The Celestial Hierarchy The Celestial Hierarchy

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天阶体系
作者:托名为亚略巴古的议员丢尼修
未分卷
第一章第二章第三章第四章
第五章第六章第七章第八章
第九章第十章第十一章第十二章
第十三章第十四章第十五章附 录
冥契神学
The Celestial Hierarchy
The Celestial Hierarchy
The Mystical Theology
The Mystical Theology
未分卷 第一章
    天上圣品等级

第一章

每一道神意的光照,虽然以纷披的式样,由爱心放射到它预想中的对象,却始终是单一的。不但这样;它又把所照耀的都结合起来。

“各样美善的恩赐和各样全备的赏赐,都是从上头来的,从众光之父那里降下来的”(雅1:17)。并且每一道从天父那里来照亮我们的光,不但是祂美善的赏赐,也以统一力叫我们还元到更高灵性的地步,归向于使我们凝合的圣父所造成的合一,达于像神一样的纯诚。因为万有都是本于祂,归于祂,如圣言所说(罗11:36)。

我们应当求告耶稣,圣父之光,“那照亮一切生在世上的人”(约1:9)的真光,“我们藉着祂得以进到父面前”(罗5:2;弗2:18)父是光的大源。愿我们尽可能追怀到我们先人在最神圣的言语中所传留下来的光耀,得见那言语中为了教育我们而象征地表现出来的天上诸位圣品等级。当我们以不属尘世的,无惊慌的心眼,从最神圣的父领受了这元始的和超元始的光明的赏赐——它以模式和象征向我们显现那些最有福的天使的圣品等级——之时,愿我们由这种光明的赏赐再归至它独一的光荣。因为这光永不失掉它自己固有的统一;虽然它在射出来将它所照顾的人良善地加以教导和结合时颇见繁复增加,但它永在自己里一致不变,亦不改其坚固的中心;同时也按着那些瞻仰这光之人的各自能力,来提高他们使其依遵光本身结合的一体,都联合而为一。因为神的光线为了神圣教育的目的,必须以五颜六色的幔子包将起来,并按圣父的预想得到合乎我们本性的布置,否则就不能光照我们。

因此,当主设立圣事时,派定我们最圣洁的圣品等级,因为祂认它配能效法天上的圣品等级,又用物质的状式和身体的形相,来描出非物质的圣品等级。这是要领我们尽可能地从那些圣像进入那种非象征,非形式的奥秘意象。因为我们的悟性只能用物质相宜的事,引导升至那非物质的和沉思的天上圣品等级,即是,拿有形物的美丽作为无形壮容的照相,并且以感官所嗅的馨香作为灵恩的符号,以物质的光线作为非物质的照明,更有那些详细的圣训代表内心沉思的筵宴,又有此地的品职等级代表关于神事的和谐与秩序;圣餐也代表着参预耶稣(林前10:16)。还有别的恩赐,为天上众灵所超自然地领受的,我们是必须用象征来领受。

因此,为了使我们尽我们能量得以神圣化之故,那作为诸种圣秘的第一典制者,由祂对人所施的爱,向我们显明天上的圣品等级,并成立我们的圣品等级,使我们尽其所能去效法他们的圣品,作为他们的同事,与他们共敬拜主。祂在祂所感化的圣言中以感官的形状描写天上众灵,好引导我们由感官的事到达灵性的事,由神圣象征到达天上圣品等级的纯一崇世高。

未分卷 第二章
    第二章

虽然圣经用不相似的象征表现关于神和天上诸事,但那些事仍有适宜的表现。

我想,首先应当陈说各圣品等级的职权,及其施行如何使其徒伴有福。第二,应当祝颂天上诸圣品等级,照着圣言中所叙述的那样。之后,我们要遵依圣言,说出这些圣言用怎样的神圣形相来描写他们的地位,并由这一类的表象,我们得被引领到达何种纯一的真理,好叫我们不致像那些粗俗的人,妄以为天上那些像上帝样的众灵不过是四足的走兽(结1:7),是多副面孔的活物(结1:6),或是牛样的笨拙,或是狮子般的悍戾(结1:10),或者仿佛老鹰钩状的脸,或者全身禽羽。那些粗俗人想像天上真有一种烈火的轮,也有物质的宝座,以便神王坐席(但7:9);或又想像有五颜六色的马,和手拿枪矛的军队元帅;并且圣言还用许多其它的象征,来教训我们明白真相的,却都为俗人所误解。

其实圣言借用许多诗意的寓喻,来表示无形的圣事,这样,使可适合我们的智能,就是用一个与那智能相配的教育方法,好使圣经的教训合于我们的心量。

但或有人以为他应当接受那些神圣文句,为了单纯的存在物总是看不见的,其性格是不可知的;他又以为圣言中对圣洁众灵的写喻是不配的,只是一种拙劣地描写天使名称的方法吧了。那人或者更说,当神学家用身体的表象来说明无身体者的时候,他们应当从我们所最敬重最高存在体,来适当地表示他们,而不应当拿地上那些下流东西的种种形状,套在天上那些上帝样的单纯本质上。这样,也许更可领我们得到教益,而不会用很不相同的寓言去污辱那些超世间的启示。他以为这种说法不免把那些神性的有权者加以轻蔑,并且这种不虔敬的语调也把我们的心性给迷惑了。或者那人又会想到有狮群马队拥挤天庭,有牛类哞声在颂赞主,更有羽族飞禽以及不体面的其它生物;还有在圣言里由不同的譬喻所描写的事。这些也似乎被称做一种解释,但实近乎荒谬的,有害的,并且过分情欲的。

但是照我个人的意见,真理的研讨足以表证着圣言在描摹天上众灵时有最神圣的智慧,因为它以先见顾到两方面,一面不对神性的有权者加以伤损,一面也不使我们陷溺于那些卑鄙而轻贱的情欲。我们可以说,经上拿形状归于无形状的缘故,不但是为了我们的能力无法立即提高,来寻思那些理智的事,并需要适合我们本性的教训,把那些无形状的,超自然的沉思构象,用形相提供到我们意念中;并且更为了就这奥妙的圣言而言,遮覆着不可言喻的神圣的奇谜,是很适合的,这样,可将这些事从许多人藏起来,因为人原不都是圣洁的。而且照着圣言,知识也不属于众人(参林前8:7)。但若有人责怪那些描叙,说是不配的,并称世人以应归厌弃的形状来表示上帝样和最圣洁的众灵,乃是可耻之事,我们的答覆是:上帝显现的方法有二:

一个是很自然地,用一些与圣事类似的样式来代表;另一个却是用全然不近似的,也非适合的词汇来反衬真相。诚然,启示圣言的神秘教训,时常颂扬那超本体的,最有福的上帝为“道”(约1:1),为“智慧”(诗136:5),为“自存”(出3:14)。这样来表出祂适当神性的理性和智慧,并且表明祂是存在的本身,又是万有存在的大原。圣言也称述其为“光”(约1:4),为“生命”(约14:6)。这些神圣描摹,诚然是可敬的,也似乎胜过物质的形像,可是它们仍不足以反映上帝的超绝性。因为祂原是超乎一切存在物和生命;不只没有什么光明可以形容祂的品性,甚至每一句话,每一概念,都无从表明祂的样式。

所以有时圣言亦以差异(或消极)的说法来超然地颂赞祂为看不见的(提前6:16),无限的(诗145:13),不可理会的(罗11:33)。它们所指明的,不是“是什么”,而毋宁是“不是什么”。

用这种说法来描写神性品质,我觉得更为适宜。因为,正如秘密的圣品传统所教导的,我们所叙述的,是祂与所有受造物完全不同,我们无从知道它的超本性,不可想象的,和说不出的无可界定性。那么,既然关于神事的否定表示是真实的,而肯定的表示是不恰当的,所以用不相似的描摹来说明关于不可见的事,是更适合于表示那种隐藏而不可言说的奥秘。这样,圣言描摹天上各级职位时所用不相似的外貌,并不算是凌辱他们,毋宁尊敬他们兼且彰显他们为超自然的,胜过一切物质的东西。我想凡明白事理的人没有不认为那些不相似的象征,比之相仿的象征更能提炼我们的心思。因为用较辉煌的形象表示天上的事物,每不免要带坏我们,叫我们想到天上诸存在体具有黄金的外貌,或者像一类人全身精采,恍如闪电,面貌姣美,穿着透明的衣服,发出不致害人的火焰等等在上帝的道理所用的相似形相,来描状天上诸般灵体。

所以,为了免使世人冤枉地料想那些灵体,只不过具有美丽的外貌,此外更无崇高的品质,我们虔诚的神学家们,以其卓绝的智慧,苦心孤诣地用了非同类的象征,来含混表示他们;这样,便不容我们从物质方面构成卑陋的造象,却要由不相类似的象征,激刺我们灵魂毅然向上。因为,倘以为天上神性者是好像这样卑陋的东西,乃是全然不对的,也是违反真相的。不过我们必须牢记,世上的存在物中,不有一个不带着多少美丽,正如圣言所肯定的,说:“上帝一切所造的都甚美好”(创1:31)。

因为,明达的人和智识份子,可能从万事静思,好意地用物质的事去表明上文所说那些不相类似的类似;因为理智的构想与那专靠感官者不同。例如,非理性受造物的怒气是从情欲发生,它们的动作充满无理取闹。但是论到明达的人,他们的怒气必与寻常的不同,据我的判断,那是表示他们的丈夫气慨和决心毅力,效法上帝的恒久刚强。关于欲望也是一样:就非理性的生物而言,欲望是一种无远见的,唯物性的感情,发自本能的冲动,或耽于流变的事物,娴于肉体活动,使全部生机沦作肉感的奴隶。然而,当我们用不相类似的类似说法,将欲望归于明达的人之时,我们就须认为所谓欲望,乃指对那超绝言语思想的纯灵界之追求,也是对超然纯洁而无欲的沉思之坚决切慕,并爱在清洁与大荣耀中,作永恒而属灵的团契,且在那里永驻美化的仪容,而且所谓“放浪”,我们应当转译之为他们坚固不移和不可抗的渴望,要求取得神性的美,和追求真正可欲者的全部趋向。论到非理性的禽兽或无感官的物类,我们很适宜地称它们的无理性和乏缺感性为理性与感性之被剥夺。论到那些非物质的和明智的存在体,我们无误地承认他们既是天上的群伦,乃超过我们常变的和肉体的理性,和我们那属地的感觉,就是非物质界的灵体所不累及。所以人拿最不荣誉的物质的几分去描摹天上的诸存在体,不可当作太不应该的事,因为物质本身既是从那“真美”所发生的,所以在它全部范围内,都有精神界之美好的某些回响。世人可藉这些暗示而被引到那些非物质的模型。但是,如上文所说的,我们必须以不同的方式去领悟那些类似,不是同一地,却是和谐而适当地去观照那些灵性和感性事物的特殊性格。

我们发见诸位神秘的神学家,在其解释圣书,不但用这种描摹来表示天上诸位天使,而且有时也这样来表示上帝本身。他们有时本着尊崇的想像,赞美主为“公义的日头”(玛4:2),为“天发亮时,晨星在人们心里出现”(彼后1:19),为照射属灵辉煌而不能遮掩的光(约1:5)。又有时借通常的现象,称主为发出无害的烈焰之火(出3:2),为那赐丰满生命的水(约7:38),这水象征地流入人的体内,就以破竹之势涌发为长江大河。又有时则借最微小的物,如芬芳扑鼻的香膏(歌1:3),或如房角石(弗2:20)。他们也用兽类的形像披在主的外身,形容其有雄狮或大豹的特质;又说祂必要作一只金钱豹,一个冲击的母熊(何13:7,8)。但让我再加一句:还有似乎最不名誉的丑类。却被有名的神学家们拿来,即以昆虫的形状作比拟(诗22:6)。

这样,所有灵慧的专家们,和奇秘的灵感的解释者,无非在教训人,要把最污秽和最不恭敬的一切都从最圣洁者分别出来。他们看中不相类似的叙述,好叫神圣的事不容易被污俗的事所攀及,而那些勤敏思考神圣图像的人,不会信任这些象征,把它当作真理。这样,那些启示真理的否定方式,和那些用最低微的事物去表示与其相左的比较,都是敬崇了神圣的事。由此之故,他们即使用了不相类似的,与天上众灵相左的比喻,来描摹天上众灵,也不算是荒谬。因为,倘使描摹天使的图像不是残缺错误,而打击了我们,则我们也许为了畏难而不难进打探究,对圣事作仔细准确的寻求了。反之,那些歧违的表象却使我们心有未安,惊醒我们排弃物质的企慕,叫我们经由有形的事物上升达于超世间的意义。

关于圣经上对诸圣天使所用的一些物质的和相反的表示,我们在这里已讨论够了。其次,我们必须明订所谓圣品等级本身究是什么,并且那些承受圣品等级的人有什么益处。但愿基督领导这番讨论,因为(若这样说是合理的)祂是我的主,也是所有圣品教义的灵源。但是,我儿啊,你应当遵照我们的圣品等级传统法规,虔诚地聆听这些虔诚说出的话,并由研究上帝的默示而自己得默示。当你在心内的深密处包藏神圣的事时,切须保卫它们,免得尘俗的群众抢去;这与圣言所说不许“把珍珠丢在猪前”(太7:6)的意思一模一样,即是指那些莹净的,发光的,美丽无比的,属灵的珍珠。

未分卷 第三章
    第三章

圣品等级是什么?它于我们有什么益处?

照我的意见,圣品等级是一种神圣职位,是一种知识,也是一宗尽能可地使人与上帝的样式相似的行为,即引人至蒙受上帝所施的光照,而得渐渐酷似上帝。神性的美丽既属单纯的,良善的,而为成全完备的资源,所以全然没有什么不相类似之点。祂把自己的光分给别个,照着各别之所应得,并以最神圣的参加,使享受者各按同样的和谐比例,得以完全。

所以圣品阶级的目的是在使人仿效上帝,而与祂合一,并奉祂为一切神圣知识和行动的师尊;它既面对着上帝最神圣的美丽而不退缩,就照着各自的可能使其受祂的打印,并使它的乐队得以完全,成为神的形像,作为澄净而无瑕疵的镜子,能领受那元始的光明和神性的荣耀。它既虔敬地充满着上帝所约定给它的光辉,就遵照上帝的指示,丰盛地把这光辉普照到后辈身上。在施行加入典礼时,主礼者和受礼者,都不许在演习圣事上逾越那关于他们各自职分的圣规。倘若他们愿望得着那成圣的荣华,并虔敬地顾念这点,效法各位圣洁灵体的榜样,他们便不许稍存别样的心。所以,所谓圣品制度,乃指一种完全神圣的职位,即是“神性美”的造像。它祭司的礼仪,是拿从圣品长得来的次序和智慧来表演着它自己所受光照的奥秘仪节,而它自己也尽可能地与它的创制者相同。

凡蒙召加入圣品制度的,其所得到的完全,是在各按自己的尺度去效法上帝(弗5:1)。并且照圣经说,最神性的恩惠,他要成为与上帝同工的(林前3:9)并在自己身上显出上帝的能力。圣品等级的规定是:有人被洁净,也有的叫人洁净(诗51:9,13);有人蒙光照,也有的去照亮人(诗119:18,130);有人被成全了,也有的使人成全。这样,各人以各自的方式,成就了对上帝的效法。上帝的福祉,按照人所常说的话,是纯一不二的(申6:4),且充满着永恒的光(约12:46);是完全的,不需要什么使祂完全的事,也能使人清洁的,有光耀的,完善的。我们更可说上帝的福祉本身是神圣的洁净,是光耀,是完全;不,超乎洁净,超乎光耀,超绝完全的自我完全;祂虽是每一圣品等级的本原,但是非常优越,高出一切圣事之上。

所以我想那些被洁净者,应当到达十分纯全的地步,丝毫没有玷污;那些被光照者,应当满有神性的光,而受领导惯作清心的沉思;而那些受成全者,应当从凡夫俗子隔离,并分享那能使人完全的知识。

至于那些使人洁净的,应当从他们丰满的洁净,把自己的圣洁分给别人;那些照亮人的,既具有透明的才智,而其任务即在自己受光和分给别人以光,他们既然充满着圣洁的喜乐,就应当按照自己流溢的光,拿它分给那配得这光的人。那些使人成全的,既然擅长施教,就应当取那悟得非常奥妙的圣者之学,导人得到完全。这样,圣品制度中每一等级,无不照着自己的程度,被领带至与神合作,即是,由神恩和天赐的能力,成就那些自然地或超自然地属于神性的事。这些事都是由上帝超本质地做成的,并在圣品等级中所表现给我们的,意在引领凡爱上帝的都来效法。

未分卷 第四章
    第四章

“天使”这一名称具有什么意义?

照我看来,圣品等级的本质已充分地说明了。次一步,我们应来赞扬诸天使的圣品制度,并应藉超世间的眼光来深沉考虑他们在圣经中的一些神圣造像。这样,我们可透过这些神秘表象,得被带领上达他们那种最与神相似的单纯,并用应有的敬虔,来颂赞圣品学识的创作者,和感谢诸般奥秘的渊源。但是首先我必须宣说这条真理,即是那超本质的上帝之所以设定受造物的本性,叫它们出生于世界,是出于祂的善意。那作万有的本原和超越一切的良善,其特征是在呼召所有受造物,都按照所预定给各级存在的能量,来参加到祂里面。万有都分享着那从超本质的神和创造万有的主宰里所涌出的眷顾。因为它们若不曾参预万有的本质和根源,就不会得存在。所以即使无生命的物类,也可单凭它们的存在而参预了神的眷顾。因为万有的存在就是那超乎一切存在的神性本身。有生的物类则参预在那超乎一切生命的赐予生命大能者之中。理性类和悟性类则参预在那超乎一切理性和悟性的自我完全与超卓完全的智慧之中。那么,很显然地,那些在较多方面参预于祂之中的存在物,即较接近地环绕着祂。

所以,天上存在着的圣洁诸位,其所参预的上帝恩赐,必更高于那些只有存在的物类,或非理性的生物,或像我们这样的理性动物。他们既以神的形像刻印在自己的资质上,绝无尘世之想,专心仰望上帝,力求使自己的灵性一如上帝的范型,就很自然地与上帝有更敏捷的交通,为了他们是与祂十分接近,而又经常向上升腾。他们因受了上帝那种永不动摇的爱之热力,乃被吸引提高。他们也接受那元始的,绝无物质夹杂的光照。由于这些权益之享受,所以他们的生命成为全然属灵的了。那么,这些天上众灵,优先地,多方地,与上帝交通,并且优先地,多方地,发挥上帝隐藏的奥秘。所以他们出类拔萃地配得天使的名称,为了神的光照优先地临到他们,并透过他们,这意外的启示才来到我们。正如上帝的圣言所肯定的,“律法是藉天使而赐给的”(加3:19)。天使又在律法以前,律法以后,引导我们着名的列祖到上帝面前:或者推荐应当做的事(创22:11-12),使其离去迷途与非洁净的生活,踏上真理的直道;或者启示以神圣的法令和天上奥秘的异象,或先知所说的预言。

但若有人说,上帝是直接显给某些圣人,不需媒介,那他应当从最神圣的经言,明白“从来没有人看见上帝”(约1:18)的隐秘性格,并且永不将会看见。不过,神有若干显现是照着那适合于观者的异象,而被指给圣徒们看见。那有完全智慧的上帝圣言,为着开导那些思念神性的人,自然可称那特别显出的异象,即拿形相来打扮那没有什么形相的,为“上帝的显现”。因为这样看见的人既得了上帝的光照,于是,确实领受多少奇秘的享用。但是我们着名的列祖之所以得见这些神性的异象,那是藉了天上有权者的媒介。圣书中的教训岂不是明载那赐给摩西的律法都是直接由上帝而来,为使我们习知律法是神性和圣洁制度这一真理吗?然而上帝的圣道,也很对地告诉我们,律法是透过天使而来的,好像照着神意的规定,头一级的是带领次级的来到上帝面前。这不但在高级灵体和次级灵体之间是如此,即使在同级当中也有等差。至高无上的律法颁布者设立了这种律法,叫各个圣品等级都分作首、中、末三等级和有权者。祂又吩咐说:凡与神性最接近的,当为其较次者的导师和班首,领他们到上帝面前,受到光照和参享。

我发觉最先显示耶稣对人之爱的神性奥秘,就是天使,因为上帝藉着他们赐给我们有知识的恩典。例如那最神性的加百列,就将这奥秘叫祭司长撒迦利亚知道,说他要由神恩而产生的儿子,成为先知,预言在我们耶稣里道成肉身的工作,表显救恩于世,完成神的善性。加百列又显示给马利亚,说要在她里面成就一件不可言喻的奥妙的事,即是上帝的形成。又有一个天使告知约瑟:上帝所应许他祖先大卫的事,就真真已应验了。更有一个天使来到牧羊人那里,并为了他们因离开尘众,度静穆的生涯,而得洁净了,所以把福音说给他们听;与这天使同在的,有一大队天兵,传授在地上的人那首常唱的圣三一颂(路2:14)。

现在让我们上升到圣言中所述的那个光之最高显现,因为我观察到,甚至那为至高天上众灵的超越原因之耶稣自己,在祂本性无改而降世成了像我们的样式以后,也不曾捐弃人类应有的良好规范(即是祂自己所安排的),却随时甘愿服从圣父上帝透过天使们所发的命令。上帝又用了天使为媒介,报告约瑟:按照圣父所安排的,圣子当逃往埃及,以后复从埃及回到犹太。我们又看到耶稣怎样顺服父的命令。我忍于这样说,因为读者们无不知道我们圣品制度传统中的事,例如有天使来加添耶稣的力量(路22:43);又知道当耶稣自己担当了那来显现拯救我们的好事时,祂被称为“大旨意的使者”(赛9:6,按七十译本)。而且祂自己仿着一个天使而说:“我从我父所听见的,已经都告诉你们了”(约15:15)。

未分卷 第五章
    第五章

天上众灵通称天使,是为什么呢?

以上所说,照我们的意见,就是圣书中所立天使一名称的缘故。现在我们必须探讨一般神学家何以把天上存在诸位一律皆予以“天使”的名称(诗103:20;太25:31),但是,当他们更确切地称述超世间的诸集团时,就只称那全部属神性的天上集团为天使而已。可是在这集团的前列,他们称有较高级的职司,如天使长等,执政的,掌权的,有能力的,这些在圣言的传统中,都被认为较高级的。我们敢说,在每一种圣职里,上级的都具有其下属所有的亮度和能力,但下级的便不具有如其上级的能力。所以一般神学家也可以称最高级的天上集团为天使,因为他们也素着神性的光耀。但是我们没有理由称天上众灵中最低级的职位为执政者,或在位者,或撒拉弗。因为这种职位并不具有如最高级般的能力,只是藉自己固有的功用,领带我们这里受了灵感的圣品人员,到达那为他们自己所知的神性荣光之前便了。同样,天使等级中,那在上位的最圣能力为领导者,引带天使圣品等级的其它职位,一同归向上帝。也许有人说,天使的名称都是大家公用,因为天上一切有能力者都以或大或小的程度彼此结交,共相模仿上帝,并从上帝承受光之恩赐。然而,为使这问题澈底查明起见,我们要虔敬地研究圣书中所指称各个天上圣职的特征是什么。

未分卷 第六章
    第六章

天上众灵中那一种职位是首品?那一种是中品,那一种是末品?

