal desire; illumination, which fills the soul with divine forms; and perfection, to which is accorded the fullest enjoyment of heavenly good. If Eckhart was the philosophic Mystic, and Tauler the more practical devotee, Suso was more poetical in his enthusiastic adoration of eternal Wisdom.
In all ages a yearning for more spiritual forms of religion has driven ardent spirits into mysticism. The period heralding the approach of the Reformation was by far the most fruitful for the propagation of mystic views on life. Greatest among the Mystics of those days was Thomas à Kempis (q.v.), who in his Hortulus Rosarum, Vallis Liliorum, De Tribus Tcbernaculis, and, above all, in his De Imnitatione Christi, gives sufficient indication of the mystic spirit. Molinos of Saragossa, a resident of Rome from A.D. 1669, published Guida Spirituale (A.D. 1675), of a similarly mystical cast. Father La Chaise, the confessor of Louis XIV, brought it under the notice of the pope as a production of a kindred spirit to the Beghards of the Netherlands or Spanish Alombrados, who laid the whole work of religion in silent prayer, to the neglect of external ritual. Sixty- eight heretical propositions were found in it, and the book was condemned by Innocent XI (A.D. 1677). Molinos, notwithstanding his confession of error, was confined in a Dominican cell under a tedious course of life-long penance. His followers were termed "Quietists," and as the "Pietism" of Germany was copied from them, they may be considered as a link of connection between Romanism and Protestantism. Pope Innocent, before the denunciation of pere La Chaise, had received much edification from the work of Molinos which he afterwards condemned. Fenelon also, archbishop of Cambray (A.D. 1694), was more consistent in his appreciation of the mystic principle, as shown in his Reflections and Meditations on the Inner Life of the Christian. His rival, Bossuet, bishop of Meaux, complained of this metropolitan to the king, and the matter was referred to the court of Rome, where twenty-three propositions of doubtful character were declared to be erroneous. Fenelon submitted with humility to the papal decree; himself published the judicial bull, and proscribed his own writing. But there was nothing about him of the-Protestant Pietist; one must be either Deist or Romanist, was rather his theory. There was also an unsuspected strain of mysticism about Pascal, the scourge of Jesuitism; for after his death an iron belt, rough with nails, was found to encircle his body, and a folded parchment sewn within his dress-Pascal's "amulet" — on which was a figure of the cross and the following writing: "In the year of grace 1654, Monday, November 23d, feast of St. Clement, pope and martyr, and others of the martyrology; vigil of St. Chrysogonus, martyr, and others; from about half-past ten in the evening till about half- past twelve at night, fire; God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob (Ex 3:6; Mt 22:32), not of wise men and philosophers. Certainty, certainty; feeling joy, peace. The God of Jesus Christ, 'My God and your God' (John 22:17). Thy God shall be my God (Ru 1:16). Forgetfulness of the world and of all besides. He is found only in ways taught of the Gospel. Dignity of the human soul. Righteous Father, the world hath not known thee, but I have known thee (Joh 17:25). Joy, joy, joy-tears of joy. I have separated myself from him. 'Dereliquerunt me fontem aquae vivae' (Jer 2:13). O God, wilt thou forsake me? (Mt 27:46), May I not be separate eternally!' This is true life, that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.' Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ! I have separated myself from him; I have fled from him renounced, sacrificed. May I never be separated from him. Safety is alone in the ways taught by the Gospel. Self-renunciation, total and sweet; total submission to Jesus Christ and my guide. Everlastingly in joy for one day of trial upon earth. 'Non obliviscas sermones tuos' (Ps 119:16). Amen." If this be mysticism, it may find its parallel in the conversion of St. Augustine (Conf. 7:11, 12). Both sought peace in philosophy — the father in Plato, the Jansenist in Descartes; if their respective masters could demonstrate the existence of Deity, they could not lead the soul to the Eternal; the revelation of the way, the truth, and the life was in either case attended with the same effects — tears, vision, light, joy, peace. They were Mystics, according to Montesquieu's definition, "Les devots qui out le coeur tendre." The mediaeval mysticism, in its gradual progress from a mere poetical sentiment to a speculative system, and thence to a living, practical power, led men steadily forward towards the Reformation. In the view of scholasticism, Christianity was an objective phenomenon, but in the view of mysticism it was an inward life. The former pointed to the Church as the only possible means of salvation, but the latter pointed directly to God, and aimed at being one with him. The one concerned itself chiefly with a gorgeous hierarchy, outward forms, and necessarily efficacious sacraments; the other was mainly occupied with having Christ formed in the soul, the hope of glory. The Reformers therefore could not fail to sympathize far more deeply with the teachings of the Mystics than with those of the schoolmen. Though an exceptional class, the Mystics possessed, with all their extravagances, more of the truth of God than could be found within the wide domains of the Roman Church. But while Luther and his brother Reformers learned much from the Mystics, their theology went far beyond the doctrines of mysticism. During the 15th century, indeed, the Scripture element had gradually supplanted the mystical in the religion of the times.
