Pepys, , 5. His role as Subtle was apparently taken over by Wintersell, but Pepys, for one, missed Clun. Clark, , Robert Gale Noyes deduces that the cast for performances at this time was the following:. Noyes, , These rival stagings of The Alchemist appear to have given the play new theatrical life, and further revivals followed in and Similar casts to the production appear to have been employed from to see Daily Courant , 10 February ; Noyes, , Evidence surrounding these revivals suggests strong casting throughout, as in earlier productions.
The Alchemist again seems to have slipped from the stage between and , but the play took on renewed topicality in the wake of the South Sea Bubble crisis of Ward, The play was presented with a new epilogue which was printed both as a broadside and in The Weekly Journal :. Old surly Ben tonight hath let us know, That in this isle a plenteous crop did grow Of knaves and fools a hundred years ago: Chemists, bawds, gamesters, and a numerous train Of humble rogues, content with moderate gain. The poet had he lived to see this age, Had brought sublimer villains on the stage; Our knaves sin higher now than those of old, Kingdoms, not private men, are bought and sold.
Witness the South Sea project, which hath shown How far philosophers may be outdone By modest st--sm--n that have found the stone. Well might it take its title from the main, That rose so swift and sunk so soon again; Fools have been always bit by artful lies, But here the cautious were deceived and wise. And yet, in these flagitious monstrous times, The knaves detected triumph in their crimes, Wallow in wealth, have all things at command, And brave the vengeance of an injured land.
Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer , 16 December There was a splendid appearance of the nobility and gentry; the famous Mr. For the image, see the reproduction in the Performance Archive. The popularity of The Alchemist was maintained. It was performed at the Theatre Royal in , five times at the Haymarket Theatre in autumn-winter — the actors once again revolting against the Drury Lane management — and a further eleven times at the Theatre Royal between and Two productions were mounted at Covent Garden in , under Theophilus Cibber, but it had returned to Drury Lane, with Cibber, by 12 February see Noyes, , The casting mutated slowly, as actors retired and new performers took their places.
Harper did not give up the role of Mammon until , and from it was played by Edward Berry, who kept it until his death in As Lois Potter notes, and Stuart M. His comments on The Alchemist likewise laid out the path that the play was to take on the eighteenth-century stage. Pinkethman returned to the role in the s, playing it until his death in Alchemist , ed. Cibber first appeared in The Alchemist as Dapper, a role he was playing in Daily Courant , 10 October , but he had graduated to playing Drugger by 7 October , his first recorded appearance in the role Genest, , 3.
Cibber specialised in comic grotesques, also playing Pistol to much acclaim, and his performance as Drugger appears to have divided his contemporaries. Cibber was also responsible for introducing some enduring pieces of stage business to the play. Thomas Wilkes claims that this came about by accident:. He played the part afterwards as usual; but the audience obliged him to restore the accidental addition; and it has been ever since retained by every other performer.
It is difficult to know quite where a fight between Drugger and Kastril would have fitted into the play, but the whirling Cibber would have made an arresting presence on the stage. A flavour of the performance is also evoked in a prologue written by Aaron Hill for Cibber around , when he embroiled in a dispute with a former benefactor, William Sloper. The prologue is an attempt to re-ingratiate him with the spectators, yet it centres not on genuine contrition, but on the performance of contrition:.
Sinners should all feel shame. So far plain fact is. Yet some blush awkwardlyfor want of practice. What can move hard heartsif yours be misses, Whose penitential tweer stands crimped, as this is? Hill, , 3. Cooke, , It did not, however, immediately overshadow those of others. Garrick and Cibber alternated the role in ; Garrick played it in , when Cibber was away managing the Haymarket Theatre and playing at Covent Garden see Burnim et al. Garrick does not seem to have gained an unchallenged hold on the role in London until , when Cibber had again moved to Covent Garden Genest, , vol.
Nonetheless, Cibber was playing Drugger in Dublin as late as Noyes, , ; Cibber, , There are also comments on his physical gesture and use of props. In , Garrick wrote a satirical attack on his own acting, seemingly in order to forestall criticism of his forthcoming performance as Macbeth; it includes a detailed description of the movements, gestures and facial expressions required by his version of the urinal business originated by Cibber:. When Abel Drugger has broke the urinal, he is mentally absorbed with the different ideas of the invaluable price of the urinal, and the punishment that may be inflicted in consequence of a curiosity no way appertaining or belonging to the business he came about.
Now, if this, as it certainly is, the situation of his mind, how are the different members of the body to be agitated? Why thus,his eyes must be reversed from the object he is most intimidated with, and by dropping his lip at the some [ sic ] time to the object, it throws a trembling languor upon every muscle, and by declining the right part of the head towards the urinal, it casts the most comic terror and shame over all the upper part of the body that can be imagined; and to make the lower part equally ridiculous, his toes must be inverted from the heel, and by holding his breath, he will unavoidably give himself a tremor in the knees, and if his fingers, at the same time, seem convulsed, it finishes the completest low picture of grotesque terror that can be imagined by a Dutch painter.
Garrick, , ; see also Garrick, , 1. Printer, in your paper I observed lately, that Mr. Garrick is to appear soon in comedy. I will take the liberty to give him this hint, that the public hope he will leave off his stage tricks, and imitate nature, as the incomparable Shuter does, and not box with dexterity, as he used to do, out of character, in Abel Drugger. Hence, sir. Exit Surly. Did I not quarrel bravely? Yes, indeed, sir. Well, and how did I? Will you be gone?
Garrick, Plays , eds. Pedicord and Bergmann. It also appears to have been popular: one of the many illustrations of Garrick playing the role shows him holding up his fists, in the style of a boxer see the reproduction in the Performance Archive. Garrick cut over lines from The Alchemist , and the revised play would only take around two hours to perform see Noyes, , ; Dircks, , ; Garrick, Plays , 5.
Topical references and obscure jargon are also cut, and the parts of Doll, Dapper, Mammon, and the Anabaptists are reduced. Mills was succeeded as Subtle by an actor named Bridges his first name is uncertain, see Burnim et al. James Palmer the elder and James Palmer the younger also took the role. Elizabeth Hopkins, one of the most prominent actresses to play Doll, was, like her predecessors, known for her portraits of older women; J. Despite the talents of at least some of these actors, Drugger threatened to alter the balance of the entire play, and to overshadow its supposed leads.
In a pamphleteer facetiously argued that Garrick was so good an actor that he ought promptly to retire, in order to give other actors a chance; he takes The Alchemist as a prime example, writing:. Nonetheless, observant playgoers were able to distinguish the performances of actors other than Garrick. The cast on this occasion was as follows:.
Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser , 3 December The cult of Abel Drugger was reaching its height in the early s, and Garrick began to face new competition in the role. During this time he reprised his role as Drugger at least twice. The Tobacconist was a two-act adaptation of The Alchemist , focusing on Drugger, written by the actor and writer Francis Gentleman and possibly first performed in Edinburgh in Burnim et al. As I explore in detail below, it was to become closely associated with Weston in the following years. In Weston returned to Drury Lane to play Drugger in a benefit performance of The Alchemist Public Advertiser , 29 April ; a performance advertised for 19 May was cancelled: see Dircks, , His potential in the role appears to have caught the eye of Samuel Foote, manager of the Haymarket Theatre.