天上众灵究分几多品级?种类如何?而这些等级彼此行动的关系又怎样?我敢答说,惟独设立他们的创造主才知道清楚。我更说,他们自己也知道固有的能力和所受的光照,并神为管理他位而立的天上规程。我们则不可能知道天上众灵的奥秘和他们最圣洁的完全,除非上帝藉他们显现给我们,因他们完全明白自己的事。所以我们不要自己立言,却要竭力解明上帝的一些圣洁先知对天使们所凝视的异象。

上帝的道把天上众灵分为九级,以表明其功用的称号来说明他们。我们至圣的大宗师(或指协若丢,或指保罗)则把他们分为三个三重的集体。他又说,第一集体照着传统,就是经常围绕在上帝四周,比之其余一切更密接于上帝,其间绝无中保。因为圣言默示者:至圣在位者,许多眼睛者,和希伯来语叫基路伯与撒拉弗的许多翅膀者,这三重立定在上帝周围,比此外众天使更近接于祂。我们着名的导师称说,这个三重集体合为一个,都是平等,真可以称为首品的圣品等级,没有任何其它等级更近似上帝,更归向神性之最早光照。祂又说,第二品是由那些掌权者,主治者,和有能力者所组成;第三品是天使团,天使长团,和执政团,他们都属天上圣品等级中的最末的一品。

未分卷 第七章
    第七章

论撒拉弗,基路伯和在位者,并他们当中那列为第一的等级。

我们承认圣品等级的这种安排,但也加上说,这些天上众灵的每一称号,是各表明其近似上帝程度的特征。凡懂得希伯来语的人,就知道撒拉弗的圣号是意味着火焰或燃烧;而基路伯的圣号是意味着最充实的知识或智慧之流。不消说,这第一品的天上等级是为最崇高的存在体所执掌,他们的地位比之其它一切都来得高,因为他们最密接地围绕上帝,所以神的显现和完全都最先经由他们而发出。他们被称为“燃烧中”,“在位者”,和“智慧之流”,说明了他们近似上帝的特质。撒拉弗的名称显然叫我们知道他们对于上帝的事作恒久不渝的行动,他们的热烈,敏迅,和永持的,常胜的,不屈不挠的,持续不息的运动,如同爆热沸腾;他们又以训言和示范去强力转变他们的下属,赐以新生,使能发火而与他们同其热度。这名称也指出他们那热火和燔祭似的洁净工作,并他们那有光及照射的特质,这特质是决不能遮盖或消灭,永不改变,而把各种晦暗扫除剿绝的。基路伯的名称则是意味着他们的知识与看见上帝的异象,他们的迅速接受最高的恩赐,即光,他们得以看见上帝的美在其最先启示出来的力量,他们自己既充满着那叫人聪明的赏赐,也无嫉妒地把自己所得的智慧倾吐出来,分与其下属。至于最崇高和最超卓的“在位者”的名称,则是指示他们凌驾所有俯伏下级的尊威,他们具有升高豪爽的倾向,他们坚固不移地誓不离开最高主宰,却尽尽力地立定主意,靠近祂的营盘。这名称也意味着他们为了绝无情欲和俗念,故能敞开心门,容纳上帝的惠顾,而负起神命。

照我们所知,这是他们称号的说明,但我们应当述说我们意想中他们的圣品等级是怎样。据我看来,我们已在上面充分表明了各圣品等级的旨趣,就是在于坚决献身效法上帝的样式,并且各个圣品职能的特意,是为着领受和散给洁净的恩典,神性的光明,并使人得以完全的知识。

现在我求上帝叫我足值说到那最崇高的灵体——他们的圣品等级怎样在圣言中表显出来。我们应当认为所谓“圣品等级”是特指那始初的存在实体;他们立于造出他们的上帝之后,并列队在祂的前庭,超乎所有可见的与不可见的受造物。我们应当认他们的纯净不是因为从不圣洁的污点和瑕疵解脱出来,也不是因为他们看不出有任何尘世的形迹,却是由于他们远超乎一切庸碌,及其属世的圣洁,无不合于最高度的纯净。他们的地位是在那最像神的诸般权能之上。他们爱上帝之心,既是不变的,也是自动而等动的,因而他们保持其固有的地位,绝不知所谓向下迁善从恶,却总是像上帝样始终纯一,决不倒坍,坚决不渝。

至于他们属灵的视力,我们不要认他们为拿智慧力去思索感官的事象,也不是由于圣书上各式各样的圣像所领带而得见神,乃是为了他们充满着各种非世俗知识的更高光辉,并尽量满足于那作为美丽原因和创造者的美丽,那美丽是超本质的,也是三重显现的。这样,他们就配与耶稣交通,所以不把神像的体格当作神性化的造像,却因他们确实接近耶稣,首先分享那使祂神性化的知识之光耀。他们既以最高度领受效法上帝的恩,就有了能力首先参预着耶稣那种神功的和慈爱的德性。

就他们之得以完全而论,我们不要认为他们以分析的知识,得着神圣的机智而受光照,却是他们为了获得天使可能明白上帝运行的最高知识,故得充满着第一等的超卓的神性化。他们在属灵的事上,是由上帝直接指导,而不由任何其它圣体,因为上帝高举他们到祂自己那里,使他们的能力和位置比众天使更高更超过。他们不变地驻在至圣上帝的近边,并被引至观看那非世俗的,非物质的,而属灵的应有美丽。他们既是上帝的头等随员,故得从奥秘根源的本身受教,而了解上帝造化的理由,成为最神性化。

神学家们都清楚地表出天上众灵的上级职司,把那论上帝工作的学识循序教导下属,而那最高级的,就从上帝本身得被光照,尽可能蒙神直接显示奥秘。因为神学家们中,有某些受教于那在高位的,说那升天的人是天上诸般有能力者的主,是有荣耀的君王(诗24:7-10)。另一些神学家为了想确切知道耶稣为我们所做的神圣事业,究属何种性质,所以直捷询问耶稣本人;耶稣就也直接告诉他们知道,并亲口表明祂因爱世人所作的美事。祂说:“我讲论公义和救恩的审判”(赛63:1照七十译本)。我很诧异天上众灵中,即使是在首位而远超过其它的天使们,仍竭力虔心以争求神的光照,好像他们自己只是中等品级。因为他们不是直接地问:“你的装扮为何有红色?”(赛63:2),却首先在他们自己当中提出难题,表示他们切愿学习关于上帝工作的知识,但不敢占先上帝所定光照的秩序。

这样,天上众灵的首先等级,既被那作为灵源的上帝所派出而设置,且既被高举起来直接与祂相处,并亦相当地充满着无限强烈的光之浸浴,就得到洗净,照耀,和全备,因为他们不受任何低劣的沾染,却满有元始的亮光,并因同蒙元始的智力和学识而十足完全。总结起来,我可适宜地说,凡得着神性的知识,就是蒙洁净,蒙光照了,并已完全了。所谓洁净,即是因更完满地学习那适合于他们体统的神授奥秘而涤尽无知;所谓光照,即是藉那同一的属神知识,更把他们从前不曾澈底沉思的职司加以净化,现在通体透明了;所谓完全,亦是藉着那同一的光,把奥秘的知识清楚地显露出来。

照着我的了解,这是天上众灵的第一等级;他们最接近地围着上帝,立在祂四周,一心一意不断地跳舞着,绕着上帝的永恒全知,为最崇高和常动的坚性。他们以清心洁意注视许多有福的事,又被独一直射的荣光所照亮,并饱享神粮。这粮食原属多种多珍,但就神宴使人合一的不变性而言,它是统一的,而非杂异的,所以这等级值得与上帝同交同工,因为他们尽量和祂相似,有优卓的习惯和精力。他们卓绝地知道许多关于上帝的事,在上帝的知识上有最高的分。所以圣书把他们的赞美诗传递给地上的人,在其中神异地显出他们最崇高的光耀。他们当中有的发出像万流大水之声(按肉耳说),说“从主的所在显出来的荣耀是该称颂的”(结3:12)。也有的高叫最庄严而热烈的圣道,说“圣哉圣哉圣哉,万军之主,祂的荣光充满大地”(赛6:3)。这些为天上众灵所作的卓绝诗歌,我们已在论神格之诗里,尽其力之所能,充分地讨论了。现在让我从那书里引用一句,便足以表出这个命意了:

“神性的良善,以神学的知识照亮第一团队,而这,既是反映这种善性的圣品等级,就把这知识传递于其次的团队。”

概括地说来,他们所教的道理就是如此:那当敬拜的神,既超轶美名,又遍具美名,就应当受那接待祂的众灵尽其认识祂,赞美祂元能的颂扬。圣言说,这众灵既是上帝的像,就是上帝安息的地方(赛66:1)。又说,祂是独一的,是三位一体的,祂最仁爱地照顾一切受造物,从天上众灵到地下最低微的;因为祂是超元始之元始,是一切创造的本原,以其不可抗的团抱,超越地把捉着万有。

未分卷 第八章
    第八章

论主治者,有能力者,和掌权者,并论他们的中品等级。

现在让我们转而讨论天上群灵的中品等级;我们要尽量用超世的眼光去注视那些统治阶层,并神性的掌权者和有能力者的可畏异象。因为这些超越我们的群灵,其每一名称无不在表明他效法上帝形像的特性。所以我想,圣统治阶层这一具体名号,是在表达某种非奴隶性的,不屈服性的主动自由,绝不投降到那与自已不同类的一种暴慢势力。他们超出各式各样的奴贱退缩,不受任何卑势所统制,高出各种非类似的杂异,经常追求真正的主权,和主权的真源。他们照着主的样式,铸成自己与其次级为良善的形像,绝不仿效那些虚有其表者,却追随上主的本格,永在神的样式里有分。至于圣能者这一名称,乃表示他们具有最高度的丈夫气概,勇敢地掌握本身所有的神性机能。他们没有弱点,毅然接受神性的光辉,精神奕奕地依遵上帝的领导,不因胆怯而离开神性的运动。他们不折不挠地仰望那超本质的,创作能力的大能的主,尽量照着主大能的样式,造成这样一个形像,一方面竭其全力以归向全能的根源,另一方面,把自己所领受的能力和神的样式发射出来给次一级的圣品。论到圣掌权者这一名称,乃表示他们与圣统治阶层及圣能者属于同一等级,也表示他们以美好和不慌不忙的程序接受上帝所定的,把天上群灵排列整齐,但不滥用他们的权势来为非作恶,反倒自己整整有条地向上升到圣事那里,并慈善地带领那在后的群灵。他们尽可能与那授予权柄的权柄根源相类似,并照天使们所能显出来的,表显在立权柄者的条理规程。如上所述,这天上群灵的中等圣品,虽同具有与神相似的特质,但他们的蒙洁净,光照和完全,都是经由第一圣品等级而间接地承受;并通过这第二层级到了下层。

我们不去理会那一位天使从另一位天使所接来的道,只把它当作从遥远地方传到的一种象征,为了路远而遂缥渺稀微,成作次级天启。因为据那些善于施圣教的人所说,我们自己直接获得的光照,比之别人沉思了神的事再来告诉我们,要完全些。这样,我觉得,天使等级中那些被提举到上帝最近地点,直接参预属灵事情的,他们所有的知识比那藉中保而间接得到的知识更清楚。所以,依据我们的圣品传统,首品群灵之所以称为对下属有洗净,照耀,和成全的三大能力,是由于他们领带下属进到那超本质的万有之源那里,好尽其所许可的限度,分享那具有洗净,照耀和成全三大能力的事。这种通过首品而次品得以分享神光的程序,是神所订定的绝对法则。你会发见神学家们多方地发表这事。当年上帝以对一般世人的父爱,突然磨练以色列民族,希望他们得蒙救恩:用了各种改进的训练,把他们交托给蛮族暴虐压制,然后释放了他们的灾厄,领他们回到前时安乐的境地。那时一位神学家撒迦利亚从异象中看见一位据我想是首品天使(如我所说过的,天使的名称是众天使所通有的,)即是密近上帝的,他从上帝学得关于这件事上的安慰言语。撒迦利亚又看见另一位较次级的天使,来迎接那一位天使,想从他领受光照。之后,他从那一位,好像从一位圣品长一样,受了教导,叫他去指示神学家,使其知道将来有许多人要充盛地居住耶路撒冷(亚1:8-17)。还有另一神学家以西结说,那有荣耀的神性本在基路伯上的,公正地敕命了他(结9:3)。他说,上帝因爱民如子,用管教带领以色列族到一更好地步,决定把有罪者从无罪者分开,这样才算合乎上帝原有的公义。祂用启示使基路伯后的第一位知道这事。那天使腰束蓝宝石,身穿长衣直垂至脚,作为圣品的象征。但是上帝的政廷训令其它天使们,即是手拿战斧的(结9:2),当听从前一位天使关于这事的教义。祂对一位天使说,“你去走遍耶路撒冷全城,在那些无罪的人前额上画十字。”但祂对其它的天使说,“当跟他进城,从事击杀,你们眼不要顾惜,只是凡有记号的,不要挂近他”(结9:4-6)。论到那对但以理说“命令发出了”(但9:23)的天使,或者那从基路伯当中拿了火炭的首品天使,有什么事可说的呢?比这更神异的事是:基路伯取火放在那穿圣细麻衣者的手中(结10:7)。这证明众天使当中纲纪整饬非常。或者,那邀请最神圣的加百列来对他们说:“要使此人明白这异象”(但8:16),或者,圣洁的神学家们论到关于天上圣品等级之神圣秩序。我们世间的圣品等级要尽量仿效天上那种良好秩序,取得像天使般的美丽。我们应当整套去反映它,使各个等级无不被导至其超本质的来源。

未分卷 第九章
    第九章

论执政者,天使长,和天使;并这末品的等级。

最后所留给我们敬虔沉思的一个圣品,是完成天使等级制度的末了一级,即由那神性的执政群,天使长群,和天使群三者构成。我想必须首先说明这些神圣名号的意义。天上执政者的命名是表示他们仿效上帝的模范,以敬虔的条理来处事和指导。他们全然如王上之王,以王者的风度指导其它天使,因他们是造成王国的煊赫王者之真像,他们由于正规行使王者的权力,就显出本级的超绝根源。

天使长群与天上执政群是同一等级的。因为正如我所说过的,他们和天使都包括在一个等级内。但因每一个等级无不各具首,中,末三品,所以天使长的职司,是介乎这一等级的首末两端之中。它可以同属于圣执政亦属于圣天使。它之所以属于执政,是由于它以一王者的风度企向超本质的君王,效其模范:它既自己整饬,作了无形的领袖,故能将众天使统率合一。另一方面,这职司又属于天使这一品位,因为它是传译的工作,像祭司样从首品权能那里接受了神的光照,然后转而传授给众天使,学上帝的作为,即经由众天使,按照每一个义人的圣善程度,彰显那光照于人间,上面我们说过,天使群是完成那具有天使特性的天上群灵的整套系统。所以我们特称他们为天使是比之称一些较高级者,更属恰当的。尤其是,因为这一职位是专门显现给世人的事。那最高位的,因位置在首先等级,接近那“隐藏的大秘”,我们不得不想像为办理属灵的事,比之较下等级作较隐密的姿态。但第二等级,即由圣统治阶层,有能力者和掌权者所权成的等级,显然比较明朗地指导那执政群,天使长群和天使群这一等级,当然,第二等级比之其下的第三等级仍较隐秘。我们应当记取那较明朗的等级,即执政群,天使长群和天使群,(轮流地)司理人间的圣品等级,好叫我们得知上帝,从祂纠正,与祂交通,并合而为一,都可按着次序实行;总言之,好使那从上帝到一切圣品等级的良善运行,并由他们公分大家,都可以按着最神圣的秩序。所以上帝圣道派天使来给我们的圣品等级,设立米迦勒为犹太族的官,又立别的天使为外邦诸族的官。因为“至高者照神的天使之数目立定万民的疆界”(申32:8,按七十译本)。

倘若有人问及:怎么除了希伯来人以外没有别的民族被引至神的光照呢?我们必当答辩说,别的民族被引诱跟从异神者流这事我们不当责备天使们的忠实守职。那些民族自向下流,不忠诚事奉上帝,专顾自己,忤逆,并背理敬拜那些自己以为合乎神明的事物。圣经证明希伯来人也同样作歹,说:“你们弃掉认识上帝的知识(何4:6),随从自己的心行事”(耶16:12)。我们的生命不是受强迫的支配,也不是为了上帝看顾的子民禀有自由意志之故,而遂看不见神光的照射,却只因心灵的异象都不相同,那从天父良善而来的光之沛溢恩赐,或者全然不被分受,因有阻挡不能进入人心,或者将那好比永涌源泉的单纯惟一的光,误认为歧杂的,或小或大的,或晦或显的。其实,甚至其它国家的人民,即是我们从他们那里腾出来的,也可在那无边无际一片汪洋的神光之海里有分,上帝并不曾派什么别的神去管理他们。天下万民都只有一位君主;那些蒙派作各民族宗教领袖的天使们,都带领其随从者到祂面前。请看麦基洗德,他是上帝所最爱的祭司长;他不是那“无有”之神祗的祭司长,却是真正“有”,至高上帝的祭司长。因为神学家不但说他是为上帝所爱的,且更提起他是一位祭司,好叫清楚地显出了不但他自己归向真神,并又以祭司的资格,带领别人归向那唯一真实的上帝。

既有祭司的颖悟,我就提示你那主理埃及人的天使,在异象中促令法老知道上帝对万人的眷顾和统治;并巴比伦王自己的天使,对他也是一样。所以有敬拜真神的领袖,受委任处理这两个国家。天使异象所表示的事都有深意,上帝透过天使,将这意义指示那些亲近天使的圣人,有如但以理和约瑟。因为眷顾和统治天下万民的,只是一位。我们决不可估计神是凭着抽签来引导犹太人,别的国都只有天使——或孤立的,或并辈的,或相反对的——或别的神来统治。关于此事的那一句圣言,必须按其神意去接纳,它的意思不是说,上帝分开万众,派立神祗或天使,而祂自己却抽签分治和带领以色列人,却是说:天命唯一,统治万民,一视同仁,将救恩交给他们自己的天使,负指导和提高的任务,但万民当中差不多只有以色列人,归向那赐光明者,并承认真的主宰。所以圣言为要表明以色列自己选择了真神并敬拜祂,说:“他成为主的分”(申32:9)。不过,圣言为叫我们知道,以色列与别的民族都同样被交托一位圣天使,好叫通过他而认识统治万民的主宰,就说:“米迦勒为你们(犹太人)的大君”(但10:21)这样,我们显然知道,普天下人只有一个天命,祂是超越一切有形能力和无形能力者。圣言又教导我们,治理各国的天使都尽可能地提高那愿意跟从他们的众人,来向万民应当的主。

未分卷 第十章
    第十章

再论及总结天使的次第

这样,我们得了结论,知道那围绕上帝四周的最高级的诸灵,既由元光立,就由这光的恩赐所洁净,所照耀,所成全了。这恩赐是较暗中的事,也是较明中的事。是较暗中的为了是较灵性,较单纯,亦较统一的事;是较明中的,为了是首先的赏赐,首先的显现,较普及,并得其灌浇而更显出。按照次第,这最高等级带领第二等级进至超乎起初的太初和整齐的完满。第二等级对于第三等级,和第三等级对于我们人世的圣品等级,也是这样,这都是依照一般整齐的法则,并成神性的和诸及等比。

诸天使都作他们前一级的喉舌。最高级天使是作那直接感动他们之上帝的喉舌,而其余的天使又作那从上帝受感动者的喉舌。万有之超本质的和谐,对于凡有理性者和悟性者,准备了其神圣的次序,和整饬的行为,好使各层次有其圣品等级,并且我们观察到每一层圣品等级又分了一等中等和末等的权能。但确切地说来,上帝藉了同样的和谐把各个等级均分了。因此神学家们说,最神圣的撒拉弗是彼此呼喊着(赛6:3)。我想,这句话是表明一等天使在把神学的知识分给中等天使。

我也许可以适宜地加上另一句话,就是:天上和人世的每一个灵,各与上述圣品等级的各个蒙光照者之特殊教导相称,在心中各有其自己上中下三等的品阶和能力,因而,按照律法所许,可得毫无瑕垢的洁净,非常精粹的光照,和超绝的完全。因为没有什么事物是在自己完全而不需补足的,惟有一位是在自己完全的,也是超绝完全的。

未分卷 第十一章
    第十一章

为何天上众灵一律称为天上有权能者

我们既已说明了这些事情,现在值得思考为何我们惯称所有天使统是天上有权能者呢。在论及诸天使时,不可能说圣洁的权能者,是居在一切等级中的末辈。高级众灵的辈分也都分享着末辈的圣光照耀;但末辈则并不分享先辈的光照。由此之故,一切圣天使都称为天上有权能者,但决不称为撒拉弗,或有位者,或统治者。因为末辈天使并不享有最高一辈天使的全部特征。那么,天使和天使长,以及执政的,掌权的,虽然在圣言中都放在有权能者之下,但我们常称他们与其余的众灵一样,都是天上有权能者。

不过我们声明:虽则我们通称诸天使为天上有权能者,却决不将各个等级的特性杂乱混用。因为,按照圣言中那超世的描摹,每一神性的灵都可分为质体,能力,和行为三者来看,所以当我们称呼他们一律为天上众灵或天上有权能者之时,这不过是从他们的质体或能力,而概括地去描写他们。我们不可以将圣洁权能者的高级特征,归之于低辈,以致推倒天使等级的清楚秩序。照着我们屡经叙述的正确情形,高级天使充分具有低级天使的圣质,但末级者决不具有最高级者的优越完全。因为最先显现的光亮,是经由最先等级,依照其次各级能力的比例而转显给他们。

未分卷 第十二章
    第十二章人间的圣品亦称为天使

为何人间的圣品亦称为天使?

那些勤读圣经者常提出问题说:既然最低级者并不具有较高级者的完全,那么圣经为何也称我们世人中的圣品为“万军之主的使者”(玛2:7)呢?

照我想来,这句话并不与上面所说明的相矛盾,因为我们说,末级天使不具最高等级那种完全和优卓能力,但是他们照着万有的一贯和谐与密切团契,仍然具有一部分和相当程度的能力。例如圣基路伯的一级具有较高度的智慧和知识;但在这级之下的天使等级,亦未尝不具有智慧和知识,不过比起上级来,只具有其部分的和较低度而已。因为,凡按上帝的样式而被创造的众灵,无不具有智慧。但是,与神接近和在前,或其次和较低,就不共通,而只各照本身的程度来规定是了。论到所有众灵的次第,我们可以妥当地说,首先等级充分具有低级的圣质,而末级确亦具有这圣质,不过不是在同等程度,而是次一度便了。照我想,上帝圣言称我们的圣品为天使,并不属于妄诞,因为圣品照着他自己的才能,亦在天使们所有的先知特质中有分,并尽可能地提高自己,使得像天使样表现奥秘能力。你们可在圣言中发见那些超乎我们的天上众灵,和那些在我们当中的若干圣人为上帝所绝顶钟爱的,都被称为神明(诗82:6,约10:34,林前8:5)。然而隐藏中的神性是超越地高出于万有之上,没有任何受造群伦能与祂全相同等。只有一些有悟性者,有理性者,即是尽力完全归向祂的统一,并藉效法上帝而提高自己,得受神性的光照的。他们算了是配有神的名称。

未分卷 第十三章
    第十三章

为何圣经里说撒拉弗曾使先知以赛亚洁净?