The Bible began to displace the schoolmen at the universities. Both in Germany and the Netherlands several able and orthodox divines had arisen, by whom the Word of God was brought into greater prominence than it had been for centuries as the standard of their teaching. No sooner was the great Protestant principle announced by Luther that the Scriptures are the sufficient standard of Christian truth than traditionalism and mysticism alike fell before it. Oral tradition and individual intuition were both of them rejected as infallible guides in an inquiry after truth. But while such was the general fate of mysticism among the Reformed, it broke forth in the most extravagant forms among the Zwickau prophets and the various sects of Anabaptists who appeared in the Low Countries and different parts of Germany. Thus, as Mr. Vaughan has well said, "By the Mystic of the 14th century the way of the Reformation was in a great measure prepared; by the Mystic of the 16th century it was hindered and imperilled." The wild fanaticism of the Anabaptists was alleged to be a practical refutation of the asserted right of every man to the exercise of private judgment; and though Luther, Melancthon, Zwingli, and Bullinger exposed the fallacy of such an objection, yet for a time the work of reform was undoubtedly retarded thereby.
The "German Theology" had a great effect on the inner religious life of Germany at the time of the Reformation, and gave to it a mystic tone. It is the title of a work that was first brought under public notice by Luther, and published by him (A.D. 1518) as "eyn edels Buchlein, von rechtem Verstand was Adam und Christus sey, und wie Adam zu uns sterben und Christus erstehen soll." Since that time it has frequently been translated and republished, and has been a great favorite in Lutheran Germany. All that is known of the author is that he was custos of the Deutsch Herren Haus at Frankfort, or rather across the Main at Sachsenhausen, and a member of the society of "God's Friends," Romanists of mystical principles, who disappeared from the scene at the close of the 14th century. SEE FRIENDS OF GOD. The style of the book is quite similar to that of Tauler and Suso. The book inculcates the necessity of completely merging the will of man in the will of God, and of practicing the most complete self-denial and mortification of natural inclinations. It is self-will that stands as a wall of separation between God and man; it converted angels into devils, and is as the fire that never can be quenched; voluntary humiliation is its remedy. Of the high conceit and lax morals of the Brethren of the Free Spirit it speaks with much severity as the very spirit of Antichrist. Enlightenment, in which mysticism has always professed to initiate its votaries, is not to be attained by talk or study; but by steady acts of self-devotion, and the practice of active virtue. Love, and no taint of self-seeking, must be the spring of all one's actions; and he can only hope to attain perfection who renounces as unworthy all wish for earthly reward. The same mind must be in him which was in Christ Jesus-self-devoting and self-sacrificing. The tone of the book shows no symptom of disrespect for the Church; but its free application of Bible principles in a neoterizing spirit scarcely failed to prepare the way of the Reformation. In some respects it also exhibits the germ of the Reine Vernunft of Kant. The book was always a great favorite with Luther, who freely owned himself to be under the deepest obligations to it. "Next to the Bible and St. Augustine," he says, "from no book which I have met have I learned more of what God, Christ, man, and all things are." The sound theology which pervades the work, though clothed in a somewhat mystical garb, conveyed much light to the Reformer's mind. The fundamental thought which the book contains is thus described by Ullman: "If the creature recognise itself in the immutable Good, and as one therewith, and live and act in this knowledge, then it is