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Meister Eckart – The Complete Mystical Works
SERMON THIRTEEN (a) (Q Sa)
IN HOC APPARUIT CARITAS DEI IN NOBIS, QUONIAM FI LIUM S UUM
UNIGENITUM MISIT DEUS IN MUNDUM UT VIVAMUS PER EUM (1 John 4:9)1
St. John says, ” God’s love was disclosed to us in this, that He sent His Son into the world that we should live through him, ” and with him.
And thus our human nature has been immeasurably exalted because the Highest has come and taken on human nature.
A master says, ‘When I consider that our nature is exalted over all creatures and sits in heaven above the angels, and is adored by them, I must ever rejoice in my heart, for Jesus Christ, my dear Lord, has made mine all that he has himself.’
He says further that in all that the Father ever gave His Son Jesus Christ in human nature, He meant it more for me, and loved me more, and gave it to me rather than to him.
How is this? He gave it to him for my sake, for I needed it.
Therefore, whatever He gave him, he meant for me and gave it to me as well as to him.
I except nothing, neither union nor the holiness of the Godhead nor anything else.
All that He ever gave him in human nature is no more alien or distant from me than from him, for God cannot give a little: He must give either everything or nothing. His giving is utterly simple and perfect, undivided, and not in time but all in eternity.
Be assured of this as I live: if we are to receive thus from Him, we must be raised up in eternity, above time.
In eternity all things are present.
That which is above me is just as near and present to me as that which I have here by me, and there we shall receive whatever we are to get from God.
God knows nothing2 outside of Himself; His eye is always turned inward into Himself.
What He sees, He sees entirely within Himself.
Therefore God does not see us when we are in sin.
Therefore, in as far as we are in Him, God knows us; that is, in as far as we are without sin.
And all the works that our Lord ever did he has given me for my own, to be as meritorious to me as the works I did myself.
Now since all his nobility belongs equally to us all and is equally near to us, why do we not receive equally?
Ah, this you must understand!
Whoever wants to come to this giving so as to receive this good equally, to receive that human nature which is common and equally close to all men, then, just as in human nature nothing is strange and nothing is further or nearer, so it is necessary that you should make no distinction in the family of men, not being closer to yourself than to another.
You must love all men equally, respect and regard them equally, and whatever happens to another, whether good or bad, must be the same as if it happened to you.
Now this is the second meaning: “He sent him into the world.”
By this we must understand the great world into which the angels look.
How should we be?
We should be there with all our love and all our desire. St. Augustine says, what a man loves, that he becomes in love.
Should we now say that if a man loves God he becomes God?
That sounds as if it were contrary to faith. In the love that a man gives there is no duality but one and unity, and in love I am God more than I am in myself.
The prophet says, ‘I have said you are gods and children of the Most High’ (Ps. 82:6). That sounds strange, that man can become God in love, but so it is true in the eternal truth, and us Lord Jesus Christ possesses it.
“He sent him into the world [mundum]. “Mundum means in one sense ‘pure.’
Note this: God has no place more His own than a pure heart and a pure soul.
There the Father begets His Son, just as He begets him in eternity – neither more nor less.
What is a pure heart?
That is pure which is separated and parted from all creatures, for all creatures produce impurity, because they are nothing3 and nothing is a lack and tarnishes the soul.
All creatures are mere nothing, neither angels nor creatures are anything.
They touch everything (?)4 and soil it, for they are made out of nothing; they are and were nothing.
Whatever is opposed to all creatures and displeases them, is nothing.
If I placed a burning coal on my hand it would hurt.
That is purely from nothing, and if we were free of nothing, we would not be soiled.
Now: “We live in him,” with him.
We desire nothing more than life. What is my life?
That which is moved from within by itself. What is moved from without is not alive.
So if we live with him, we must also co-operate with him from within, so that we do not work from without, we must be moved from that out of which we live, which is by him. We can and must work from our own power from within.
If then we are to live in him and through him, he must be our own, and we must work from our own: just as God does all things of His own and through Himself, so we must work from our own, which is He, in us.
He is altogether our own, and all things are our own in Him.
Whatever all angels and all saints and our Lady have, that is my own in Him, and is no stranger or further from me than what I have myself.
All things are equally my own in him, and if we are to come to the very own, in which all things are our own, we must take Him equally in all things, in one not more than in another, for He is alike in all things.
We find people who like the taste of God in one way but not in another, and they want to have God only in one way of contemplation, not in another.
I raise no objection, but they are quite wrong.
If you want to take God properly, you should take Him equally in all things, in hardship as in comfort, in weeping as in joy, it should be all the same to you.
If you think you have no devotion or earnestness, and have not caused this through mortal sin, when you want to have devotion and earnestness, and that therefore you have not got God – then, if you regret this lack of devotion and earnestness, that is devotion and earnestness.
So you should not bind yourself to any mode, for God is not in any mode, neither this nor that.
So those who take God this way are wrong.
They take the mode and not God.
So remember this: love and seek God purely, and whatever the way of it, be content. For your intention should be purely God and nothing else.
What you then like or dislike, that is right, and you must know that anything else is wrong.
Those who want so many ways push God under the bench: whether it is weeping or sighing or anything of the sort- it is all not God.
If it comes so, take it and be content – if it does not come, be likewise content and take whatever God wants to give you at the time, and remain always in humble self-naughting
and rejection, considering always that you are unworthy of any good that God could do you, if He would.
Now I have explained to you the words of St. John, “God’s love was disclosed to us in this.”
If we were in such case, this good would be revealed in us.
That it is hidden from us has no other cause than ourselves. We are the cause of all our hindrances.
Guard yourself against yourself, then you will have guarded well.
And if it is the case that we do not want to take it, still He has chosen us for this.
If we do not take it, we shall regret it and we shall be sorely punished.
If we do not come to where this good may be got, that is not His fault, but ours . . .. 5 ~Meister Eckhart, The Complete Works, Page 104-107
- This somewhat fragmentary text was discovered by Quint. Its relation to 13b
is discussed by him in Zeitschri (t fur deutsche Philologie 60 (1 935): 173 -92.
- Clark (p. 234) makes one of his rare mistakes in translating here. He has rendered nutz as ‘what is useful’; it is in fact a dialect form of niht, ‘nothing.’
- Cf. Sermon 6, note 5. This ‘nothing’ is therefore not ‘seen’ by God (note 2).
- So hand all in all seems to mean, as Clark translates, ‘they have all in all,’ but this makes little sense and Quint is probably right in believing the text to be corrupt.
- The normal conclusion of a sermon is lacking. It is not possible to say how
much more may be missing.