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Jacob Behmen by Alexander Whyte

Jacob Behmen an Appreciation by Alexander Whyte

author of 'Characters and Characteristics of William Law' etc.

Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier 30 St. Mary Street, Edinburgh, and 24 Old Bailey, London 1895

This lecture was delivered at the opening of my Classes for the study of the pre-Reformation, Reformation, and post-Reformation Mystics during Session 1894-5. A Lecture on WILLIAM LAW was delivered at the opening of a former Session as an Introduction to the whole subject of Mysticism.

A. W.

ST. GEORGE'S FREE CHURCH, 5_th November_ 1894.

Jacob Behmen

Jacob Behmen, the greatest of the mystics, and the father of German philosophy, was all his life nothing better than a working shoemaker. He was born at Old Seidenberg, a village near Goerlitz in Silesia, in the year 1575, and he died at Goerlitz in the year 1624. Jacob Behmen has no biography. Jacob Behmen's books are his best biography. While working with his hands, Jacob Behmen's whole life was spent in the deepest and the most original thought; in piercing visions of GOD and of nature; in prayer, in praise, and in love to GOD and man. Of Jacob Behmen it may be said with the utmost truth and soberness that he lived and moved and had his being in GOD. Jacob Behmen has no biography because his whole life was hid with CHRIST in GOD.

* * * * *

While we have nothing that can properly be called a biography of Jacob Behmen, we have ample amends made to us in those priceless morsels of autobiography that lie scattered so plentifully up and down all his books. And nothing could be more charming than just those incidental and unstudied utterances of Behmen about himself. Into the very depths of a passage of the profoundest speculation Behmen will all of a sudden throw a few verses of the most childlike and heart-winning confidences about his own mental history and his own spiritual experience. And thus it is that, without at all intending it, Behmen has left behind him a complete history of his great mind and his holy heart in those outbursts of diffidence, deprecation, explanation, and self-defence, of which his philosophical and theological, as well as his apologetic and experimental, books are all so full. It were an immense service done to our best literature if some of Behmen's students would go through all Behmen's books, so as to make a complete collection and composition of the best of those autobiographic passages. Such a book, if it were well done, would at once take rank with _The Confessions_ of ST. AUGUSTINE, _The Divine Comedy_ of DANTE, and the _Grace Abounding_ of JOHN BUNYAN. It would then be seen by all, what few, till then, will believe, that Jacob Behmen's mind and heart and spiritual experience all combine to give him a foremost place among the most classical masters in that great field.

In the nineteenth chapter of the _Aurora_


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