itself good and perfect. But if, on the contrary, the creature revolt from that Good, it is then evil. All sin consists in apostatizing from the supreme and perfect Good, in making self an object, and in supposing that it is something, and that we derive from it any sort of benefit, such as existence, or life, or knowledge, or ability. This the devil did, and it was by this alone he fell. His presuming that he, too, was something, and that something was his, his 'I' and his 'me' and his 'my' and his' mine,' were his.apostasy and fall. In the self-same ,way Adam also fell. Eating the apple was not the cause of his fall, but his arrogating to self his 'I' and 'me' and 'mine.' But for this, even if he had eaten seven apples, he would not have fallen. Because of it, however, he must have fallen although he had not tasted the one. So is it with every man, in whom the same thing is repeated a hundred times. But in what way may this apostasy and general fall be repaired?' The way is for man to come out of self (isolation as a creature) and enter into God. In order to do this two parties must concur, God and man. Man cannot do it without God, and God could not do it without man; and therefore it behooved God to take upon him human nature and to become man, in order that man might become God. This once took place in the most perfect way in Christ, and as every man should become by grace what Christ was by nature, it ought to be repeated in every man, and in myself among the rest; for were God to be humanized in all other men, and all others to be deified in him, and were this not to take place in me, my fall would not be repaired. In that way Christ restores what was lost by Adam. By Adam came selfishness, and with it disobedience, all evil, and corruption. By Christ, in virtue of his pure and divine life transfusing itself into men, came the annihilation of selfishness, obedience and union with God, and therein every good thing, peace, heaven, and blessedness." The Deutsche Theologie, which thus unfolded Protestant truth so clearly before the Reformation, has since 1621 been inscribed in the Romish Index of prohibited works.
At the Reformation period, Paracelsus (Theophrastus Bombast of Hohenheim, born A.D. 1493, d. 1541) was among the first to show a decided leaning to mysticism, though medicine, not theology, was his peculiar faculty. He was by no means a partisan of Luther, although he was himself a zealous Reformer. His theological mysticism was mixed up with medicine, astronomy, astrology, alchemy, and natural history. From a similar medley Jacob Bohme, at a later date, extracted religious comfort. But the first of the Reformed party who gave to mysticism a definite shape was Valentine Weigel, minister of Ischopping, near Meissen, in Saxony; he died A.D. 1588. Mysticism has often made a close approach to pantheism, and so in his system he said that God had pity on himself in pitying man; for since the believer is by his act of faith raised above himself and abandons the soul to God, so God is conscious of his own being in man. Thus Spinoza declared that God is only self-conscious in the self- consciousness of man. Man is a microcosmal power, and in him the world is exhibited in miniature reflection. During his life Weigel had the worldly wisdom to keep his thoughts to himself, and subscribed the Formula Concordiae as a good Lutheran — really to avoid inconvenience, as stated in a posthumous writing, and not from inner conviction. In his Postils he complains earnestly of the sluggish spirit of the existing schools of theology; their bulky bodies of doctrine, their confession, their commonplaces and table-talk, as well as their far-famed Formula of Concord. All such beggarly elements of instruction he would sweep away, and go to the Word of God alone for light. Imputed righteousness was a doctrine, he said, that could only have been devised by Antichrist. Thus he also, though a professed Reformer, was in many points at direct antagonism with Luther and Melancthon.