来吧,让我们尽其所能来考查这一件事:为何撒拉弗中的一位,被差遣到一个神学家那里去(赛6:6,7)。可能有人诧异,为什么需要一位最高等级的天使去洁净这位先知,而不由一位较低级的去作此事。有些人主张:按照上面所已说明的所有众灵的相互关系,这一篇圣经并不指名一位最高等级近绕上帝的天使来作洁净这神学家的工作,却只是说,我们上头某一天使奉命为洁净先知的圣使,而他所以与撒拉弗受同样的称呼,是因为他用了火去灭除那所说的罪孽,而使先知受洁净归从上帝(赛6:7)。他们说,这圣言所讲的一位撒拉弗,并不是站立在上帝四周的天使,却只是那被安排来净洗我们的有权能者之一。另有一人曾供给我以对这主张一种不算笨拙的辩护。他说:那大的一位(不管是谁),即是那造成这种异象的天使,为了使神学家知道关于神的事,就将净洗先知的事,归于上帝,和那在上帝后面的首层圣品。这话岂不对吗?因为说这话的人,主张神性的权能到达万有,而无可抗拒地贯透它们。但万有都看不见祂,不只因祂是超越本质而又比万有为高,也是因为祂传递祂的眷顾给万有是在暗中,或无宁说,祂按着相当比例而照亮所有众灵,并携带光明去赏赐那最高等级,藉了这首先等级,散给光明,由近及远,使其次各等级按比例接受上帝之光。或者更严格地说,即是,按照大家熟习的譬喻(这譬喻虽与那超越万有之上帝的荣耀不配,不过仍对我们更容易懂),日光投射到靠近它那最透明的物质,是最容易透过,更辉灼地照耀着。但当日光打射那较密塞的物质时,由于这种物质是不适宜于转达光之赏赐,所以它反映出来的光辉变为晦昧,而且渐被收缩,以致最后几乎全然不能透过。我们又可用火的传热来作譬喻:它最容易传给那较湿和而易领受,并吸引它的物质,但若对那些排斥的质体,火力或者全然无济,或者微弱渺然。更进一步来说,当火力透过那些相应的质体来接触一些非相洽的物件时,首先,若这东西容易燃烧,就变到火的热度,但若遇到水,或其它不易燃烧的物质,火力就依此比例而递减其热度。照大自然界这同样的法则,那作为有形界和无形界的元始主宰,就把祂的光明首先赐给最高众灵,宛如充足的流湍,而那些次级的众灵,因经由前辈亦分享神的光线。最高等级既最认识上帝,力求神性的德行,所以自己配受能力尽可能地模仿上帝,并仁爱地提高其下属,尽力叫他们几与自己为平行,就是拿那来到自己的光彩白白舍给他们;这些次级的,也同样对待其下属。这样,每一等级分赐其恩赏给下辈,全部没有例外。所以神的光依适当比例,用豫想的眷顾,照耀全部天使。因而,凡蒙受光照的,都有一个光照的总源,即是上帝,祂是天然地,真实地,而亦正当地,成为光的本质,存在和明见的原因。但是,照着神的定意,较高级的天使又效法神,依次成为较低一级的渊源,以神的光线由甲依次传流给乙,丙,丁。因而天上众灵中,所有其余天使,当然都看在上帝以后的最高等级为神学和效法上帝的根源,因为神性的光照是通过他们而分给其余天使,以至传及我们。所以他们就把圣善的和效法上帝的推动力归于上帝为元始,又归于那有神性首品为神事的首先实行者和教师。

所以,圣天使中的第一等级,比之其它等级具有火的特征,神性智慧的分享,神圣光照学术的认识,及居上位所具有那敞开心门接待上帝的特点。但其次级的天使们亦未尝不具有火,智慧,光照的认识,和接待上帝的等等能力,不过较低一些是了;他们也仰望那首先配效法上帝的第一等级,藉以尽量成为上帝的样式。那么,较低等级既然藉着第一等级才得具上面所说的各种特征,自然要归功于他们,认他们为仅次于上帝的教尊。

讲谈这些事的(按,大概指赫若丢),也屡次说过,把这异象指示给神学家的,乃是一位保佑我们的圣洁有福的天使(参赛6章);并由于天使的光照,先知就受引导升高见到属灵的异象,在其中,(象征地说)他看见了那位于上帝之下,但也与上帝同在,并绕上帝四周的最高级天使们,又看见了那超乎一切着名之上的至高显要,祂高高地,超乎万有地,坐在最高级众灵的中间。神学家依据所亲眼见到的,得知上帝的神性是无比地超乎各位超本质者之上,绝对地超乎一切有形和无形的能力之上,甚至受造物中之第一位也不能与之相比。加以,祂是万有的元始,和原因上的原因,是万有所以继续存在之不可变换的基础,靠着祂,那些最崇高有权能者得以存在和有福气。于是这位先知又受指导去学那至圣撒拉弗所有的神样精神,他们的圣名乃是表示火性。关于这事,我们不时要论及,尽我们所能,来表明那层火的火是怎样带领众灵模仿上帝。当这位圣洁神学家藉了六个翅膀的表现,在上,中,下,三段中六个翅膀的表现,在上,中,下三段中,最高超地上升至神性,又当他想像他们的无数腿脚和许多面孔,以及伸张出来的翅膀——有的遮脚,有的遮面,而中间的又永在扇动中——的时候,他就明白了解这所看见的事,因为他是知道了这些至高诸灵的权力可以深深贯通和多方遐想,以及他们所有那超绝世人的神圣虔心;也知道他们怎样大胆而勇敢地追求那不可能知道的,又高又深的奥妙;他们怎样以永无间歇的,冲天的活动,循序追求模仿上帝。他又受指导得知那神圣而备受尊敬的诗歌(赛6:6)及其妙旨,而这位歌诵的大使,既造异象,又按他力所能及,对自己的神圣知识分给神学家。他又教导神学家,说人在神性的发光的纯洁中尽量有分,就是叫他或少或多地成为洁净。这种有分,是上帝自己以其超自然的隐藏,在最高尚的众灵身上所成就的,这样,祂更显现和分播这隐秘给那些四周的最有智能者。但对于次等和像我们样最低智能者,照着各级远离上帝的程度,其光彩就渐渐减低,以至本性隐藏的全不知道。祂是透过上等照耀下等;简括地说,凡由隐藏移至显灵的,都是由于在上智能者的引导。这就是,那领神学家到“光”的天使所教训他的:洁净,和神力的种种运用,既透过第一级众灵所启示的是照着各位的程度,分别输送其余诸级。所以祂自然把那用火为洁净的特质归给那次于上帝的撒拉弗了。所以,圣经说撒拉弗洁净了先知,并非是荒谬的话。若用一个表例来说,上帝既是一切洁净的原因,所以洁净诸位的就只是祂。让我用一个更熟习的表例罢:当我们的主教藉了他的执事或长老洁净或照亮人的时候,他自己可称为洁净和光照的原因,为了他所派立的圣品职员,把他们的功能都归给主教。同样,那烁净了神学家的天使也把洁净的知见和能力,统归给上帝,作为总原因,又归给撒拉弗,作为第一级的圣品。照样,一个人当其教导那被他洁净的另一个人的时候,不妨以天使样的虔诚说:“对于我在你身上成就的洁净,有一位超绝的总源,本质,创造者,和大原;祂创造第一级众灵,并使他们互相结合,在祂的周围确立,又把他们守住,不倾不变,并感动他们首先参预祂的眷顾作为。那教导我这些事的宗师往往说,这是表明撒拉弗的使命。那第一级的圣品和次于上帝的领班,亦即是最高诸灵的一个等级,教训我效法上帝去洁净人,他就是那透过了我而洁净你的,因为透过了他,那作为所有洁净事业的大原和创造主,才拿祂本身的预定造化,从隐藏中发给我们。”这些事都是他所教我的,现在我转交给你。但愿你引用你灵性和思辨的技艺,对所说的各种理由解除异议,并证明一个理由为比别的更有可能,更合适,甚或即是真理。或者,有更接近真理的,是你凭自己可以查出的,或者可从别个学到的(圣言,固然由上帝发出,经天使们代讲);如此,作为天使们朋友的我们,可以有更明澈的见解,这是我自己所特别欢迎的。

未分卷 第十四章
第十四章

圣经所说诸天使的数目是指什么。

照我想来,明达的人应该考虑这一点,就是:圣经上提到天使,总说有千千万万(但7:10;启5:11),积聚相乘,直至我们所用数目字的极限。这样,它显然表示我们无法数清天上众灵的级数;因为天上众灵的享福俦侣,其众多当然超出我们贫弱计算之外,而只为天使们自己,藉上帝赐给他们那天上的聪明,才知道确数;因为上帝具无限的智慧,祂也是万有超本质的元始和基本原因,结合力,及总括的界限。

未分卷 第十五章
    第十五章

天使们有什么形体?火体是什么?人形是什么?他们的眼睛,鼻孔,耳朵,嘴巴,触觉,眼脸,眉毛,顶额,牙齿,肩膀,肘和手,心和胸,背和脚,翅膀,各是什么?他们的赤裸和袍,华焕的衣,祭司的礼服,腰带,刑杖,枪矛,斧钺,测量长竿,又各是什么?风,云,锣,精金,唱诗班,拍掌,透光宝石的色采又各是什么?狮子,牛,鹰等等的形像,马及其各种斑彩,江河,马车,和称为天使的喜乐又各是什么?

最后,让我们休息一下心眼,因为凝神静观天使虽然是很适宜的,但对于我们不免过于吃力;当我们退一步观看这样多采多姿,五花八门的众天使形体以后,我们再要用分析力回到他们的质朴,好像从偶像转至实体一样的真纯。第一,我们要记取这种象征性的说明,无非表示天上众灵的各等品级,一会儿又处于辖制地位,一会儿又处于被辖制地位,有时高级亦受辖制,有时低级亦能辖制其它;并亦早如上面说过,一个等级又有上,中,下三层的能力,但照着下文的解释,这种描写不是荒唐无理。假使我们说了有一些受上层所辖制的天使而又说他们辖制上层,或者说了上级天使辖制下层,而又说他们受下层的辖制那显然是荒妄而混乱无章。但若我们说,辖制者与被辖制者可能出于同级,却不是等于同级,即是:每个圣品等级必受其上层辖制,而又辖制他们的下层,这样,我们便可合理地说,圣经上所描写同样的形像,归于头等中等和末等天使,是合宜的,也是真确的。至于归向上升,彼此坚固吸引,当作他们固有能力的保卫,藉着相互交通而对下级供给能力等等,这一切确为所有天上众灵所同具。不过像我们屡次说过,有些卓绝的天使,具有这能力全部,有些只具有一部分,以次递减。

现请转而至它:我们必须先求说明为何圣言似乎最喜用火的表象(但7:9)。你若寻找经文,就会发见火表示“烈火的轮”和“烧着火炭的活动”(结1:13),也有人好像电光一闪(结1:14);并将火炭环绕天上众灵(结10:2);又有火河滚滚流出,势不可当(但7:10)。经文又说,宝座乃是火焰(但7:9);又形容那些最崇高的撒拉弗都像火焰,因他们的名称具有这种意义,把火的特性和精能归于他们,并周遍天上地下,只看中拿火他们去表示他们。所以我想,火的比喻无非是指示天上众灵十分酷似上帝,为了圣洁的神学家们屡次拿火去形容那超本质的,无形相的“真体”,好像火在许多方面是把上帝的特质有形地表现出来(倘若我说这话不是不敬)。我们可以说,那可感觉的火是内在于万物之中,又通过万物而不与之搀杂,更超出万物之上,一方面点亮万物,另一方面,本身潜而不灵,其本质全不可知,除了它接近物体时就按照它适当能力而表显出来之外。火又是不能被压住的,又是看不见的。它制伏万物,把凡在它里面的东西都拿来置于自己运用之下。火永不变更,并将自己分给凡接近它的物体,以活热将它们改换一新,以不能遮盖的辉耀发给光明。它是不能被控制的,没有混杂的,有判别力的,大信不易的,向高而穿透,昂然而不受屈抑,永远活动,自我运动,而又激动别物;它包括万物而不被任何包括,没有什么需要,却毫不在乎地倍增自己,对那接受它的所有材料显出它的大作为。它是元气充沛,能力高强,在万物中虽看不见却都有它。若不注意,它似乎没有,然而一旦藉磨擦去寻找它,它就照着自己的本性突然显现出来;但一下子它又飞去,人不能拘束它,它只欣然施舍自己,却永远没有减少。火还有许多足以展开神的精能之特质。所以神学家既懂得这个道理,就用火去描写天上众灵,表现它们的类似神性和尽量模仿上帝。

另一方面,神学家们又用世人的形像去描摹众天使(创32:24)。这是由于天使们有理智的本性,有向上仰望的能力,有垂直的样式,有天赋的治理指导才能。他们虽然比那无理性的野兽,气力较小,但因心力较强,并有理性知识的优越,故能统治一切,况且他们兼有天赋的自尊及不屈服的精神。

那么,我想可以在人身的许多部份里,找到天上众灵的肖像;例如,我们可说视官的能力(结1:18),乃表示极其高昂企向神的光明,并又表示流射迅速反应,清洁,开朗,接纳至高神性的光照而毫无情欲之私。

至于鼻孔的辨别作用,乃表示天使能熟知那超悟性的各种各样香味,并且能确切地分辨那些不是这个样子的东西,而全然加以舍弃(创8:12)。

听觉的能力表示他们分享上帝感动的能力,并觉得受用。

味觉的能力表示他们充分欣赏智性的粮食,接受上帝的滋养流泉(创19:3)。

触觉的能力表示对于适合的或伤害的事有熟练的辨别(创32:25)。

眼脸和眉毛表示保护那些显明上帝的概念。

壮年和少年表示那像永不残谢的花一样的生命力(可16:5)。

牙齿表示把那赐给我们的完美粮食予以切分。因为各个有智性者,藉着预具的能力,把那从更神性的等级所赐给他的共同知识,加以划分和发展,这样,可以适当地拿来传授给低级。

肩肘和手都表示能创作,能奋斗,和能完成(但10:10)。

心是效法上帝生命的象征,分散自己的生命力给它预见的对象。

胸膛位于心的上边,表示要把那分散生命力的心加以保护而永不挫败。

背脊表示把全部生产力结集一起(但10:5)。

脚表示向神事迈进的动作,迅捷,和熟练。因此圣言也描述那些圣洁之灵的脚为在其翅膀底下的(赛6:2)。翅膀展示他们领世人上来的迅速,他们属天的特征,他们向上开路,并因爱好高层而远离下地。他们揭开翅膀扬起来,乃是表示自己决不下沉尘世,完全纯洁,没有牵累,自由升至更高的境界。

裸体和赤脚表示自由自在,爽朗,一无禁制,没有任何表面虚饰,并尽量接近到上帝的单纯。

可是,由于单一而又庞杂的智慧(弗3:10),拿衣服给赤身穿上,并分配器具携带,无非叫我们按着自己能力,悟知天上众灵的圣袍和用品,我想,那华焕有光采的衣服是指示他们酷肖上帝,像火一样,和他们分播光明的能力;这是为了他们定居的方位是天堂,即是神光之所在;也是指示他们以高级的地位而照耀次层,亦以低级的身分而受光照。他们所披祭司的礼服是表示他们受教于神奇异象之中,并把自己毕生分别为圣(但10:5)。腰带指示他们保守自己的生产力,和他们那归向上帝,围拱上帝,永不溃散的共同习惯。

棒杖表示王权和领导能力,做好万百事情(出7:12)。

枪矛和釜钺表示把那些不相似的事物割开,并表示分析力锐利,精干,和强劲。

测量和匠工的仪器(摩7:7)表示立根基,造房子,和完成工作,以及本着先知先觉去教训指导后辈。

不过,有时圣天使的用品乃是表示上帝审判我们的征兆。其中有些表明祂纠正我们的管教(民22:31),或施行公义的刑罚(王下24:16)。又有些是表明免于危险,或教育的效果,或恢复健康,或附加别的恩赐,小的大的,物质的,精神的。倘若人有辨别的心智,定然容易把有形物当作无形物来看。

天使们被称为风(诗104:4),乃表示他们飞行迅速,差不多立刻通到万物;表示他们传达很活跃,由上方到下地,由世间到天上;表示他们又把下级的高举起来,又运动上级使在低级中有公共和预定的行为。但也许有人说,给空中的灵起名叫风,亦在表出天上众灵酷肖上帝,因为风确具神力的样式和规模(这意见我们在象征神学中论到四大元素时已充分证明了)。这是照着自然法则,即是活动的,产出生命的,迅速的,而又不可抗拒的历程,来比喻那不可见的,无形的自发动至终局的隐藏。因祂说:“你却不晓得从那里来,往那里去”(约3:8)。圣言又加上说,天使们的外表与云相仿(结10:4);这句话表明圣天使非常充满隐藏之光。他们接受了最首先的照亮而不矜夸,只拿来慷慨分给次级,作为第二层的显现,依照他们能力的比例。加之,云是富有产出力的,赐生命的,增长的,成全的能力,由于它,甘霖沛降,使得土地的子宫受胎,毫无传种生殖上的苦难。

圣言又把铜(结11:3),金银的合金(诗8:2),或五颜六色的宝石,说得跟天上众灵相似。因为合金一方面如精金,又一方面如白银,所以它表示众天使性比黄金,永不朽坏减少,而且精采无瑕;又可比白银之放光灿烂及天空的晴明。另一方面,按照上面所述的理由,我们应当把铜来摹拟火状或金色。

我们自必想到五颜六色的宝石,其所提示的:如白石,是雪亮;如红石,是火热;如黄石,是黄金宝贝;如绿石,是壮盛年华。你可在各种形像中发觉其意义。

我想,已经尽力把这些事说明了,所以应当移转解释圣言之将野兽表示天上众灵。

我们应该认为狮子的形状(结1:10)是指示领先,强劲,和不可制伏的,并且很可能仿佛那不可名言的上帝,因为它遮蔽了灵性的脚踪,又在神光中奥妙地掩盖着那领到上帝去的通路。

牛的形像(结1:10)提示刚强和健全,展开灵性的犁耙,来领受天赐的生产力。牛角表明保卫和不可屈抑的精神。

鹰的表象(结1:10)表示如王的性能,冲天之劲,飞行之利,迅速而无倦,在寻取那健身营养上的精干和聪明;又表示目不转睛地注视那充沛辉煌的太阳神光,因它的视力是强劲而耐久的。

马的形像是表明服贴和驯良。白马特别提示了亮而与神的光明近似;黑马则提示隐秘;赤马象征火性(亚6:2);黑白夹杂的马表示经由它们的能力把两极结合起来,并以相交和先见将前后二者打成一片。

可是,若不是顾到讨论的正比例,我们并非不合地可把动物的特点和形状,从那不相类似的相似方面来跟天上众灵相比照。例如,野兽们的怒吼可以比喻天使的雄赳赳气慨,怒便是那气慨最后的回响。它们的欲望可以比喻神性的爱情。概要地说,非理性畜类的一切感官和肢体,都可以代表天上众灵的精神概念和统一能力。这种比拟,不但对聪明人为已足,即使只用其中一点的说明,也就充分表出两者间的同一。

还有,我们必须考察圣言提及河(但7:10),轮子(结10:9)和车(王下2:11),去跟天上众灵相比拟。火样的河流无非意味着上帝洋溢而接连不断的恩泽,给人产生和营养的能力。车是提示凡同类者因同负一轭而情意相通。轮子既具有翅膀,向前推进,而不偏斜,就提示天使们的力求进取,走正直的路径,并他们智性的轨道为神所指导的正当坦途。

但是可能有别样的方式来解释圣言所形容的属灵轮子,因为神学家说,它们名叫“咭呷”。依照希伯来文,这意味着旋转和启示。神性的火转动,即是永远环绕至善者而行;它启示着,因为说明隐藏的事,指导谦卑的人,并从天上携带崇高的光照来到下地。

最后,还剩下一件事为我们应予说明的,即关于天上众天使的欢喜(路15:10)。他们当然完全不会像我们这样情欲的快乐。经文是说他们和上帝一同欢喜,为了那失去的已经找着了。这是照着他们如神的善性,和效法上帝的慷慨,而对那些回头的浪子们,喜其得救和眷爱。他们这种喜乐是不可名状的,它等于一些圣洁的人屡次蒙受上帝光照时所得的欢喜。

关于神性的象征我既说了这许多话,不烦再渎。这些说明诚然不够准确,但是我想,它们会警告我们不可卑贱地永留在象征的想像上。不过,你若说我们不曾详叙圣言中所形容的众天使的权力,功能,或形像,我们据实答覆,一方面,承认我们确不具有某些的超人知识,并且我们宁愿有别的师尊来携带我们进至“光”之所在。但另一方面,我们有许多事给删略了,为着它们实与那已说了的事相平行,免得讨论过于冗长累堕。至于一些隐秘的奥妙,超乎我们力所能及者,我们只可缄默肃静表示崇敬是了。

未分卷 附 录
附录(注)

圣米加勒与诸天使日祝文

无始无终的上帝,以奇妙的次序,分派天使和世上的人各尽本分。主的圣天使既然在天上常常事奉主,求主施怜悯,也分派天使到地上,庇护我们。这都是靠我主耶稣基督。阿们。

(注)这祝文是由英国首任坎特布里大主教克蓝麦(一四八九——一五五六)从罗马弥撒书中录出应用,后被列入安立甘会的公祷书里;亦经汉译。它的来源是相传在五世纪时罗马北郊教堂举行天使长米迦勒祭式中所献诵。祝文内容包含了圣经中所见天使任何的两个要点:一是事奉在天的上帝,另一是护卫地上的众人。

未分卷 冥契神学
    托名为亚略巴古的议员丢尼修着

冥契神学

都孟高谢扶雅同译

冥契神学

第一章

何谓的幽暗

超越所有本体,神性,和良善之三位一体的主啊!祢这以上天的智慧教训基督徒啊,恳求祢指导我们,领我们到那超过光,比超过知识还要幽渺的奥秘圣言之绝顶高处,在那里,单纯绝对而决不更改的天上真理之诸玄,被掩藏在潜妙秘密的“沉静”中,如在能争光的非常黑暗,并以全然触不着,看不见,超过一切美丽的荣耀,凌越着我们无知的理智!我为这事祈求主;亲爱的提摩太啊,我劝你当恳切地以密契的静观,撇弃诸官觉和理智活动,并为官觉或理智所能认识的一切事物,以及凡不存在或有存在的,以无知之路向着那超过存在和智力的祂,与之合而为一。因为你若不断地全然弃绝你自己和万物,你必会清洁脱去万物,离却一切的牵缠,因而必可领带到神的幽暗那超越存在的光辉。

你切不可把这些事告诉那尚未懂得秘诀的人,我所指的这些人就是坚执人类思想所及的事物,而否定那种超乎本质之外的实在,并以为能用人类的理解力认识那“以黑暗为藏身之处”(诗18:11)的祂。倘若这神圣的秘诀是为这样的人所不能及的,那么,我们关于那些用众生中最下级的品质来形容那超绝万有之“大原”,并否定有任何超过他们所捏造的各种不敬虔的妄论之更无知的人要说什么呢?他们须知,关于万有的一切肯定的论题都应该肯定地归于祂,因为祂是万有的大原,然而严格地说,却要全然否定,因为祂超过它们一切;所以肯定和否定没有什么相反,为的是祂是前于并越于一切说明,所有肯定和否定的话都不相干。

