Theologica Germanica

Chapter 39

How God will have Order, Custom, Measure, and the like in the Creature, seeing that He cannot have them without the Creature, and of four sorts of Men who are concerned with this Order, Law, and Custom.

It is said, and truly, God is above and without custom, measure, and order, and yet giveth to all things their custom, order, measure, fitness, and the like. The which is to be thus understood. God will have all these to be, and they cannot have a being in Himself without the creature, for in God, apart from the creature, there is neither order nor disorder, custom nor chance, and so forth; therefore He will have things so that these shall be, and shall be put in exercise. For wherever there is word, work, or change, these must be either according to order, custom, measure and fitness, or according to unfitness and disorder. Now fitness and order are better and nobler than their contraries.

But ye must mark: There are four sorts of men who are concerned with order, laws, and customs. Some keep them neither for God’s sake, nor to serve their own ends, but from constraint: these have as little to do with them as may be, and find them a burden and heavy yoke. The second sort obey for the sake of reward: these are men who know nothing beside, or better than, laws and precepts, and imagine that by keeping them they may obtain the kingdom of Heaven and Eternal Life, and not otherwise; and him who practiseth many ordinances they think to be holy, and him who omitteth any tittle of them they think to be lost. Such men are very much in earnest and give great diligence to the work, and yet they find it a weariness. The third sort are wicked, false-hearted men, who dream and declare that they are perfect and need no ordinances, and make a mock of them.

The fourth are those who are enlightened with the True Light, who do not practise these things for reward, for they neither look nor desire to get anything thereby, but all that they do is from love alone. And these are not so anxious and eager to accomplish much and with all speed as the second sort, but rather seek to do things in peace and good leisure; and if some not weighty matter be neglected, they do not therefore think themselves lost, for they know very well that order and fitness are better than disorder, and therefore they choose to walk orderly, yet know at the same time that their salvation hangeth not thereon. Therefore they are not in so great anxiety as the others. These men are judged and blamed by both the other parties, for the hirelings say that they neglect their duties and accuse them of being unrighteous, and the like; and the others (that is, the Free Spirits) hold them in derision, and say that they cleave unto weak and beggarly elements, and the like. But these enlightened men keep the middle path, which is also the best; for a lover of God is better and dearer to Him than a hundred thousand hirelings. It is the same with all their doings.

Furthermore, ye must mark, that to receive God’s commands and His counsel and all His teaching, is the privilege of the inward man, after that he is united with God. And where there is such a union, the outward man is surely taught and ordered by the inward man, so that no outward commandment or teaching is needed. But the commandments and laws of men belong to the outer man, and are needful for those men who know nothing better, for else they would not know what to do and what to refrain from, and would become like unto the dogs or other beasts.

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