The most unintelligible of Mystics, however, was Jacob Bohme (q.v.). Light, he declared, had been revealed to him that held him in a state of ecstatic rest; and thoughts were inspired by the revelation that he seems never to have had the power of communicating to others. After a silence of fifteen years he wrote the Aurora (A.D. 1612), which was followed by other similar coruscations. His reveries show a strange mixture of the naturalism afterwards developed by Schelling and the wilder theosophy of the ancient Gnostics. Thus he affirmed God and nature to be essentially one; and this dualized principle, without which neither nature as a whole, nor any integral portion of it, can exist, is the Deity. As to be self- engendered is the essence of the Deity, so nature and the external world is the substance of that self-generation. In the fall of Lucifer, where a spirit of light should have been engendered, there issued forth a spirit of fire. It is the principle of life of all creatures, the very heart of their existence. All that is gross and hard, dark and cold, terrible and evil, has its origin in the fall of Lucifer, the Prince of this world. But intimately as his spirit interpenetrates the mass of existence, he is not wholly one with it. The spirit of life is there also, held captive, as it were, under the covenant of death, yet not extinguished. The confines of the rival kingdoms touch each other in man, and keep up a perpetual contest between Love and Rage. In the material world the Creator is born as a creature in the quickened life of the spirit; the stars are nothing else than powers of God; and all three persons of the Trinity are ever present in the universe. The Father is the occult foundation of all; the Son in the heart of the Father is the quickening spirit of life and love, of tenderness and beauty. The Spirit is universally present. From nature and its internal development Bohme professed to have gained his knowledge of philosophy and astrotheology. He was indebted to no human lore; his only book was the book of nature, ever open before his soul. It is true he had learned much from the Theurgists who preceded him, particularly Cornelius Agrippa and Paracelsus, but the grand source of the knowledge which he professed to communicate in his mystical writings was an inward illumination, which he claimed to have received from the Spirit of God, whereby he became minutely acquainted with the essences, properties, and uses of all the objects in nature. Schlegel has been able to trace in these ravings the afflatus of a poetical mind of high order, and he does not scruple to rank Bohme with the master-minds that have taken their theme from the unseen world of Dante, Milton, and Klopstock. Hallam can see nothing in them — nothing better than the incoherence of madness (Literature of the Middle Ages, III, 3:20). Bohme was followed in the same form of mysticism by the Rosicrucians and Freemasons, and by secret societies. which so abounded in the 16th century.
Of a very different stamp was Arndt's mysticism. It means a thoroughly spiritual religion. His principal works are the four books of True Christianity, and his devotional collection, the Paradise of Christian Virtues. They maintain their high character, and are still used in many households throughout Germany. But they encountered a vehement opposition when they first appeared, more especially from Osiander the younger, who managed to extract from them eight several heresies; the main gravamen being that Arndt slights school learning by his advocacy of practical piety, and of such "popish" Mystics as Thomas a Kempis and Tauler. Moreover, by his doctrine of the illumination and indwelling of the Holy Spirit he trenches upon the Lutheran theory of justification by faith alone and the orthodox doctrine of grace. J. Gerhard's Meditationes Sacre (A.D. 1606), his Scholas Pietatis and Postils. are works of a similar tone of thought to Arndt's, and they met with similar reception at first; as Gerhard said, "If any writer upholds pious practical Christianity, and aims at something higher than mere theological learning, he is straightway branded as a Rosicrucian or Weigelian." J. Val. Andrea, grandson of Jacob Andrei, who took a prominent part in setting up the Lutheran Formula of Concord, was of the same school. In his younger years he accepted the Rosicrucian mystery (A.D. 1602), but more in jest than in earnest. His later writings (A.D. 1617-1619) are conceived in a spirit of mystical piety. His endeavor evidently was to expose and put down the religious and political follies of the age, and uphold what he deemed to be spiritual Christianity. But he wrote in the spirit of Lucian; and it is often difficult to see where irony ends and earnest principle begins. His more liberal acceptation of the Formula Concordice made him many enemies among the high orthodox Lutherans. The Pietist Spener said of him: "If I could raise any from the dead for the good of the Church, it should be Valentine Andrea." It was owing to Arndt's influence that the mocking, scoffing spirit which seemed natural to Andrea was replaced by something higher and worthier of a Christian man.