至少这是有福的巴多罗买所遗的教训。因为他说神学的内容是茫渺又是精微,而福音本身兼具广度和窄小。就我意见,他说这话即是表明他神奇地解悟了那万有之良善大原,是非常雄辩的,但又缄默寡言,甚或无语,不具语言或知识,为的是祂超本质地超过万有,只以其赤裸裸的真理启示给那些经过了洁与不洁之别,越过了圣山最高的孤峰,又留遗一切神光灵响并自天上来的说话,而且投入“幽暗之处”,在那里,正如圣经所说,是那超越万有者所居住的(王上8:12)。因为有福的摩西所受的吩咐不是无理由的:主吩咐他先要自清,然后再从那未受清肃的人们分隔开来(林后6:17);俟一切净礼完毕之后,他听到大声的号角,又看见从各方面清楚闪射出来的万道光芒;于是他全然脱离了人世大众,而与那些入选的祭司们一齐迈进上至圣山的最高峰。虽则他未与上帝本身会面,但是他看见了(当然不是祂,因为祂是看不见的)祂的住处。我想,这事是指明:那为肉眼或心眼所看见的最神圣与最崇高的事物,不过是象征的言语所表达一些隶属于上帝的事物,而祂自己则是超过这一切的。祂用这些事情显示祂的不可能被认识的实在,只是祂在至圣所的高峰所步行之迹象,为心灵所见到而已。于是祂忽然离开了所见的事和见到这些事的心灵,使那果真掌握了秘诀的人投入这“无知的幽暗”里;在那里他是弃绝了一切悟性的理解,而披上那不可捉摸和不可看见的,完全属于超乎万有之祂而不属于他自己或别人的;这样,由于他一切理解力的休止,他得藉赖最高机能与那全然不可能认识的祂合而为一,并由于他的无知而达到那超过他悟性的知识。

第二章

怎样必要与那超乎万有而为万有根源的祂合一并供奉赞美

我们祈求祂使我们可能到达那超过亮光的这个“幽暗”,并因弃绝眼光和知识而才得看见,并知道那超过一切眼见和理解的事(因为这把我们机能都停息了才能委实看见和委实知道);又使我们可供奉超越性的赞美诗给那超越万有的祂。我们要弃却一切存在物,正如雕刻家从一块大理石塑成一个人像时,要除去那妨碍清楚看见人像的物料,就因这样除去而才显出那被掩蔽着的美丽的像身。我们必须把这种否定从肯定说法区别出来;因为在后者中,我们先提出最普遍的公理,然后藉着媒介词演绎到最后的特殊条项;但在前者中,我们既从特殊条项层升至普遍公理,就要褫除一切附属质素,以便到达明知那“无知”,即那伏在一切存在物中,并被一切知识的对象包裹着的无知;这样,我们可以看到那原为诸物之光所掩蔽的超本体的“幽暗”。

第三章

关于肯定及否定的神学

在我所着的神学大纲里,我曾提出了一些最适当于肯定说法的概念,并表明了上帝的圣性在那样意义下是单一的,在那样意义下是三重的;我们所归给于父位和子位的性格是什么;信经所论圣灵的意义又是什么;“至善”之内在光辉(即子与圣灵),怎样从那非物质的和不可分割的善良(即父)而发出始终不变地静止于其本身及其“大原”之中,并与其出发同样永久;超乎本质之上的耶稣,怎样采取真的人性,以及圣经上一切其它启示,——这一切都为我神学大纲所论及的。又在拙着神的名称中我思考了关于上帝名号的意义,如“良善”(可10:8),“今在”(启1:8),“生命”(约14:6),“智慧”(所智7:25),“权能”(太25:64),以及理解力所可构造的其它名号。在拙着象征神学中,我又思考了那从感官界所采取以适用于上帝性格的一些比喻名称;例如我们想到上帝时所构成的精神的或物质的造像,或所归给于祂的活动功能和工具是些什么;又如祂居住的所在和祂穿着的袍服是什么;上帝的愤怒,忧愁,和恼恨,或其醉酒发脾气,各是什么意义;上帝的起誓,咒骂,睡眠,醒觉,以及比喻象征上的一切其它可感的构像又是什么意义。我想你也理会到对于上帝性格的道理,以后的名称比以前的名称遥为众多,这是因为讲解祂的名称自然要比象征神学为简括的缘故。因为我们愈向上冲升,我们的言语就愈收缩成为纯粹睿智的概念,比方我们现在冲入超理智是幽暗处所,我们就必发觉不但说话减少,而且转至绝对沉默,无言无思。在我上次着作中的辨证程序,因为是由最高层推演至最下层,所使用的概念,由每层的降下而增多;但今次论文所处理的,却是由下级升至高级,以达超级,而越升高就用词越递减,等到全然到达顶层,便将哑口无语,为了最后就全然与那不可言说的祂合而为一。你或者会问:肯定方法为什么由最高范畴开始,而否定方法,却由最低范畴开始呢?理由是:那超越一切肯定之上的肯定,必从与之最近似处出发,立下那最根本的肯定。但那超越一切否定之上的否定,必从与之最远离处出发。就肯定而言,我们肯定上帝为生命,为良善,总比说祂是空气或石头为确实;但就否定而言,我们否定祂是醉酒或怒气,总比否定人可以知道祂,可以说到祂,更加来得得真确吧。

第四章

官能所觉得万物之“超卓根源”并不是官能所及的任何事物。

因此,我们主张:这超越万有的普遍根原,不是无存在的,无生命的,无理性的,无悟性的。祂既不是一个物体,所以不具外形,没有格式,无质或量,更无所谓轻重;祂也不住在什么地点,也不能被看到或触及;祂不以官能觉知,亦不被跟能所觉知;祂因不受尘世情欲干扰,故而不感任何烦恼或失调;祂不是软弱无力而给一些物质偶然事象所压抑包围,祂也并不缺少光明;祂不变迁,不朽坏,不分割,不减不增;简言之,官能所可觉得的任何事物,祂既不是,也不具有。

第五章

那作为一切能领会的诸物之“超卓根源”自己并不是其中的一物。

更进一步,我们主张:祂不是灵魂,不是心性,不禀有想像,测度,推理,或理解之任何机能;祂既不是理性,也不是理解力;祂不是可说的或可知的;祂不是什么数目,级次,不是大或小,等或不等,似或不似。祂不站住,不动作,不静止;祂没有力量,又不是力量,不是亮光;祂并不生存,不是生命;祂不是存在,不是永远,也不是时间。祂不是理解力所及的,祂既不是知识,也不是真理;祂不是王权,不是智慧;祂不是一物。也不是统一,甚至祂也不是神性或良善;祂不是照我们所理解的“灵”,祂也不是子或父的身分。祂不是我们或其它存在物所能认识的任何其它事物;祂既不是“非存在者”,也不是“存在者”;凡存在者都不知道祂究竟是什么,反过来,其实祂也不知道所有存在者究竟是什么①。祂不具有理性或称呼或认知;祂非黑暗,非光明,亦非谬误,非真理,任何肯定或否定说法,对祂不能适用。虽然对那次属于祂的诸位伦辈可以适用肯定词语或否定词语,然而对祂不能这样,因为祂既是万有的完全唯一根原,故而超过一切肯定,又因祂单纯而绝对的本性之卓绝,超脱任何限制并越过它们一切,故亦超过一切否定。

①祂只知道祂自己,并亦只有在万物的超本质观点去知道万物,却无从就万物而知万物。

The Celestial Hierarchy The Celestial Hierarchy
    TheCelestialHierarchy——

DionysiustheAreopagite

THECELESTIALHIERARCHY

CHAPTERI

Tomyfellow-presbyterTimothy,DionysiusthePresbyter

Thateverydivineillumination,whilegoingforthwithloveinvariouswaystotheobjectsofitsforethought,remainsone.Noristhisall:italsounifiesthethingsilluminated-

EverygoodgiftandeveryperfectgiftisfromaboveandcomesdownfromtheFatherofLights-[James1:17]

Moreover,everydivineprocessionofradiancefromtheFather,whileconstantlybounteouslyflowingtous,fillsusanewasthoughwithaunifyingpower,byrecallingustothingsabove,andleadingustotheunityoftheShepherdingFatherandtotheDivineOne.ForfromHimandintoHimareallthings,asiswrittenintheholyWord.

CallingthenuponJesus,theLightoftheFather,theRealandTrue,-Whichlightseverymanthatcomesintotheworld,bywhomwehaveaccesstotheFather,-theOriginofLight,letusraiseourthought,accordingtoourpower,totheilluminationofthemostsacreddoctrineshandeddownbytheFathers,andalsoasfaraswemayletuscontemplatetheHierarchiesoftheCelestialIntelligencesrevealedtousbytheminsymbolsforourupliftment:andadmittingthroughthespiritualandunwaveringeyesofthemindtheoriginalandsuper-originalgiftofLightoftheFatherwhoistheSourceofDivinity,whichshowstousimagesoftheall-blessedHierarchiesoftheAngelsinfigurativesymbols,letusthroughthemagainstriveupwardstowardItsprimalray.ForthisLightcanneverbedeprived——

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ofItsownintrinsicunity,andalthoughingoodnessItbecomesmanynessandproceedsintomanifestationfortheupliftingofthosecreaturesgovernedbyItsprovidence,yetItabideseternallywithinItselfinchangelesssameness,firmlyestablishedinItsownunity,andelevatestoItself,accordingtotheircapacity,thosewhoturntowardsIt,unitingtheminaccordancewithItsownunity.ForbythatfirstdivineraywecanbeenlightedonlyinsofarasItishiddenbyall-variousholyveilsforourupliftment,andfittinglytemperedtoournaturesbytheProvidenceoftheFather.

Whereforethatfirstinstitutionofthesacredrites,judgingitworthyofasupermundanecopyoftheCelestialHierarchies,gaveusourmostholyhierarchy,anddescribedthatspiritualHierarchyinmaterialtermsandinvariouscompositionsofformssothatwemightbeled,eachaccordingtohiscapacity,fromthemostholyimagerytoformless,unific,elevativeprinciplesandassimilations.ForthemindcanbynomeansbedirectedtothespiritualpresentationandcontemplationoftheCelestialHierarchiesunlessitusethematerialguidancesuitedtoit,accountingthosebeautieswhichareseentobeimagesofthehiddenbeauty,thesweetincenseasymbolofspiritualdispensations,andtheearthlylightsafigureoftheimmaterialenlightenment.Similarlythedetailsofthesacredteachingcorrespondtothefeastofcontemplationinthesoul,whiletheranksoforderonearthreflecttheDivineConcordandthedispositionoftheHeavenlyOrders.ThereceivingofthemostholyEucharistsymbolizesourparticipationofJesus;andeverythingelsedeliveredinasupermundanemannertoCelestialNaturesisgiventousinsymbols.

Tofurther,then,theattainmentofourduemeasureofdeification,thelovingSourceofallmysteries,inshowingtoustheCelestial

Acherub,afteranimageca.400A.D——

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Hierarchies,andconsecratingourhierarchyasfellowministers,accordingtoourcapacity,inthelikenessoftheirdivineministry,depictedthosesupercelestialIntelligencesinmaterialimagesintheinspiredwritingsofthesacredWordsothatwemightbeguidedthroughthesensibletotheintelligible,andfromsacredsymbolstothePrimalSourceoftheCelestialHierarchies.

CHAPTERII

ThatDivineandCelestialmattersarefittinglyrevealedeventhroughunlikesymbols

Iconsider,then,thatinthefirstplacewemustexplainourconceptionofthepurposeofeachHierarchyandthegoodconferredbyeachuponitsfollowers;secondlywemustcelebratetheCelestialHierarchiesastheyarerevealedintheScriptures;andfinallywemustsayunderwhatholyfiguresthedescriptionsinthesacredwritingsportraythoseCelestialOrders,andtowhatkindofpurityweoughttobeguidedthroughthoseformslestwe,likethemany,shouldimpiouslysupposethatthoseCelestialandDivineIntelligencesaremany-footedormany-facedbeings,orformedwiththebrutishnessofoxen,orthesavagenessoflions,orthecurvedbeaksofeagles,orthefeathersofbirds,orshouldimaginethattheyaresomekindoffierywheelsabovetheheavens,ormaterialthronesuponwhichtheSupremeDeitymayrecline,ormany-colouredhorses,orcommandersofarm-ies,orwhateverelseofsymbolicdescriptionhasbeengiventousinthevarioussacredimagesoftheScriptures——

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Theology,initssacredutterancesconcerningtheformlessIntelligences,doesindeedusepoeticsymbolism,havingregardtoourintelligence,ashasbeensaid,andprovidingameansofascentfittingandnaturaltoitbyframingthesacredScripturesinamannerdesignedforourupliftment.

ButsomeonemayprefertoregardtheDivineOrdersaspureandineffableintheirownnatures,andbeyondourpowerofvision,andmayconsiderthattheimageryoftheCelestialIntelligencesintheScripturesdoesnotreallyrepresentthem,andislikeacrudedramatizationofthecelestialnames:andhemaysaythatthetheologians,indepictingwhollyincorporealnaturesunderbodilyformsshould,asfaraspossible,makeuseoffittingandrelatedimages,andrepresentthembythemostexalted,incorporealandspiritualsubstancesamongstourselves,andshouldnotenduetheCelestialandGodlikePrincipleswithamultitudeoflowandearthlyforms.FortheonewouldcontributeinahigherdegreetoourascentbydissociatingincongruousimagesfromthedescriptionsofSupermundaneNatures,whiletheotherimpiouslyoutragestheDivinePowers,andleadsourmindsintoerrorwhen-wedwelluponsuchunholycompositions.Forwemighteventhinkthatthesupercelestialregionsarefilledwithherdsoflionsandhorses,andre-echowithroaringsongsofpraise,andcontainflocksofbirdsandothercreatures,andthelowerformsofmatter,andwhateverotherabsurd,spurious,passion-arousingandunlikeformstheScripturesuseindescribingtheirresemblances.

Nevertheless,IthinkthattheinvestigationofthetruthshowsthemostholywisdomoftheScripturesintherepresentationsoftheCelestialIntelligenceswhichmakesthemostperfectprovisionineachcase,sothatneitherisdishonourdonetotheDivinePowers(astheymaybecalled),norareweboundmorepassionatelytoearthbythemeannessandbasenessoftheimages.Foritmightbe

AngelWithMoon,from12thc.Greekms——

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saidthatthereasonforattributingshapestothatwhichisaboveshape,andformstothatwhichisbeyondform,isnotonlythefeeblenessofourintellectualpowerwhichisunabletoriseatoncetospiritualcontemplation,andwhichneedstobeencouragedbythenaturalandsuitablesupportandupliftmentwhichoffersusformsperceptibletousofformlessandsupernaturalcontemplations,butitisalsobecauseitismostfittingthatthesecretdoctrines,throughineffableandholyenigmas,shouldveilandrenderdifficultofaccessforthemultitudethesublimeandprofoundtruthofthesupernaturalIntelligences.For,astheScripturedeclares,noteveryoneisholy,norhaveallmenknowledge.

Again,ifanyonecondemnstheserepresentationsasincongruous,suggestingthatitisdisgracefultofashionsuchbaseimagesofthedivineandmostholyOrders,itissufficienttoanswerthatthemostholyMysteriesaresetforthintwomodes:one,bymeansofsimilarandsacredrepresentationsakintotheirnature,andtheotherthroughunlikeformsdesignedwitheverypossiblediscordanceanddifference.Forexample,themysticaltraditionsoftheenlighteningWordsometimescelebratetheSublimeBlessednessoftheSuperessentialONEasWord,andWisdom,andEssence;proclaimingtheIntellectandWisdomofGodbothessentially,astheSourceofbeing,andalsoasthetrueCauseofexistence;andtheymakeItequivalenttoLight,andcallItLife.

Nowalthoughsuchsacredformsaremorevenerable,andseeminonesensetosurpassthematerialpresentation,evensotheyfailtoexpresstrulytheDivineLikenesswhichverilytranscendsallessenceandlife,andwhichnolightcanfullyrepresent;foranotherwordandwisdomisincomparablybelowIt.ButatothertimesItisextolledinasupermundanemannerinthesamewritings,whereItisnamedInvisible,InfiniteandUnbounded,insuchtermsas——

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indicatenotwhatItis,butwhatItisnot:forthis,inmyjudgment,ismoreinaccordwithItsnature,since,astheMysteriesandthepriestlytraditionsuggested,wearerightinsayingthatItisnotinthelikenessofanycreatedthing,andwecannotcomprehendItssuperessential,invisibleandineffableInfinity.If,therefore,thenegationsinthedescriptionsoftheDivinearetrue,andtheaffirmationsareinconsistentwithIt,theexpositionofthehiddenMysteriesbytheuseofunlikesymbolsaccordsmorecloselywithThatwhichisineffable.

Accordinglythismodeofdescriptionintheholywritingshonours,ratherthandishonours,theHolyandCelestialOrdersbyrevealingtheminunlikeimages,manifestingthroughthesetheirsupernalexcellence,farbeyondallmundanethings.Nor,Isuppose,willanyreasonablemandenythatdiscordantfiguresupliftthemindmorethandotheharmonious,forindwellinguponthenoblerimages,itisprobablethatwemightfallintotheerrorofsupposingthattheCelestialIntelligencesaresomekindofgoldenbeings,orshiningmenflashinglikelightning,fairtobehold,orcladinglitteringapparel,rayingforthharmlessfire,orwithsuchothersimilarformsasareassignedbytheologytotheCelestialIntelligences.Butlestthisthingbefallthosewhosemindhasconceivednothinghigherthanthewondersofvisiblebeauty,thewisdomofthevenerabletheologists,whichhaspowertoleadustotheheights,reverentlydescendstotheleveloftheinharmoniousdissimilitudes,notallowingourirrationalnaturetoremainattachedtothoseunseemlyimages,butarousingtheupward-turningpartofthesoul,andstimulatingitthroughtheuglinessoftheimages;sinceitwouldseemneitherrightnortrue,eventothosewhoclingtoearthlythings,thatsuchlowformscouldresemblethosesupercelestialanddivinecontemplations.Moreover,itmustbeborneinmindthatnosingleexistingthingisentirelydeprivedofparticipationinthe——

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Beautiful,for,asthetrueWordsays,allthingsareverybeautiful.

Holycontemplationscanthereforebederivedfromallthings,andtheabove-namedincongruoussimilitudescanbefashionedfrommaterialthingstosymbolizethatwhichisintelligibleandintellectual,sincetheintellectualhasinanothermannerwhathasbeenattributeddifferentlytotheperceptible.Forinstance,passioninirrationalcreaturesarisesfromtheimpulseofappetency,andtheirpassionisfullofallirrationality;butitisotherwisewithintellectualbeingsinwhomtheenergyofpassionmustberegardedasdenotingtheirmasculinereasonandunwaveringsteadfastness,establishedinthechangelessheavenlyplaces.Inthesamemanner,bydesireinirrationalcreatureswemeantheinstinctualinnatetendencytowardstemporalmaterialsthings,ortheuncontrolledinbornappetitesofmutablecreatures,andthedominatingirrationaldesiresofthebodywhichurgethewholecreaturetowardsthatforwhichthesensescrave.

Butwhen,usingunlikeimages,wespeakofdesireinconnectionwithIntellectualBeingswemustunderstandbythisadivineloveoftheImmaterial,abovereasonandmind,andanenduringandunshakablesuperessentiallongingforpureandpassionlesscontemplation,andtrue,sempiternal,intelligibleparticipationinthemostsublimeandpurestLight,andintheeternalandmostperfectBeauty.AndincontinencewemustunderstandasthatwhichisintenseandunswervingandirresistiblebecauseofitspureandsteadfastloveoftheDivineBeauty,andtheundeviatingurgetowardsThatwhichmosttrulyistobedesired.

Inthecaseoftheirrationalortheinsensitivethings,suchasbrutesamonglivingcreatures,orinanimateobjects,werightlysaythatthesearedeprivedofreason,orofsense-perception.Butwefittinglyproclaimthesovereignty,asSupermundaneBeings,oftheimmaterialandintellectualNaturesoverourdiscursiveandcorporealreasoningandsense-perceptions,whichareremotefromthoseDivineIntelligences.

ItisthereforelawfultoportrayCelestialBeingsinformsdrawnfromeventhelowestofmaterialthingswhicharenotdiscordantsincethey,too,havingoriginatedfromThatwhichistrulybeautiful,havethroughoutthewholeoftheirbodilyconstitutionsomevestigesofIntellectualBeauty,andthroughthesewemaybeledto——

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immaterialArchetypes;thesimilitudesbeingtaken,ashasbeensaid,dissimilarly,andthesamethingsbeingdefined,notinthesameway,butharmoniouslyandfittingly,inthecasebothofintellectualandsensiblenatures.

WeshallseethatthetheologiansmysticallyemploysymbolicalexplanationsnotonlyinthecaseoftheCelestialOrders,butevenforthepresentationoftheDeificPrinciplesthemselves.AndsometimestheycelebrateDeityItselfwithloftysymbolismastheSunofjustice,astheMorningStarrisingmysticallyinthemind,orasLightshiningforthuncloudedandintelligibly;andsometimestheyuseimagesofthingsonearth,suchasfireflashingforthwithharmlessflame,orwateraffordingabundanceoflifesymbolicallyflowingintoabellyandgushingoutinperpetuallyoverflowingriversandstreams.

Thelowestimagesarealsoused,suchasfragrantointment,orthecorner-stone,andtheyevengiveIttheformsofwildanimalsandlikenIttothelionandpanther,ornameItaleopard,oraragingbearbereavedofitsyoung.Iwilladd,furthermore,thatwhichappearsmostbaseandunseemlyofall,namelythatsomerenownedtheologianshaverepresentedItasassumingtheformofaworm.Thusallthosewhoarewiseindivinematters,andareinterpretersofthemysticalrevelations,setapartinpuritytheHolyofHoliesfromtheuninitiatedandunpurified,andpreferincongruoussymbolsforholythings,sothatdivinethingsmaynotbeeasilyaccessibletotheunworthy,normaythosewhoearnestlycontemplatethedivinesymbolsdwellupontheformsthemselvesasthefinaltruth.ThereforewemaycelebratetheDivineNaturesthroughthetruestnegationsandalsobytheimagesofthelowestthingsincontrastwiththeirownLikeness——

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HencethereisnoabsurdityinportrayingtheCelestialNatures,forthereasonsmentioned,bydiscordantanddiversesymbols:forpossiblyweourselvesmightnothavebeguntosearchintotheMysterieswhichleadustotheHeightsthroughthecarefulexaminationsoftheholyWord,hadnottheuglinessoftheimageryoftheAngelsstartledus,notsufferingourmindtodwelluponthediscordantfigures,butstimulatingittoleavebehindallmaterialattachments,andtrainingitbymeansofthatwhichisapparenttoaspiredevoutlytothesupermundaneascent.

