John Pordage: From ‘Theologia Mystica’-About Divine Wisdom
Portrait of Dr. John Pordage,
used as frontispiece for the 1683 edition
of ‘Theologia Mystica’, published in London.
Today’s sharing from the Blue House of Via-HYGEIA, is an excerpt from Dr. John Pordage’s ‘Theologia Mystica’ where Divine Wisdom, Sophia, is described as ‘a brightness, glance or ray‘, as if we were reading from the late Neo-Platonists, such as Proclus, who states in ‘Triple Are The Roads Of Fire‘: ‘let us know the Master; let us love the Father; let us obey his calling; let us run towards the warm, fleeing the chill. Let us become fire; let us travel through fire: we have an unobstructed path of ascent. The Father will guide, after having opened the roads of fire; so, to avoid that, forgotten, we drift miserably away.’ For the Boehmian theosophists, such a guide is Sophia, Divine Wisdom.
Arthur Versluis-‘Theosophia’-Opening of Chapter X
‘THERE IS NO SUBJECT MORE IMPORTANT to theosophy than Sophia, or Wisdom; one might even say that the doctrines surrounding Sophia represent another revelation within the Christian tradition—a revelation which can be found in the very earliest Christian writings, which reappeared in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and which produced the German, French, and Russian theosophical traditions. That there is a heterodox aspect to the sophianic revelation in its multiple forms can hardly be denied; and yet at the same time were this dimension of Christianity removed, we would be lacking not only the writings of Dante, but also those of the greatest theosophers of the Christian tradition. For who can imagine removing divine Wisdom from Christianity? Sophia is at the heart of theosophy.’
Theologia Mystica, pages 66 to 70
‘…The third wonder which was presented to my intellectual sight was God’s Wisdom, concerning whom I shall speak under these three heads.
First I shall speak of the birth and nativity of the Wisdom of God.
Secondly of its nature.
Thirdly and lastly of its office.
1. First then, as to the birth and nativity of Wisdom, we are to know that it springs and flows from God’s Eternal Eye, as from its Eternal root and original, and here it is fixed as in its proper seat and centre; for it is by this Wisdom, that all the desire and motions of the Deity are most wisely ordered, conducted and governed, for it proceeds from and is seated in the same Eye with his desiring mind, and willing will, these three are in one another and penetrate through one another, and make up but one inseparable, indivisible power. I say that all three exist in the Eye as one power, yet distinguishable, and without the least disorder or confusion; the first is the wisdom, then the mind, and next the will; for as the wisdom proceeds from the Eye, so the mind proceeds from the wisdom, and the will from the mind. And thus much for the birth and nativity of Wisdom.
2. I come now in the next place to speak of the second head, viz. what the nature of the Wisdom is: I say then, that the Divine Wisdom is a flowing, moving power, a moving motion immediately proceeding from God’s Eternal Eye. God’s Wisdom is a bright ray or glance issuing from the Eye of Eternity; therefore she is termed the brightness or clarity of the Godhead, and a pure breath or efflux from the majesty of the Almighty. We can say nothing of her but that she is the brightness and glance of the Eye of Eternity; who as she proceeds from the Eye, so she is moved by, and only by the same; for she is a mere passive bright shining virtue, that swiftly passeth through and pierceth all things, by reason of her high purity and subtlety, which can be compared with nothing better, than to a lustrous shining glance, being perfectly passive and moving only according to the motion of the Eye of the Father, which makes her more swift and piercing than anything whatsoever.
But for a further illustration of the nature of God’s Wisdom, I shall a little enlarge my self upon these following particulars, which are so many essential properties of the said Wisdom.
In the first place this Wisdom is co-essential with the Holy Trinity: Because hath been said it proceeds from the Trinity, as an outgoing ray, glance or brightness; now nothing doth immediately proceed from God, but what is of the nature and essence with him, and consequently what can this bright shining glance from the Eye of the majesty be else, but pure Deity, as proceeding from, and fixed in the Eye of Eternity.
