Numbers are no algebra, my dear brother, but men have sometimes lowered them to it. They are only the sensible expression, whether visible or intellectual, of the different properties of beings, which all proceed from the one only essence. Traditional theoretical teaching may transmit to us a part of this science, but with the risk of our seeing what is false therein, as much as the good, according to the teacher's standing. Regeneration alone shows us the ground, and therein we obtain the pure key, without masters; every one, however, in his own degree.
Look at our friend B. Who taught him the seven forms of universal nature? who taught him the number of the Temary shown in the cross by means of the will? who told him of the ten mirrors at the end of which the last finds the first, &c. &c.? The fountain itself gave him the knowledge of these things, whether it be that this fountain came to him, or that he ascended into it. He went out of the earthly man, which sees only errors and darkness, notwithstanding his sciences and his reason; and he sought to live only in his divine man, which ought naturally to reflect every light, for these vary not, and he is, by birth and adoption, their mirror. The number of the universal forms of the Spirit being 7, as proved by a thousand reasons, we may follow its course, which I call a vegetative one, because everything in it ought to be living. Now, it is only by carrying the roots to their powers that I get an image of the life of properties, and it is by multiplying this root that we find the fruits, 49, the product of 7 X 7. But, though I thus arrive at this product, the root that engendered it does not, therefore, change its nature; it increases and pullulates without losing its own character. Thus 49 is still 7, for me, but 7 in development; whilst, in its root, it is 7 only in concentration. Nevertheless, development is necessary for it to go to 8, which is the temporal mirror of the invisible incalculable Denary. Now, while it passes from 7 to 8 by means of the great unity with which it unites, it also passes from 49 to 50 by means of the same unity; and it draws the quaternary or human soul into this reunion, by making it traverse and abolish the novenary of appearance, which is our limit, and the cause of our privation. This, my dear brother, is a brief sketch showing how 5 is equal to 8, and 8 equal to 5 in the great wonder which the divine Repairer has wrought for our regeneration. This is a thing which came directly to my intelligence, and which I received from no man. I wish it may give you what it has given me.
You cannot form 50 by 8 + 2, because you would here use as element number 8, which does not yet exist, and must appear only after the operation; and number B, which is not an active number, but only the organ through which life passes; and, lastly, number 2, which is the number of iniquity, and cannot be found in the constituent numbers of the Repairer, since it is said that He learned everythingfrom man except sin. I do not enter into all your other questions about the meaning of each number, the mode of calculating, the formulas, and results. Not only volumes would be insufficient to accomplish satisfactorily such a task, but I say all in repeating to you, that it is in regeneration, and that alone, we can discover anything certain in this line. There are several degrees in this regeneration; there are also several in the dark ways of human reason; my whole life would not be enough to sound all their limits, and if I undertook it of myself, I should still run the risk of coming to doubtful results. I do not know why your friend takes the year of the Christian era for his calculation; not knowing the ground he goes upon, I cannot say whether he is right or wrong. In this order of things an immeasurable immensity of points of view are given to every one; and we can make sure of the nature of the tree, and its fruits, only by reciprocal explanations and confrontation of principles.
You know our true aim, my dear brother, when you say we must, on the one hand, detach ourselves, and, on the other, attach ourselves; and the only office I can exercise towards you is to encourage you; for I am still far from being able to instruct you. Yes, the only thing we want, is, as you say, a firm will to come out of our Sodom, which is capable only of the wrath and of the Sulphur Spirit, to return to the open air and the divine protection. And before the great Name can teach us everything, we must, by our own efforts, faith, and perseverance, begin by approaching this great Name, which, though it acts and speaks incessantly, is, nevertheless, neither perceived nor heard by the beastly creature which encloses us. Read Bohme here; he is the doctor of doctors. . . .
Adieu, my dear brother; I always commend myself to your prayers. . . .
P. S. - I have made further inquiries for Antoinette Bourignon, and can find nothing yet. If you should be able to do anything for me, I beg you will bear me in mind.
