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Meister Eckart – The Complete Mystical Works
SERMON EIGHTEEN ( Q 30, Pf 66)
PRAEDICA VERBUM, VIGILA, IN OMNIBUS LABORA (2 Timothy 4 : 2 )
We read a text today and tomorrow for my lord St. Dominic, 1 which St. Paul writes in the epistle, and in German it means “Speak the Word, publish it, proclaim it, bring it forth and propagate it.”
It is a remarkable thing that anything should pour forth and yet remain within.
That the Word should pour forth and still remain within is very wonderful;2 that all creatures should pour forth and remain within is very wonderful; what God has given and has promised to give is most wonderful, incomprehensible, incredible.
And that is right so, for if it were comprehensible and credible, it would not be fitting.
God is in all things.
The more He is in things, the more He is out of things: the more in, the more out, and the more out, the more in.
I have often said, God is creating the whole world now this instant.
Everything God made six thousand years ago and more when He made this world, God is creating now all at once.
God is in all things; but as God is divine and intelligible, so God is nowhere so truly as in the soul, and in the angels if you will, in the inmost soul, in the summit of the soul.
And when I say the inmost, I mean the highest, and when I say the highest, I mean the inmost part of the soul. In the inmost and the highest part of the soul – there I mean them both together in one.
Where time never entered, where no image ever shone in, in the inmost and highest part of the soul, God is creating the whole world.
All that God created six thousand years ago, when He made the world, and all that God will create in the next thousand years, if the world lasts so long, is being wrought by God in the inmost recesses, at the apex of the soul.
All that is past, all that is present and all that is to come, God creates in the inmost part of the soul.
All that God works in all the saints, that He works in the inmost part of the soul.
The Father bears His son in the inmost part of the soul, and bears you with his only-begotten Son, no less.
If I am to be the Son, then I must be Son in the same essence as that in which he is Son, and not otherwise.
If I am to be a man, I cannot be a man in the essence of an animal.
But if I am to be this man, then I must be this man in this essence.
Now St. John says, “You are the children of God” (1 John 3:1).
“Speak the Word, tell it abroad, pronounce it, bring forth and propagate the Word.”
“Tell it forth!”
What is spoken in from without is gross, but that Word is spoken within.
“Tell it forth! ” implies that you have it within you. The prophet says, “God spoke one, and I heard two” (Ps. 6112) .
That is true: God spoke but once. His utterance is but one.
In His Word He speaks His Son and the Holy Ghost and all creatures, which are all but one utterance in God.
But the prophet says, ‘I heard two,’ that is, I heard God and creatures.
There where God speaks it, it is God, but here it is creature.
People think God only became man there, but that is not true, for God became man here as well as there,3 and the reason why He became man was that He might bear you as His only-begotten Son, no less.
Yesterday I sat in a certain place and quoted a text from the Lord’s Prayer, which is “Thy will be done.”
But it would be better to say, “Let will be thine, “4 for what the Lord’s Prayer means is that my will should become His, that I should become He.
This text means two things.
One is ‘Be asleep to all things,’ that is, to know nothing of time or creatures or images.
The masters declare that if a man truly slept for a hundred years, he would have no knowledge of creatures, he would know nothing of time or of images – and then you would understand what God wrought in you.
Therefore it says in the Book of Love, “I sleep but my heart wakes” (Song 5:2).
And so, when all creatures are asleep in you, you can know what God works in you.5
The words “Labor in all things” (2 Tim. 4:5) has three meanings.
It means ‘Turn all things to your advantage,’ that is, see God in all things, for God is in all things.
St. Augustine says God made all things, not that He might let them come into existence while He went His way, but He stayed in them.
People imagine they have more if they have things together with God than if they have God without the things.
That is wrong, for all things with God are no more than God alone.
Anyone who thought that if he had the Son and the Father with him he had more than if he had the Son without the Father would be wrong.
For the Father with the Son is no more than the Son alone, and the Son with the Father is no more than the Father alone.
Therefore, accept God in all things, and that is a sign that He has born you as His only-begotten Son, no less.
The second sense of “Turn all things to your advantage” is” Love
God above all things and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
This is a commandment from God.
But I say it is not only a commandment, but it is also what God has given and has promised to give.
And if you love a hundred marks more in yourself than in another, you are wrong.
If you prefer one person to another, that is wrong; if you love your father and mother and yourself more than another, that is wrong; if you love blessedness for yourself more than for another, that is wrong.
“God bless us! What are you saying? Should I not love blessedness for myself more than for another?”
There are many learned folk who cannot grasp this, and it seems hard to them, but it is not hard, it is quite easy.
See, nature has two purposes for every member to fulfil in every man.
The first purpose of its activities is that it should serve the body as a whole, and after that, each particular member separately, just like itself and no less than itself, not being concerned in its activities for itself any more than for any other member.
All the more should this apply to grace! God should be a rule and a foundation of your love.
The first object of your love should be God alone, and after that your neighbor as yourself, and no less than yourself.
And if you love blessedness in yourself more than in another, that is wrong; for if you love blessedness in yourself more than in another, you love yourself; and if you love yourself, then God is not your sole love, and that is wrong.
For, if you love the blessedness in St. Peter and St. Paul as much as in yourself, then you will possess the same blessedness that they have.
And if you love the blessedness in the angels as much as in yourself, and if you love the blessedness in our Lady as much as in yourself, you will enjoy in truth the same blessedness that they do; it will be yours as much as theirs.
Hence it says in the Book of Wisdom, “He made him like His saints” (Sir. 45:2).
The third sense of “Turn all things to your advantage” is “Love God equally in all things,” that is, Love God in all things equally: Love God as much in poverty as in riches, love Him as much in sickness as in health; love Him as much in temptation as without temptation, love Him as much in suffering as without suffering.
Indeed, the greater the suffering, the lighter the suffering, just as with two buckets: the heavier the one, the lighter the other, and the more a man gives up the easier it is to give up.
A man who loves God could give up the whole world as easily as an egg.
The more he gives up, the easier it is to give up, as it was with the Apostles: the more they had to suffer, the easier it was to bear.
“Labor in all things” means When you stand on manifold things and not on bare, pure, simple being, let this be your labor, strive in all things, and fulfil your service.
This means as much as” Lift up your head ! ” which has two meanings.
The first is: Put off all that is your own, and make yourself over to God.
Then God will be your own, just as He is His own, and He will be God to you just as He is God to Himself, no less.
What is mine I have from nobody, but if I have from another, it is not mine but belongs to him from whom I got it.
The second meaning of “Lift up your head” is “Direct all your works to God.”
There are many who cannot understand this, and this does not surprise me, for he who would understand this must be very detached and raised above all things.
That we may attain to this perfection, may God help us.
Amen. ~Meister Eckhart, The Complete Works, Page 133-136
1 . August 5 .
- See Sermon 17, at end.
- ‘There’ refers to the historical birth of Jesus, ‘here’ to the birth of Christ in the soul. (Q).
- This is Eckhart’s own particular rendering of fiat voluntas tua.
- ‘God’s working’ seems to be the second meaning. But Quint considers the second meaning is what follows.