This first London performance of The Tobacconist may have been marred by hasty preparation. Gentleman apparently revised the text between the Edinburgh performances of The Tobacconist and the second London performance, which followed in July , and it was this version that appeared in print a few weeks later. Gentleman appears to have omitted Mammon from his first version, but he appears here, along with Drugger, Face, Subtle and Doll Common, renamed Doll Tricksy. However, the narrative is extensively reworked.
Gentleman, , A3v. The new version met with greater approval than its predecessor. Jonson scholars have generally responded unfavourably to The Tobacconist. As Richard J. The success of The Tobacconist was also inflected by theatrical politics in the early s. It specialised in burlesque, pantomime, and satire, and stood in opposition to Drury Lane and Covent Garden, in part because Foote was required to wait until the legitimate theatres closed for the summer before he was allowed to begin his own season Moody, The spin-off itself bred spin-offs: Gentleman wrote another farce, The Pantheonites , which featured Daniel Drugger, great grandson of Abel.
Weston continued to perform in The Tobacconist until his death in January , both at the Haymarket and at Drury Lane see Noyes, , Another writer argued that. These comments suggest the art with which Weston convincingly appeared natural, and the affection that his portrayal of Drugger attracted. The apogee of this trend appears in the account of the casting of an amateur actor as Drugger at the turn of the century.
The best Drugger, by this point in time, was the Drugger for whom no performance as such was necessary. The Oxford Magazine , April , Although the mid and late eighteenth-century history of Abel Drugger and The Alchemist is dominated by the London performances of Cibber, Garrick, and Weston, alternative performance traditions existed elsewhere in the British Isles.
As noted above, both Cibber and Weston toured with their versions of Drugger, and productions of both The Alchemist and The Tobacconist were mounted by non-metropolitan companies. The Tobacconist also travelled. Clark, , ; J. In the meantime, The Alchemist returned to the London stage. The cast of this new adaptation, now lost, included some actors who were familiar in these roles:.
However, it is perhaps equally significant that these performances were planned as a benefit for Dodd, who played Drugger. Further productions, apparently of this adaptation, followed at Drury Lane in and , with Dodd reprising his performance as Drugger. John Kippling, making his debut in London, played Drugger. The Tobacconist was drawn further and further into popular forms of entertainment. Emery appears to have ceased playing Drugger when he became an established favourite with London audiences.
Like Garrick, Weston, and Mr Wetmore before him, he was praised for the naturalness of his portrayal. Reviews record some details of his gesture, expression, and tone. The Alchemist , declared W. Only hints of planned performances survive for much of the nineteenth century. The play was also under consideration by a group of drama students for revival at the Vaudeville Theatre in see Bristol Mercury 10 November ; Era , 13 November , but again no full performance seems to have been realised.
The central flat contained a recess large enough to hold a chair, while the flats on either side contained entrances, the one on stage-left having a functional door. Poel rejected the heavy, realist staging adopted by contemporaries such as Herbert Beerbohm Tree; his production of The Alchemist instead took place in one set, that set mimicking the interior of an Elizabethan playhouse — albeit not one in which The Alchemist was actually performed — with no drop curtain or elaborate scenery. Bawdy and scientific jargon were removed — leading in some cases to a loss of clarity in the remaining text — and many of the other cuts aimed to streamline the text for performance.
Poel also — somewhat anachronistically — added as an epilogue a prayer to the monarch from the mid sixteenth-century play Ralph Roister Doister , which he used in a number of productions see Morning Post , 12 July ; Stage , 17 July Following the production, the theatrical revival of The Alchemist gradually picked up speed. Cass was praised by J. The play was more prominent in Britain. No further evidence for this claim has been traced, and it seems unlikely that Alexander, best-known for his sustained engagement with contemporary drama, would have dabbled in Jonson. Housman described the production in a letter to a bedridden A.
Housman, , The Alchemist also began to encroach on the professional stage. The Birmingham Post thought that Aylmer garbled his lines, and gave W. Now a spark of low cunning flickered about his eyes; now some petty dissatisfaction drooped the corners of his mouth; now and then the shades of some feeble feeling drifted over his face, darkened its vacancy, and drifted away. In contrast with the academic reviewer at Cambridge, the popular press continued to resist Jacobean bawdry. The text appears to have been relatively discreetly cut and amended.
Cutting and pacing continued to be at stake for two important productions in the s. Barry Jackson directed and H. Ayliff produced; W. Certain conventions were also taking shape, such as ensemble performance, swift pacing, and period costume. Williamson, , Working within the confines of proscenium arch staging, designers were beginning to formulate considered strategies for dealing with the fluid movement that The Alchemist demands.
Reponses to individual performances suggested both the rise of Epicure Mammon, as more of his part was restored, and the enduring appeal of Abel Drugger. Tynan, , Tynan captures here not only the way in which the non-verbal elements of performance can coalesce, but also the sheer pleasure that watching an intelligent actor submerge himself into the role of Drugger affords. Although Hannen and Guinness especially were singled out, the general impression is of an ensemble production that was fast-moving and knock-about but did not sacrifice clarity or poetry.
Although it reverted to Jacobean dress, the next production of The Alchemist was more iconoclastic than its relatively polite predecessor. These allusions to a harum-scarum musical, adapted for the screen in , and a play, filmed with the Marx Brothers in , underline the perceived connection between The Alchemist and contemporary farce, and tell us much about the approach to the text.
The play was abridged, with a new explanatory prologue sequence see Carter, , 30 ; it appears to have been taken at a helter-skelter pace, with plenty of physical business. The effect is summarised in a review by John S. As Ejner J. A cluster of British productions in the s suggest the impact of the Old Vic revival but also the long shadow that it cast. Better known are the revivals of the Bristol Old Vic , Theatre Workshop and the Birmingham Repertory Company , each of which displayed a different approach to the text. Dennis Bushell described his favourite performances in striking terms:.
Bristol Evening World , 12 December As the interview quoted in the introduction to this essay suggests, Littlewood had a strong sense of what she wanted from Jonson, and this impulse was shared by the company that she headed. For further discussion see Schafer, a, In the years following the Second World War, The Alchemist had become established as a viable theatrical property, even if productions were still often greeted by reviewers as precious rarities.
Moreover, if a mainstream performance tradition was becoming increasingly well established — farcical but not too farcical; ensemble in style, but with room for individual actors to periodically take the limelight; discreetly cut and tastefully staged — the productions of Guthrie, da Costa, and Littlewood suggested ways in which such a tradition might be challenged.
During the tumultuous period of the s and early 70s, these tensions heightened. The increasingly secure place of The Alchemist as a play for the stage was underlined by a sell-out production mounted by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in for a detailed account, on which I draw here, see Carter, , Directed by Edward S.
Brubaker in a replica of the Fortune playhouse, it used minimal sets and pseudo-Elizabethan costumes, and was hailed by reviewers as a shining example of ensemble playing. In contrast with the period settings used at Glasgow and Ashland, when Tyrone Guthrie and Tanya Moiseiwitsch returned to The Alchemist at the Old Vic in they kept their faith in modern dress, building on the iconoclastic impact of their earlier production. A Buchmanite? It was not, however, an expurgated text.
