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Theologica Germanica 22

February 5, 2008

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CHAPTER XXII

How sometimes the Spirit of God, and sometimes also the Evil Spirit may possess a Man and have the mastery over him.

It is written that sometimes the Devil and his spirit do so enter into and possess a man, that he knoweth not what he doeth and leaveth undone, and hath no power over himself, but the Evil Spirit hath the mastery over him, and doeth and leaveth undone in, and with, and through, and by the man what he will. It is true in a sense that all the world is subject to and possessed with the Evil Spirit, that is, with lies, falsehood, and other vices and evil ways; this also cometh of the Evil Spirit, but in a different sense,

Now, a man who should be in like manner possessed by the Spirit of God, so that he should not know what he doeth or leaveth undone, and have no power over himself, but the will and Spirit of God should have the mastery over him, and work, and do, and leave undone with him and by him, what and as God would; such a man were one of those of whom St. Paul saith: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God,” and they “are not under the law, but under grace,” and to whom Christ saith: “For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.”

But I fear that for one who is truly possessed with the Spirit of God, there are a hundred thousand or an innumerable multitude possessed with the Evil Spirit. This is because men have more likeness to the Evil Spirit than to God. For the Self, the I, the Me and the like, all belong to the Evil Spirit, and therefore it is, that he is an Evil Spirit. Behold one or two words can utter all that hath been said by these many words: “Be simply and wholly bereft of Self.” But by these many words, the matter hath been more fully sifted, proved, and set forth.

Now men say, “I am in no wise prepared for this work, and therefore it cannot be wrought in me,” and thus they find an excuse, so that they neither are ready nor in the way to be so. And truly there is no one to blame for this but themselves. For if a man were looking and striving after nothing but to find a preparation in all things, and diligently gave his whole mind to see how he might become prepared; verily God would well prepare him, for God giveth as much care and earnestness and love to the preparing of a man, as to the pouring in of His Spirit when the man is prepared.

Yet there be certain means thereunto, as the saying is, “To learn an art which thou knowest not, four things are needful.” The first and most needful of all is, a great desire and diligence and constant endeavour to learn the art. And where this is wanting, the art will never be learned. The second is, a copy or ensample by which thou mayest learn. The third is to give earnest heed to the master, and watch how he worketh, and to be obedient to him in all things, and to trust him and follow him. The fourth is to put thy own hand to the work, and practise it with all industry. But where one of these four is wanting, the art will never be learned and mastered. So likewise is it with this preparation. For he who hath the first, that is, thorough diligence and constant, persevering desire towards his end, will also seek and find all that appertaineth thereunto, or is serviceable and profitable to it. But he who hath not that earnestness and diligence, love and desire, seeketh not, and therefore findeth not, and therefore remaineth ever unprepared. And therefore he never attaineth unto that end.

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