But if Protestantism has had its Mystics, Romanism has not been altogether wanting in these religious enthusiasts. In France, in the 16th century, appeared St. Francis de Sales, and in Spain, St. Theresa and St. John of the Cross; all of them making their mystical doctrines subservient to the interests of the Mother Church. "Nowhere," says Mr. Vaughan, "is the duty of implicit self-surrender to the director or confessor more constantly inculcated than in the writings of Theresa and John of the Cross, and nowhere are the inadequacy and mischief of the principle more apparent. John warns the Mystic that his only safeguard against delusion lies in perpetual and unreserved appeal to his director. Theresa tells us that whenever our Lord commanded her in prayer to do anything, and her confessor ordered the opposite, the divine guide enjoined obedience to the human, and would influence the mind of the confessor afterwards, so that he was moved to counsel what he had before forbidden! Of course; for who knows what might come of it if enthusiasts were to have visions and revelations on their own account? The director must draw after him these fiery and dangerous natures, as the lion-leaders of an Indian pageantry conduct their charge, holding a chain and administering opiates. The question between the orthodox and the heterodox mysticism of the 14th century was really one of theological doctrine. The same question in the 16th and 17th was simply one of ecclesiastical interests." According to the mystical doctrine of St. Theresa, there are four degrees of prayer: (1) simple mental prayer; (2) the prayer of quiet, called also pure contemplation; (3) the prayer of union, called also perfect contemplation; (4) the prayer of rapture or ecstasy. The raptures and visions of this female saint of Romanism have gained for her a high name. But the mysticism of John of the Cross wore a different aspect. He delighted not in ecstatic prayer like Theresa, but in intense suffering. His earnest prayer was that not a day might pass in which he should not suffer something.
In the history of mysticism the 17th centutry was chiefly distinguished by the Quietist controversy. The most remarkable exhibition of Quietism is to be found in the writings ofMadame Guyon. Thus. when describing her experience, she observes, "The soul passing out of itself by dying to itself necessarily passes into its divine object. This is the law of its transition. When it passes out of self, which is limited, and therefore is not God, and consequently is evil, it necessarily passes into the unlimited and universal, which is God, and therefore is the true good. My own experience seemed to me to be a verification of this. My spirit, disenthralled from selfishness, became united with and lost in God, its Sovereign, who attracted it more and more to himself. And this was so much the case that I could seem to see and know God only, and not myself... It was thus that my soul was lost in God, who communicated to it his qualities, having drawn it out of all that it had of its own... O happy poverty, happy loss, happy nothing, which gives no less than God himself in his own immensity — no more circumscribed to the limited manner of the creation, but always drawing it out of that to plunge it wholly into his Divine Essence. Then the soul knows that all the states of self-pleasing visions, of intellectual illuminations, of ecstacies and raptures, of whatever value they might have been, are now rather obstacles than advancements, and that they are not of service in the state of experience which is far above them, because the state which has props or supports, which is the case with the merely illuminated and ecstatic state, rests in them to some degree, and is pained to lose them. But the soul cannot arrive at the state of which I am now speaking without the loss of all such supports and helps... The soul is then so submissive, and perhaps we may say so passive — that is to say, is so disposed equally to receive from the hand of God either good or evil — as is truly astonishing. It receives both the one and the other without any selfish emotions, letting them flow and be lost as they came." This quotation contains the substance of the doctrine which pervades the mystical writings of Madame Guyon. The whole may be summed up in two words, "disinterested love," which she regarded as the perfection of holiness in the heart of man. A similar, if not wholly identical, doctrine was inculcated at the same period by Molinos in Italy, in a book entitled The Spiritual Guide. Quietist opinions were then evidently on the advance in the different countries of Europe, and among their supporters were some of the most illustrious men of the day, of whom it is sufficient to name Fenelon, archbishop of Cambray. But the high character for piety and worth of the leading Quietists made them all the more obnoxious to the Jesuits. Nor was the hostile spirit which was manifested towards the Quietists limited to the Jesuits alone; the celebrated Bossuet, also, was one of the most bitter persecutors of Madame Guyon, and succeeded in procuring the public condemnation of her writings. Fenelon was for a time conjoined with Bossuet in opposing Guyon, but all the while he was conscious that his own opinions did not differ from hers. At length, in 1697, he openly avowed his sympathy with the sentiments of the Mystics in a work which, under the name of the Maxims of the Saints, was devoted to an inquiry as to the teachings of the Church on the doctrines of pure love, of mystical union, and of perfection. The publication of this treatise gave rise to a lengthened and angry controversy. Bossuet sought to invoke the vengeance of the government upon his heretical brother, and he had even hoped to call down upon him the fulminations of the pope. In the first object he was successful; in the second he was, for a time at least, disappointed. A war of pamphlets and treatises now raged at Paris, the chief comnbatants being Bossuet on the one side and Fenelon on the other. The Maxims were censured by the Sorbonne, and their author was persecuted by the king of France; but pope Innocent XII declined for a time to pronounce a sentence of condemnation upon Fenelon, of whom he had been accustomed to say that he had erred through an excess of love to God. At length, with the utmost reluctance, and in measured terms, he sent forth the much expected anathema, and Fenelon submitted to the decision of the Roman see. Madame Guyon, after a long life of persecution, thirty-seven years of which were spent in prison, died in 1717. Among the Quietists of the 17th century may be mentioned Madame Bourignon and her accomplished disciple, Peter Poiret; and among those of later times, the fascinating Mystic, Madame de Krtidener.