Reviewers were divided. What one reviewer found imaginative and engaging, another merely found alienating. A steady stream of productions followed. Thou dost not know? In the following year, a production at the Gate Theater, New York, was rather less iconoclastic. Theatre World was struck by the moment at which an enraged Doll snatched off her golden wig and stamped on it, revealing short hair underneath 61 , In contrast, three productions in the following years were all thought to put too little trust in the text, instead smothering it with exaggerated comic business.
Robert Brustein summed up the effect:. Where reviewers complained about exaggerated performance style and over-reliance on visuals and props, Rochberg argues that Irving should have pushed harder to find a new and more effective balance between dialogue, gesture, and sound.
In this context, their period-dress production of The Alchemist appeared to some to represent a loss of nerve or a missed opportunity. Harvey, St Paul Dispatch , 14 April Costumes and staging seem at times actually to have restricted the performers.
Sherman, Minneapolis Star , 14 April As the s drew to a close, performances of The Alchemist had developed a tendency to veer between a series of opposing poles: textual fidelity versus adaptation; period-dress versus modern-dress; realism versus exaggeration. The production appeared to most commentators to fall just on the right side of farcical excess. Something of its effect is captured in an extended account by Walter Kerr:.
For this commentator, attention to verbal detail provided the foundation for physical expression. Wardle noted a series of effective moments:. Smith], they keep him spinning like a top as they dash about to attend to their other victims … the unwinding of Abel [Donald Gee] from an endless piece of damask … the trick swordplay of Kastril [Nicholas Clay] … the pause that descends on the assembled company at the voice of Dapper — the forgotten man in the privy.
The truth of this statement in Britain at least is underlined by the appearance of two new productions in and a further one in These productions highlight the continuing development of conventions for staging The Alchemist but also new challenges to those conventions. The second production of , at the Chichester Festival, faced a number of setbacks before it even reached the stage. Laurence Harvey, who was due to play Face, fell in rehearsal and broke his leg, and his replacement, James Booth, was unable to learn the part before the revival opened; Face was therefore played in early performances by the director, Peter Dews.
In The Stage , M. The gulls were striking but some reviewers thought that, like the interpolations, their effect tailed off, perhaps because at least some of the interpretations seemed forced. After the experiments of the s and early s, the next move was, in its own way, to take The Alchemist back to basics. See the Performance Database for images from this production. If the sovereign, the heart, should invariably consult with reason, his vizier, and, when desire was transgressing, should give to wrath to have power over him yet, without giving him full liberty, should make him angry in subjection to reason, the vizier, so that passing all bounds he should not stretch out his hand upon the kingdom , there would then be an equilibrium in the condition of the kingdom, and all the members would perform the functions for which they were created, their service would be accepted at the mercy seat, and they would obtain eternal felicity….
If you desire, inquirer for the way, with thankfulness for these mercies, to obtain eternal happiness in the future mansions, the heart must enthrone itself like a sovereign in its capital, the body, must stand at the door of service and direct its prayers to the gate of eternal truth, seeking Edition: current; Page: [ 20 ] for the beauty of the divinity.
It must take reason for its vizier, desire for its standard bearer, anger to be the superintendent of the city, and taking the senses of reason as its spies, it must make each one of them responsible in its sphere. The perceptive faculties which are foremost in the brain, it must make to be chiefs of the spies, that they may convey to the spies notices of what occurs in the world. The faculty of memory, which is next in order in the brain, it must use as a receptacle in which it may treasure up whatever is noticed by the spies, and, as occasion requires, may inform reason, the vizier. The vizier, in accordance with the information received, will administer the kingdom.
When he sees any one of the soldiers revolting and following his own passions, he will represent it to the sovereign, that he may be controlled and conquered. He must not, however, be destroyed, for each one of us has received, from his original country, a definite commission, and in that case this service must remain unfulfilled. But, alas! If you inquire, O student! The ass, for instance, was created to bear burdens. If he carries his load well, without stumbling or falling, or if he does not throw off his load, his qualities are in perfection, and his service is accepted.
The horse was designed also for war Edition: current; Page: [ 21 ] and military expeditions, and has strength to carry burdens. If he performs his duty well, in time of war, in running, fleeing and going to meet the enemy, his service is accepted, and he will be treated with attention in his accoutrements, grooming and feeding. But if he performs his service imperfectly, a pack saddle will be put on his back, as on the ass, from day to day he will be employed as a beast of burden, and he will be carelessly and deficiently provided with food, and poorly taken care of.
Besides, beloved! If also man had been created to fight, kill and domineer, it would follow that beasts of prey are nobler than he, for they are mightier in their ferocity and their power of subjugating other animals. There are, moreover, many animals of manifest utility, as the dog to watch and hunt, and the skins of some of them for clothing. It follows, therefore, that man was not created for these things, but rather to serve God and to grow in the knowledge of him.
It is plain that mind, discernment and reason were bestowed upon man, that when he looks upon the world and sees in every object illustrations of various forms of perfection, and much to excite his wonder, he might turn his attention from the work of the artist, to the artist himself; from the thing formed to him that formed it; that he might comprehend his own excessive frailty and weakness, and the perfection of the wisdom and power, yea, of all the attributes of the eternal Creator, and that, without ceasing, he might humbly supplicate acceptance in his frailty and weakness on the one hand, and on the other might seek to draw near to the King of kings, and finally obtain rest in Edition: current; Page: [ 22 ] the home of the faithful, where the angels are in the presence of God.
If men refuse to recognize their own dignity, if they neglect their duty and prefer the qualities of devils and beasts of prey, they will also possess, in the future world, the qualities of beasts of prey, and will be judged with the devils. Our refuge is in God! Know, thou seeker of divine mysteries!
For, to pursue the same subject, the dignity of the heart is of two kinds; one kind is by means of knowledge, and the other through the exertion of divine power. Its dignity by means of knowledge is also of two kinds. The first is external knowledge, which every one understands: the second kind is veiled and cannot be understood by all, and is extremely precious. That which we have designated as external, refers to that faculty of the heart by which the sciences of geometry, medicine, astronomy, numbers, the science of law and all the arts are understood; and although the heart is a thing which cannot be divided, still the knowledge of all the world exists in it.
All the world indeed, in comparison with it, is as a grain compared with the sun, or as a drop in the ocean. In a second, by the power of thought, the soul passes from the abyss to the highest heaven, and from the east to the west. Though on the earth, it knows the latitude of the stars and their distances. It knows the course, the size and the peculiarities of the sun. It knows the nature and cause of the clouds and the rain, the lightning and the thunder. It ensnares the fish from the depths of the sea, and the bird from the end of heaven.
By knowledge it subdues the elephant, the camel and the tiger. All these kinds of knowledge, it acquires with its internal and external senses. The most wonderful thing of all is, that there is a window in the heart from whence it surveys the world. This is called the invisible world, the world of intelligence, Edition: current; Page: [ 23 ] or the spiritual world. People in general look only at the visible world, which is called also the present world, the sensible world and the material world; their knowledge of it also is trivial and limited.
