BLTC Press Titles

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The Souls of Black Folk

W. E. B. DuBois

Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely

An introduction to the study of Jacob Boehme's writings

by Anne Judith Penny


Now, it is for those to whom popular Christianity offers grave offence that Boehme's teaching will be what Fran[ Baader said it was, "the only means of deliverance from the prevailing destructive knowledge or want of knowledge," 1 for, to use the words of a brave contemporary,a "the truth requires to be proclaimed aloud that modern Christianity, as generally received, does not represent the teaching of Christ, and is not fit to be charged with the task of teaching the world a suitable and satisfactory morality." This inability of professional guides to reconcile Christian dogma to profoundly searching intellects need not surprise us, seeing that they bind themselves by oath to follow prescribed lines of thought rather than the spirit of truth wheresoever that goeth, and take their credentials from external authority ; but the fact remains, the scoff and triumph of unbelievers.

Jacob Boehme, a medium for the Holy Spirit nearly three centuries ago, will carry us farther towards central truths than any later seer, and will harmonise many a conflicting aspect of truth ; widely as its rays of light may diverge in

1 "Das ein^ige Mittel der besserung gegen die herrschende destructive wissenschaft oder unwissenschaft ist. Deswegen J. Boehme keineswegs ein mann der Vergangenheit ist und bloss der Historie augehoert, sondern als ein mann der Gegenwart zur aufbahnung einer besseren Zukunft aner kannt we1den muss."—Franz Baader's Brief an Dr. W. Strausky, 1838.

4 The Rev. T. W. Fowle in Contemporary, May, 1872.

their outermost issue, in closer promixity to the centre they will be found nearly related.

"For whom," asked the late Mr. Christopher Walton, "are Boehme's writings useful, and what is their intent? The writer would answer if he knew of any honest enquiring minds, in a Christian country, that after a careful study of the Holy Scriptures, and much pondering upon the great mystery of things all around and within them, especially upon the seeming incompatibleness of the bloody cruelty, misery and*shocking injustice which are daily and with impunity perpetrated, and likewise recounted in the Old Testament itself, with the nature and character of the Deity as described in the Christian revelation as an Omnipotent, Omnipresent, All-wise Being who is all love and goodness to His creatures ;—if there are, as doubtless there are, many such who thus stand in a state of doubt and uncertainty respecting the Holy Scriptures, and the working wisdom of Divine love, then it may be truly said that to such is the word of this revelation sent." 1

For as William Law says, "There is not any philosophical question that can be put, nor advice nor direction that can be asked in regard to God, or Nature, or Christianity, but what Boehme has over and over spoke to, and that in the plainest terms." A saying that needs this qualification— The plainest terms in which subjects of such mystery can be spoken of. As his translator, John Sparrow, quaintly reminds us in his Introduction to Boehme's Mysterium Magnum— "Mysteries cannot be expressed in easy words; some things most excellent cannot be uttered by any words [ Romans viii. v. 26 ], therefore 'tis happy some other hard things may be uttered [2 Cor. xii. v. 4] though by hard words, better than none at all."

"The chief cause," says Dionysius Freher, Boehme's great interpreter, "of all these suspicions which we many of us cast upon this chosen vessel of God, Jacob Boehme,

1 C. Walton's Memorial ofIV. Law, page 82.

is that we can so hardly elevate our thoughts above the sphere of this temporal principle and the forms and course of things that are therein, and always think that our apprehension of things in their present condition is a true measuring line, fit to measure the same things exactly as they were before they came into this fragmentary state."— [D. Freher on Deity and Eternal Nature. ]

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