LetthesethingssufficetouchingthecorporealandinharmoniousformsusedforthedelineationofAngelsinthesacredScriptures.WemustproceedtothedefinitionofourconceptionoftheHierarchyitself,andoftheblessingswhichareenjoyedbythosewhoparticipateinit.ButletourleaderinthediscoursebemyChrist(ifthusIdarenameHim)whoinspiresallhierarchicalrevelation.Anddothou,myson,listen,accordingtothelawofourhierarchicaltradition,withmeetreverencetothatwhichisreverentlysetforth,becomingthroughinstructioninspiredbytherevelations;and,treasuringdeepinthesoultheholyMysteries,preservethemintheirunityfromtheunpurifiedmultitude:for,astheScripturesdeclare,itisnotfittingtocastbeforeswinethatpureandbeautifyingandclear-shininggloryoftheintelligiblepearls.

CHAPTERIII

WhatisHierarchy,andwhattheuseofHierarchy?

Hierarchyis,inmyopinion,aholyorderandknowledgeandactivitywhich,sofarasisattainable,participatesintheDivine——

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Likeness,andislifteduptotheilluminationsgivenitfromGod,andcorrespondinglytowardstheimitationofGod.

NowtheBeautyofGod,beingunific,good,andtheSourceofallperfection,iswhollyfreefromdissimilarity,andbestowsitsownLightuponeachaccordingtohismerit;*andinthemostdivineMysteriesperfectstheminaccordancewiththeunchangeablefashioningofthosewhoarebeingperfectedharmoniouslytoItself.

TheaimofHierarchyisthegreatestpossibleassimilationtoandunionwithGod,andbytakingHimasleaderinallholywisdom,tobecomelikeHim,sofarasispermitted,bycontemplatingintentlyHismostDivineBeauty.AlsoitmouldsandperfectsitsparticipantsintheholyimageofGodlikebrightandspotlessmirrorswhichreceivetheRayoftheSupremeDeity-whichistheSourceofLight;andbeingmysticallyfilledwiththeGiftofLight,itpoursitforthagainabundantly,accordingtotheDivineLaw,uponthosebelowitself.ForitisnotlawfulforthosewhoimpartorparticipateintheholyMysteriestooverpasstheboundsofitssacredlaws;normusttheydeviatefromthemiftheyseektobehold,asfarasisallowed,thatDeificSplendourandtobetransformedintothelikenessofthoseDivineIntelligences.

ThereforehewhospeaksofHierarchyimpliesacertainperfectlyholyOrderinthelikenessoftheFirstDivineBeauty,ministeringthesacredmysteryofitsownilluminationsinhierarchicalorderandwisdom,beinginduemeasureconformedtoitsownPrinciple.(1)

ForeachofthosewhoisallottedaplaceintheDivineOrderfindshisperfectioninbeinguplifted,accordingtohiscapacity,towardstheDivineLikeness;andwhatisstillmoredivine,hebecomes,as——

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theScripturessay,afellow-workerwithGod,andshowsforththeDivineActivityrevealedasfaraspossible-inhimself.FortheholyconstitutionoftheHierarchyordainsthatsomearepurified,otherspurify;someareenlightened,othersenlighten;someareperfected,othersmakeperfect;forinthiswaythedivineimitationwillfiteachone.

InasmuchastheDivineBliss(tospeakinhumanterms)isexemptfromalldissimilarity,andisfullofEternalLight,perfect,inneedofnoperfection,purifying,illuminating,perfectingbeingratherHimselftheholyPurification,IlluminationandPerfection,abovepurification,abovelight.supremelyperfect,HimselftheoriginofperfectionandthecauseofeveryHierarchy,Hetranscendsinexcellenceallholiness.(2)

Ihold,therefore,thatthosewhoarebeingpurifiedoughttobewhollyperfectedandfreefromalltaintofunlikeness;thosewhoareilluminatedshouldbefilledfullwithDivineLight,ascending,tothecontemplativestateandpowerwiththemostpureeyesofthemind;thosewhoarebeinginitiated,holdingthemselvesapartfromallimperfection,shouldbecomeparticipatorsintheDivineWisdomwhichtheyhavecontemplated.

Furtheritismeetthatthosewhopurifyshouldbestowuponothersfromtheirabundanceofpuritytheirownholiness:thosewhoilluminate,aspossessingmoreluminousintelligence,dulyreceivingandagainsheddingforththelight,andjoyouslyfilledwithholybrightness,shouldimparttheirownoverflowinglighttothoseworthyofit;finally,thosewhomakeperfect,beingskilledinthemysticalparticipations,shouldleadtothatconsummationthosewhoareperfectedbythemostholyinitiationoftheknowledgeofholythingswhichtheyhavecontemplated——

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Thuseachorderinthehierarchicalsuccessionisguidedtothedivineco-operation,andbringsintomanifestation,throughtheGraceandPowerofGod,thatwhichisnaturallyandsupernaturallyintheGodhead,andwhichisconsummatedbyHimsuperessentially,butishierarchicallymanifestedforman-simitationasfarasisattainable,oftheGod-lovingCelestialIntelligences.

CHAPTERIV

Themeaningofthename-Angels.

Since,inmyopinion,thenatureofahierarchyhasbeenadequatelydefined,wemustproceedtorenderhonourtotheAngelicHierarchy,intentlygazingwithsupermundanesightupontheholyimageryofitintheScriptures,thatwemaybeupliftedinthehighestdegreetotheirdivinepuritythroughthatmysticalrepresentation,andmaypraisetheOriginofallhierarchicalknowledgewithavenerationworthyofthethingsofGod,andwithdevoutthanksgiving.

Inthefirstplacethistruthmustbedeclared,thatthesuperessentialDeity,havingthroughHisGoodnessestablishedtheessentialsubsistenceofall,broughtallthingsintobeing.For-itistheverynatureofthatGodwhichistheSupremeCauseofalltocallallthingstoparticipationinItselfinproportiontothecapacityandnatureofeach.

WhereforeallthingsshareinthatProvidencewhichstreamsforthfromthesuperessentialDeificSourceofall;fortheywouldnotbe——

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unlesstheyhadcomeintoexistencethroughparticipationintheEssentialPrincipleofallthings.

AllinanimatethingsparticipateinItthroughtheirbeing;forthe-tobe-ofallthingsistheDivinityaboveBeingItself,thetrueLife.LivingthingsparticipateinItslife-givingPowerabovealllife;rationalthingsparticipateinItsself-perfectandpre-eminentlyperfectWisdomaboveallreasonandintellect.

Itismanifest,therefore,thatthoseNatureswhicharearoundtheGodheadhaveparticipatedofItinmanifoldways.OnthisaccounttheholyranksoftheCelestialBeingsarepresentwithandparticipateintheDivinePrincipleinadegreefarsurpassingallthosethingswhichmerelyexist,andirrationallivingcreatures,andrationalhumanbeings.FormouldingthemselvesintelligiblytotheimitationofGod,andlookinginasupermundanewaytotheLikenessoftheSupremeDeity,andlongingtoformtheintellectualappearanceofIt,theynaturallyhavemoreabundantcommunionwithHim,andwithunremittingactivitytheytendeternallyupthesteep,asfarasispermitted,throughtheardouroftheirunwearyingdivinelove,andtheyreceivethePrimalRadianceinapureandimmaterialmanner,adaptingthemselvestothisinalifewhollyintellectual.

Such,therefore,aretheywhoparticipatefirst,andinanall-variousmanner,inDeity,andrevealfirst,andinmanyways,theDivineMysteries.Whereforethey,aboveall,arepre-eminentlyworthyofthenameAngelbecausetheyfirstreceivetheDivineLight,andthroughthemaretransmittedtoustherevelationswhichareaboveus.

ItisthusthattheLaw(asitiswrittenintheScriptures)wasgiventousbyAngelsand,bothbeforeandafterthedaysoftheLaw,AngelsguidedourillustriousforefatherstoGod,eitherbydeclaringtothemwhattheyshoulddoandleadingthemfromerrorandanevillifetothestraightpathoftruth,orbymakingknowntothemtheDivineLaw,orinthemannerofinterpreters,byshowingtothemholyHierarchies,orsecretvisionsofsupermundaneMysteries,orcertaindivineprophecies.

Now,ifanyoneshouldsaythatGodhasshownHimselfwithoutintermediarytocertainholymen,lethimknowbeyonddoubt,

AnotherimageofArchangels——

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fromthemostholyScriptures,thatnomanhaseverseen,norshallsee,thehiddenBeingofGod;butGodhasshownHimself,accordingtorevelationswhicharefittingtoGod,toHisfaithfulservantsinholyvisionsadaptedtothenatureoftheseer.

Thedivinetheology,inthefullnessofitswisdom,veryrightlyappliesthenametheophanytothatbeholdingofGodwhichshowstheDivineLikeness,figuredinItselfasalikenessinformofThatwhichisformless,throughtheupliftingofthosewhocontemplatetotheDivine;inasmuchasaDivineLightisshedupontheseersthroughit,andtheyareinitiatedintosomeparticipationofdivinethings.

BysuchdivinevisionsourvenerableforefatherswereinstructedthroughthemediationoftheCelestialPowers.IsitnottoldintheholyScripturesthatthesacredLawwasgiventoMosesbyGodHimselfinordertoteachusthatinitismirroredthedivineandholyLaw?Furthermore,theologywiselyteachesthatitwascommunicatedtousbyAngels,asthoughtheauthorityoftheDivineLawdecreedthatthesecondshouldbeguidedtotheDivineMajestybythefirst.Fornotsolelyinthecaseofhigherandlowernatures,butalsoforco-ordinatenatures,thisLawhasbeenestablishedbyitssuperessentialoriginalAuthor:thatwithineachHierarchytherearefirst,middleandlastranksandpowers,andthatthehigherareinitiatorsandguidesofthelowertothedivineapproachandilluminationandunion.(3)

IseethattheAngels,too,werefirstinitiatedintothedivineMystery,ofJesusinHisloveforman,andthroughthemthegiftofthatknowledgewasbestoweduponus:forthedivineGabrielannouncedtoZachariahthehigh-priestthatthesonwhoshouldtoborntohimthroughDivineGrace,whenhewasbereftofhope,——

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wouldbeaprophetofthatJesuswhowouldmanifesttheunionofthehumananddivinenaturesthroughtheordinanceoftheGoodLawforthesalvationoftheworld;andherevealedtoMaryhowofhershouldbeborntheDivineMysteryoftheineffableIncarnationofGod.

AnotherAngeltaughtJosephthatthedivinepromisemadetohisforefatherDavidshouldbeperfectlyfulfilled.Anotherbroughttotheshepherdsthegladtidings,astothosepurifiedbyquietwithdrawalfromthemany,andwithhimamultitudeoftheheavenlyhostgaveforthtoallthedwellersuponearthouroften-sunghymnofadoringpraise.

LetusnowmountupwardtothatmostsublimeofallLightscelebratedintheScriptures:forIperceivethatJesusHimselfwhoisthesuperessentialHeadofthesupercelestialBeingsaboveNature,whentakingournaturewhilestillkeepingHisownimmutableDivinity,didnotturnawayfromthehumanorderwhichHearrangedandchose,butrathersubmittedHimselfobedientlytothecommandsgivenbyGodtheFatherthroughAngels,bywhoseministrationstheFather-sdecreetouchingtheflightofHisSonintoEgyptandthereturnfromEgyptintoJudaea.wasannouncedtoJoseph.Moreover,throughAngelsweseeHimsubjectingHimselftotheFather-swill;forIwillnotrecalltoonewhoknowsoursacredtraditiontheAngelwhofortifiedJesus,oreventhatJesusHimself,becauseHecameforthegoodworkofoursalvationtofulfilthelawinitsspiritualapplication,wascalledAngelofGoodCounsel.ForHeHimselfsays,inthemannerofaherald,thatwhatsoeverHeheardfromtheFatherHeannounceduntous.

,——

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CHAPTERV

WhyalltheCelestialBeingsincommonarecalledAngels.

This,sofarasweunderstandit,isthereasonforthenameAngelintheScriptures.NowIthinkweshouldinvestigatethereasonwhytheologiansgivethegeneralnameAngelstoalltheCelestialBeings,butwhenexplainingthecharacteristicsofthesupermundaneOrderstheyspecificallygivethenameAngeltothosewhocompleteandconcludetheDivineCelestialHierarchies.AbovethesetheyplacethechoirsofArchangels,Principalities,Powers,Virtues,andthoseotherbeingswhoareacknowledgedbythetraditionalscripturalteachingstobeofhigherrank.

NowwemaintainthatintheseHierarchiesthehigherOrderspossesstheilluminationsandpowersofthelowerranks,butthelowerdonotparticipateequallywiththoseabovethem.HencethetheologianscallthehigherofthesespiritualOrdersAngelsbecausethey,too,showforththeDivineRadiance;butwecanfindnoreasonforcallingthelowestchoirsoftheCelestialIntelligencesPrincipalitiesorThronesorSeraphim,fortheydonotmanifestinthesamedegreethatsupremelyexcellentpower;butjustastheyguideourinspiredhierarchstotheDivineBrightnessknowntothem,sodothosemostholyPowerswhichareabovethemleadtotheDivineMajestythoserankswhichcompletetheAngelicHierarchies.(4)

Andthisalsomaybeadded,thatallcanrightlybecalledAngelsinrespectoftheirparticipationintheDivineLikenessandIlluminationbothinthehigherandlowerranks.

Butnowletusproceedfurtherintodetail,andwithsinglenessof——

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mindexaminetheparticularsacredcharacteristicsofeachoftheCelestialOrderswhicharesetforthforusintheScriptures.

CHAPTERVI

WhichisthefirstOrderoftheCelestialBeings,whichthemiddle,andwhichthelast?

IholdthatnonebuttheDivineCreatorbywhomtheywereordainedisabletoknowfullythenumberandthenatureofthesupermundaneBeingsandtheregulationoftheirsacredHierarchies;andfurthermore,thattheyknowtheirownpowersandilluminationsandtheirownholysupermundaneordination.ForwecouldnothaveknownthemysteryofthesesupercelestialIntelligencesandalltheholinessoftheirperfectionhaditnotbeentaughttousbyGodthroughHisMinisterswhotrulyknowtheirownnatures.

Thereforewewillsaynothingasfromourselves,butbeinginstructedwillsetforth,accordingtoourability,thoseangelicvisionswhichthevenerabletheologianshavebeheld.

TheologyhasgiventotheCelestialBeingsnineinterpretativenames,andamongtheseourdivineinitiatordistinguishesthreethreefoldOrders.(5)Inthefirstrankofallheplacesthosewho,aswearetold,dwelleternallyintheconstantpresenceofGod,andcleavetoHim,andaboveallothersareimmediatelyunitedtoHim.AndhesaysthattheteachingsoftheholyWordtestifythatthemostholyThronesandmany-eyedandmany-wingedones,namedintheHebrewtongueCherubimandSeraphim,areestablished——

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immediatelyaboutGodandnearesttoHimaboveallothers.OurvenerablehierarchdescribesthisthreefoldOrderasaco-equalunity,andtrulythemostexaltedoftheHierarchies,themostfullyGodlike,andthemostcloselyandimmediatelyunitedtotheFirstLightoftheGodhead.

Thesecond,hesays,containsthePowers,VirtuesandDominions,andthelastandlowestchoirsoftheCelestialIntelligencesarecalledAngels,ArchangelsandPrincipalities.

CHAPTERVII

OftheSeraphim,CherubimandThrones,andtheirfirstHierarchy.

InacceptingthisorderoftheholyHierarchiesweaffirmthatthenamesofeachoftheCelestialChoirsexpressesitsownGodlikecharacteristic.WearetoldbyHebrewscholarsthattheholynameSeraphimmeans-thosewhokindleormakehot-,andCherubimdenotesabundanceofknowledgeoranoutflowingofwisdom.*Reasonably,therefore,isthisfirstCelestialHierarchyadministeredbythemosttranscendentNatures,sinceitoccupiesamoreexaltedplacethanalltheothers,beingimrnediatelypresentwithGod;andbecauseofitsnearness,toitarebroughtthefirstrevelationsandperfectionsofGodbeforetherest.Thereforetheyarenamed-TheGlowingOnes-,-StreamsofWisdom-,-Thrones-,inillustrationoftheirDivineNature.

ThenameSeraphimclearlyindicatestheirceaselessandeternalrevolutionaboutDivinePrinciples,theirheatandkeenness,the——

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exuberanceoftheirintense,perpetual,tirelessactivity,andtheirelevativeandenergeticassimilationofthosebelow,kindlingthemandfiringthemtotheirownheat,andwhollypurifyingthembyaburningandall-consumingflame;andbytheunhidden,unquenchable,changeless,radiantandenlighteningpower,dispellinganddestroyingtheshadowsofdarkness.

ThenameCherubimdenotestheirpowerofknowingandbeholdingGod,theirreceptivitytothehighestGiftofLight,theircontemplationoftheBeautyoftheGodheadinItsFirstManifestation,andthattheyarefilledbyparticipationinDivineWisdom,andbounteouslyoutpourtothosebelowthemfromtheirownfountofwisdom.

ThenameofthemostgloriousandexaltedThronesdenotesthatwhichisexemptfromanduntaintedbyanybaseandearthlything,andthesupermundaneascentupthesteep.Forthesehavenopartinthatwhichislowest,butdwellinfullestpower,immovablyandperfectlyestablishedintheMostHigh,andreceivetheDivineImmanenceaboveallpassionandmatter,andmanifestGod,beingattentivelyopentodivineparticipations.

This,then,isthemeaningoftheirnames,sofarasweunderstandit:butnowwemustsetforthourconceptionofthenatureofthisHierarchy,fortheobjectofeveryHierarchy,asIthinkwehavealreadysufficientlyshown,isasteadfastdevotiontothedivineassimilationintheLikenessofGod;andthewholeworkofaHierarchyisintheparticipationandtheimpartingofamostholyPurification,DivineLightandperfectingKnowledge.

AndnowIpraythatImayspeakworthilyofthosemostexaltedIntelligences,andastheirHierarchyisrevealedintheScriptures——

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ItisclearthattheHierarchyissimilarinitsnatureandhascloseaffinitywiththoseFirstBeingswhoareestablishedaftertheGodhead,whichistheSourceoftheirBeing,asthoughwithinItsPortals,transcendingall-createdpowers,bothvisibleandinvisible.Thereforewemustrecognizethattheyarepure,notashavingbeencleansedfromstainsanddefilements,norasnotadmittingmaterialimages,butasfarhigherthanallbaseness,andsurpassingallthatisholy.Asbefitsthehighestpurity,theyareestablishedabovethemostGodlikePowersandeternallykeeptheirownself-motiveandself-sameorderthroughtheEternalLoveofGod,neverweakeninginpower,abidingmostpurelyintheirownGodlikeidentity,everunshakenandunchanging.Again,theyarecontemplative,notasbeholdingintellectualorsensiblesymbols,norasbeingupliftedtotheDivinebytheall-variouscontemplationssetforthintheScriptures,butasfilledwithLighthigherthanallimmaterialknowledge,andrapt,asismeet,inthecontemplationofthatBeautywhichisthesuperessentialtriuneOriginandCreatorofallbeauty.InlikemannertheyarethoughtworthyoffellowshipwithJesus,notthroughsacredimageswhichshadowforththeDivineLikeness,butastrulybeingclosetoHiminthatfirstparticipationoftheknowledgeofHisDeifyingIlluminations.Moreover,theimitationofGodisgrantedtotheminapreeminentdegree,andasfarastheirnaturepermitstheysharethedivineandhumanvirtuesinprimarypower.

Inthesamemannertheyareperfect,notasthoughenlightenedbyananalyticalknowledgeofholyvariety,butbecausetheyarewhollyperfectedthroughthehighestandmostperfectdeification,possessingthehighestknowledgethatAngelscanhaveoftheworksofGod;beingHierarchsnotthroughotherholybeings,butfromGodHimself,andsincetheyareupliftedtoGoddirectlyby——

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theirpre-eminentpowerandrank,theyarebothestablishedimmovablybesidetheAll-Holy,andareborneup,asfarasisallowable,tothecontemplationofHisIntelligibleandSpiritualBeauty.BeingplacednearesttoGod,theyareinstructedinthetrueunderstandingofthedivineworks,andreceivetheirhierarchicalorderinthehighestdegreefromDeityItself,theFirstPrincipleofPerfection.

ThetheologiansthereforeclearlyshowthatthelowerranksoftheCelestialBeingsreceivetheunderstandingofthedivineworksfromthoseabovetheminafittingmanner,andthatthehighestarecorrespondinglyenlightenedintheDivineMysteriesbytheMostHighGodHimself.(6)Forsomeofthemareshowntousasenlightenedinholymattersbythoseabovethem,andwelearnthatHewhoinhumanformascendedtoheavenisLordoftheCelestialPowersandKingofGlory.AndAngelsarerepresentedasquestioningHimanddesiringknowledgeofHisdivineredemptiveworkforus,andJesusHimselfisdepictedasteachingthemandrevealingdirectlytothemHisgreatgoodnesstowardsmankind-ForI,Hesays,-speakrighteousnessandthejudgmentofsalvation-Moreover,IamastonishedthateventhefirstrankofCelestialBeings,sofarsurpassingalltheothers,shouldreverentlydesiretoreceivethedivineenlightenmentinanintermediatemanner.Fortheydonotaskdirectly,-WhereforeareThygarmentsred?-butfirsteagerlyquestiononeanother,showingthattheyseekandlongfortheknowledgeofHisdivinewords,withoutexpectationoftheenlightenmentdivinelygrantedthem.

ThefirstHierarchyoftheCelestialIntelligences,therefore,ispurifiedandenlightened;beingordainedbythatFirstPerfectingCause,uplifteddirectlytoHimself,andfilled,analogously,withthemostholypurificationoftheboundlessLightoftheSupreme——

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Perfection,untouchedbyanyinferiority,fullofPrimalLight,andperfectedbyitsunionwiththefirst-givenUnderstandingandKnowledge.

Buttosumup,Imaysay,notunreasonably,thattheparticipationinDivineKnowledgeisapurification,anilluminationandaperfection.ForitpurifiesfromignorancebytheknowledgeoftheperfectMysteriesgrantedinduemeasure;itilluminatesthroughtheDivineKnowledgeItselfbywhichitpurifiesthemindwhichformerlydidnotbeholdthatwhichisnowshowntoitbythehigherillumination;anditperfectsbytheself-samelightthroughtheabidingknowledgeofthemostluminousinitiations.

This,sofarasIknow,isthefirstOrderofCelestialBeingswhichareestablishedaboutGod,immediatelyencirclingHim:andinperpetualpuritytheyencompassHiseternalKnowledgeinthatmosthighandeternalangelicdance,raptintheblissofmanifoldblessedcontemplations,andirradiatedwithpureandprimalsplendours.

Thearefilledwithdivinefoodwhichismanifold,throughthefirst-givenoutpouring,yetonethroughtheunvariedandunificonenessofthedivinebanquet;andtheyaredeemedworthyofcommunionandco-operationwithGodbyreasonoftheirassimilationtoHim,asfarasispossibleforthem,intheexcellenceoftheirnaturesandenergies.Fortheyknowpre-eminentlymanydivinematters,andtheyparticipateasfarastheymayinDivineUnderstandingandKnowledge.