And there is also a window in the heart from whence it surveys the intelligible world. There are two arguments to prove that there are such windows in the heart. One of the arguments is derived from dreams. When an individual goes to sleep, these windows remain open and the individual is able to perceive events which will befall him from the invisible world or from the hidden table of decrees, 1 and the result corresponds exactly with the vision.
Or he sees a similitude, and those who are skilled in the science of interpretation of dreams understand the meaning. But the explanation of this science of interpretation would be too long for this treatise. The heart resembles a pure mirror, you must know, in this particular, that when a man falls asleep, when his senses are closed, and when the heart, free and pure from blameable affections, is confronted with the preserved tablet, then the tablet reflects upon the heart the real states and hidden forms inscribed upon it.
In that state the heart sees most wonderful forms and combinations. But when the heart is not free from impurity, or when, on waking, it busies itself with things of sense, the side towards the tablet will be obscured, and it can view nothing. For, although in sleep the senses are blunted, the imaginative faculty is not, but preserves the forms reflected upon the mirror of the heart.
But as the perception does not take place by means of the external senses, but only in the imagination, the heart does not see them with absolute clearness, but sees only a phantom. But in death, as the senses are completely separated and the veil of the body is removed, the heart can contemplate the invisible Edition: current; Page: [ 24 ] world and its hidden mysteries, without a veil, just as lightning or the celestial rays impress the external eye.
The second proof of the existence of these windows in the heart, is that no individual is destitute of these spiritual susceptibilities and of the faculty of thought and reflection. For instance every individual knows by inspiration, things which he has neither seen nor heard, though he knows not from whence or by what means he understands them. Still, notwithstanding the heart belongs to the invisible world, so long as it is absorbed in the contemplation of the sensible world, it is shut out and restrained from contemplating the invisible and spiritual world. Think not, thou seeker after the divine mysteries!
O God! In this revelation of the invisible world, the windows of the heart are opened, and what others may have seen in a dream, he in this state sees in reality. The spirits of angels and prophets are manifested to him and he holds intercourse with them. The hidden things of earth and heaven are uncovered to him, and to whomsoever these things are revealed, mighty wonders are shown, that are beyond description. Edition: current; Page: [ 25 ] Probably the knowledge of all the prophets was obtained in this way, for it was not obtained by learning….
When the heart is free from worldly lusts, from the animosities of society and from the distraction occasioned by the senses, the vision of God is possible. And this course is adopted by the Mystics. But it is permitted also to acquire the practice of it by learning, and this is the way adopted by the theologians. This is also an exalted way, though in comparison with the former, its results are insignificant and contracted. Many distinguished men have attained these revelations by experience and the demonstration of reasoning. Still let every one who fails of obtaining this knowledge either by means of purity of desire or of demonstration of reasoning, take care and not deny its existence to those who are possessed of it, so that they may not be repelled from the low degree they have attained, and their conduct become a snare to them in the way of truth.
These things which we have mentioned constitute the wonders of the heart and show its grandeur. Think not that these discoveries of truth are limited to the prophets alone.
The Alchemists: Three Central Bankers and a World on Fire
On the contrary every man in his essential nature is endowed with attributes rendering him capable of participating in the same discoveries. The heart of man, veiled with the garments of heedlessness, forgot the assembly with which it had been familiar, and imagining that this miserable place was to be its mansion of rest, it chose to establish itself here in this world of perdition, as if this was its home. Still the veil of heedlessness disappeared from the eyes of those to whom the grace and guidance of the Eternal and unchangeable gave aid and support, and the discovery of the invisible world was not concealed from the view of some of those who came into this material world, but was anew revealed to them, after a measure of exertion of spiritual ardor.
To whomsoever this revelation has been vouchsafed, if it directs him to reform the world, to invite the nations to turn to God, and to a peculiar way of life, that person is called a prophet, and his way of life is called a law; and that influence which proceeds from him, which transcends what is ordinary, is called a miracle.
If he has not been appointed to invite the nations, but worships in accordance with the law of another, he is called a saint, and that which Edition: current; Page: [ 27 ] proceeds from him, which transcends what is ordinary, is called a manifestation of grace. The miracle performed by a saint is accounted a miracle of that prophet whose law he follows. He who has received, by whatever meaus, a revelation of the invisible world, is capable of being ordained to the office of a prophet. And if he is not appointed by God, the reason will be either, that at the time the existing law had been newly revealed, and that there was no occasion for a prophet, or else that there may be a peculiarity in prophets which is not found in the saints.
It follows that it is our duty not to deny either the saintship or the miracles of the saints, but to acknowledge them as real. You should be aware, however, that this alchemy of happiness, that is, the knowledge of God, which is the occasion of the revelation of truth, cannot be acquired without spiritual self-denial and effort. Unless a man has reached perfection and the rank of Superior, nothing will be revealed to him, except in cases of special divine grace and merciful providence, and this occurs very rarely.
Nor, except by divine condescension, is revelation obtained even by all who by effort reach the rank of Superior. And whosoever would attain holiness can only reach it by the path of difficulty. You have now learned, student of the divine mysteries, the dignity of the heart through knowledge, and what kind of knowledge it possesses. Now listen and learn its dignity through divine power and on account of the greatness of which it is capable, that you may see how precious you are in yourself, and yet how vile and contemptible you make yourself by your own choice.
Know then, that the heart is endowed with properties like those of angels and such as are not found in animals; and just as the material world is subjected by divine permission to the angels, and when God wills it, the angels send forth the winds, cause rain to Edition: current; Page: [ 28 ] fall, bring forth the embryo in animals, shape their forms, cause seeds to sprout in the earth and plants to grow, many legions of angels being appointed to this service, so also the heart of man being created with angelic properties must have influence and power over the material world.
In man's own body, which is peculiarly his own world, its control and influence are very evident. The hand, for example, does not in writing move of itself, but depends for motion on volition proceeding from the heart. And in eating, it is the heart which by an exertion of its will, causes moisture to rise in the mouth from under the tongue, to mix with the food that it may be swallowed and digested. These facts clearly substantiate the dominion and control of the heart, and the subordination of the body.
Know also, that if the heart should not be tarnished with the rust of rebellion, and if the animal and ferocious qualities should not be dominant, that it would be capable, on account of the presence in it of angelic properties, of manifesting this same influence over other bodies. If it should look upon a lion or tiger with severity, they would become weak and submissive. If it should look with kindness upon one who is sick, his infirmity might be changed to health.
If it should look upon the vigorous with majesty, they might become infirm. The realty of the existence of these influences is known both by reason and experience. Sorcery with the eyes, is of this kind of power. In whomsoever these influences are shown to have power, if he occasions misery in the exercise of this power, he is Edition: current; Page: [ 29 ] designated a sorcerer. Although as has been seen, the power of performing signs, miracles and sorceries belongs to the heart when its faculties are in perfect operation, yet there are important destinations between these powers.
And whoever is of a narrow mind will not be able to appreciate that signs and miracles are influences proceeding from the heart of man, unless he should learn it by external teaching. The heart has dominion and control through three channels.
One is through visions, by which revelations are made to all men. But the kind of mysteries generally revealed to people in visions, are revealed to prophets and saints in the outward world. The second kind is through the dominion which the heart exercises over its own body, a quality, which is possessed by all men in general, though prophets and saints for the good of the community, possess the same power over other bodies than their own.