Is the time come for you to put your hand to the translations we have spoken of? I have finished the 'Three Principles' and the `Threefold Life.' There is one, though a bad one, of the 'Signatura Rerum,' and you gave me the 'Way to Christ' Of what remains, choose which you like. I feel inclined soon to begin the `Six Points, and the 'Nine Texts' which follow; and then I might easily go on to the 'Forty Questions.' Forgive me, if I choose so; I have thought these would be the least fatiguing for me, and I am really obliged to consider this. I could hardly undertake the translation of the 'Letters, because, in my English edition, they are not included, and I fear I should not always be able to get on without that assistance.
LETTER XCI. - (From K.)
Morat, 18th June, 1798.
I arrived here, my dear brother, as I advised you in my last, on the 17th ult.; but I was hardly settled, and beginning to enjoy my quiet, when I was obliged to go off to our salt-works, on the borders of Le Valais. This journey took me twelve days. I profited, however, of every quarter of an hour I could dispose of to attend to our great concern. One might say that the king of this world does not lose sight of those who are escaping out of his kingdom, and that he is fertile in resources to turn them from their project. The very day of my return to Morat I received your valued letter of the 7th instant.
I am quite satisfied with what you tell me about num bers; they denote and express the relations and properties of things. The origin of everything that exists - the origin of their relations and properties - is, without contro versy, the Great Principle, the Being of beings, the invisible Unity; everything flows from this spring - everything rests on this basis. But the way these created beings flow from this spring - the way they develop - the way they may perfect themselves or lose themselves - their mutual action and reaction - is established on fixed and unchangeable, and, happily for man, analogous laws; so that, if once they gain a correct knowledge of a few links of the chain, even though its object were limited to parts only of elementary nature, this knowledge would serve them as an image, as guide and rule, for discovering the other links of the chain. Thus science consists, according to my notions, in the knowledge of the laws of the Sublime Legislator, for whom no tongue has a name that can sufficiently express His height, wisdom, and goodness; and when we think of Him, we can only cover our faces and prostrate ourselves before this bright source of light and power.
Now, I imagine that the elect, who have habitually drunk at this fountain, and attracted the rays of this light by their desires and purity, have learned to know these laws, and caught the relations which exist between Wisdom and men, as well as man's relations to those intermediate beings which, in the chain of creation, connect the extremes. To express these relations and laws by visible signs, they probably made use of numbers; they will have expressed the invisible unity, the source of all beings, by the visible unity, the source of all numbers. They will have expressed the other beings, according to their relations to the invisible unity, by numbers which they found had similar relations with the visible unity; they will have chosen some numbers to express beings, others to express properties and relations; they perhaps called the one class active numbers, the others passive; but it results, from this view, that the science of numbers, properly so called, follows the work, rather than introduces it.
Numbers express our acquirements, but do not give them. This science is true and solid only according as we have obtained previous knowledge of the fountain itself. To the initiated and the proprietor, who has acquired intellectual riches by the sweat of his brow, numbers serve as inventory of his fortune; but for a poor man they are but a label on the chest, naming its contents. The poor man may read this list, and understand it to a certain extent, yet still remain poor, as before.
Hence, I conclude that he who would make any progress in our course, should not begin with numbers; and this, for the simple reason, that we cannot make an inventory of riches which we do not possess. More than this, I believe it is even very dangerous to introvert the order of our march, and try to make use of numbers as steps; for we have need of light, and positive and real strength, without which the most admirable formulas, which are only their reflection, would be in danger of leading us astray, because we do not yet possess that strength and light in themselves. I suppose this is the rock on which Mr. d'Eck . . . has struck. He has collected many theoretical and traditional details about numbers, and he wants to apply them to the solution of questions of every description. I saw at once that he was mistaken, and this is what prevented my studying his work. He has not the less excited my astonishment at the magnitude of his labours, and by the flashes of light which here and there penetrate his letters.
Although I suspend this study for the present, the delay nowise lessens my thankfulness to you for what you have lately had the goodness to teach me. As I take great care of all your letters, a time will come, if Providence permit, when I may make a profitable use of them.