Vaughan, in his Work, Hours with the Mystics, institutes a comparison between the Mystics of France and Germany up to this time, and is led thus to comment on the characteristics of these two exponents of mysticism: "Speaking generally, it may be said that France exhibits the mysticism of sentiment, Germany the mysticism of thought. The French love to generalize and to classify. An arrangement which can be expressed by a word, a principle which can be crystallized into a sparkling maxim, they will applaud. But with them conventionalism reigns paramount — society is ever present to the mind of the individual — their sense of the ludicrous is exquisitely keen. The German loves abstractions for their own sake. To secure popularity for a visionary error in France, it must be lucid and elegant as the language — it must be at least an ingenious and intelligible falsehood; but in Germany the most grotesque inversions of thought and of expression will be found no hinderance to its acceptability, and the most hopeless obscurity may be pronounced its highest merit. In this respect German philosophy sometimes resembles Lycophron, who was so convinced that unintelligibility was grandeur as to swear he would hang himself if a man were found capable of understanding his play of Cassandra. Almost every later German Mystic has been a secluded student — almost every Mystic of modern France has been a brilliant conversationalist. The genius of mysticism rises in Germany in the clouds of the solitary pipe; in France it is a fashionable Ariel, who hovers in the drawing-room, and hangs to the pendants of the glittering chandelier. If Jacob Bohme had appeared in France, he must have counted disciples by units, where in Germany he reckoned them by hundreds. If Madame Guyon had been born in Germany, rigid Lutheranism might have given her some annoyance; but her earnestness would have redeemed her enthusiasm from ridicule, and she would have lived and died the honored precursor of German pietism." The modern mysticism of Germany is chiefly remarkable for its excessive irreligiousness, and its close alliance with a congress of metaphysical clouds, misnamed philosophy, which, by essaying to pass beyond the limits of the human faculties, turns day-dreams into logical systems, and resolves all truth and all religion into the discovery that there is no God, or that God is but a name for the universe. The infidelity which in England took the form of natural religion, and in France that of ribaldry and ridicule, assumed in Germany the garb of speculation and of sentimental feeling. To the speculations of Kant, of Fichte, and of Schelling, as well as to the claims of divine revelation, Friedrich Henry Jacobi, in his work on Divine Things, opposed that intuitive and immediate knowledge of divine things which he denominated faith, mental feeling, or reason, and which has acquired for his philosophy the name of mysticism. It is a revival of the reveries of Bohme, of the Gnostics, and of the Orientals. Passing through such modifications as it could receive from the learned piety of Schleiermacher, the critical acumen of De Wette, the poetry of Novalis, and the picturesque genius of Carlyle, we now find it exciting to something like vitality the negative theology of Unitarianism in America and in England. By the side of these speculative Mystics we find also in modern times the imaginative Mystics, whose system is less the invention of something new and false than the perversion of what is old and true. To this branch of mysticism belongs the mystical interpretation of the Scriptures, the originator of which, as we have seen, is supposed to have been Philo the Jew, and the character of which pervaded the writings of Hermes, Justin, Clemens of Alexandria, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrosius, Jerome, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Bede, Maurus, and Hugo de St. Caro.