The third source of dominiou of the heart is through knowledge. The mass of men obtain it by instruction and learning, but it is bestowed by God upon prophets and saints directly, without the mediums of learning and instruction. It is possible also for persons of pure minds to acquire a knowledge of some arts and sciences without instruction, and it is also possible that some persons should have all things opened up to them by the will of God.
In our Lord the prophet Mohammed Mustafa, these three specialities Edition: current; Page: [ 30 ] existed in perfection. The Lord in bestowing these three properties upon certain individuals, designates them to exhort the nations and to be prophets of the people. To every man there is given a certain portion of each one of these peculiarities, to serve as a pattern.
Man cannot comprehend states of being which transcend his own nature. No person, in short, can understand any individual who belongs to a scale of rank above him. It is possible that there is a peculiarity in prophets, of which no pattern or model is found in other persons, and therefore, we are incapable of understanding them. Let us not regard, therefore, as impossible all those states ascribed to the prophets which we cannot understand: for they are the accepted and praiseworthy servants of God. From all which has been said, seeker after the divine mysteries, thou hast learned something of the dignity of the nature of man, and that the way of the mystics is holy and honorable.
But I have heard that the mystics say that external knowledge is a veil upon the way to God, and Edition: current; Page: [ 31 ] a hindrance in the journey to the truth. T ake care and do not deny that they are correct in what they say. For, external knowledge is derived from the sensuous world, and all objects of sense are a hindrance to him who is occupied with spiritual truth; for whoever is attending to sensual objects, indicates that his mind is preoccupied with external properties.
A nd it is impossible that he who would walk in the way of truth, should be for a moment unemployed in meditation, upon obtaining spiritual union and the vision of beauty. Know, student of the divine mysteries, that the heart is like a reservoir into which five streams flow: these streams at one time run clear, and at another, turbid, and hence the bottom of the reservoir contains much mud.
If a person wish to cleanse the reservoir and to get rid of the mud in the bottom, he must first dam up the course of the running streams, and then stir up and put in motion the mud, and until the muddy water has been carried off by the pure water that gushes up at the bottom of the reservoir, he will not allow any other water to run in.
Now the external senses resemble those running streams, from which various kinds of knowledge, notions and prejudices proceed to the heart, of which some are pure and purifying, and some are corrupt and corrupting, and until these have been dammed up, the windows of the heart cannot be uncovered so that the illuminating knowledge from God can be revealed to it. If a person possessing great knowledge of the outward world, should use his knowledge as a means of progress in the way of truth, instead of being satisfied with such disputes as of buying and selling; marrying and divorcing, and should be assiduous in gaining divine knowledge, which is the end of all other knowledge, it is all well and good.
His knowledge of the outward world will give him strength in his course, and will serve as a guide to him in Edition: current; Page: [ 32 ] the way to eternal truth. For if the pilgrim do not understand the grounds of the respect due to, and the law-fulness of his food and drink, his dwelling and his clothing, if he do not understand the causes which impair or render complete acts of purification and devotion, what has a tendency to give strength to the blameable affections of the soul, and what is their nature and their remedy, he can derive no advantage from the sciences of spiritual exercise, discovery and revelation.
In short to an ignorant pilgrim, the least doubt may operate as a hindrance in his course for many years. Therefore, when we hear some good man, who has travelled far on the road of spiritual discovery affirm, that knowledge of the external world, in the sense which we at first alluded to, is a hindrance in the way of truth, we ought to be careful not to deny the truth of what he says. There are, however, in our times certain weak persons and indifferent to religious truth for the most part, who in the guise of soofees, 1 after learning a few of their obscure phrases and ornamenting themselves with their cap and robes, treat knowledge and the doctors of the law 2 as inimical to themselves, and continually find fault with them.
They are devils and deserve judicial death. They are enemies of God, and of the apostle of God. For God has extolled knowledge and the doctors of the law; and the Edition: current; Page: [ 33 ] established way of salvation, with which God has inspired the prophets, has its basis in external knowledge.
Brian Kim Stefans: The Alchemy of the World
These miserable and weak men, since they have no acquaintance with science, and no education, and knowledge of external things, why should they indulge in such corrupt fancies, and unfounded language? They resemble, beloved, a person who having heard it said that alchemy was of more value than gold, because that whatsoever thing should be touched with the philosophers' stone would turn to gold, should be proud of the idea and should be carried away with a passion for alchemy.
He becomes forever a miserable, destitute, and naked vagabond, who wastes his life upon alchemy. The science then of revelation, or of infused spiritual knowledge, resembles alchemy, and the science of the doctors of the law resembles gold; but it is folly and pure loss not to accept and be satisfied with solid gold, on account of one's ardor to discover the philosophers' stone, which latter knowledge is not acquired by one in a thousand.
There is still one farther observation that deserves to be made. If a person by the payment of a thousand pieces of gold, could become master of alchemy, yet the condition of the man who is absolutely master of ten thousand pieces of gold would be better and preferable. And this illustrates the position of the soofees.
If a person follow their method and attain to the knowledge of some things, he still does not equal in excellence, the doctors of the law. Just as we see, that books on alchemy, and students of alchemy are very numerous, while those who are successful are the least of few, so the path of mysticism is sought for by all men, and longed for by all classes of society, yet those who Edition: current; Page: [ 34 ] attain to the end are exceedingly rare.
Perhaps, as in the case of alchemy, it only exists now in name and form. The greater part of the notions and fancies of most of the mystics, which they esteem as revelations and mysteries, are nothing but vain triflings and pure self complacency; just as that while visions are a reality, still mere confused dreams are very abundant.
The mystic, however, who by spiritual revelation has learned all that a doctor of the law has been able to learn after many years of study, and who has no remaining doubts in matters of internal or external knowledge, is certainly more excellent than the doctor of the law who is learned only in external knowledge, and this should not be denied. And it follows that the way of the mystics must be acknowledged to be a true one, and that you must not destroy the belief of those weak minded and vain persons who follow them; for, the reason why they cast reproaches upon knowledge and calumniate the doctors of law is that they have no acquirements or knowledge themselves.
O, inquirer after divine mysteries! We observe in reply, that every man's happiness is found in the place where he obtains enjoyment and tranquility. Thus sensual enjoyment is found in eating and drinking and the like. The enjoyment of anger is derived from taking revenge and from violence.
The enjoyment of the eye consists in the view of correct images and agreeable objects. The enjoyment of the ear is secured in listening to harmonious voices. In the same way the enjoyment of the heart depends upon its being employed in that for which it was created, in learning to know every thing in its reality and truth. Hence, every man glories in what he knows, even if the thing is but of little importance. He Edition: current; Page: [ 35 ] who knows how to play chess, boasts over him who does not know: and if he is looking on while a game of chess is played, it is of no use to tell him not to speak, for as soon as he sees an improper move, he has not patience to restrain himself from showing his skill, and glorying in his knowledge, by pointing it out….
Now that it is clear that the happiness of the heart consists in the knowledge and love of God, we may say that the heart that does not feel the necessity of the knowledge of God, and a longing for the love of God, but rather craves after and seeks the world, resembles a sick person who has no appetite for food, but even prefers such things as earth and clay to meat, regarding them as necessary, not-withstanding they have no nourishing qualities.