. . . . On receipt of your letter, I at once wrote to Lausanne for further search to be made for Antoinette's writings; and I shall spare no pains to procure for you the works of this excellent maiden.
At length I have the pleasure of Sceur Marguerite's acquaintance. She is an angel in human form. I find her life very instructive.... What an admirable diversity there is even amongst the elect. Antoinette was not at all like this sister; they are both beautiful flowers in the same garden, but very different from each other.
I also have laid in a provision for the winter. I have obtained an edition of Bohme in 4to., printed in large type, like Gichtel's of 1682.
As for my present leisure, it is very precarious, till peace is concluded. Meanwhile I make sure of every moment of my life that I can, and at the end of the year these stolen moments amount to a respectable sum. I will willingly make a trial at translating the Letters. In one sense, they are the easiest of our author's works; in another, the most difficult, because they suppose a knowledge of B.'s whole system, of which they are an appendix. What preparation, then, is requisite to perform such a task tolerably!
I view our friend's works as in two distinct parts: one ascetic, which is the most essential; the other scientific. The former is the key to the latter, and a sine qud non for the work. The second has its use; it furnishes a reaction of light to the former. The author must have thought it valuable in itself, and not only a simple consequence of the former, following necessarily from regeneration, without human aid; for in this case he would not have written it, but have contented himself by teaching the ascetic part in all its details. This seems to be the general order of Providence itself.
To discover the truths contained in these books, we must study them, and to do this with profit, we should begin with the plainest and easiest. Now for myself, I know no better introduction to the theoretical part of our friend B. 's works than the precepts of your old school. I have just been looking over your book `Des Erreurs et de la Vèritè,' and the `Tableau Naturel,' and I have found in them a number of things which escaped me five or six years ago. Thus to prepare myself for reading our friend, I begin again with those two works.
I find, amongst others, a remarkable precept in the second vol. of the `Tableau,' p. 109, which says: "One of the grandest secrets a man can know is, not to go to Wisdom all at once, but to engage himself a long while on the way that leads to her." (You will easily understand the true meaning of the words I have underlined.) But before going on with this reading, more carefully than formerly, I must ask you whether the parenthetical passages in the `Tableau, Edinburgh edition, 1782, are by a hand which you adopt as your own. I shall also be very glad to know, whether, in the nomenclature of these two works, there is any denomination synonymous with two very essential words in the system of our friend Bohme - I allude to Sophia and the King of this world; or did these two beings entirely escape your school? I have some reason to suspect the latter; for our friend Divonne, whom you introduced to me, and who appeared pretty well up in this matter, did not know a word about Sophia; I cannot say whether he knew anything of the King. It is possible these two names may not have been pronounced in any school in France: this would not prevent those schools enjoying magnificent splendours. You will, no doubt, have known, in your time, a Portuguese theosophist, called Martinez Pasqualis. From what I have heard, he was very profound and very advan ced. Yet I have some suspicion that he never knew Sophia, even by name: can he have confounded Sophia with the Active intelligent Cause, and the King with the Bad Principle? From all this, you see I am determined to make myself familiar with the precepts of your old school; but as I am in about the same relation to the French language that you are to the German, you will allow me, from time to time, to ask some grammatical questions.
For instance, `Tableau,' vol. ii. p. 61: "To serve as organe to the higher vertus which ought to descend." I do not understand the meaning of organe in this sense. Do the higher virtues need an organ for them to come down; if so, what is it? Page 108, same vol.: "If elementary Nature is hurtful to us, it is when we allow ourselves to be enslavedby it, not when we penetrate its virtues." I do not know in what sense the word virtue is used here. Does it apply to the properties of elementary nature, or to some intellectual substance different from nature?
Idem, p. 233: "The universal action of life. . . ." In what sense is life to be taken here?
Idem, p. 235. Who or what are the sensible agents the writer here speaks of?
An important word also, which I do not understand, is one I find in p. 239: "In proportion as we close our intellectual channels." You will give me much pleasure if you will tell me what you mean by intellectual channels, which may be opened or closed at will.