In England we see it espoused in the spiritualizing of Solomon's Temple by Bunyan, and Brown's parallels of O.T. facts with the history of the Jews, etc. Mr. William Law (author of the Serious Call, etc.), and the very able opponent of bishop Hoadly, degenerated in the latter part of his life into all the singularities of mysticism; and some suppose that his extravagant notions were one means of driving the celebrated Gibbon into a state of infidelity. "Mr. Law," says Vaughan, "supposed that the material was the region which originally belonged to the fallen angels. At length the light and Spirit of God entered into the chaos, and turned the angels' ruined kingdom into a paradise on earth. God then created man, and placed him there. He was made in the image of the Triune God (whom, like the Hutchinsonians, he compares to 'fire, light, and spirit'), a living mirror of the divine nature, formed to enjoy communion with Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and to live on earth as the angels do in heaven. He was endowed with immortality, so that the elements of this outward world could not have any power of acting on his body; but by his fall he changed the light, life, and spirit of the world. He died, on the very day of his transgression, to all the influences and operations of the Spirit of God upon him, as we die to the influences of this world when the soul leaves the body; and all the influences. and operations of the elements of this life were open to, him, as they are in any animal, at his birth into this; world; he became an earthly creature, subject to the dominion of this outward world, and stood only in the highest rank of animals. But the goodness of God would not leave man in this condition: redemption from it was immediately granted; and the bruiser of the serpent brought the life, light, and spirit of love once more into the human nature. All men, in consequence of the redemption of Christ, have in them the first spark, or seed. of the divine life, as a treasure hid. in the centre of our souls, to bring forth by degrees a. new birth of that life which was lost in paradise. Noson of Adam can be lost except by turning away from the Saviour within him. The only religion which can save us must be that which can raise the light, life, and Spirit of God in our souls. Nothing can enter the vegetable kingdom till it have vegetable life in it, or be a member of the animal kingdom till it have the animal life. Thus all nature joins with the Gospel in affirming that no man can enter into the kingdom of heaven till the heavenly life is born in him. Nothing can be our righteousness or recovery but the divine nature of Jesus Christ derived to our souls." But the eminent Swedish theologian, Emmanuel Swedenborg, figures more conspicuously than these, if we regard him merely as an expositor of the Scriptures. As he, however, ascribes his spiritual interpretations to a special source, he will elsewhere occupy a more distinct and appropriate place, and we now simply advert to him as believing and teaching that God had made him the vehicle of new revelations. We refer our readers to the articles NEW JERUSALEM CHURCH SEE NEW JERUSALEM CHURCH and SWEDENBORG SEE SWEDENBORG for details of his views and their progress.
We are not altogether strangers to mysticism even in our own day. Only a few years have elapsed since we were asked to believe in the supernatural revelations made to the followers of Edward Irving (q.v.); and the Spiritualists of North America profess to hold converse with the spiritual existences of another world. SEE SPIRITUALISM. But, passing by these, we find a class of Mystics in the Intuitionists on both sides of the Atlantic, who substitute the subjective revelation of consciousness for the objective revelation of the written Word. As examples of practical mysticism we must here refer also to the history of the Beghards, the Flagellants, Muinzers, Anabaptists, and the famous Peasants' War in Germany, and the institution of the Jesuits.
Another fact is worthy of notice in connection with this subject. It is that mysticism has always been most flourishing in times of general religious formalism — a striking illustration of the tendency of any extreme to generate its opposite. The laws of Brahminism brought forth the mystic Buddhism; the Jewish Talmudism gave rise to the mystic Cabala (q.v.); the Spanish theology of the Inquisition found its counterpoise in the mysticism of the Alombrados; Jesuitism in quietism and Jansenism; the old Protestant scholastic orthodoxy in Protestant mysticism.
Enough has now been said to show plainly that the theology of the true Mystics exhibits two distinct phases: a side towards earth, on which the legend on the medal is obscure and without meaning; and an obverse side, bright with the light of heaven; union with the Eternal through sacramental grace is its impress of truth, and flowing from that grace a loving exercise of the great duties of Christian life. It is closely allied with Quietism. A very different kind, and yet an essential form of mysticism, is that avowed by Schlegel; one closely similar to the rhapsodical notions of Plotinus, when he says that whereas human consciousness, in which subject and object are insuperably blended together in idea, cannot form to itself a notion of the Absolute, which is unity, still an adequate idea of the Absolute may be gained by the contemplative or intuitive faculty, independently of thought or consciousness; it is a rapid illumination, a sudden rapture, too fleeting for analysis, for it eludes reflection and baffles consciousness. Reflection is, in fact, its death. In this mystical condition of the mind all distinction between subject and object vanishes. There is no longer the Deity on the one hand, the soul on the other. The soul identifies itself with the Deity. It is on this side that mysticism passes into pantheism.