The second essential property of this Divine Wisdom, is this, that she is co-eternal with the ever-blessed Trinity. God was never without his Wisdom, nor the Eye of Eternity without this glance and bright ray which proceedeth from it; for else God could not have been an all-wise and all-knowing God. Therefore according to order of time the Divine Wisdom, is co-eternal with the Holy Trinity, though in order of nature and dignity, the Holy Trinity are before Wisdom, which is nothing else but a passive efflux from the ever-blessed Trinity. Wherefore you are not to imagine that the Wisdom of God, as she is co-essential and co-eternal, is also co-equal with the holy Trinity, because as was said before, she is perfectly passive, and moves not herself, but as the Eye is moved, whereas the Blessed Trinity is all act, all acting power; she is indeed said to be a co-operator with the Trinity, but yet so as that she moves not, except she be moved, nor acts except she be acted: thus far indeed she may be said in some sense to be co-equal with the Trinity, forasmuch as she fills with her glance and brightness the whole Still Eternity; but this cannot amount to a proper co-equality, because she is wholly passive, and depending of the Trinity. Besides she is clearly distinguishable from the Eye, and the Spirit of the Eye, as being only a brightness, glance or ray proceeding from it, and is consequently inferior, and subordinate to the Blessed Trinity.
The third and last essential property of the Divine Wisdom, is her virgin purity, which consists in this, that she is free from all desire, will and motion of her own. She desires and wills nothing, but as the Eternal mind, and Will, desires and wills in her; she moves not, but as she is moved, and acts not, but as she is acted by the Spirit of Eternity; for she is nothing but a bright passive glance from the Eye of Eternity. She is an eternal stillness in herself. She is not the majesty itself, nor the Eye, but she is only the beauty, glory, brightness, lustre and glance of the majesty in the Eye, and that such a transparent clarity and brightness as is without all spot or blemish. And in a word, she is nothing but perfect, absolute purity, she is a thousand times brighter, and purer than the Sun, and fairer than the Moon, and indeed nothing can be compared to the excellence of that her virgin purity.
But her pure virginity doth not only consist in this, that she is free from all manner of spot, blemish or mixture, but especially in this, that her bright glance is from all Eternity fixed upon the flaming heart of God’s love, which is the centre of the Holy Trinity. This flaming heart of Love is the sole object to which her regard is fastened continually: she receives nothing into herself but this divine Love, from the heart of God. She espouseth herself to nothing, inclineth herself to nothing, but only to this essential Love, the Word of God, fixed in the Heart of the Deity. Thus the Holy Trinity have their delight with wisdom, and again the whole joy and delight of Wisdom is the flaming Love of the blessed Trinity. She is exalted above all things, because of her beauty and immaculate purity; she is the highest purity; she is purity and virginity in the abstract. She cannot be touched by sin, evil or self, because she cannot mix with, nor incline to anything, but only the essential Love of God. She is free from all essences whatsoever, being nothing else but the unspotted mirror of the glory and excellency of God: and thus we have declared to you what that pure virginity is, which is one of the essential properties of God’s Wisdom.
3. I now proceed to the third and last head, viz., What the office of Wisdom is in the Still Eternity. I find that Wisdom dischargeth these two offices, viz.
1. She is a revealer of the mysteries, and hidden wonders of the Deity.
2. She is an enlightener of the Still Eternity.
First, as for the first of these, Scripture and revelation assure us, that Wisdom is the revealer and manifestor of the unsearchable secret of God: she is the golden key of the Eternal Eye, by which all the wonders of the Trinity are unlocked. As the office of the Holy Ghost is to effect and create all things, so the office of Wisdom is to manifest and reveal all things. She never brings forth anything, and upon that account also, is called a pure virgin, but only discovers and manifests whatsoever the Holy Trinity, by their effecting-creating-power, are pleased to bring forth. This Wisdom is the companion of the Eye of Eternity, by her out-going glance, revealing the wonders contained in it: She is as an handmaid waiting upon the Holy Trinity, to declare, publish and make known their counsels, secrets and wonders.
Secondly, the other office of Wisdom is to give light to the deep abyss of the Still Eternity. It is Wisdom’s bright glance which is the day and light of this most holy mansion, not a created light, but a pure divine Light, in that sense as God is called a light in whom is no darkness at all, and no otherwise.
But you will object, that the Holy Scriptures and divine philosophers seem to give a different account concerning Wisdom than I have here given?
To which I answer, That I easily grant that the Scriptures of Truth, and holy enlightened men, have spoken concerning Wisdom after another manner, than here I have done; and the reason of it is plain, for they speak of Wisdom after the production of Eternal Nature, as Wisdom is introduced into the seven forms of Eternal Nature: whereas I speak of Wisdom’s existence with the Holy Trinity, in the Still Eternity, before ever Eternal Nature was brought forth.’