Whereforetheologyhasgiventhoseonearthitshymnsorpraiseinwhichisdivinelyshownforththegreatexcellenceofitssublimeillumination.Forsomeofthatchoir(tousematerialterms)cryout——

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aswithavoicelikethesoundofmanywaters,-BlessedistheGloryoftheLordfromHisPlace-;otherscryaloudthatmostrenownedandsacredhymnofhighestpraisetoGod,-Holy,holy,holy,LordGodofSabaoth,thewholeearthisfullofThyGlory!-

NowwehavealreadyexpoundedtothebestofourabilityinthetreatiseonDivineHymnsthesemostsublimehymnsofthesupercelestialIntelligences,andhavesufficientlydealtwiththemthere.ForthepresentpurposeitisenoughtoorecallthatthisfirstOrder,havingbeendulyenlightenedbytheDivineGoodnessintheknowledgeoftheology,gavetothosebelowit,asbefitsangelicgoodness,thisteaching(tostateitbriefly-)thatitismeetthatthemostaugustDeity,abovepraise,andall-praised,worthyofthehighestpraise,shouldbeknownandproclaimed,asfarasisattainable,bytheGod-filledIntelligences(for,astheScripturessay,beingintheLikenessofGod,the\aredivinehabitationsoftheDivineStillness);andagain,theteachingthatHeisamonadandtri-subsistentunity,providentiallypervadingallthingsthroughHisGoodness,fromthesupercelestialNaturesdowntothelowestthingsoftheearth;forHeisthesuper-originalPrincipleandCauseofeveryessence,andholdsthewholeuniversesuperessentiallyinHisirresistibleembrace.

CHAPTERVIII

OftheDominions,VirtuesandPowers,andtheirmiddleHierarchy.

NowwemustpassontothemiddleOrderoftheCelestialIntelligences,contemplatingwithsupermundanesight,asfaraswe——

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may,theDominionsandthetrulymajesticsplendouroftheDivineVirtuesandPowers.ForthenamesofthesesupernalBeingsdenotethedivinecharacteristicsoftheirlikenesstoGod.

ThenamegiventotheholyDominionssignifies,Ithink,acertainunboundedelevationtothatwhichisabove,freedomfromallthatisoftheearth,andfromallinwardinclinationtothebondageofdiscord,aliberalsuperioritytoharshtyranny,anexemptnessfromdegradingservilityandfromallthatislow:fortheyareuntouchedbyanyinconsistency.TheyaretrueLords,perpetuallyaspiringtotruelordship,andtotheSourceoflordship,andtheyprovidentiallyfashionthemselvesandthosebelowthem,asfaraspossible,intothelikenessoftruelordship.Theydonotturntowardsvainshadows,butwhollygivethemselvestothattrueAuthority,foreveronewiththeGodlikeSourceoflordship.

ThenameoftheholyVirtuessignifiesacertainpowerfulandunshakablevirilitywellingforthintoalltheirGodlikeenergies;notbeingweakandfeebleforanyreceptionofthedivineIlluminationsgrantedtoit;mountingupwardsinfullnessofpowertoanassimilationwithGod;neverfallingawayfromtheDivineLifethroughitsownweakness,butascendingunwaveringlytothesuperessentialVirtuewhichistheSourceofvirtue:fashioningitself,asfarasitmay,invirtue;perfectlyturnedtowardstheSourceofvirtue,andflowingforthprovidentiallytothosebelowit,abundantlyfillingthemwithvirtue.

ThenameoftheholyPowers,co-equalwiththeDivineDominionsandVirtues,signifiesanorderlyandunconfinedorderinthedivinereceptions,andtheregulationofintellectualandsupermundanepowerwhichneverdebasesitsauthoritybytyrannicalforce,butisirresistiblyurgedonwardindueordertotheDivine.Itbeneficently——

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leadsthosebelowit,asfaraspossible,totheSupremePowerwhichistheSourceofPower,whichitmanifestsafterthemannerofAngelsinthewellorderedranksofitsownauthoritativepower.

ThismiddlerankoftheCelestialIntelligences,havingtheseGodlikecharacteristics,ispurified,illuminatedandperfectedinthemanneralreadydescribed,bythedivineIlluminationsbestoweduponitinasecondarymannerthroughthefirsthierarchicalOrder,andshownforthinasecondarymanifestationbythemiddlechoir.

TheknowledgewhichissaidtobeimpartedbyoneAngeltoanothermaybeinterpretedasasymbolofthatperfectingwhichiseffectedfromafarandmadeobscurebecauseofitspassagetothesecondrank.For,asthosesaywhoarewiseinthesacredMysteries,thedirectrevelationsoftheDivineLightimpartagreaterperfectionthanthosebestowedthroughanintermediary;andinthesamewayIconsiderthattheOrderofAngelswhichisestablishednearesttotheGodheadparticipatesdirectlyinamoreresplendentlightthanisimpartedtothosewhoareperfectedthroughothers.

ForthisreasontheFirstIntelligencesarecalledinourpriestlytraditionperfective,illuminativeandpurificatorypowersinregardtothelowerOrderswhichareupliftedbythemtothesuperessentialPrincipleofall,andasfarasisrightforthemaremadepartakersofthemysticalpurifications,illuminationsandperfections.Forthisuniversalordinanceisdivinelyestablished,thattheDivineLightisimpartedtosecondarynaturesthroughprimarynatures.

Youwillfindthisvariouslysetforthbytheologians,forwhentheDivineandFatherlyLoveformanreprovedtheIsraelitesandchastenedthemfortheirsalvationbydeliveringthemfortheir——

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correctionintothehandsofcruelandbarbaricnations,andwithprovidentialguidanceledthembackbymanypathstoabettercondition,andmercifullyrecalledthemfromcaptivitytofreedomandtheirformerhappystate,oneofthetheologians,namedZachariah,seesoneofthoseAngelswhich,asIbelievearefirstandnearesttoGod(forthenameAngel,asIhavesaid,iscommontoall),receivingfromGodHimselfthewordsofcomfort,astheyarecalled,andanotherAngeloflowerrankgoingtomeetthefirstasiftoreceiveandpartakeofthelight,andthenreceivingfromhim,asfromahierarch,thedivinepurpose,beingdirectedtorevealtothetheologianthatJerusalemshouldbeinhabitedbyagreatandfruitfulnation.

Anothertheologian,Ezekiel,saysthatthemostsacrededictcameforthfromthesupremelygloriousGodheadItself,exaltedabovetheCherubim.ForaftertheFather,ashasbeensaid,hadinHismercyledtheChildrenofIsraelthroughdisciplinestoabetterconditionHedecreedinHisdivinejusticethattheguiltyshouldbeseparatedfromtheinnocent.ThisisfirstrevealedtoonebelowtheCherubim,whowasgirtabouttheloinswithasapphire,andwasrobedinagarmentreachingtothefeet,thesymbolofanhierarch.ButtheDivineLawordainedthattheotherAngelsarmedwithbattle-axesshouldbeinstructedbytheformerrespectingthedivinejudgmentinthismatter.ForHedirectedtheonetogothroughthemidstofJerusalemandtosetamarkupontheforeheadsoftheinnocent;buttotheotherAngelsHesaid,-Gointothecity,followinghim,andstrike,andturnnotasideyoureyes;butdrawnotnearuntothoseuponwhomisthemark.

WhatcouldbesaidconcerningtheAngelwhosaidtoDaniel,-TheWordhasgoneforth-?orconcerningthathighestonewhotookthefirefromthemidstoftheCherubim?Orwhatcouldestablishmore——

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clearlythedistinctionbetweentheangelicranksthanthis,thattheCherubcastthefireintothehandsofhimwhowasclothedwiththesacredvestment?OrthatHewhocalledthemostdivineGabrieltoHimselfsaid,-Makethismanunderstandthevision-?AndmanyothersimilarthingsarerelatedbythevenerabletheologiansregardingtheDivineOrderoftheCelestialHierarchies.

Bymouldingitselfaftertheirlikenessourownhierarchywill,asfaraspossible,beassimilatedtoitandwill,inverydeed,showforth,asinimages,theangelicbeauty;receivingitsformfromthem,andbeingupliftedbythemtothesuperessentialSourceofeveryHierarchy.

CHAPTERIX

OfthePrincipalities,ArchangelsandAngels,andoftheirlastHierarchy,.

ThereremainsforusthereverentcontemplationofthatsacredOrderwhichcompletestheAngelicHierarchies,andiscomposedoftheDivinePrincipalities,ArchangelsandAngels.Andfirst,Ithink,Ioughttoexplaintothebestofmyabilitythemeaningsoftheirholynames.

ThenameoftheCelestialPrincipalitiessignifiestheirGodlikeprincelinessandauthoritativenessinanOrderwhichisholyandmostfittingtotheprincelyPowers,andthattheyarewhollyturnedtowardsthePrinceofPrinces,andleadothersinprincelyfashion,andthattheyareformed,asfaraspossible,inthelikenessoftheSourceofPrincipality,andrevealItssuperessentialorderbythe

AnImageofanAngelbyPerrugino——

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goodOrderoftheprincelyPowers.

ThechoiroftheholyArchangelsisplacedinthesamethreefoldOrderastheCelestialPrincipalities;for,ashasbeensaid,thereisoneHierarchyandOrderwhichincludestheseandtheAngels.ButsinceeachHierarchyhasfirst,middleandlastranks,theholyOrderofArchangels,throughitsmiddleposition,participatesinthetwoextremes,beingjoinedwiththemost.holyPrincipalitiesandwiththeholyAngels.

ItisjoinedwiththePrincedomsbecauseitisturnedinaprincelywaytothesuperessentialPrincipalityand,asfarasitcanattain,mouldsitselfinHislikeness,anditisseentobethecauseoftheunionoftheAngelswithitsownorderlyandinvisibleleadership.ItisjoinedwiththeAngelsbecauseitbelongstotheinterpretingOrder,receivinginitsturntheilluminationsfromtheFirstPowers,andbeneficentlyannouncingtheserevelationstotheAngels;andbymeansoftheAngelsitshowsthemforthtousinthemeasureofthemysticalreceptivityofeachonewhoisinspiredbythedivineIllumination.FortheAngels,aswehavesaid,fillupandcompletethelowestchoirofalltheHierarchiesoftheCelestialIntelligencessincetheyarethelastoftheCelestialBeingspossessingtheangelicnature.Andthey,indeed,aremoreproperlynamedAngelsbyusthanarethoseofahigherrankbecausetheirchoirismoredirectlyincontactWithmanifestedandmundanethings.

ThehighestOrder,aswehavesaid,beingintheforemostplaceneartheHiddenOne,mustberegardedashierarchicallyorderinginabiddenmannerthesecondOrder;andthesecondOrderofDominions,VirtuesandPowers,leadsthePrincipalities,ArchangelsandAngelsmoremanifestly,indeed,thanthefirstHierarchy,butinamorehiddenmannerthantheOrderbelowit;andthe——

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revealingOrderofthePrincipalities,ArchangelsandAngelspresidesonethroughtheotheroverthehumanhierarchiessothattheirelevationandturningtoGodandtheircommunionandunionwithHimmaybeinorder;andmoreover,thattheprocessionfromGod,beneficentlygrantedtoalltheHierarchies,andvisitingthemallincommon,maybewiththemostholyorder.

AccordinglytheWordofGodhasgivenourhierarchyintothecareofAngels,forMichaeliscalledLordofthepeopleofJudah,andotherAngelsareassignedtootherpeoples.FortheMostHighestablishedtheboundariesofthenationsaccordingtothenumberoftheAngelsofGod.

IfsomeoneshouldaskwhytheHebrewsalonewereguidedtothedivineIlluminations,weshouldanswerthattheturningawayofthenationstofalsegodsoughtnottobeattributedtothedirectguidanceofAngels,buttotheirownrefusalofthetruepathwhichleadstoGod,andthefallingawaythroughselfloveandperversity,andsimilarly,theworshipofthingswhichtheyregardedasdivine.

EventheHebrewsaresaidtohaveactedthus,forhesays,-ThouhastcastawaytheknowledgeofGodandhastgoneafterthineownheart.Forourlifeisnotruledbynecessity,norarethedivineirradiationsofProvidentialLightobscuredbecauseofthefreewillofthoseunderItscare;butitisthedissimilarityofthementaleyeswhichcausestheLightstreamingforthresplendentlyfromtheGoodnessoftheFathertobeeithertotallyunsharedandunacceptedthroughtheirresistancetoIt,orcausesanunequalparticipation,smallorgreat,darkorbright,ofthatFontalRaywhichneverthelessisoneandunmixed,eternallychangeless,andforeverabundantlyshedforth——

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ForevenifcertainGodsnotalientothempresidedovertheothernations(fromwhichweourselveshavecomeforthintothatillimitableandabundantseaofDivineLightwhichisoutspreadfreelyforalltoshare),yetthereisoneRulerofall,andtoHimtheAngelswhoministertoeachnationleadtheirfollowers.

LetusconsiderMelchisadek,thehierarchmostbelovedofGod-notofvaingods,butapriestofthetrulyhighestofGods-forthosewiseinthethingsofGoddidnotsimplycallMelchisadekthefriendofGod,butalsopriest,inordertoshowclearlytothewisethatnotonlywashehimselfturnedtoHimwhoistrulyGod,butalso,ashierarch,wastheleaderofothersintheascenttothetrueandonlyGodhead.

LetusalsoremindyouinconnectionwithyourknowledgeofhierarchythatPharaohwasshownthroughvisionsbytheAngelwhopresidedovertheEgyptians,andthePrinceofBabylonwasshownbyhisownAngel,thewatchfulandoverrulingPowerofProvidence.AndforthosenationstheservantsofthetrueGodwereappointedasleaders,theinterpretationsofangelicvisionshavingbeenrevealedfromGodthroughAngelstoholymenneartotheAngels,likeDanielandJoseph.

ForthereisoneSovereignandProvidenceofall,andwemustneversupposethatGodwasleaderoftheJewsbychance,northatcertainAngels,eitherindependently,orwithequalrank,orinoppositiontooneanother,ruledovertheothernations;butthisteachingmustbereceivedaccordingtothefollowingholyintention,notasmeaningthatGodhadsharedthesovereigntyofmankindwithotherGods,orwithAngels,andhadbeenchosenbychanceasrulerandleaderofIsrael,butasshowingthatalthoughoneall-powerfulProvidenceoftheMostHighconsignedthewholeofmankindtothecareoftheir——

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ownAngelsfortheirpreservation,yettheIsraelites,almostaloneofthemall,turnedtotheknowledgeandlightofthetrueGod.

ThereforetheWordofGod,whenrelatinghowIsraeldevotedhimselftotheworshipofthetrueGod,says,-HebecametheLord-sportion.Moreoveritshowsthathetoo,equallywithothernations,wasgivenintothechargeofoneoftheholyAngels,inorderthathemightknowthroughhimtheonePrincipleofallthings.ForitsaysthatMichaelwastheleaderoftheJews,clearlyshowingthatthereisoneProvidenceestablishedsuperessentiallyabovealltheinvisibleandvisiblepowers,andthatalltheAngelswhopresideoverthedifferentnationsliftuptothatProvidence,astotheirownPrinciple,asfarasisintheirpower,thosewhowillinglyfollowthem.

CHAPTERX

RecapitulationandsummaryoftheAngelicHierarchies.

WehaveagreedthatthemostvenerableHierarchyoftheIntelligences,whichisclosetoGod,isconsecratedbyHisfirstandhighestRay,andupliftingitselfdirectlytoIt,ispurified,illuminatedandperfectedbytheLightoftheGodheadwhichisbothmorehiddenandmorerevealed.ItismorehiddenbecauseItismoreintelligible,moresimplifying,andmoreunitive,ItismorerevealedbecauseItistheFirstGiftandtheFirstLight,andmoreuniversalandmoreinfusedwiththeGodhead,asthoughtransparent.Andbythisagainthesecondinitsowndegree,andbythesecondthethird,——

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andbythethirdourhierarchy,accordingtothesamelawoftheregularprincipleoforder,indivineharmonyandproportion,arehierarchically,leduptothesuper-primalSourceandEndofallgoodorders,accordingtothatdivinelyestablishedlaw.

EachOrderistheinterpreterandheraldofthoseaboveit,themostvenerablebeingtheinterpreterofGodwhoinspiresthem,andtheothersinturnofthoseinspiredbyGod.ForthatsuperessentialharmonyofallthingshasprovidedmostcompletelyfortheholyregulationandthesureguidanceofrationalandintellectualbeingsbytheestablishmentofthebeautifulchoirsofeachHierarchy;andweseethateveryHierarchypossessesfirst,middleandlastpowers.

Buttospeakrightly,Healsodividedeachrankinthesamedivineharmonies,andonthisaccounttheScripturessaythatthemostdivineSeraphimcryonetoanother,bywhich,asIthink,itisclearthatthefirstimparttothesecondtheirknowledgeofdivinethings.

Thismayfittinglybeadded,thateachCelestialandhumanintelligencecontainsinitselfitsownfirst,middleandlastpowers,whicharemanifestedinawayanalogoustotheaforesaidordinationbelongingtoeachoftheHierarchicalilluminations;andaccordinglyeachintelligence,asfarasisrightandattainabletoit,participatesinthemostspotlesspurity,themostabundantlight,andthemostcompleteperfection.Fornothingisself-perfectnorabsolutelyunindigentofperfection,saveonlyThatwhichistrulyself-perfectandaboveallperfection——

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CHAPTERXI

WhyalltheCelestialHierarchiesincommonarecalledCelestialPowers.

Nowthatthesethingshavebeendefined,thereasonforapplyingthegeneralname,CelestialPowers,toalltheAngelicbeingsdemandsourconsideration.Forwecannotsayofthese,aswecanoftheAngels,thattheOrderoftheholyPowersisthelastofall;moreover,thehigherOrdersofbeings,indeed,havepartintheilluminationsofthelowest,butthelastbynomeanspossessthoseofthefirst.AndforthisreasonalltheDivineIntelligencesarecalledCelestialPowers,butneverSeraphimorThronesorDominions;sincethelowestdonotshareinthewholecharacteristicsofthehighest.FortheAngels,andtheArchangelsabovethem,andthePrincipalities,andtherankswhichareplacedbytheologyafterthePowers,arefrequent1ycalledbyusCelestialPowers,incommonwithalltheotherholybeings.

Butwedenythatinusingthegeneralname,CelestialPowers,forallwecauseanyconfusionwithregardtothecharacteristicsofeachOrder.ForalltheDivineCelestialIntelligencesaredivided,accordingtothesupermundaneaccountofthem,intothreegroupsinrespectoftheiressence,powerandactivity;andwhenwenameallorsomeofthem,loosely,CelestialBeingsorCelestialPowers,wearereferringtothemindirectlyintermsofthatessenceorpowerwhicheachpossesses.

ButwemustnotassignthehighestcharacteristicsoftheholyPowers(whichwehavealreadywelldistinguished)toallthenatureswhollybelowthem,forthiswouldbringconfusionintothe——

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clearandharmoniousOrderofAngels:for,aswehavefrequentlyrightlyshown,thehighestOrderspossessinfullestmeasuretheholycharacteristicsofthelower,butthelowestdonotpossessthepre-eminentunitiveprinciplesofthosemorevenerablethanthemselves,becausetheFirstRadianceisimpartedtothemthroughthefirstOrdersaccordingtotheircapacity.

CHAPTERXII

WhytheHierarchsamongmenarecalledAngels.

ThosewhoearnestlystudytheholyScripturessometimesask,-Ifthelowestranksdonotpossesstothefullthepowersofthoseabovethem,whyisourHierarchcalledintheholyWordtheAngeloftheOmnipotentLord?-

This,however,doesnotcontradictwhathasbeenalreadydefined.Forwesaythatthelowestchoirsdonotpossesstheintegralandpre-eminentpowerofthehigherOrders,sincetheyreceiveitpartially,inthemeasureoftheircapacity,inaccordancewiththeoneharmoniousandbindingfellowshipofallthings.

Forexample,thechoiroftheholyCherubimparticipatesinhigherwisdomandknowledge,whilsttheOrdersbelowthemarethemselvesalsopartakersofwisdomandknowledge,butmorepartially,andinalowerdegreeproportionedtotheircapacity.FortheuniversalparticipationinwisdomandknowledgeissharedbyalltheDivineIntelligences,butthedegreeofparticipation,whetherimmediateandfirst,orsecondandinferior,isnotcommon,butisdeterminedforeachbyitsownrank.Thisalsomayberightlysaid——

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ofalltheDivineIntelligences,thatevenasthefirstpossessinthehighestdegreetheholycharacteristicsoftheOrdersbelowthem,sothelowestpossessthepowersofthehigher,notinequalmeasure,butinasubordinatedegree.

ThereforeIdonotthinkitunreasonablethattheScripturesshouldcallourhierarchsAngels,sincetheyparticipateaccordingtotheirownpowerintheinterpretativecharacteristicoftheAngels,andupliftthemselves,asfarasispossibletoman,intoanassimilationtotheAngelsasrevealersoftruth.

Youwillfind,moreover,thattheWordofGodnotonlycallstheseCelestialBeingsaboveusGods,butalsogivesthisnametosaintlymenamongstus,andtothosemenwho,inthehighestdegree,areloversofGod;althoughtheFirstandUnmanifestGodsuperessentiallytranscendsallthings,beingenthronedaboveall,andthereforenoneofthebeingsorthingswhicharecantrulybesaidtobewhollylikeHim,saveinsofarasthoseintellectualandrationalbeingswhoarewhollyturnedtowardsunionwithHim,asfarasisintheirpower,andwho,upliftingthemselvesperpetually,asfaraspossible,totheDivineRadiance,intheimitationofGod(ifitbelawfulsotospeak)withalltheirpowers,arethoughtworthyofthesamedivinename.

CHAPTERXIII

ThereasonwhytheprophetIsaiahissaidtohavebeenpurifiedbytheSeraphim.

Letusnowdealtothebestofourabilitywiththequestionwhythe——

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Seraphissaidtohavebeensenttooneoftheprophets.Forsomeonemayfeeldoubtoruncertaintyastowhyoneofthebeingsofthehighestrankismentionedascleansingtheprophet,insteadofoneofthelowerranksofAngels.

Some,indeed,saythataccordingtothedescriptionalreadygivenoftheinter-relationofalltheIntelligences,thepassagedoesnotrefertooneofthefirstoftheIntelligencesnearesttoGod,ashavingcometopurifythehierarch,butthatoneofthoseAngelswhoareourguardianswascalledbythesamenameastheSeraphimbecauseofhissacredfunctionofpurifyingtheprophet,forthereasonthattheremissionofsinsandtheregenerationofhimwhowaspurifiedtoobediencetoGodwasaccomplishedthroughfire.AndtheysayalsothatthepassagesimplysaysoneoftheSeraphim,notofthoseestablishedaroundGod,butofthepurifyingpowerswhichpresideoverus.

