LETTER II. -- (From ST. MARTIN.)
Paris, 8th June, 1792.
I will not stay to thank you, on my own account, for all the flattering expressions of your kind letter of 22nd ultimo; I will forget myself, and think only of giving thanks to the Author of all wisdom, who has permitted your soul to feel the need of approximation towards this fountain of all our happiness.
I see you have caught the exact meaning of the "active and intelligent Cause," and that of the word "virtues," and I believe that therein lies the radical germ of all knowledge; as to the fruits which ought to follow, they can be born only in accordance with the precise laws of vegetation, in which we are compelled to participate since the fall; and these fruits can be known only as they thus come into existence. You appear too enlightened not to know that the soul of man is the soil in which this germ is sown, and in which, consequently, all the fruits must show themselves. Follow up St. Paul's comparison (1 Cor. c. xv.) between spiritual and corporeal vegetation, and you will see clearly the truth of those words of our Saviour: "Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John iii. 3.) Add only, that this new birth, of which our Saviour speaks, may be effected during our life, whilst St. Paul speaks only of the last resurrection. This is the work we ought all to work at; and if it be laborious, it also is full of the consolations of help given when we courageously and resolutely undertake it. Independently of the chief gardener who sows in us, there are many others who water and prune the tree to help its growth, always under the eye of Divine Wisdom, with the view to ornament His gardens, like all other husbandmen, but who can adorn them only with us, because we are His finest flowers.
I understand clearly that it is as to the nature of these gardeners that your question falls, and your uncertainty as to knowing how to discern them; but, let us not forget the gentle order of progression. Let us begin by making a profitable use of our smallest inclinations towards virtue, faith, prayer, and work, which have been given to us; these will attract others, which will, moreover, bring their light with them, and so on to the fulness of the measure of each, -- and we shall see that the only reason for men's uneasiness and disquiet is, that they always overleap the periods of their vegetation; whilst, if they devoted themselves, prudently and resolutely, to the epoch and degree in which they are at the time, the march would seem natural and easy to them, and they would see answers come up of themselves alongside of their questions.
Be not therefore surprised, dear Sir, that I cannot send you any more positive light on an object which consists solely in exercise and experience. I should deceive you if I offered you more; I should deceive myself and offend Him, whom I glory in proclaiming as the only Master we should have, the only one we should follow.
You desire, Sir, to know what other works have come from the pen that wrote 'Des Erreurs et de la Verite; they are, hitherto, 'Le Tableau Naturel,' printed in 1782, and L'Homme de Desirs,' printed two years ago. The edition was few in number, and there are none left; but I learn that a publisher of the name of Grabit, of Lyons, has just issued a reprint on his own account. Besides these there are now in the press two works from the same pen; one called 'Ecce Homo,' the object of which is to forewarn people against the wonders and the prophecies of the time; it is a small volume in 12mo.: the title of the other is 'Le Nouvel Homme,' a much larger work, the aim of which is to describe what we should expect in regeneration; it is one volume 8vo. This last has large and direct relation to the object in which you are interested, and on which I have briefly given you my ideas above. Both works are being printed in Paris ('Cercle Social,' rue Theatre Francais). I have nothing whatever to do with the costs of this undertaking; I will have no part in any profit, should there be any; I leave all to the publisher, who by his advances has made himself the legitimate owner. Thus, if it is your intention to procure them, you know where to address yourself. 'L'Ecce Homo' will be printed in a month, 'Le Nouvel Homme' not before two or three. This 'Nouvel Homme' was written nearly two years ago. I should not have written it, or I should have written it differently, if I had then had the acquaintance I have since formed of the works of Jacob Boehme, [Sometimes spelled Behmen, but the above is the correct name. -- Tr.] a German author of whom you cannot be ignorant. I am no longer young, being near my fiftieth year; and at this advanced age I have begun to learn the little German I know, solely to read this incomparable author. Within the last few months I have procured an English translation of most of his works, that language being rather more familiar to me. I frankly acknowledge, Sir, that I am not worthy to untie the shoe-strings of that wonderful man, whom I look upon as the greatest light that has appeared on the earth since Him who is the Light himself. As his language can hardly be foreign to you, although it is far from clear, I exhort you, if you have time, to dive into this abyss of knowledge and profound truths, and you will thereby see how true and sincere is the interest I take in your progress. There are two points of his doctrine on which I do not yet clearly feel my position; but I do not pass sentence till I am initiated in the depth of his principles.
If you do me the honour to write me, Sir, you may address your letters care of the Duchess of Bourbon, Paris; but I beg you will always suppress the title of author.
I remain, &c.,