Adieu, my dear brother: excuse my long letter. . . .
LETTER XCII. - (From S. M.)
11th July, 1796.
I am quite satisfied, my dear brother, that you should look upon numbers as expressing truths, not giving them. I wish you would add to this, that men did not choose numbers, but that they perceived them, in the natural properties of things. To be sure of their steps, they could not have taken any other guides; for true sciences are those in which man puts nothing of his own. Figures, even, which are but the material expressions of numbers, were not originally so much an arbitrary conventional work of men, as might be sup posed, seeing the fantastic use to which they have been brought in the arts and sciences: they have several sources, whether in languages, in which letters were used for figures, or in nature, which has given us the Arab figures. For, in short, it is clear that, since the fall, we have nothing of our own, and consequently everything must have been given to us; then we have abused, and still abuse everything daily, believing ourselves to be great doctors, especially in our benighted academies: our eminent quality is to abuse; and, ever since Adam, we have done nothing else. But this subject is too vast for a letter.
How many notions should we not have exhausted, if we had but been able to see each other for a short time, since our correspondence began? At your place in the country, above alll You will know better than I when circumstances favour in this matter, and I leave it to your wisdom. All I can say at present is, that passports are not now difficult to procure from our government, for your country. En attendant, you do well to suspend this study, since you feel, yourself, whence the knowledge, to be safe, should come.
. . . . There were precious things in our first school. I am even inclined to think that Mr. Pasqualis, whom you name, (and who, since it must be said, was our master), had the active key to all that our dear Bohme exposes in his theories, but that he did not think we were able to bear those high truths. He had some points which our friend B. either did not know, or would not state, such as the resipiscence of the Evil one, for which the first man may have been commissioned to work; an idea which still appears to me worthy of the universal plan, but, on which, I have yet no positive information, except through the understanding. As for Sophia and the King of this world, he revealed nothing about them to us, and left us under the ordinary notions of Mary and the devil. But I will not, therefore, affirm that he had no knowledge of them; and I am persuaded that we should have arrived at them at last, if we had kept him longer; but we were only beginning to march together, when death took him from us. Thus our friend D.'s silence on this head would prove nothing, inasmuch as he never followed our school, and never knew our master; he frequented some of his disciples; he was led by reading books of that way; also by somnambulic and magnetic courses, in which be had some efficacy, and in which he obtained some light, notwithstanding the clouds which surround them: in short, by the goodness of his heart, and the happy gifts of his nature. From all this, it follows, that an excellent match may be made by marrying our first school to friend Bohme. This is what I work at; and I confess to you candidly, that I find the two spouses so well suited to each other, that I know nothing more perfect in its way: so, let us take what we can: I will help you all I can.
The passages, inter-parenthesis, in 'Le Tableau,' are mine. The editor thought he could not see in them a sufficient coherence with the rest of the work, which induced him to prepare the reader about them, in the way he did, and I allowed him to do as he liked.
We cannot deny that, in the rigorous time of the old law, the high truths were subject to localities, formulas, bloody sacrifices, &c., and that every part of the temple and the ceremonies really served them as organs. The law of liberty is assuredly above that; but they had not then reached it: we must not confound the times. This is the answer to your question about the organ, p. 61.
In general, the word Virtues underlined throughout all the work (`Tableau') means Eigenschaften (property, quality). This word Property applies to everything, whether elementary, spiritual, devilish, divine, &c.
The Life, p. 233, means here, as well as everywhere else, the centre and heart of God, the possession of which, in the sweetness of joy, makes the happiness of all creatures, according to our friend B.
The intellectual channels, p. 239, are the gates of our souls, which we open and shut at will, by our desires, our imagination, by inward work, more or less sustained or neglected, by our good or bad conduct, &c.
The sensible agents, p. 235, here mean the elementary agents, which, in fact, are charged with our first purification or initiation; as proved by our baptism, and by the fire, which must at last try and purge all things, without counting also the rights which the earth exercises over us during our life and in the grave. . . . Adieu, my dear brother. . . .