The Key to Divine Mysteries
by Jakob Boehme
A Short Description of the Key which opens the Divine Mysteries, and leadeth to the Knowledge of them.
Whosoever is desirous to attain to Divine Vision in himself, and to speak with God in Christ, let him follow this Course, and he shall attain it.
1. LET him gather all his Thoughts and Reason together, and form or bind them into this one full Determination and Purpose; namely, to consider what he is.
2. The Scripture calls him the Image of God, the Temple of the Holy Ghost, who dwells in him, and a Member of Christ, and offers the Flesh and Blood of Christ to him to be his Meat and Drink..
He should therefore well consider with himself, whether he be indeed possessed of so great a Measure of Grace as is implied in these Appellations, and really worthy of the high Title of a Christian. He should examine his whole Life, what he has done, and how he has spent his past Time; whether he finds himself to be in Christ, or actuated by a godly Will and holy Desires. To what he is chiefly inclined; whether he feels at any Time in himself a Will or Desire heartily panting after God, and longing to be saved by him.
3. Now, if on this Examination he find in himself a Will, though never so weak and deeply hidden, which would fain turn to the Grace of God if it could, let him know that that Will is the ingrafted, incorporated, and in-spoken Word of God, which was in-spoken into our first Father Adam in Paradise, after Sin was committed; and that God the Father, JEHOVAH, draws him thereby to Christ.
4. For in Self we have no Will at all to Obedience; but that drawing of the Father, viz. the ingrafted, incorporated, in-spoken Word of Grace, draws all, even the most ungodly, if he be not altogether a Thistle, and will but stand still from his evil working for a Moment.
5. So that no Man has Cause to doubt of the Grace of God, if at any Time he finds in himself a Desire or Inclination to turn. Only let him not defer his turning one Moment, but set about it instantly, remembering that which is written, Today when you hear the Voice of the Lord, harden not your Ears and Hearts.
6. For that Desire or Inclination once to turn is the Voice of God in Man, which the Devil smothers and suppresses by the Representations or Images which he brings into the Mind, whereby turning is delayed, and put off from one Day to another, and from one Year to another, till at length the Soul comes to be a very Thistle, and can reach Grace no more.
7. But let him that finds a Desire to turn, deliberate well with himself, and then resolve to examine his whole Course of Life, and compare it with the Rule of the Ten Commandments, and to the Love required by the Gospel, which commands him to love his Neighbour as himself. Let him consider, that he is a Child of Grace only so far as he is in that Spirit of Christian Love; and then see how widely he is departed from it in his daily Thoughts and Inclinations. That drawing of the Father will bring him to a Sight of the pure and lovely Righteousness of God on the one Hand, and will discover to him on the other, the Images or Properties that are naturally imprinted in his own Heart, which he has all his Life loved instead of God, and still accounteth his best Treasure.
8. Which Properties he shall find to be, 1. Pride, in seeking and loving himself, and desiring also to be honoured by all others; a Property inclining him to get Power and Dominion in his Pride, and to have the Pre-eminence. 2. The Property of a Swine, Covetousness, which would have all to itself alone; and if it had the whole World, and Heaven too, yet it would want to have the Dominion in Hell also. It desires more than this temporal Life has need of, and has no Faith towards God at all, but is a defiled Swine, that would fain swallow every Thing into its own Belly. 3. The Property of Envy, stinging the Hearts of others, envying and grudging that any should have more temporal Goods or Honour than itself has. 4. The Property of Anger, which when Envy, as a poisonous Sting, irritates and inflames it, will upon every little frivolous Occasion, storm, fight, wrangle, rage, and seek to vent itself in Revenge. Also there will be found, descended from these, a great Multitude and Variety of earthly Beasts living in him, which he loves and fosters; for he loves every Thing that is in the World, and has set it in the Place of Christ, and worships it more heartily and truly than he worships God.
9. Let him but observe the Words of his Mouth, and he will soon find how he slanders and speaks evil of others secretly, and sets them forth in the worst Light to their Friends and Acquaintance. Let him but observe his Thoughts, and he will perceive how, without any just Ground or Cause, he inwardly rejoices at his Neighbour's Mishap, and even wishes it to him; all which are the very Claws and Talons of the Devil, and the Image of the Serpent, which every natural Man carries with him.
10. Then let him compare this Hellish State of his Heart and Life, with the Word in the Law and in the Gospel, and he shall find that he is more a Beast and a Devil, than a Man. He shall clearly perceive how these innate evil Properties, that are rooted in his Soul, keep him back, and lead him astray from the Kingdom of God; so that many Times when he would fain repent and turn to God, he is kept back by these cloven Paws of the Devil, who persuades the poor Soul that this infernal Monster, which itself is, may justly pass for a good and holy Creature. And thus blindly going on Day after Day in his evil Nature and Lusts, the wretched Sinner sticks fast in the Anger of God, and at length, when the Grace and Drawing of the Father ceases, falls into the Abyss or bottomless Pit.
11. We will tell this Man the Way that we have tryed and gone, which is no other than this: That as soon as he shall discover these Beasts, or beastial Dispositions in himself, he should that very Hour and Moment take up a Resolution to depart from the same, and by true Repentance turn to God and Goodness. And because he cannot do this by his own Power, let him take the Promise of Christ unto himself, when he said, Seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. No Son asketh Bread of his Father, and he giveth him a Stone; or an Egg, and he giveth him a Scorpion. And if you that are evil can give good Gifts to your Children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy Spirit to them that ask for it?
