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You will find there,—that “a spiritual soul ought to be indifferent to all things, either for the body or the soul, or for temporal or eternal goods, and leave what is past in forgetfulness, and things to come to the Providence of God, and deny itself the present.”+-That “the resignation of the soul ought to be such as to act without any knowledge, like one that ceases to be."1—That “the soul feels, sees, and knows itself no more : it sees, comprehends, and distinguishes nothing in God; there is no more love, light, or knowledge." That " the soul not feeling itself
, is not at the trouble of seeking or doing any thing; it remains as it is, which is sufficient. But what does it ? Nothing, nothing, and always nothing.”—That “the indifferency of this lover is so great that it cannot incline towards enjoyment, nor towards privation. Death and life are equal to it, and though its love is incomparably stronger than ever it was, yet it cannot desire paradise, because it remains in the hands of its spouse as things that are not. This ought to be the effect of the most profound annihilation.”—That “the perfect prayer of contemplation puts man beside himself, delivers him from all creatures, makes him die and enter into the rest of God; he is in admiration that he is united to God, without doubting that he is distinguished from God. He is reduced to nothing, and knows himself no more; he lives, and lives no more: he operates, and operates no more; he is, and is no more."
We do not want persons in Europe, any more than
Regle des Associez a l'enfance de Jus, apud Bruyere,
s Madame Guyon, in the Book of Torrents, apud eund.
in China, to confute those foolish visions eloquently; but to the shame of our age and our climate, they have found apologists amongst us, who make themselves formidable. Observe, that the doctrine of the Bramins is less dreadful in some respects than that of our Mystics, for the latter place indifferency, and the perfect quietness, in a transformation of the soul into God, which they explain by the notions of the consummation of marriage. “ The essential union,” say they,* “is the spiritual marriage, where there is a communication of substance, where God takes the soul for his spouse, unites it to himself, not personally, nor by any act or means, but immediately reducing all to an unity. The soul ought not, nor can any more make any distinction between God and itself; God is the soul, and the soul is God, since by the consummation of the marriage it is returned into God, and finds itself lost in him, without being able to distinguish or find itself again. The true consummation of the marriage makes the mixture of the soul with its God The marriage is made when the soul finds itself dead, and expired in the arms of the spouse, who seeing it more disposed, receives it to union with himself; but the consummation of the marriage is made only when the soul is so melted, annihilated, and disappropriated, that it can altogether run into its God without any reserve. Then is made that admirable mixture of the creature with its Creator, which reduces them to unity If any saints or any authors have established this Divine Marriage in a less advanced state than this which I describe, it is because they took the betrothing for the marriage, and the marriage for the consummation.”
The absurdity of this doctrine as to metaphysics is monstrous, for if there be any thing certain in the clearest ideas, it is absolutely impossible that a real change
* Madame Guyon, explicat. du Cant. des Cant. pages 3, 4, Dial. vii. page 239.
should be made, either of God into a creature, or of a creature into God. Ovid and the other Pagan poets were not so senseless as to mention such a metamorphosis. What might not one say against this cant of the Quietists, “That a soul is no more in itself, nor by itself; that it is relapsed and swallowed up in God by a fundamental and central Presence;"* that it admires God " in his abyssal and super-eminent bottom.”+ “Can any body forgive them, that state of deification, wherein all is God, without knowing that it is so ;1
. that state of essential union wherein the soul becomes immutable, and has lost means . that union not only essential, but immediate, and without means, more substantial than the hypostatic union; • that central union with God, that has no need of Jesus Christ for a Mediator."$ This kind of Eutychianism multipliable in infinitum would appear horrible to Eutyches himself. But if one would excuse all these things, can any body forgive them the obscene images they make use of, which are so proper to expose religion, and outdo in a manner all the licence of the ancient heathen poets? Can any one forgive them what they assert, that in order to lead a soul to the state of death, which is a preparation to deification, “ God permits that the senses should extrovert,” that is to say, “ debauch themselves, which appears a great impurity to the soul. And yet the thing is seasonable, and to do otherwise, is to purify one's self in another manner than God commands, and to sully one's self.” Some faults are “ committed in that extroversion, but the confusion, which the soul receives by it, and the care of making
* La Bruyere, Dial. 7, page 261, + The abbct d'Estival, confer. mystic. apud eund. Dial. ii.
Madame Guyon, in the Book of Torrents, apud eund. Dial. vii, page 258
§ La Bruyere, Dial. vi. page 222, 223.
use of it, make the corruption wherein it rots the more rapid, and hastens its death.” Can any thing be more dangerous to good morals ? It is likely I shall have some occasion to shew that the pretended essential union of those persons may very well be called Seneca's Paradise.
A spider serves the Bramins for an emblem to explain their opinion. They express this in a cabasistic and mythological manner. For they pretend that a certain immense spider was the first cause of things, which wrought the web of this universe of matter drawn out of her own bowels, and disposed it with wonderful art. That she, from the summit of her work, continually observes, orders, and regulates the motion of every part. At last, when she has satisfied herself with the pleasure of adorning and contemplating her web, she gathers up the thread she had spun, and so absorbs all again into herself, and the whole nature of created things vanishes. Thus the modern Bramins represent the beginning, order, and end of the world.” This comparison of the author of the world to a spider, who, having diverted herself with making her web, draws in and devours the same threads that came out of her own bowels, plainly represents the doctrine of the Stoics. The extravagancy of that idea cannot be sufficiently wondered at. Physics, metaphysics, and morals, afford us a hundred solid arguments to confute it : doubtless I shall have occasion to touch upon this matter. I shall only observe here, that a man is very excusable when the consideration of the follies, which the eastern nations have believed for so many ages about the original of the world, moves him to ascribe them to the wrath of heaven, and raises his astonishment at the duration and greatness of it.
It is surprising that these mystical Christians and these Heathens should have had so exactly the same notions, that one would think they had agreed among
my witness. *
themselves to vent the same follies, some in the east and some in the west. What a wonderful concert there is between people who never saw and never heard of one another! I am going to cite a passage, which will show us that some mystical men have taught the transformation of all things into God, and an identification which would reduce the Creator and the creatures to a kind of nothingness, that is, to an eternal inaction. These mystical men supposed the doctrine of the Trinity, and ascribed the whole action to the three persons, and so they believed that the divine essence itself did nothing; and that when the soul is transformed into God's essence, and raises herself above the three persons, it enjoys as great a rest as if it were annihilated. Ruysbroch shall be
“ Therefore,” says he, “let every one, in order to prevent their being seduced and led away into error, diligently attend to my description of these false prophets. Those of the first kind affirm themselves to be the divine essence, superior to the persons of the divinity, and therefore to be inactive as if they were not in being ; because the divine essence is at rest, and the Holy Ghost only operates. They hold themselves therefore to be superior to the Holy Ghost itself, and to be in no want of the Holy Ghost, or of its influence ; for they say that not only no creature, but not even God himself can add to, or take from them in any respect. Some also have embraced such an opinion, that they affirm their souls to be created out of the divine substance, and that after death they are again to return whence they came, as a glass of water taken out of a fountain, if it is poured again into the fountain, is the same with what it was formerly. They say, moreover, that if any one were to traverse the whole heavens, he would find no difference or distinction among angels, souls,
Ruysbrochius, in Libro de vera Contemplat. c. xix. p. 445.