LONDON: H. R. ALLENSON, LTD.RACQUET COURT, 114 FLEET STREET, E.CPREFACE"MEISTER ECKHART," who has been called the "Father of Germanthought," was a Dominican monk, and one of the most profound thinkers of the MiddleAges. He was born about 1260 A.D. in Thuringia, and died at Cologne 1327 A.D. In1295 he was Prior of the Dominicans at Erfurt and Vicar-General of Thuringia. In 1300he was sent to the University of Paris, where he studied Aristotle and the Platonists, andtook the degree of Master of Arts. It is possible also that he taught at Paris. He alreadyhad a wide reputation as a philosopher, and was summoned to Rome in 1302 to assistPope Boniface VIII. in his struggle against Philip the Fair. In 1304 he became Provincialof his order for Saxony, and in 1307 Vicar-General of Bohemia. In 1311 he was sentagain to act as professor of theology in the school of Dominicans in Paris, and afterwardsin Strasburg. Everywhere his teaching and preaching left a deep mark. At Strasburg hearoused suspicions and created enemies; his doctrine was accused of resembling that of the heretical sects of the "Beghards" and "Brothers of the Holy Spirit." The Superior-General of the Order had his writings submitted to a close examination by the Priors of Worms and Mayence. The history of this episode is very obscure. It appears that Eckhartwas cited before the tribunal of the Inquisition at Cologne, and that he professed himself willing to withdraw anything that his writings might contain contrary to the teaching of the Church. The matter was referred to the Pope, who, in 1329, condemned certain propositions extracted from the writings of Eckhart two years after the death of the latter.The importance of Eckhart in the history of scholastic philosophy is considerable. At that period all the efforts of religious philosophy were directed to widen theology, and toeffect a reconciliation between reason and faith. The fundamental idea of Eckhart's philosophy is that of the Absolute or Abstract Unity conceived as the sole real existence.His God is the
of the neoplatonists: He is absolutely devoid oattributes which would be a limitation of His Infinity. God is incomprehensible; in fact,1
with regard to our limited intelligence, God is the origin and final end of every being.How then, it may be asked, can God be a Person? The answer is, that by the eternalgeneration of the Son the Father becomes conscious of Himself, and the Love reflected back to the Father by the Son is the Holy Spirit. Together with the Son, God also begetsthe ideal forms of created things. The Absolute is thus the common background of Godand the Universe. Like as the Son does, so everything born of God tends to return to Him,and to lose itself in the unity of His Being.This theology is really Pantheism. Of the Absolute we have no cognizance but only of  phenomena, but by the resolute endeavour to abstract ourselves from time and space, wecan, according to Eckhart, at rare moments, attain to the Absolute by virtue of what hecalls "the spark" (Funkelein) of the soul, which comes direct from God. This is reallyGod acting in man; to know God is to be one with God. This is the final end of all our activity, and the means of attaining thereto is complete quietism. But Eckhart shrank from carrying his doctrines out to their extreme logical conclusion, though some of themore fanatical among his followers did so. On account of his insistence on theimmediacy of man's approach to God, apart from Church institutions, he may be justlyregarded as a fore-runner of the Reformation. Note.--The best account of Eckhart in English is probably to be found in Vaughan's"Hours with the Mystics," vol. i.PREFACE 5I. THE ATTRACTIVE POWER OF GODST JOHN vi. 44.--"No one can come unto Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him."11II. THE NEARNESS OF THE KINGDOMST LUKE xxi. 31.--"Know that the Kingdom of God is near."19III. THE ANGEL'S GREETINGST LUKE i. 28.--"Hail, thou that art highly favoured among women,the Lord is with thee."25IV. TRUE HEARINGEcclesiasticus xxiv. 30.--"Whoso heareth Me shall not beconfounded."29V. THE SELF-COMMUNICATION OF GODST JOHN xiv. 23.--"If a man love me, he will keep my words: andMy Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."342
VI. SANCTIFICATIONST LUKE x. 42.--"One thing is needful."41VII. OUTWARD AND INWARD MORALITYI COR. xv. 10.--"The grace of God"53
ST JOHN vi. 44.--"No one can come unto Me, except the Father which hath sent Medraw him."OUR Lord Jesus Christ hath in the Gospel spoken with His own blessed lips these words,which signify, "No man can come to Me unless My Father draw him." In another placeHe says, "I am in the Father and the Father in Me." Therefore whoever cometh to the Soncometh to the Father. Further, He saith, "I and the Father are One. Therefore whomsoever the Father draweth, the Son draweth likewise." St Augustine also saith, "The works of theHoly Trinity are inseparable from each other." Therefore the Father draweth to the Son,and the Son draweth to the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost draweth to the Father and theSon; and each Person of the Trinity, when He draweth to the Two Others, draweth toHimself, because the Three are One. The Father draweth with the might of His power, theSon draweth with His unfathomable wisdom, the Holy Ghost draweth with His love.Thus we are drawn by the Sacred Trinity with the cords of Power, Wisdom and Love,when we are drawn from an evil thing to a good thing, and from a good thing to a better,and from a better thing to the best of all. Now the Father draws us from the evil of sin tothe goodness of His grace with the might of His measureless power, and He needs all theresources of His strength in order to convert sinners, more than when He was about tomake heaven and earth, which He made with His own power without help from anycreature. But when He is about to convert a sinner, He always needs the sinner's help."He converts thee not without thy help," as St Augustine says.Therefore deadly sin is a breach of nature, a death of the soul, a disquiet of the heart, aweakening of power, a blindness of the sense, a sorrow of the spirit, a death of grace, adeath of virtue, a death of good works, an aberration of the spirit, a fellowship with thedevil, an expulsion of Christianity, a dungeon of hell, a banquet of hell, an eternity of hell. Therefore, if thou committest a deadly sin thou art guilty of all these and incurresttheir consequences. Regarding the first point: Deadly sin is a breach of nature, for everyman's nature is an image and likeness and mirror of the Trinity, of Godhead and of eternity. All these together are marred by a deadly sin; therefore, it is a breach of nature.Such sin is also the death of the soul, for death is to lose life. Now God is the life of thesoul, and deadly sin separates from God; therefore it is a death of the soul. Deadly sin isalso a disquiet of the heart, for everything rests nowhere except in its own proper place;and the proper resting-place of the soul is nowhere except in God as St Augustine saith,"Lord! Thou hast made us for Thyself, therefore we may not rest anywhere save in Thee."3
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