Butanothersuggestedtomeasolutionoftheproblembynomeansunlikely,forhesaidthatthegreatAngel,whoeverhemayhavebeen,whofashionedthisvisionforthepurposeofinstructingtheprophetindivinematters,referredhisownofficeofpurificationfirsttoGod,andafterGodtothatfirstHierarchy.Andisnotthisstatementtrue?ForhewhosaidthissaidthattheDivineFirstPowergoesforthvisitingallthings,andirresistiblypenetratesallthings,andyetisinvisibletoall,notonlyassuperessentiallytranscendingallthings,butalsobecauseIttransmitsItsProvidentialEnergiesinahiddenwaythroughallthings.Moreover,ItisrevealedtoallIntellectualNaturesindueproportion,andbestowstheradianceofItsLightuponthemostexaltedbeingsthroughwhom,asleaders,Itisimpartedtothelowerchoirsinorderaccordingtotheirpowerofdivinecontemplation;ortospeakinmoresimpleterms,bywayofillustration(foralthoughnaturalthingsdonottrulyresembleGod,——

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whotranscendsall,yettheyaremoreeasilyseenbyus),thelightofthesunpassesreadilythroughthefirstmatter,forthisismoretransparent,andbymeansofthisitdisplaysmorebrightlyitsownbrilliance;butwhenitfallsuponsomedensermaterialitisshedforthagainlessbrightlybecausethematerialwhichisilluminatedisnotadaptedforthetransmissionoflight,andafterthisitislittlebylittlediminisheduntilithardlypassesthroughatall.Similarly,theheatoffireimpartsitselfmorereadilytothatwhichismoreadaptedtoreceiveit,beingyieldingandconductivetoitslikeness;butuponsubstancesofoppositenaturewhichareresistanttoit,eithernoeffectatalloronlyaslighttraceoftheactionofthefireappears;andwhatismore,whenfireisappliedtomaterialsofoppositenaturethroughtheuseofothersubstancesreceptivetoitthefirefirstheatsthematerialwhichiseasilymadehot,andthroughit,heatsproportionatelythewaterorothersubstancewhichdoesnotsoeasilybecomehot.

Thus,accordingtothesamelawofthematerialorder,theFountofallorder,visibleandinvisible,supernaturallyshowsforththegloryofItsownradianceinall-blessedoutpouringsoffirstmanifestationtothehighestbeings,andthroughthemthosebelowthemparticipateintheDivineRay.ForsincethesehavethehighestknowledgeofGod,anddesirepre-eminentlytheDivineGoodness,theyarethoughtworthytobecomefirstworkers,asfarascanbeattained,oftheimitationoftheDivinePowerandEnergy,andbeneficentlyupliftthosebelowthem,asfarasisintheirpower,tothesameimitationbysheddingabundantlyuponthemthesplendourwhichhascomeuponthemselves;whilethese,inturn,imparttheirlighttolowerchoirs.Andthus,throughoutthewholeHierarchy,thehigherimpartthatwhichtheyreceivetothelower,andthroughtheDivineProvidenceallaregrantedparticipationintheDivineLightinthemeasureoftheirreceptivity——

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Thereis,therefore,oneSourceofLightforeverythingwhichisilluminated,namely,God,whobyHisNature,trulyandrightly,istheEssenceofLight,andCauseofbeingandofvision.ButitisordainedthatinimitationofGodeachofthehigherranksofbeingsisthesourceinturnfortheonewhichfollowsit;sincetheDivineRaysarepassedthroughittotheother.ThereforethebeingsofalltheAngelicranksnaturallyconsiderthehighestOrderoftheCelestialIntelligencesasthesource,afterGod,ofallholyknowledgeandimitationofGod,becausethroughthemtheLightoftheSupremeGodisimpartedtoallandtous.Onthisaccounttheyreferallholyworks,inimitationofGod,toGodastheUltimateCause,buttothefirstDivineIntelligencesasthefirstregulatorsandtransmittersofDivineEnergies.

ThereforethefirstOrderoftheholyAngelspossessesaboveallothersthecharacteristicoffire,andtheabundantparticipationofDivineWisdom,andthepossessionofthehighestknowledgeoftheDivineIlluminations,andthecharacteristicofThroneswhichsymbolizesopennesstothereceptionofGod.ThelowerOrdersoftheCelestialBeingsparticipatealsointhesefiery,wiseandGod-receptivePowers,butinalowerdegree,andaslookingtothoseabovethemwho,beingthoughtworthyoftheprimaryimitationofGod,upliftthem,asfaraspossible,intothelikenessofGod.

Theseholycharacteristicsinwhichthesecondarynaturesaregrantedparticipationthroughthefirst,theyascribetothoseveryIntelligences,afterGod,asHierarchs.

HewhogavethisexplanationusedtosaythatthevisionwasshowntotheprophetbyoneofthoseholyandblessedAngelswhopresideoverus,bywhoseenlighteningguidancehewasraisedto——

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thatintellectualcontemplationinwhichhebeheldthemostexaltedBeings(tospeakinsymbols)establishedunderGod,withGodandaroundGod;andtheirsuper-princelyLeader,ineffablyupliftedabovethemall,establishedinthemidstofthesupremelyexaltedPowers.

Theprophet,therefore,learnedfromthesevisionsthat,accordingtoeverysuperessentialexcellence,thedivineOnesubsistsinincomparablepre-eminence,excellingallvisibleandinvisiblepowers,aboveandexemptfromall;andthatHebearsnolikenesseventothosefirst-subsistingBeings;andmoreoverthatHeisthePrincipleandCauseofallbeing,andtheImmutableFoundationoftheabidingstabilityofthingsthatare,fromwhichthemostexaltedPowershaveboththeirbeingandtheirwell-being.ThenhewasinstructedthattheDivinePowersoftheholyScriptures,whosesacrednamemeans-TheFieryOnes-,andofwhichweshallsoonspeak,asfaraswecan,ledtheupliftmentofthefierypowertowardstheDivineLikeness.

WhentheholyprophetsawinthesacredvisionofthesixfoldwingsthemosthighandabsoluteupliftmenttotheDivineinfirst,middleandlastIntelligences,andbeheldtheirmanyfeetandmanyfaces,andperceivedthattheireyesandtheirfeetwerecoveredbytheirwings,andthatthemiddlewingswereinceaselessmovement,hewasguidedtotheintelligibleknowledgeofthatwhichwasseenthroughtherevelationtohimofthefarreachingandfar-seeingpowerofthemostexaltedIntelligences,andoftheirholyawewhichtheyhaveinasupermundanemannerintheboldandpersistentandunendingsearchintohigheranddeeperMysteries,andtheperfectharmonyoftheirceaselessactivityinimitationofGod,andtheirperpetualupwardsoaringtotheheights——

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Moreover,healsolearnedthatdivineandmostglorioussongofpraise;fortheAngelwhofashionedthevisiongave,asfaraspossible,hisownholyknowledgetotheprophet.HealsotaughthimthateveryparticipationintheDivineLightandPurity,asfarasthismaybeattained,isapurification,eventothemostpure.HavingitssourceintheMostHighGod,itproceedsfromthemostexaltedCausesinasuperessentialandhiddenmanner,traversingthewholeoftheDivineIntelligences,andyetitshowsitselfmoreclearly,andimpartsitselfmorefullytothemostexaltedPowersaroundGod.

Butastothesecondaryorlastintellectualpowers,orourownpowers,inproportionaseachisfurtherfromtheDivineLikeness,sotheDivineRayenfoldsItsmostbrilliantlightwithinItsownineffableandhiddenUnity.Moreover,ItilluminatesthesecondOrdersseverallythroughthefirst,andinshort,ItcomesforthoriginallyintomanifestationfromtheUnmanifestthroughthefirstPowers.

TheprophetwastaughtbytheAngelwhowasleadinghimtolightthatthedivinepurification,andalltheotherdivineactivitiesshiningforththroughtheFirstBeings,areimpartedtoalltheothersinthemeasureofthefitnessofeachforthedivineparticipations.

WhereforehereasonablyassignedtotheSeraphim,afterGod,thecharacteristicofimpartingpurificationbyfire.AndthereisnothingunreasonableintherepresentationoftheSeraphaspurifyingtheprophet;forjustasGodHimself,thecauseofeverypurification,purifiesall,orrather(touseamorefamilarillustration),justasourhierarch,whenpurifyingorenlighteningthroughhispriestsorministers,mayhimselfbesaidtopurifyandilluminate,because

Cherubs,byPinturicchio——

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thoseorderswhichhehasconsecratedrefertheirsacredactivitiestohim,soalsotheAngelwhopurifiestheprophetrefershisownpurifyingpowerandknowledgetoGodasitsorigin,buttotheSeraphasthefirst-workingHierarch-asthoughsayingwithangelicreverencewheninstructinghimwhowasbeingpurified:-ThereisanexemptSourceandEssenceandCreatorandCauseofthepurificationeffectedinyoubyme,HewhobringsintobeingtheFirstBeings,andholdsthemestablishedroundHimself,andpreservestheirchangelessstability,andguidesthemtowardsthefirstparticipationsinHisownProvidentialEnergies-(Forthis,sohesaidwhotaughtme,showsthemissionoftheSeraph.)-ButtheHierarchandLeader,afterGod,thefirstOrderofthefirstBeings,bywhomIwastaughttoperformthedivinepurifications,isthatwhichpurifiestheethroughme;andthroughittheCauseandCreatorofallpurificationbroughtforthHisProvidentialEnergiestousfromthehiddendepths-

Thushetaughtme,andIinturnimpartittothee.Itisforthyintellectualanddiscriminatingskilleithertoacceptoneofthetworeasonsgivenasasolutionofthedifficulty,andpreferthattotheotherasprobableandreasonableandperhapstrue,ortofindfromthyselfsomethingmoreakintotherealtruth,orlearnfromanother(Godindeedgivingtheword,andAngelsdirectingit),andthentorevealtouswholovetheAngelsaclearer,andtomemorewelcomeview,ifsuchshouldbepossible——

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CHAPTERXIV

WhatthetraditionalnumberoftheAngelssignifies.

Thisalsoisworthy,Ithink,ofintellectualconsideration,thatthescripturaltraditionrespectingtheAngelsgivestheirnumberasthousandsofthousandsandtenthousandtimestenthousand,multiplyingandrepeatingtheveryhighestnumberswehave,thusclearlyshowingthattheOrdersoftheCelestialBeingsareinnumerableforus;somanyaretheblessedHostsoftheSupermundaneIntelligences,whollysurpassingthefeebleandlimitedrangeofourmaterialnumbers.AndtheyaredefinitelyknownonlybytheirownsupermundaneandcelestialIntellectandtheknowledgewhichisgrantedtothemallbounteouslybytheAll-knowingMother-WisdomoftheMostHighGod,whichissuperessentiallyatoncethesubstantiatingCause,theconnectingPower,andtheuniversalConsummationofallprinciplesandthings.

CHAPTERXV

WhatisthemeaningoftheformalsemblancesoftheAngelicPowers?Whatofthefieryandtheanthropomorphic?Whatismeantbytheiryes,nostrils,ears,mouths,touch,eyelidseyebrowstheirmanhood,teeth,shoulders,arms,hands,heart,breasts,backs,feetandwings?Whatarethenakednessandthevesture,theshiningraiment,thepriestlyinsignia,thegirdles?Whataretherods,spears,battle-axesandmeasuring-lines?Whatarethewindsandclouds?Whatismeantbytheirbrassandelectron?Whatarethechoirsandtheclappingofbands?Whatarethecoloursofthevariousjewels?——

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Whatistheformofthelion,theox,theeagle?Whatarethehorses,andtheirvariouscolours?Whataretherivers,thechariots,thewheels?Whatistheso-calledjoyoftheAngels?

Letus,ifyouaresodisposed,nowrelaxourmentalvisionfromtheeffortofthecontemplationofthesublimityoftheAngels,anddescendtotheparticularized,all-variousexpanseofthemanifolddiversityofformsinangelicimages;andthenreturnanalyticallyfromthem,asfromsymbols,ascendingagaintothesimplicityoftheCelestialIntelligences.ButfirstletmepointoutclearlytoyouthattheexplanationsofthesacredlikenessesrepresentthesameOrdersofCelestialBeingssometimesasleading,andagainbeingled,andthelastleadingandthefirstbeingled,andthesameones,ashasbeensaid,havingfirst,middleandlastpowers.Butthereisnothingunreasonableintheaccount,accordingtothefollowingmethodofunfoldment.

If,indeed,wesaidthatsomearefirstgovernedbythoseabovethem,andafterwardsgovernthoseOrders,andthatthehighest,whilstleadingthelowestranks,areatthesametimebeingledbythosewhomtheyareleading,thestatementwouldbeobviouslyabsurdandwhollyconfused.ButifwesaythattheseholyOrdersbothleadandareled,butnotthesameones,norbythesameones,butthateachisledbythoseaboveitself,andinturnleadsthosebelowit,wemayreasonablysaythattheScriptureinitssacredsymbolicpresentationsometimesrightlyandtrulyassignsthesamepowerstothefirst,middleandlastranks.

Whereforetheeagerupwardtendingtothoseabovethem,andtheconstancyoftheirrevolutionaroundthem,beingguardiansoftheirownpowers,andtheirparticipationintheprovidentialpowerof——

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proceedingforthtothosebelowthemthroughtheirowninter-relations,willtrulybefitalltheCelestialBeings,althoughsomepre-eminentlyanduniversally,othersinapartialandlowerdegree.

Butwemustbegintodealwiththeremainingpartofourdiscourse,andmustask,infirstexplanationoftheforms,whytheWordofGodprefersthesacredsymboloffirealmostaboveallothers.Foryouwillfindthatitisusednotonlyunderthefigureoffierywheels,butalsooflivingcreaturesoffire,andofmenflashinglikelightningwhoheaplivecoalsoffireabouttheHeavenlyBeings,andofirresistiblyrushingriversofflame.AlsoitsaysthattheThronesareoffire,anditshowsfromtheirnamethatthemostexaltedSeraphimthemselvesareburningwithfire,assigningtothemthequalitiesandforcesoffire;andthroughout,aboveandbelow,itgivesthehighestpreferencetothesymboloffire.

ThereforeIthinkthatthisimageoffiresignifiestheperfectconformitytoGodoftheCelestialIntelligencesFortheholyprophetsfrequentlylikenthatwhichissuperessentialandformlesstofirewhich(ifitmaylawfullybesaid)possessesmanyresemblancesasinvisiblethingstotheDivineReality.Forthesensiblefireisinsomemannerineverything,andpervadesallthingswithoutminglingwiththem,andisexemptfromallthingsand,althoughwhollybright,yetliesessentiallyhiddenandunknownwhennotincontactwithanysubstanceonwhichitcanexertitsownenergy.Itisirresistibleandinvisible,havingabsoluteruleoverallthings,bringingunderitsownpowerallthingsinwhichitsubsists.Ithastransformingpower,andimpartsitselfinsomemeasuretoeverythingnearit.Itrevivesallthingsbyitsrevivifyingheat,andilluminatesthemallwithitsresplendentbrightness.Itisinsuperableandpure,possessingseparativepower,butitselfchangeless,uplifting,penetrative,high,notheldbackby——

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servilebaseness,ever-moving,selfmoved,movingotherthings.Itcomprehends,butisincomprehensible,unindigent,mysteriouslyincreasingitselfandshowingforthitsmajestyaccordingtothenatureofthesubstancereceivingit,powerful,mighty,invisiblypresenttoallthings.Whennotthoughtof,itseemsnottoexist,butsuddenlyenkindlesitslightinthewaypropertoitsnaturebyfriction,asthoughseekingtodoso,uncontrollablyflyingupwardswithoutdiminishingitsall-blessedself-giving.

ThusmanypropertiesoffiremaybefoundwhichsymbolizethroughsensibleimagestheDivineactivities.Knowingthis,thosewiseinthethingsofGodhaveportrayedtheCelestialBeingsunderthefigureoffire,thusproclaimingtheirlikenesstotheDivine,andtheirimitationofHiminthemeasureoftheirpower.

Buttheyalsoinvestthemwiththelikenessofmenbecauseofthehumanpowersofintellectandaspiration,thestraightanderectform,theinherentpowerofguidingandgoverning;andbecauseman,althoughleastinsense-perceptionincomparisonwiththepowersofirrationalcreatures,yetrulesoverthemallthroughthepre-eminenceofhisintellect,thelordshipofhisrationalknowledge,andtheintrinsicfreedomofhisunconquerablesoul.

Thusitispossible,Ithink,tofindinthevariouspartsofourbodiesfittingsymbolsoftheCelestialPowersbytaking,forexample,thepowerofsightasanimageoftheirmosttransparentupliftmenttotheDivineLight,theirsingle,free,unresistingreceptionofthatLight,theirresponsivenessandpurereceptivitywithoutpassiontothedivineilluminations.

Thehumanpowerofdistinguishingodourssignifiesthepowertoreceivetheinconceivableandmostfragrantdivineinfluences,as——

AnAngelasenvisionedbyRembrandt-

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farasisattainable,andthedefiniterecognitionandutterrejectionofothersnotofthiskind.

Thepoweroftheearsdenotesparticipationinandconsciousgnosticreceptivitytodivineinspiration.Thepoweroftasterepresentsanabundanceofspiritualfoodandthereceptionofdivinestreamsofnourishment.

Thepoweroftouchsymbolizesthepowerofdistinguishingthatwhichisofadvantagefromthatwhichisharmful.Theeyelidsandeyebrowsrepresenttheguardingofintellectualconceptionsindivinecontemplations.Theimagesofyouthandvigourdenotetheirperpetualbloomandvigouroflife.Theteethsymbolizethedistributionofthesustainingperfectionsuppliedtothem;foreachIntellectualOrder,receivingaunitiveconceptionfromtheDivine,withProvidentialPowerdividesandmultipliesitfortheproportionateupliftmentoftheonebelow.

Theshoulders,armsandhandssignifythepowersofactivityandaccomplishment.TheheartisasymbolofthatDivineLifewhichimpartsitsownlife-givingpowerbeneficentlytothosewithinitscare.Wemayaddthatthechest,beingplacedovertheheart,representstheindomitablepowerwhichguardsitsownlife-givingdispensations.Thebackdenotesthatstrengthwhichholdstogetherallthelife-givingpowers.Thefeetsignifythepowerofmotion,swiftnessandskilfulnessintheevermovingadvancetowardsdivinethings.WhereforetheprophetdescribedthefeetoftheCelestialIntelligencesasbeingcoveredbytheirwingswhichsymbolizeaswiftsoaringtotheheights,andtheheavenlyprogressionupthesteep,andtheexemptionfromeverythingearthlythroughtheupwardascent.Thelightnessofthewingsshowsthattheyarealtogetherheavenlyandunsulliedanduntrammelledin——

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theirupliftmentonhigh.Thenakedandunshodfeetsymbolizetheirfree,easyandunrestrainedpower,purefromallexternality,andassimilated,asfarasisattainable,totheDivineSimplicity.

ButsincethatsingleandmanifoldWisdombothclothesthenakedandassignstothemimplementstocarry,letusunfold,asfaraswecan,thesesacredgarmentsandinstrumentsoftheCelestialIntelligences.

Theirshiningandfieryvesturessymbolizes,Ithink,theDivineLikenessundertheimageoffire,andtheirownenlighteningpower,becausetheyabideinHeaven,whereLightis:andalsoitshowsthattheyimpartwhollyintelligibleLight,andareenlightenedintellectually.

Theirpriestlygarmentsymbolizestheirauthorityasleaderstothemysticalanddivinecontemplations,andtheconsecrationoftheirwholelife.Thegirdlesdenotetheirguardianshipoftheirowngenerativepower,andtheirstateofunification,fortheyarewhollydrawntogethertowardstheiressentialunitysurroundingitinaperfectcirclewithchangelesssameness.

Therodsaretokensoftheauthorityofsovereigntyandleadershipandthetruedirectingofallthings.Thespearsandbattle-axesrepresentthepowerofdividingincongruousthingsandthekeen,vigorousandeffectualpowerofdiscrimination.Themeasuring-linesandcarpenters-toolsarefiguresofthepoweroffoundationanderectionandperfection,andwhateverelsebelongstotheprovidentialguidanceandupliftmentofthelowerorders.Sometimes,however,theimplementsassignedtotheholyAngelssymbolizethedivinejudgmentuponourselves;forsomearefiguresofHiscorrectivedisciplineofavengingjustice,othersoffreedom——

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fromdifficulties,ortheperfectionofdisciplinaryinstruction,ortherestorationtoourfirsthappiness,whileotherssignifytheadditionofothergifts,greatorsmall,sensibleorintelligible;andnoacutemindwouldhaveanydifficultyatallinfindingthecorrespondencebetweenthevisiblesymbolsandtheinvisiblerealities.

ThenamewindsgiventotheAngelsdenotestheirswiftoperations,andtheiralmostimmediateimpenetrationofeverything,andatransmittingpowerinallrealms,reachingfromtheabovetothebelow,andfromthedepthstotheheights,andthepowerwhichupliftsthesecondnaturestotheheightabovethem,andmovesthefirsttoaparticipativeandprovidentialupliftmentofthelower.

Butperhapsitmaybesaidthatthenamewinds,appliedtotheaerialspirit,signifiestheDivineLikenessintheCelestialBeings.ForthefigureisatrueimageandtypeofDivineEnergy(asisshownmorefullyintheSymbolicalTheologyinourfourfoldexplanation)correspondingtothemovingandgenerativeforcesofNature,andaswiftandirresistibleadvance,andthemystery,unknownandunseenbyus,ofthemotiveprinciplesandends.ForHesays:-Thouknowestnotwhenceitcomethnorwhitheritgoeth-TheScripturesalsodepictthemasacloud,showingbythisthattheseholyIntelligencesarefilledinasupermundanemannerwiththehiddenLight,receivingthatfirstrevelationwithoutundueglorying,andtransmittingitwithabundantbrightnesstothelowerOrdersasasecondary,proportionateillumination;andfurther,thatthey,possessgenerating,lifegiving,increasingandperfectingpowersbyreasonoftheirintelligibleoutpourings,asofshowersquickeningthereceptivewombofearthbyfertilizingrainsforlife-givingtravail——

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TheScripturesalsolikentheCelestialBeingstobrassandelectron,andmanycolouredjewels.Nowelectron,[analloyofsilverandgold]resemblingbothgoldandsilver,islikegoldinitsresistancetocorruptionunspentandundiminished,anditsundimmedbrightness;andislikesilverinitsshiningandheavenlylustre.Butthesymbolismofbrass(inlinewiththeexplanationsalreadygiven)mustresemblethatoffireorgold.Again,ofthemanycolouredvarietiesofstones,thewhiterepresentsthatwhichisluminous,andtheredcorrespondstofire,yellowtogold,andgreentoyouthandvigour.Thuscorrespondingtoeachfigureyouwillfindamysticalinterpretationwhichrelatesthesesymbolicalimagestothethingsabove.

Butnow,sincethishasbeensufficientlyexplained,Ithink,accordingtoourability,letuspassontothesacredunfoldmentofthesymbolismwhichdepictstheCelestialIntelligencesinthelikenessofbeasts.

Theformofalionmustberegardedastypifyingtheirpowerofsovereignty,strengthandindomitableness,andtheardentstrivingupwardwithalltheirpowerstothatmosthidden,ineffable,mysteriousDivineUnityandthecoveringoftheintellectualfoot-prints,(7)andthemysticallymodestconcealmentofthewayleadingtodivineunionthroughtheDivineIllumination.

