Theologica Germanica

Chapter 32

How God is a true, simple, perfect Good, and how He is a Light and a Reason and all Virtues, and how what is highest and best, that is, God, ought to be most loved by us.

In short, I would have you to understand, that God (in so far as He is good) is goodness as goodness, and not this or that good. But here mark one thing. Behold! what is sometimes here and sometimes there is not everywhere, and above all things and places; so also, what is to-day, or to-morrow, is not always, at all times, and above all time; and what is some thing, this or that, is not all things and above all things. Now behold, if God were some thing, this or that, He would not be all in all, and above all, as He is; and so also, He would not be true Perfection. Therefore God is, and yet He is neither this nor that which the creature, as creature, can perceive, name, conceive or express. Therefore if God (in so far as He is good) were this or that good, He would not be all good, and therefore He would not be the One Perfect Good, which He is. Now God is also a Light and a Reason, the property of which is to give light and shine, and take knowledge; and inasmuch as God is Light and Reason, He must give light and perceive. And all this giving and perceiving of light existeth in God without the creature; not as a work fulfilled, but as a substance or well-spring. But for it to flow out into a work, something really done and accomplished, there must be creatures through whom this can come to pass. Look ye: where this Reason and Light is at work in a creature, it perceiveth and knoweth and teacheth what itself is; how that it is good in itself and neither this thing nor that thing. This Light and Reason knoweth and teacheth men, that it is a true, simple, perfect Good, which is neither this nor that special good, but comprehendeth every kind of good.

Now, having declared that this Light teacheth the One Good, what doth it teach concerning it? Give heed to this. Behold! even as God is the one Good and Light and Reason, so is He also Will and Love and Justice and Truth, and in short all virtues. But all these are in God one Substance, and none of them can be put in exercise and wrought out into deeds without the creature, for in God, without the creature, they are only as a Substance or well-spring, not as a work. But where the One, who is yet all these, layeth hold of a creature, and taketh possession of it, and directeth and maketh use of it, so that He may perceive in it somewhat of His own, behold, in so far as He is Will and Love, He is taught of Himself, seeing that He is also Light and Reason, and He willeth nothing but that One thing which He is.

Behold! in such a creature, there is no longer anything willed or loved but that which is good, because it is good, and for no other reason than that it is good, not because it is this or that, or pleaseth or displeaseth such a one, is pleasant or painful, bitter or sweet, or what not. All this is not asked about nor looked at. And such a creature doth nothing for its own sake, or in its own name, for it hath quitted all Self, and Me, and Mine, and We and Ours, and the like, and these are departed. It no longer saith, ’I love myself, or this or that, or what not.’ And if you were to ask Love, ’What lovest thou?’ she would answer, ’I love Goodness.’ ’Wherefore?’ ’Because it is good, and for the sake of Goodness.’ So it is good and just and right to deem that if there were ought better than God, that must be loved better than God. And thus God loveth not Himself as Himself, but as Goodness. And if there were, and He knew, ought better than God, He would love that and not Himself. Thus the Self and the Me are wholly sundered from God, and belong to Him only in so far as they are necessary for Him to be a Person.

Behold! all that we have said must indeed come to pass in a Godlike man, or one who is truly ’made a partaker of the divine nature’; for else he would not be truly such.

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