If no remedy can be found, speedily, to recover his appetite for food, and if he continue indulging in perverse notions of what is necessary, his malady will grow in strength; until if he continue in this state, he will perish and lose the joys this world can give. In the same manner the heart which does not feel a necessity for the knowledge and love of God, and where the love of other objects reigns, is a heart that is sick and ready to perish, unless a remedy be applied, unless its affections be turned away from other things, and the love of God become predominant.
Future bliss will be lost and eternal misery will be its portion. You should know also that the enjoyments of this world that are procured through the senses are cut off at death. The enjoyment of the love and knowledge of God, which depends upon the heart, is alone lasting. At death the hindrances that result from the presence of the external senses being removed, the light and brilliancy of the heart come to have full play, and it feels the necessity of the vision of beauty.
What has hitherto been said is sufficient to enable a person of intelligence to comprehend the Edition: current; Page: [ 36 ] dignity of the heart of man. The subject could not be discussed more at large in this short treatise. While the heart is one of the pillars of man, the body is another pillar. In the constitution of man's body, there is an infinity of most wonderful things to be observed. Each internal and external organ has various curious uses, of which man is entirely uninformed.
Know, that in the body of a man there are thousands of veins and nerves: there are many bones, each of a particular shape and each one created for a particular purpose and effect. You are ignorant of all this, and you only know that the hand was formed to take hold with, the foot to walk with, and the tongue to speak with. But in reference to the hand, you know nothing about its blood, its bones, the number of its nerves and veins, and the uses of each one: nor in reference to the eye, do you know that it is composed of ten layers, nor of what the layers are composed, nor what is the use of them.
And if the eye should meet with an injury in one of the layers, you could not tell the cause of it. You know nothing either of the internal organs in the belly, such as the spleen, the liver, the gall-bladder and the kidneys. While these have been given to you to perform, functions in which they are continually engaged, you are entirely unconcerned about it. Know then, beloved, that the varieties of food you eat descend to the stomach, and thence to the liver, and that in the liver they are mixed and brought to the form of blood. Upon the Liver may be seen something black and frothy which is called black bile.
The spleen attracts the black bile and changes it into itself. The blood being still mixed with water, has no consistence, and the kidneys draw the water from the blood and purify it. This blood is then diffused to the seven parts of the body, and brings and conveys strength to the limbs. If the spleen become affected with any disorder, so that it cannot separate the black bile Edition: current; Page: [ 37 ] from the blood, such diseases as leprosy, insanity, inflammation of the spleen and remittent fever are the consequence.
If any derangement happen to the gall-bladder so that it cannot secrete the bile, bilious disorders follow. If the kidneys get disordered, so that they cannot abstract the water from the blood, dropsy and similar diseases are the result. It all depends, however, on the will of God.
In the same manner, all the organs of the body have a specific function.
- ceramic art via pure alchemy.
- Online Library of Liberty.
- La spiaggia delle anime (Crimen) (Italian Edition).
- Log in to Wiley Online Library.
- The Yogi’s Bookshelf: The Alchemist;
- The Alchemist: Stage History.
If it were not so, the body would perish…. Our intention has been to show you that man is a great world, and that you might know what a multitude of servants his body has to minister to him : so that you might realize while in your enjoyments, in walking, in sleeping or at rest in your world, that by God's appointment, these numerous servants in your employ never suffer their functions to cease for a minute.
Listen now for a moment candidly. If you had a servant who had been faithful to you during his whole life, with whose services you were not able to dispense, while he could at any time find a better master—yet if he should only for a single day disobey your orders, you would get angry, beat him, and wish to get rid of him. But God has been abundant in kindness to you, and has given you so many servants, and has in no wise any need of you.
How then can it be just that you should become enslaved to yourself, and follow your own passions, and that forgetful of pleasing the infinite God, you should rebel against your Creator and Benefactor, and that you should render obedience to Satan, who is your enemy and the enemy of God? Many and even innumerable books, O student of the divine mysteries, have been written in explanation of the organization of the body and the uses of is parts: but they have no more made the subject clear and exhausted it, than a drop can illustrate the ocean, or an atom illustrate the sun.
Edition: current; Page: [ 38 ] It is impossible for the thing formed to understand the knowledge of him that formed it. And how is it possible, that he who is of yesterday, should comprehend the secrets of the operations of the Ancient of days? The science of the structure of the body is called anatomy : it is a great science, but most men are heedless of it. If any study it, it is only for the purpose of acquiring skill in medicine, and not for the sake of becoming acquainted with the perfection of the power of God. But whoever will occupy himself with anatomy, and therein contemplate the wonders of the works of God, will reap three advantages.
The first advantage will be, that in learning the composition of the thing made, and thereby gaining a comprehensive and condensed view of all other things like it he will see that it is impossible to discover imperfection or incompetence in the being who has created him in such perfection. The Creator himself will be acknowledged to be almighty and perfect. The second advantage will be, that he will see that it is impossible that a being who has created an organization so intelligent, capable of comprehension, endowed with beauty, and useful, should be otherwise than perfect in knowledge himself.
And lastly, we shall understand the mercy, favor and perfect compassion of God towards us. Nothing that is either useful or ornamental has been omitted in the framing of our bodies, whether it be such things as are the sources of life, like the spirit and the head; or such as sustain life, as the hand, the foot, the mouth and the teeth : or such as are a means of ornament, as the beard, elegance of form, black hair and the lips. It is to be observed that similar organs have been provided not only for man, but for all creatures, so that nothing is wanting to initiate and sustain life in the mouse, the wasp, the snake and the ant.
God has done all things perfectly, and may his name be glorified! The knowledge of anatomy is the means by which we become acquainted with animal life: by means of knowledge of animal life, we may acquire a knowledge of the heart, and the knowledge of the heart is a key to the knowledge of God. But the knowledge which we obtain of God is limited and contracted in comparison with the knowledge which the heart has of itself.
The knowledge possessed by the heart in comparison with the knowledge of God himself, is but as an atom when compared with the sun. The body is but au animal to be ridden by the heart, which is its rider, while the heart's chief end is to acquire a knowledge of God. The dignity of any thing depends upon what it is in itself.
A person therefore who does not understand his own body, heart and soul, and yet pretends to the knowledge of God, resembles the bankrupt, who, although he has nothing to eat himself, should yet plan a feast for all the poor of the city. In short, man ought to make every possible exertion to gain the knowledge of God, because the knowledge of God necessitates the love of God. Just in the same manner as when you see a beautiful specimen of calligraphy or some elegant verses, you praise the person who made them, you feel a love for him in your heart and desire eagerly to see him.
Since you have learned, O inquirer after the divine mysteries, the dignity and nobleness of the heart, know also that this precious jewel has been confided to you and wrapped in a veil, that you may preserve it from too close a contact with the world, and may lead it to perfection and to its place of rest, making it a partaker of manifest happiness in the eternal mansions. In the house of reunion you will have reached an eternal rest, where no evil enters, a joy where no pain mingles, a strength without infirmity, a knowledge without doubt, and a vision of the Lord, the enjoyment of which shall be endless.