Thefigureoftheoxsignifiesstrengthandvigourandtheopeningoftheintellectualfurrowstothereceptionoffertilizingshowers;andthehornssignifytheguardingandunconquerablepower.Theformoftheeaglesignifiesroyaltyandhighsoaringandswiftnessofflightandtheeagerseizingofthatfoodwhichrenewstheirstrength,discretion,andeaseofmovementandskill,withstrongintensityofvisionwhichhasthepowertogazeunhindered,directlyandunflinchinglyuponthefullandbrilliantsplendourofthebrightnessoftheDivineSun——

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Thesymbolismofhorsesrepresentsobedienceandtractability.TheshiningwhitehorsesdenotecleartruthandthatwhichisperfectlyassimilatedtotheDivineLightthedark,thatwhichishiddenandsecret;thered,fierymightandenergy;thedappledblackandwhite,thatpowerwhichtraversesallandconnectstheextremes,providential1yandwithperfectingpowerunitingthehighesttothelowestandthelowesttothehighest.

Ifwehadnottobearinmindthelengthofourdiscourse,wemightwelldescribethesymbolicrelationsoftheparticularcharacteristicsofanimalsalreadygiven,andalltheirbodilyforms,withthepowersoftheCelestialIntelligencesaccordingtodissimilarsimilitudes:forexample,theirfuryofangerrepresentsanintellectualpowerofresistanceofwhichangeristhelastandfaintestecho;theirdesiresymbolizestheDivineLove;andinshort,wemightfindinalltheirrationaltendenciesandmanypartsofirrationalcreatures,figuresoftheimmaterialconceptionsandsinglepowersoftheCelestialBeings.This,however,isenoughfortheprudent,foronemysticalinterpretationwillsufficientlyserveasanexamplefortheexplanationofothersofasimilarkind.

WemustnowconsidertherepresentationsoftheCelestialBeingsinconnectionwithriversandwheelsandchariots.TheriversofflamedenotethoseDivineChannelswhichfillthemwithsuper-abundantandeternallyout-pouringstreamsandnourishtheirlife-givingprolificness.

ThechariotssymbolizetheconjoinedfellowshipofthoseofthesameOrder;thewingedwheels,evermovingonward,never——

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turningbackorgoingaside,denotethepoweroftheirprogressiveenergyonastraightanddirectpathinwhichalltheirintellectualrevolutionsaresupermundanelyguideduponthatstraightandunswervingcourse.

Thefigureofthespiritualwheelscanalsohaveanothermysticalmeaning,fortheprophetsaysthatthenameGel,Gelisgiventothem,whichintheHebrewtonguemeansrevolutionsandrevelations.Forthedivinefierywheelstrulyrevolve,byreasonoftheirceaselessmovement,aroundthehighestGoodItself,andtheyaregrantedrevelationsbecausetothemtheholyhiddenMysteriesaremadeclear,andtheearthlyareliftedup,andthehighilluminationsarebroughtdownandimpartedtothelowestorders.

ThelastthingforustoexplainisthejoyattributedtotheCelestialOrders.Fortheyareutterlyaboveandbeyondourpassionatepleasures.ButtheyaresaidtorejoicewithGodoverthefindingofthatwhichwaslost,aswellbefitstheGodlikemildnessoftheirnature,andasbefitstheirbeneficentandboundlessjoyattheprovidentialsalvationofthosewhoareturnedtoGod,andthatineffableblissinwhichholymenhaveoftenparticipatedwhentheilluminationsofGodhavedivinelyvisitedthem.

Letthisbeasufficientaccountofthosesacredsymbolswhich,althoughitfallsfarshortoftheirfullinterpretation,willyet,Ithink,contributetopreventusfromlingeringbaselyinthefiguresandformsthemselves.

IfyoushouldpointoutthatwehavenotmentionedinorderalltheAngelicpowers,activitiesandimagesdescribedinthescriptures,weshouldanswertrulythatwedonotpossessthesupermundaneknowledgeofsome,orratherthatwehaveneedofanotherto——

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guideustothelightandinstructus;butothershavebeenpassedoverforthesakeofproportion,asbeingparalleltowhathasbeengiven;andthehiddenMysterieswhichliebeyondourviewwehavehonouredbysilence.

NOTES

(1)-Achainlikewiseextendsfromonhigh,asfarastothelastofthings,secondarynaturesalwaysexpressingthepowersofthenaturespriortothem,progressionindeeddiminishingthesimilitude,butallthingsatthesametime,andevensuchasmostobscurelyparticipateofexistence,bearingasimilitudetothefirstcauses,andbeingco-passivewitheachotherandwiththeiroriginalcauses——Proclus,TbeologyofPlato,VI.4

(2)-Foreverythingwhichisconvertedhastenstobeconjoinedwithitscauseandaspiresaftercommunionwithit——PropositionXXXII.Proclus,MetaphysicalElements-

Thesouloughtfirsttoexamineitsownnature,toknowwhetherithasthefacultyofcontemplatingspiritualthings,andwhetherithasindeedaneyewherewithtoseethem,andifitoughttoembarkonthequest.Ifthespiritualisforeigntoit,whatistheuseoftrying?Butifthereisarelationshipbetweenusandit,webothcanandoughttofindit-Plotinus,Ennead,V.1-3

(3)-Theprogressionsofbeings,however,arecompletedthroughsimilitude.Buttheterminationsofthehigherordersareunitedtothebeginningsofsecondorders.Andoneseriesandindissoluble——

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orderextendsfromonhighthroughthesurpassinggoodnessoftheFirstCauseandHisunifiedPower.ForbecauseindeedHeisOneHeisthesupplierofunion;butbecauseHeistheGoodHeconstitutesthingssimilartoHimpriortosuchasaredissimilar.Andthusallthingsareincontinuitywitheachother.Forifthiscontinuitywerebrokentherewouldnotbeunion——Proclus,TbeologyofPlato,VI.11.

(4)-Everythingwhichproceedsinthedivineordersisnotnaturallyadaptedtoreceiveallthepowersofitsproducingcause.Notinshort,aresecondarynaturesabletoreceiveallthepowersofthenaturespriortothemselves,butthelatterhavecertainpowersexemptfromthingsinininferiororder,andincomprehensiblebythebeingsposteriortothemselves——PropositionCL.Proclus,MetaphysicalElements.

(5)-TherearenineOrdersofAngels,figuresofthenineArchetypesinGod;andeachoneobtainsanamecorrespondingtothepropertyinGodwhichitexhibits-Further,theCherubimarethose-whomaybecalledlovingWisdoms,asthosefirstmaybecalledwiseLoves.Forthereisineachbothloveandwisdom.Butinthefirst,inasmuchastheyarenearertoGod,theverySunofTruth,thisexistsinafargreaterdegreeSuchthenisthedifferencebetweentheseOrders:namely,thatinthelatterisknowledgeproceedingfromlove;intheformerisloveproceedingfromknowledge——Inthethirdrankarethosewho,fromtheirunity,simplicity,constancyandfirmness,aresometimescalledThrones,sometimesSeats;who-themselvesalsoarewiseandloving.Butfromtheirsimplicity,theyhavetheattributesofunity,power,strength,fortitude,steadfastness.WhichveryattributestheCherubimandSeraphimalsopossessSteadfastnesscomesfromsimplicity,simplicityfrompurification.Forwheneachobjectispurifiedbacktoitsown——

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simplenature,then,beinguncompounded,itremainsindissolublethroughitsunity.WhenceitisclearthatpurificationisassignedtotheThrones.Moreover,whenathingispurified,itisillumined,andafteritisillumined,itisperfected.ThislastofficeisgiventotheSeraphs,theothertotheCherubs.Amongthemall,ineverythreefoldmanncr,thereisastrivingwithalltheirmighttoimitateGod;whoisPurificationItself,theParentofunities;whoistheveryIlluminationofthoseunities;whoislastlytheveryPerfectionoftheilluminated.Powercleanses,cleartruthmakesserene,finishedlovemakesperfect——ThusdoesGodbeamforthwithfirmness,wisdomandloveintheThrones,CherubsandSeraphs,whichthreefoldsystemoftheDivineRaygoesforth,andcausesthatinthePowers,VirtuesandDominionsthereshouldbereflectedHisdivineandfirmPower,HiswiseVirtueandthemostlovingDominion;andthattheTrinityofGod,coequalinItself,shouldshinewithsoftenedlustre,fillingnowthesecondplaceunderthatfirstone——AmongalltheAngels,fromthehigheronesevendowntous,thereisamutualandalternateannouncementproceedingfromabove;astheyreceiveanddeliverinturnwhattheyannounceinamarvellousandmostbeautifulorder.SinceamongtheAngelsthemselvesthereisanorderofallordinancesafterthepatternoftheOrderofallButeveryannouncementisareceiving,informing,purifying,enlightening,perfectingandrepresentingoftheDivineTruth;theLightofwhichasitgoesforthinorderandshinesuponall,sodistinguishesandmarkseachobjectinawonderfulmanner,thateverythingshinesforthinitinitsownproperquality,andstandsoutandappearsinitsownnature,withitsindividualpowersandoffice,exhibitinginitsowndegreesomeperfectioninGod,inwhomallperfectionisinitshighest;nay,rather,whoisHimselftheproperPerfectionofeveryone,perfectingallthings,inwhomthereisnothingperfectbutHimself-JohnColet,Works,J.H.Lupton,ed.,(London:G.Bell,1869)——

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(6)-Forallthingsconcurwitheachotherthroughsimilitude,andcommunicatethepowerswhichtheypossess.Andfirstnatures,indeed,impartbyilluminationthegiftofthemselvestosecondarynatures,inunenvyingabundance.Buteffectsareestablishedintheircauses.Anindissolubleconnection,likewise,andcomnmunionofwholes,andacolligationofagentsandpatients,aresurveyedintheworld——Proclus,TbeologyofPlato,VI.4

(7)Thelionwassaidbytheancientstoerasehisfootprintswithhistail.

The Mystical Theology The Mystical Theology
    DionysiustheAreopagite

THEMYSTICALTHEOLOGY

CHAPTERI

WhatistheDivineDarkness?

SupernalTriad,Deityaboveallessence,knowledgeandgoodness;GuideofChristianstoDivineWisdom;directourpathtotheultimatesummitofyourmysticalknowledge,mostincomprehensible,mostluminousandmostexalted,wherethepure,absoluteandimmutablemysteriesoftheologyareveiledinthedazzlingobscurityofthesecretSilence,outshiningallbrilliancewiththeintensityoftheirDarkness,andsurchargingourblindedintellectswiththeutterlyimpalpableandinvisiblefairnessofgloriessurpassingallbeauty.

Letthisbemyprayer;butdo,dearTimothy,inthediligentexerciseofmysticalcontemplation,leavebehindthesensesandtheoperationsoftheintellect,andallthingssensibleandintellectual,andallthingsintheworldofbeingandnonbeing,thatyoumayarisebyunknowingtowardstheunion,asfarasisattainable,withitthattranscendsallbeingandallknowledge.(1)Forbytheunceasingandabsoluterenunciationofyourselfandofallthingsyoumaybeborneonhigh,throughpureandentireself-abnegation,intothesuperessentialRadianceoftheDivineDarkness.(2)

Butthesethingsarenottobedisclosedtotheuninitiated,bywhomImeanthoseattachedtotheobjectsofhumanthought,andwho——

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believethereisnosuperessentialRealitybeyond,andwhoimaginethatbytheirownunderstandingtheyknowitthathasmadeDarknessItssecretplace.AndiftheprinciplesofthedivineMysteriesarebeyondtheunderstandingofthese,whatistobesaidofothersstillmoreincapablethereof,whodescribethetranscendentalFirstCauseofallbycharacteristicsdrawnfromthelowestorderofbeings,whiletheydenythatitisinanywayabovetheimageswhichtheyfashionaftervariousdesigns;whereastheyshouldaffirmthat,whileitpossessesallthepositiveattributesoftheuniverse(beingtheUniversalCause)yet,inamorestrictsense,itdoesnotpossessthem,sinceittranscendsthemall;whereforethereisnocontradictionbetweentheaffirmationsandthenegations,inasmuchasitinfinitelyprecedesallconceptionsofdeprivation,beingbeyondallpositiveandnegativedistinctions.

ThustheblessedBartholomewassertsthatthedivinescienceisbothvastandminute,andthattheGospelisgreatandbroad,yetconciseandshort;signifyingbythis,thatthebeneficentCauseofallismosteloquent,yetuttersfewwords,orratherisaltogethersilent,ashavingneither(human)speechnor(human)understanding,becauseitissuper-essentiallyexaltedabovecreatedthings,andrevealsitselfinItsnakedTruthtothosealonewhopassbeyondallthatispureorimpure,andascendabovethetopmostaltitudesofholythings,andwho,leavingbehindthemalldivinelightandsoundandheavenlyutterances,plungeintotheDarknesswheretrulydwells,astheOraclesdeclare,thatONEwhoisbeyondall.(3)

ItwasnotwithoutreasonthattheblessedMoseswascommandedfirsttopurifyhimselfandthemtoseparatehimselffromthosewhohadnotundergonepurifcation;andaftertheentirepurification——

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heardmanytrumpetsandsawmanylightsstreamingforthwithpureandmanifoldrays;andthathewasthereafterseparatedfromthemultitude,withtheelectpriests,andpressedforwardtothesummitofthedivineascent.Nevertheless,hedidnotattaintothePresenceofGoditself;hesawnotit(foritcannotbelookedupon)butthePlacewhereitdwells.AndthisItaketosignifythatthedivinestandhighestthingsseenbytheeyesorcontemplatedbythemindarebutthesymbolicalexpressionsofthosethatareimmediatelybeneathitthatisaboveall.Throughthese,ItsincomprehensiblePresenceismanifesteduponthoseheightsofItsHolyPlaces;thatthenItbreaksforth,evenfromthatwhichisseenandthatwhichsees,andplungesthemysticintotheDarknessofUnknowing,whenceallperfectionofunderstandingisexcluded,andheisenwrappedinthatwhichisaltogetherintangible,whollyabsorbedinitthatisbeyondall,andinnoneelse(whetherhimselforanother);andthroughtheinactivityofallhisreasoningpowersisunitedbyhishighestfacultytoitthatiswhollyunknowable;thusbyknowingnothingheknowsThatwhichisbeyondhisknowledge.(4)

CHAPTERII

ThenecessityofbeingunitedwithandofrenderingpraisetoitthatistheCauseofallandaboveall.

WepraythatwemaycomeuntothisDarknesswhichisbeyondlight,and,withoutseeingandwithoutknowing,toseeandtoknowthatwhichisabovevisionandknowledgethroughtherealizationthatbynot-seeingandbyunknowingweattaintotruevisionandknowledge;andthuspraise,superessentially,itthatis——

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superessential,bythetranscendenceofallthings;evenasthosewho,carvingastatueoutofmarble,abstractorremoveallthesurroundingmaterialthathindersthevisionwhichthemarbleconcealsand,bythatabstraction,bringtolightthehiddenbeauty.(5)

Itisnecessarytodistinguishthisnegativemethodofabstractionfromthepositivemethodofaffirmation,inwhichwedealwiththeDivineAttributes.Forwiththeselatterwebeginwiththeuniversalandprimary,andpassthroughtheintermediateandsecondarytotheparticularandultimateattributes;butnowweascendfromtheparticulartotheuniversalconceptions,abstractingallattributesinorderthat,withoutveil,wemayknowthatUnknowingwhichisenshroudedunderallthatisknownandallthatcanbeknown,andthatwemaybegintocontemplatethesuperessentialDarknesswhichishiddenbyallthelightthatisinexistingthings.

CHAPTERIII

WhataretheaffirmationsandthenegationsconcerningGod?

IntheTheologicalOutlines(6)wehavesetforththeprincipalaffirmativeexpressionsconcerningGod,andhaveshowninwhatsenseGod-sHolyNatureisOne,andinwhatsenseThree;whatiswithinItwhichiscalledPaternity,whatFiliation,andwhatissignifiedbythenameSpirit;howfromtheuncreatedandindivisibleGood,theblessedandperfectRaysofitsGoodnessproceed,andyetabideimmutablyonebothwithintheirOriginandwithinthemselvesandeachother,co-eternalwiththeactbywhichthey——

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springfromit;howthesuperessentialJesusentersinessentialstateinwhichthetruthsofhumannaturemeet;andothermattersmadeknownbytheOraclesareexpoundedinthesameplace.

Again,inthetreatiseonDivineNames,wehaveconsideredthemeaning,asconcerningGod,ofthetitlesofGood,ofBeing,ofLife,ofWisdom,ofPower,andofsuchothernamesasareappliedtoit;further,inSymbolicalTheologywehaveconsideredwhatarethemetaphoricaltitlesdrawnfromtheworldofsenseandappliedtothenatureofGod;whatismeantbythematerialandintellectualimagesweformofit,orthefunctionsandinstrumentsofactivityattributedtoit;whataretheplaceswhereitdwellsandtheraimentinwhichitisadorned;whatismeantbyGod-sanger,griefandindignation,orthedivineinebriation;whatismeantbyGod-soathsandthreats,byItsslumberandwaking;andallsacredandsymbolicalrepresentations.Anditwillbeobservedhowfarmorecopiousanddiffusedarethelasttermsthanthefirst,forthetheologicaldoctrineandtheexpositionoftheDivineNamesarenecessarilymorebriefthantheSymbolicalTheology.

Forthehigherwesoarincontemplationthemorelimitedbecomeourexpressionsofthatwhichispurelyintelligible;evenasnow,whenplungingintotheDarknessthatisabovetheintellect,wepassnotmerelyintobrevityofspeech,butevenintoabsolutesilenceofthoughtsandofwords.Thus,intheformerdiscourse,ourcontemplationsdescendedfromthehighesttothelowest,embracinganever-wideningnumberofconceptions,whichincreasedateachstageofthedescent;butinthepresentdiscoursewemountupwardsfrombelowtothatwhichisthehighest,and,accordingtothedegreeoftranscendence,soourspeechisrestraineduntil,theentireascentbeingaccomplished,webecomewhollyvoiceless,inasmuchasweareabsorbedinitthatistotallyineffable.Butwhy,youwillask,——

208——

doestheaffirmativemethodbeginfromthehighestattributions,andthenegativemethodwiththelowestabstractions?-Thereasonisbecause,whenaffirmingthesubsistenceofThatwhichtranscendsallaffirmation,wenecessarilystartfromtheattributesmostcloselyrelatedtoItanduponwhichtheremainingaffirmationsdepend;butwhenpursuingthenegativemethodtoreachThatwhichisbeyondallabstraction,wemustbeginbyapplyingournegationstothingswhicharemostremotefromIt.

ForisitnotmoretruetoaffirmthatGodisLifeandGoodnessthanthatGodisairorstone;andmustwenotdenytoGodmoreemphaticallytheattributesofinebriationandwraththantheapplicationsofhumanspeechandthought?

CHAPTERIV

Thatitthatisthepre-eminentCauseofallthingssensiblyperceivedisnotitselfanyofthosethings.

WethereforemaintainthattheuniversalandtranscendentCauseofallthingsisneitherwithoutbeingnorwithoutlife,norwithoutreasonorintelligence;norisitabody,norhasitformorshape,quality,quantityorweight;norhasitanylocalized,visibleortangibleexistence;itisnotsensibleorperceptible;norisitsubjecttoanydisorderorinordinationnorinfluencedbyanyearthlypassion;neitherisitrenderedimpotentthroughtheeffectsofmaterialcausesandevents;itneedsnolight;itsuffersnochange,corruption,division,privationorflux;noneofthesethingscaneitherbeidentifiedwithorattributeduntoit——

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CHAPTERV

Thatitthatisthepre-eminentCauseofallthingsintelligiblyperceivedisnotitselfanyofthosethings.

Again,ascendingyethigher,wemaintainthatitisneithersoulnorintellect;norhasitimagination,opinionreasonorunderstanding;norcanitbeexpressedorconceived,sinceitisneithernumbernororder;norgreatnessnorsmallness;norequalitynorinequality;norsimilaritynordissimilarity;neitherisitstanding,normoving,noratrest;neitherhasitpowernorispower,norislight;neitherdoesitlivenorisitlife;neitherisitessence,noreternitynortime;norisitsubjecttointelligiblecontact;norisitsciencenortruth,norkingshipnorwisdom;neitheronenoroneness,norgodheadnorgoodness;norisitspiritaccordingtoourunderstanding,norfiliation,norpaternity;noranythingelseknowntousortoanyotherbeingsofthethingsthatareorthethingsthatarenot;neitherdoesanythingthatisknowitasitis;nordoesitknowexistingthingsaccordingtoexistingknowledge;neithercanthereasonattaintoit,nornameit,norknowit;neitherisitdarknessnorlight,northefalsenorthetrue;norcananyaffirmationornegationbeappliedtoit,foralthoughwemayaffirmordenythethingsbelowit,wecanneitheraffirmnordenyit,inasmuchastheall-perfectanduniqueCauseofallthingstranscendsallaffirmation,andthesimplepre-eminenceofItsabsolutenatureisoutsideofeverynegation-freefromeverylimitationandbeyondthemall——

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NOTES

(1)Unknowing,oragnosia,isnotignoranceornescienceasordinarilyunderstood,butrathertherealizationthatnofiniteknowledgecanfullyknowtheInfiniteOne,andthatthereforeitisonlytrulytobeapproachedbyagnosia,orbythatwhichisbeyondandaboveknowledge.Therearetwomainkindsofdarkness:thesubdarknessandthesuper-darkness,betweenwhichlies,asitwere,anoctaveoflight.Butthenether-darknessandtheDivineDarknessarenotthesamedarkness,fortheformerisabsenceoflight,whilethelatterisexcessoflight.Theonesymbolizesmereignorance,andtheotheratranscendentunknowing-asuperknowledgenotobtainedbymeansofthediscursivereason.

(2)-OftheFirstPrinciple,-saysDamascius,-theancientEgyptianssaidnothing,butcelebrateditasaDarknessbeyondallintellectualorspiritualperception-aThrice-unknownDarkness-ThisisforeveraboutthePavilionsofthatgreatLightUnapproachable.ItiscausedbythesuperabundanceofLightandnotbytheabsenceoflumination:itis-adeepbutdazzlingDarkness-(HenryVaughan)-Thelightshinethinthedarkness-(St.John,1,5)-InThylightweshallseelight-(Psalm36,9).

(3)St.JohnoftheCross,forinstance,wroteofotherkindsofdarkness;forexample,thedarknessofthenightofpurgation,andthedarknightofthesoul,buttheDivineDarknessisinadifferentcategoryfromthese.

(4)Particularlyimportanthereistheconceptofbeyond-being,therecognitionthatwhatisknownintheunknowingisbeyondtherealmofbeingandcannotbeadequatelydescribed,althoughnegationcomescloserthanaffirmation——

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(5)Comparethewell-knownanalogyofPlotinus:-

Withdrawintoyourselfandlook;andifyoudonotfindyourselfbeautifulasyet,doasdoesthesculptorofastatuecutawayallthatisexcessive,straightenallthatiscrooked,bringlighttoallthatisshadoweddonotceaseuntilthereshallshineoutonyoutheGodlikeSplendourofBeauty;untilyouseetemperancesurelyestablishedinthestainlessshrine-(Ennead,1,6,9).

(6)Dionysiusreferstoseveralofhistreatises,butbesidestheMysticalTheologytheotherextantworksofhisareDivineNames,TheCelestialHierarchies,EcclesiasticalHierarchy,andvariousepistles.SeeTheCompleteWorks,ColmLuibheid,trs.,(PaulistPress:1987),now,unfortunately,outofprint.

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