A History of the Inquisition of Spain; vol. 4 [NOOK Book]

Overview

THE belief that, by prolonged meditation and abstraction from the phenomenal world, the soul can elevate itself to the Creator, and can even attain union with the Godhead, has existed from the earliest times and among many races. Passing through ecstasy into trance, it was admitted to the secrets of God, it enjoyed revelations of the invisible universe, it acquired foreknowledge and wielded supernatural powers. St. Paul gave to these beliefs the sanction of his own experience;[2] Tertullian describes the ...
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A History of the Inquisition of Spain; vol. 4

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Overview

THE belief that, by prolonged meditation and abstraction from the phenomenal world, the soul can elevate itself to the Creator, and can even attain union with the Godhead, has existed from the earliest times and among many races. Passing through ecstasy into trance, it was admitted to the secrets of God, it enjoyed revelations of the invisible universe, it acquired foreknowledge and wielded supernatural powers. St. Paul gave to these beliefs the sanction of his own experience;[2] Tertullian describes the influence of the Holy Spirit on the devotee in manifestations which bear a curious similitude to those which we shall meet in Spain,[3] and the anchorites of the Nitrian desert were adepts of the same kind to whom all the secrets of God were laid bare.[4] These supernal joys continued to be the reward of those who earned them by disciplining the flesh, and the virtues of mental prayer, in which the soul lost consciousness of all earthly things, were taught by a long series of doctors—Richard of Saint Victor, Joachim of{2} Flora, St. Bonaventura, John Tauler, John of Rysbroek, Henry Suso, Henry Herp, John Gerson and many others. If Cardinal Jacques de Vitry is to be believed, the nuns of Liége, in the thirteenth century, were largely given to these mystic raptures; of one of them he relates that she often had twenty-five ecstasies a day, while others passed years in bed, dissolved in divine love;[5] and Richard Rolle, the Hermit of Hampole, who missed his deserved canonization, was fully acquainted with the superhuman delights of union with God.[6] These spiritual marvels are reduced to the common-places of psychology by modern researches into hypnotism and auto-suggestion. The connection is well illustrated by the Umbilicarii, the pious monks of Mount Athos who, by prolonged contemplation of their navels, found their souls illuminated with light from above.[7]
IMPECCABILITY
Yet there were dangers in the pursuit of the via purgativa and the via illuminativa. The followers of Amaury of Bène, who came to be popularly known in Germany as Begghards and Beguines, invented the term Illuminism to describe the condition of the soul suffused with divine light and held that any one, thus filled with the Holy Ghost, was impeccable, irrespective of the sins which he might commit; he was simply following the impulses of the Spirit which can do no sin. Master Eckhart, the founder of German mysticism, was prosecuted for sharing in these venturesome speculations and, if the twenty-eight articles condemned by John XXII were correctly drawn from his writings, he admitted the common divinity of man and God and that, in the sight of God, sin and virtue are the same.[8] Zealots too there were who taught the pre-eminent holiness of nudity and, in imitation of the follies of early Christian ascetics, assumed to triumph over the lusts of the flesh by exposing themselves to the crucial temptation of sleeping with the other sex and indulging in lascivious acts.[9] The condemnation, by the Council of Vienne in 1312, of{3} the tenets of the so-called Begghards respecting impeccability[10] was carried into the body of canon law and thus was rendered familiar to jurists, when mysticism came to be regarded as dangerous and was subjected to the Inquisition.
That it should eventually be so regarded was inevitable. The mystic, who considered himself to be communing directly with God and who held meditation and mental prayer to be the highest of religious acts, was apt to feel himself released from ecclesiastical precepts and to regard with indifference, if not with contempt, the observances enjoined by the Church as essential to salvation. If the inner light was a direct inspiration from God, it superseded the commands of the Holy See and, under such impulse, private judgement was to be followed, irrespective of what the Church might ordain. In all this there was the germ of a rebellion as defiant as that of Luther. Justification by faith might not be taught, but justification by works was cast aside as unworthy of the truly spiritual man. The new Judaism, decried by Erasmus, which relied on external observances, was a hindrance rather than a help to salvation. Francisco de Osuna, the teacher of Santa Teresa, asserts that oral prayer is a positive injury to those advanced in mental prayer.[11] San Juan de la Cruz says that church observances, images and places of worship are merely for the uninstructed, like toys that amuse children; those who are advanced must liberate themselves from these things which only distract from internal contemplation.[12] San Pedro de Alcántara, in his enumeration of the nine aids to devotion, significantly omits all reference to the observances prescribed by the Church.[13] In an ecclesiastical establishment, which had built up its enormous wealth by the thrifty exploitation of the text “Give alms and behold all things are clean unto you” (Luke, XI, 41),
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940148348894
  • Publisher: Lost Leaf Publications
  • Publication date: 1/7/2014
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 907 KB

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