If the heart strive not after its own glory and dignity, but Edition: current; Page: [ 40 ] inclines to the cares of the world and sensual pleasures, no creature is more feeble, infirm and contemptible than man. At one time he will be the slave of disappointment and melancholy, at another suffering from disease and misfortune; at one time exposed to hunger and thirst, and at another the slave of avarice or ambition. He is not indulged with the enjoyment of a single day in peace.
And when he is disposed to partake of the pleasures of the world and stretches out his hand to them, for a long time he cannot succeed in freeing himself from calamity. Even the pleasure of eating will be attended with oppression and pain, and afterwards be followed by some adverse accident. In short, of whatever enjoyment he partakes, regret is sure to follow it. If we regard knowledge, power, will, beauty and grace of form as constituting the glory and honor of this world, what is the wisdom of man? If his head pain him, he knows not the cause or the remedy. If he have pain at his heart, he knows not the occasion of it, or why it increases, or what will cure it.
He sees the plants and medicines that could cure it, perhaps even holds them in his hands, and is not aware of it. He knows nothing of what will happen to him on the morrow, nor what action will be a source of enjoyment to him, nor what will be to him a source of pain. If you look only to the strength of a man, what is more impotent than he is.
If a fly or mosquito molest him, he cannot get rid of it. If he is attacked by disease, he has no remedy to meet it with. He has no power to preserve himself from destruction. If you look at the firmness and resolution of man, what is more contemptible than he is! If he see any thing more extra-ordinary than a piece of money, he changes color and loses his presence of mind. If a beggar meet him, he turns away, and dares not look him in the face.
If you look at the form of man, you see that it is skin, drawn over blood and impurity…. In short, man in this world, is framed in infirmity and imperfection. But if he desire and will to free himself from animal propensities, and ferocious and satanic qualities, he may attain future happiness, will be more exalted and excellent than a king and will be enriched with the vision of the beauty of the Lord.
The Alchemy of Happiness - Online Library of Liberty
But if he incline towards the world, and retain only the qualities of animals and wild beasts, his future state will be worse even than theirs. For they turn to dust, and are delivered from pains and torment. From the moment, O beloved! If you say, however, that there are many who have studied themselves, and have learned that they are creatures, and still they do not know their Lord, I reply, that to pass from the knowledge of the soul to the knowledge of God, and to demonstrate the latter Edition: current; Page: [ 42 ] from the former, may be accomplished by two methods.
The first method is most deep and profound. The most exalted in wisdom and the most penetrating among men are far from understanding it, even when they apply themselves to it, both with science, practice and a pure life. How then should those ignorant persons understand it, who are utterly destitute of a knowledge of external things! Let us, therefore, pass to the second method and explain that: for he who possesses a discriminating mind, even if he were blind, is capable of understanding it. Know, therefore, that man from his own existence knows the existence of a Creator; from his own attributes, he knows the attributes of his maker; from the control which he has over his own kingdom, he knows the control that God exercises over all the world.
The reason of this is, that when a man looks at himself, beginning at the time when there was no trace or notion of his existence, and contemplates his creation with attention, he sees that he had his origin from a drop of water. He had neither mind nor understanding: and neither fat, flesh nor bones. Afterwards by divine operation and sovereign power, most strange and wonderful internal changes took place, and strong organs, passions, affections, and agreeable qualities rose up all adorned with beauty.
When man comes to look upon his organs and members, whether upon the external, as the hand, the foot, the eye, the tongue and the mouth, or upon the internal organs, as the liver, the stomach and the spleen, he sees that each is the result of a special wisdom, that each one has been created for some peculiar u e, and that each one is in its place and perfect. After a man has observed these things, he knows that the Creator has power to do what he pleases with all things, that his knowledge includes and embraces in perfection whatever is to be known of creatures Edition: current; Page: [ 43 ] either externally or internally, and that his power and wisdom pervade every organ and particle.
Beloved, in proportion as a man analyzes the nature of his body and the variety of uses of its several members, his reverence and love for its Creator and Maker will increase. Let a man observe, for example, that his hands are made like columns and separated from the body, to serve as an instrument to seize, or take hold of, or to defend it from an enemy. At the extremity of the hands are five fingers, four of which are in a row, and some long and some short, SO that when they take hold of anything, they may come equally together in the palm of the hand.
The thumb, which is opposite to the four fingers, is shorter than any of them and stronger, that it may be a help to the whole and render them capable of retaining and grasping. The four fingers have three joints each, and the thumb has but two, that when contracted they may become like the bowl of a spoon or ladle, and that when open they may become like a plate, and so discharge an infinity of services. The front teeth were formed sharp, to cut and separate the food : the side teeth were formed broad to mash and grind the food. The tongue was formed like a spoon to throw the food into the throat.
There is, also, under the tongue, an organ by which water is poured out, and the food is made of the consistence of dough, that it may be more easily swallowed and digested. All the organs, in short, have been devised with the best arrangement and form for use, and each one of them is punctual day and night in discharging its function.
Think not, that they are lazy or sleeping. If the minds of the intelligent, the science of the learned, and the wisdom of the sage had been united and had been employed since the beginning of the world, in reflection and contrivance, they could not have discovered anything more excellent than the present arrangement, Edition: current; Page: [ 44 ] nor any forms more useful and beautiful. If the eye had been attached to the top of the head, or the ear to the nape of the neck, or the mouth to the back of the body, or if three fingers had been given instead of four, it is plain to a person of intelligence that the existing advantages would not have been secured, and the present beauty of form and appearance would have been imperfect.
Let us notice, also, the daily necessities of man, his need of food, of clothing and of a dwelling; his need of rain, clouds, wind, heat and cold : and that he needs the weaver, the cotton-spinner, the clothier and the fuller to provide him with clothing; and that each one of these has need of so many instruments, and of so many trades, like those of the blacksmith, the farmer, the carpenter, the dyer, and the tanner; and besides, their need of iron, lead, wood and the like. Notice at the same time, the adaptation of these workmen to their instruments, and of the instruments to the trades, and how each art has given rise to several others, and the mind is astonished and distracted.
The adaptation of all these instruments comes from the pure grace and perfect mercy of God, and from the fountain of his benevolence. Moreover, God's creating prophets, sending them to us, and leading us to their law and to love them, is a perfume of His universal beneficence. It has been shown that man from his own existence, knows the existence of his creator, that from his analysis of the materials of which his body is composed and of its distinctive characters he understands the almighty power of God, that from the uses, the arrangement and the combination of his organs, he knows the omniscient wisdom of God, and that his clemency and compassion extend to Edition: current; Page: [ 45 ] all.
He knows, also, that these many mercies and bounties are bestowed upon him without his seeking or care, from God's rich and overflowing grace. Now in this way it is possible that the knowledge of the soul should become the key to the knowledge of God. For just as from a survey of your own being and attributes, you have in a contracted form learned the being and attributes of God, it is also possible to understand how the freedom and the holiness of God, bear a resemblance to the freedom of your soul.
