Theologica Germanica

Chapter 42

A Question: whether we can know God and not love Him, and how there are two kinds of Light and Love -- a true and a false.

Here is an honest question; namely, it hath been said that he who knoweth God and loveth Him not, will never be saved by his knowledge; the which sounds as if we might know God and not love Him. Yet we have said elsewhere, that where God is known, He is also loved, and whosoever knoweth God must love Him. How may these things agree? Here ye must mark one thing. We have spoken of two Lights -- a True and a False. So also there are two kinds of Love, a True and a False. And each kind of Love is taught or guided by its own kind of Light or Reason. Now, the True Light maketh True Love, and the False Light maketh False Love; for whatever Light deemeth to be best, she delivereth unto Love as the best, and biddeth her love it, and Love obeyeth, and fulfilleth her commands.

Now, as we have said, the False Light is natural, and is Nature herself. Therefore every property belongeth unto it which belongeth unto nature, such as the Me, the Mine, the Self, and the like; and therefore it must needs be deceived in itself and be false; for no I, Me, or Mine, ever came to the True Light or Knowledge undeceived, save once only; to wit, in God made Man. And if we are to come to the knowledge of the simple Truth, all these must depart and perish. And in particular it belongeth to the natural Light that it would fain know or learn much, if it were possible, and hath great pleasure, delight and glorying in its discernment and knowledge; and therefore it is always longing to know more and more, and never cometh to rest and satisfaction, and the more it learneth and knoweth, the more doth it delight and glory therein. And when it hath come so high, that it thinketh to know all things and to be above all things, it standeth on its highest pinnacle of delight and glory, and then it holdeth Knowledge to be the best and noblest of all things, and therefore it teacheth Love to love knowledge and discernment as the best and most excellent of all things. Behold, then knowledge and discernment come to be more loved than that which is discerned, for the false natural Light loveth its knowledge and powers, which are itself, more than that which is known. And were it possible that this false natural Light should understand the simple Truth, as it is in God and in truth, it still would not lose its own property, that is, it would not depart from itself and its own things. Behold, in this sense there is knowledge without the love of that which is or may be known.

Also this Light riseth and climbeth so high that it vainly thinketh that it knoweth God and the pure, simple Truth, and thus it loveth itself in Him. And it is true that God can be known only by God. Wherefore as this Light vainly thinketh to understand God, it imagineth itself to be God, and giveth itself out to be God, and wisheth to be accounted so, and thinketh itself to be above all things, and well worthy of all things, and that it hath a right to all things, and hath got beyond all things, such as commandments, laws, and virtue, and even beyond Christ and a Christian life, and setteth all these at nought, for it doth not set up to be Christ, but the Eternal God. And this is because Christ’s life is distasteful and burdensome to nature, therefore she will have nothing to do with it; but to be God in eternity and not man, or to be Christ as He was after His resurrection, is all easy, and pleasant, and comfortable to nature, and so she holdeth it to be best. Behold, with this false and deluded Love, something may be known without being loved, for the seeing and knowing is more loved than that which is known. Further, there is a kind of learning which is called knowledge; to wit, when, through hearsay, or reading, or great acquaintance with Scripture, some fancy themselves to know much, and call it knowledge, and say, ’I know this or that.’ And if you ask, ’How dost thou know it?’ they answer, ’I have read it in the Scriptures,’ and the like. Behold, this they call understanding, and knowing. Yet this is not knowledge, but belief, and many things are known and loved and seen only with this sort of perceiving and knowing.

There is also yet another kind of Love, which is especially false, to wit, when something is loved for the sake of a reward, as when justice is loved not for the sake of justice, but to obtain something thereby, and so on. And where a creature loveth other creatures for the sake of something that they have, or loveth God, for the sake of something of her own, it is all false Love; and this Love belongeth properly to nature, for nature as nature can feel and know no other love than this; for if ye look narrowly into it, nature as nature loveth nothing beside herself. On this wise something may be seen to be good and not loved.

But true Love is taught and guided by the true Light and Reason, and this true, eternal and divine Light teacheth Love to love nothing but the One true and Perfect Good, and that simply for its own sake, and not for the sake of a reward, or in the hope of obtaining anything, but simply for the Love of Goodness, because it is good and hath a right to be loved. And all that is thus seen by the help of the True Light must also be loved of the True Love. Now that Perfect Good, which we call God, cannot be perceived but by the True Light; therefore He must be loved wherever He is seen or made known.

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