12. Let him imprint this Promise in his Heart, for it is Poison and Death to the Devil, and all those innate and inherent Beasts. And let him immediately, even that very Hour, come with these Words of the Promise impressed on his Mind, and with earnest Prayers, into the Presence of God; and having thus discovered and reflected upon all these abominable Beasts which live in him, let him think no otherwise of himself, than that he is that filthy Keeper of Swine, who has spent all the Portion of Goods which his Father bestowed upon him as his Birthright, upon those Swine, the evil Beasts in himself; so that he now stands in the Presence of God as a miserable, naked, forlorn, ragged Swine-herd, that has spent and cast away his paternal Inheritance in Whoredom with these beastial Images, and has no more Right to the Grace of God, neither is in the least Measure worthy of it, much less to be called a Christian, or the child of God. He must also despair of all the good Works that ever he did, for they proceeded but from an hypocritical, false, or merely external Holiness, for which the Man that is inwardly a Devil, would fain be accounted an Angel; whereas without Faith it is impossible to please God, as the Scripture saith.
13. Yet let him not despair of the Divine Grace, but of himself only, and of his own Abilities; and let him, with his whole Strength and with all his Powers, bow down himself in his Soul, in the Presence of God. And though his own Heart be utterly against it, and say to him, Do it not, stay awhile, it will not be convenient Today: Or if it say, Thy Sins are too great, it cannot be that thou shouldst attain the Grace of God; and so he comes into such Anguish that he cannot pray, nor receive any Comfort or Strength in his Heart, but is as if his Soul was quite blind and dead to God, yet he must be still resolute, as considering that the Promise of God is a certain infallible Truth; and with a submissive Heart sigh to the Divine Mercy, and in his great Unworthiness wholly resign himself thereto.
14. And though indeed he esteem himself quite unworthy, as being a Stranger and an Alien, to whom the Inheritance of Christ does not any more belong, as being one that has forfeited and lost his Right to it, yet he should stedfastly rest upon Christ's Word, as knowing it to be certainly true, viz. that he came to seek and save that which was lost, that is to say, the poor Sinner who is blind, dead, and lost to God. He must firmly imprint this Promise in himself, and take up a strong Purpose and Resolution, that he will not go forth from the promised Grace of God in Christ, though Body and Soul should perish, and though he should get no Comfort in his Heart all the Days of his Life, or the least Assurance of the Remission of his Sins; as considering and knowing that the Promises of God are more sure and firm than all Comfort whatsoever.
15. Also let him purpose to himself, and bind his Will most firmly in this Resolution, that he will never again enter into the former beastial Images and Vices. Yea, though all the Swine and evil Beasts in him should lament to the Death the Loss of their Food and Pastime, and he himself should be a fool in the Account of all the World for so doing, yet that he would still be faithful to his Resolution of cleaving to the promised Grace of God; and if he must come to be a Child of Death, he would desire to be so in the Death of Christ, to die and live to him at his Pleasure. And let him act and execute this his purpose by continually praying and sighing to God, and commit all his Endeavours, Undertakings, and Labours unto him, and cease from the Imagination or Inclination of Pride, Covetousness, and Envy. Let him but deliver up these three Beasts, and the rest will soon become weak, faint, and ready to die. For Christ will soon get a form in the Words of his Promise, which that man imprints in himself and wraps himself in, and so come to Life and begin to work in him; whereby his Prayers will become powerful, and he will be more and more strengthened and confirmed in the Spirit of Grace.
16. And as the Seed in the Mother's Womb undergoes the Casualties of Nature and many outward Accidents in growing to be a Child, and before it gets Life; so here, the more resolutely, and through the more Opposition, a Man goes forth from himself, and out of these Images, the more speedily and thoroughly he enters into God, till at length Christ comes to be living in the incorporated Grace; which is effected in and through the great Earnestness of the Purpose and Strife. Upon which there presently follows the betrothing or espousal with Virgin Sophia, viz. the precious Humanity of Christ, wherein the two Lovers, the Soul and the Humanity of Christ, receive and embrace one another with Joy, and together with most inward Desire, penetrate into the sweet Love of God. And forthwith the Marriage of the Lamb is solemnized, where Virgin Sophia, the precious Humanity of Christ is vitally united to the Soul. Now what is done at that Marriage, and with what Joy it is celebrated, Christ himself signifies, by saying, There is greater Joy in the Heaven (which is in Man) and among the Angels in the Presence of God, for one Sinner that repenteth, than for ninety-nine just Persons that need no Repentance.
17. But we have neither Pen that can write, nor Words that can express what that exceeding sweet Grace of God in the Humanity of Christ is, and what they enjoy, who come worthily to the Marriage of the Lamb. We ourselves indeed have found it by Experience in this our Way and Course, and therefore certainly know that we have a sure Ground from which we write; and we would from the Bottom of our Heart most willingly impart the same to our Brethren in the Love of Christ; who, if they would believe and follow our faithful child-like Counsels, would find by Experience also in themselves, from whence it is that this simple Hand knows and understands these great Mysteries.
18. But having heretofore written a Treatise at large expressly concerning Repentance and Regeneration, we here forbear to write more in this short Direction, and refer the Reader to * that Treatise; as also that great Work upon Genesis, called the Mysterium Magnum, in which he may find the Ground of whatsoever he will or can ask, sufficiently laid down. And we admonish him in true Christian Love, to follow us in our Process and Way, and then he shall attain the Divine Vision in himself, and hear what the Lord through Christ speaks in him; and herewith we commend him to the Love of Christ.
* The following Book, called "The Way to Christ"