Know, that God exists exempt from and independent of the notions that enter the mind, and the forms that are produced in the imagination, that he is not subjected to reasoning, and time and place cannot be ascribed to him. Still his exercise of power and the manifestation of his glory are not independent of place. But in the same manner, this independence and freedom is possible in your soul. The spirit, for example, which we call heart is exempt from the entrance of fancies and imaginations, and also from size and divisibility. Nor has it form or color, for if it had, it could be seen by the eye, and would enter into the sphere of fancy and imagination, and its beauty or ugliness, its greatness or littleness would be known.
It is one of the most important things, yea, a most necessary duty, to treat of God as holy, independent and free. How many things there are in your body in reference to which you do not know their reality and essence, such as Edition: current; Page: [ 46 ] desire, love, misery and pleasure.
Their existence is admitted, but their quantity and quality cannot be measured. If you desire to learn the absolute truth about them, you cherish a vain longing; and it is the same, if you desire to know the absolute nature of voice, nutrition or hearing. As that which is perceived by the eye has no relation to voice, and as that which is perceived by the ear has no relation to form, and as that which is perceived by the sense of smelling has no relation to taste, so that the one can be known by means of the other, in the same manner that which is perceived through the medium of the mind or of divine power, cannot be perceived by the senses.
Again, as the spirit exists and controls the body, and yet we know not the mode and essence of it, so God is present in all things, and controls and governs all things, but his form, essence and quality are exempt from being known. Exemption and freedom may be illustrated in still another manner. In the same way that the spirit pervades all the limbs and the body, and the body is entirely subject to its control, and that the spirit is indivisible, while the body is divisible, so also in relation to God, all that exists, springs from him, all creatures exist by his word, and in all possible things his operations are seen, yet still he is not related to place, nor does he reason about anything, and he is free from relation or affinity to any quality of bodies or to quantity.
This topic of exemption and freedom, beloved, cannot be perfectly explained, until the mystery about the soul shall have been developed. The law, however, gives no permission to develop this secret, and it is not lawful to stretch out one's hand to do what the legislator forbids. And now, student of the divine mysteries, that you have in general understood, as far as your mind can reach, the being and attributes of God, by having your own soul as an example, it is important that you should become acquainted with the influence of the word, government and sovereignty of God in the world.
This is called knowledge of operation. But unless you know in what way you exercise authority over your body, what probability is there that you can understand how God exercises control over all things. Next in order, that inclination and decision by means of the animal spirit is carried to the brain.
When that decision has reached the brain then the image of the phrase, In the name of God is formed in the faculty of imagination in the brain. Afterwards the image reaches a nerve resembling a white thread, and descends by means of it to the ends of the fingers. Finally by means of the senses the fingers write the phrase In the name of God, in the form in which by the will of the heart, it exists in the treasury of the imagination.
Again, also, when the will of God is to anything, a token of it rises and appears in Edition: current; Page: [ 48 ] the empyreal heaven. And there is an essence called both the Spirit of Power, and the Holy Spirit, by means of which it arrives at the throne in the heavens. As the phrase, In the name of God, appears in the treasury of the imagination, so the image of the thing dependent on the will of God appears upon the Preserved Tablet.
The angels appointed to serve in the empyrean and at the throne, cause it to descend to the inferior world, and by means of the periods and hours of the constellations, it is made to appear through the four elementary qualities — heat, cold, moisture and dryness. As the phrase In the name of God is written down by first dipping the pen in the ink, so the thing which God wills, comes to light by mixing heat and cold with water and earth.
As paper is so adapted to writing as to preserve the forms which are written upon it, so dryness and moisture are recipient of those other forms and preserve the images that are produced. If moisture did not exist, forms and images could not be preserved. In the same manner as by the will of the heart and by the method above mentioned, the image In the name of God, which is in the treasury of the imagination is painted with the pen upon paper, so also the will of God, which is an image produced upon the Preserved Tablet in the empyrean, is produced and made visible in the material world, by means of the angels, the constellations and the elemental qualities of water and earth.
At the time when the heart of man had control over all the organs and members, and they were all obedient to it, some thought that man was a dweller in his own heart. When the empyrean in like manner, ruled over all things by the will of God, they reasoned that man was seated in the empyrean. But like as man has dominion over his own heart in the administration of his kingdom, the body, God also rules over the empyrean in the administration of the affairs of created beings, which he has committed to Edition: current; Page: [ 49 ] the empyrean. It is known to men of penetration by revelation.
Know, beloved, that the sovereign recognizes no other person except the sovereign himself. If the Lord had not appointed you to be sovereign over the body as over a kingdom, if he had not confided to you the affairs of its government, and had not given you this brief copy as a model, how would you have been able to comprehend the sovereign, who is independent of reasoning and of place, and who cannot be known by argument or hypothesis or in any other way? Thanks and praises be given to him who is without beginning and eternal, to him who is unceasingly beneficent, to him who made you sovereign over yourself, who subjected your body to you for a kingdom, who made your heart to be an empyreal throne, and made the animal spirit which is the fountain of the heart, to be a seraphic messenger.
He appointed the brain to be the throne, and the treasury of the imagination to be the Preserved Tablet. He made the cupola of the brain, which is the source of the nerves and the mine of the faculties, to be like the vault of heaven and the stars. He appointed the fingers and the pen to serve the elemental qualities of nature, and subjected them to your order. He made you more excellent and noble than all other creatures, and to exercise rule over all possible things. He has bidden you to beware and not to be heedless of your soul, which is your kindom and dominion: for to be regardless of your soul, is to be regardless of your Creator and Benefactor.
Know, however, that there is an immense distance and wide interval between perceiving the beauty of the Lord, and understanding that which constitutes its soul, marrow and essence. It is the pen that causes the marks. It is not so; the whole influence proceeds from the fingers and the pen is subject to the fingers. He does not know that he also is mistaken, and that the stars and the constellations are subject to the angels, and that the angels can do nothing without the command of God.
In the same manner as there is falsity, in the way in which the material world is regarded by the natural man and the astrologer, there is also a diversity of views among those who survey the spiritual world. There are some who, just as they are upon the point of entering upon the vision of the spiritual world, seeing that they discover nothing, descend back to their old sphere.
There is also a difference of view between those who do succeed in reaching the spiritual or invisible world by meditation, for some have an immense amount of light veiled from them. Every Edition: current; Page: [ 51 ] one in the sphere to which he attains, is still veiled with a veil. The light of some is as of a twinkling star.
Others see as by the light of the moon. Others are illuminated as if by the world-effulgent sun. Still the miserable naturalist, who ascribes effects to the influences of nature, speaks correctly. For, if natural causes had no operation, the art of medicine would have been useless, and the holy law would not have allowed to have recourse to medical treatment. The mistake which the naturalist makes, is that he contracts his sphere of vision, and is like the lame ass, that left his load at the first stopping place.
He does not know that nature also is subjected to the hand of the power of God, and is a kind of humble servant, such as a shoe is to the ass. The astrologer also says, that the sun is a star, which causes heat and light upon the earth. If there had been no sun, the distinction between day and night would not have existed, and vegetables and grain could not have been produced.
The moon also is a star, and if there bad been no moon, how many things connected with the requirements of the Law of the Koran, would have been impracticable, such as fasting, alms and pilgrimage, since there would have been no distinction of weeks, months and years.
The colors and perfumes of herbs and fruits exist also from its influence. The sun is warm and dry; the moon is cold and moist.