See Danz, Universablworterbuch d. Theolog. Literatur, page 681; Malcom, Theologrical Index, page 317 sq.; Winer, Handbuch, 1:501 sq.; Herzog, Real-Encyklop. 10:152 sq.; Bretschneider, Systematische Entwickelung, page 22; Tholuck, Susismus sen Theosophia Persarume pantheistica (Berlin, 1821); Berger, Disputatio de mysticismo (Harlem, 1819); Hofling, Mysticismius (Erlangen, 1832); Theremin, Ueber d. Wesen d. mystischen Theologie (Abendstunden, Berlin, 1833); Heinroth, Gesch. u. Kritik. d. Mysticismus aller bekannten Volker u. Zeiten (Leips. 1830, 8vo); Gbrres, Die christl. Mystik (Regensb. 1836); Helfferich, Die christl. Mystik (Hamb. 1842); Lisko, Die Heilslehre d. Theologie (Stuttg. 1857); Hamberger, Stimmen aus dem Heiligthum, etc. (Stuttg. 1857); Greith, Die Deutsche Mystik im Prediger-Orden (Freib. 1861, 8vo); Pfeiffer, Deutsche Mystiker im 14 Jahrhund. (Leips. 1845-57); Noack, Die christliche Mystik ins Mittelalter, u. in d. neueren Zeit (Konigsb. 1853, 8vo); Ranke, Hist. of the Reformation; Lord Herbert, Memoirs; Coleridge, Aids to Reflection; Parker, Discourse of Matters pertaining to Religion; Cockburn, The Delusions and Errors of Antoina Bourignon, etc.; Stowell, On the Work of the Spirit, page 258 sq.; Vaughan, Hours with the Mystics: a Contribution to the History of Religious Opinion (Lond. 1856, 2 volumes); Bergier, Dict. de Theologie, 6:287; Migne, Dict. de Mystique chretienne; Heckethorn, Hist. of Secret Societies of all Ages and Countries (Lond. 1874), part 4; De Stael's Germany, part 2, chapter 5; Meth. Qu. Rev. January 1853, pages 105, 161; January 1860; April 1860, page 277; January 1869, page 49; Bibl. Sacra, January 1851, page 51; January 1854, page 546; Lond. Rev. January 1857, art. 2; Eddinb. Rev. 74:102, 195; NewEnglcander, 5:348; Retrospective Rev. 1:288; Christian Qu. July, 1873, art. 7; Blcrkwood's Mag. 1854, 1:66 sq. (Myst. in China); Christian Exanmier, 37:308; Brownson's Rev. October 1863, page 428; Brit. and For. Ev. Rev. September 1854, page 572; Kitto, Journ. of Sac. Lit. 1854, page 546; Westminster Rev. October 1853; October 1870, page 219; Christian Remembrancer, January 1866, page 86; Joahrb. deutsch. Theol. 1867, 2:362; Zeitschr. hist. Theol. October 1850, page 231; January 1859, page 49; Brit. Qu. October 1874, art. 1. A complete account of the host of mystical writers to 1740 is given in Arnold's Kirchen-Historie (Schaffhausen, 1742). See also the Church histories of Alzog, Gieseler, Milman, Niedner, Kurtz, Hardwick (M. A. and Ref.), Mosheim, Waddington; Hagenbach, Hist. of Doctr. (Index in volume 2); Neander, Christian Dogmas, pages 604, 630; Ullman, Ref. before the Ref. 2:44 sq., 185 sq.; Fisher, Hist. Ref. pages 65, 67 sq., 245; Stoughton, Eccl. Hist. of
England, 1:482; 2:262, 369-385; Hurst's Hagenbach, Ch. Hist. of the 18th and 19th Centuries (Index in volume 2); Morell, Hist. of Modern Philosophy, 2:332 sq., 356 sq.; Lect. on the Philos. Tendencies of the Age, lect. 3; Ueberweg, Hist. of Philos. 1:358, 400, 433, 435, 436,:467 sq.; 2:20, 23, 54, 115, 213. 222; Lewes, Hist. Philos. (see Index in volume 2).