MEISTER  ECKHART
GERMAN SERMON 6
The Just shall live ...

 

 Preaching, Medieval illum. ms.

German text: Meister Eckhart, Die Deutschen und Lateinischen Werke, Die Deutschen Werke. Ed. Tr. Josef Quint, vol. 5, Pregidten, vol. 1 (W. Kohlhammer Verlag, Stuttgart, 1968) pp. 97-115.  Engl. tr. Luke Dysinger, OSB, based in part on Pfeifer (1857) / Evans (1924), Serm LXV (pp. 160163)


 

    German Sermon 6: THE JUST LIVE FOREVER
Iusti vivent in aeternum.

 


 

Justi autem in perpetuum vivent
et apud dominum est merces eorum
.
The just shall live forever, and their reward is with the Lord.

 

THE just [righteous] shall live for ever and their reward is with God (Wis. 5:18). Look carefully at what this means: on the surface it may seem trivial and commonplace, but in fact it merits attention and is very significant.

Die gerehten suln leben wiclche, und ir ln ist bi gote'. N merket disen sin gar eben; aleine er grop lte und gemeine, se') ist er doch gar merklich und gar guot.

The just shall live. Who are the just? One text reads, He is just who gives to each what what is due to them. (cf. Prov. 21:26; Ps. 37:21; Ex. 33:20) [Thus the just] give to God His due, to the saints and angels what is due to them and to his fellow human being what is due to him.

`Die gerehten suln leben'. Welhez sint die gerehten? l Ein geschrift sprichet: der ist gereht, der einem ieglchen gibet, daz sin ist 2. Die gote gebent, daz sin ist, und den heiligen und den engeln, daz ir ist, und dem ebenmenschen, daz sin ist 3.

TO GOD be [all] honor! (cf.1Tim.1:17; Rev.7:12) Who are they who honor God? Those who, having gone out of themselves, do not seek their own in anything, whatever it may be, great or small; who seek nothing above or below, beside or with themselves; not mindful of possessions, honors, comfort, or pleasure; nor inwardness, holiness, reward, or even the kingdom of heaven.

Gotes ist diu re 1. Wer sint, die got rent? Die ir selbes alzemle sint zgegangen und des irre alzemle niht ensuochent an keinen dingen, swaz ez joch si, noch grz noch klein, die niht ensehent under sich noch ber sich noch neben sich noch an sich, die niht enmeinent noch guot noch re noch gemach noch lust noch nuz noch innicheit noch heilicheit noch ln noch himelrche

These, who have left behind everything that is [in any sense] theirs ‒

und dis alles sint zgegangen, alles des irre,

these are the people who honor God, who truly honor Him and render Him what is His due.

dirre liute ht got re, und die rent got eigenlche und gebent im, daz sin ist 2.

WE ought to give joy to the saints and angels (cf. Ps 132:9; Rev. 18:20). So, then, wonder of wonders! Can a person in this life give joy to those who are in eternal life? Yes, truly! Every saint rejoices and takes such inexpressible delight in every good deed, every good will or intention, that no mouth can express nor can any heart imagine  their joy at this (Is 64:4-5; 1Cor. 2:9).

Man sol geben den engeln und den heiligen vrude. Ey, wunder ber alliu wunder! Mac ein mensche in disem lebene vrude geben den, die in dem wigen lebene sint? J wrlche! ein ieglich heilige ht s grzen lust und s unsprechelche vrude, von einem ieglchen guoten werke, von einem guoten willen oder einer begerunge hnt sie s grze vrude, daz ez kein munt zsprechen kan, noch kein herze kan ez erdenken, wie grze vrude sie d von hnt 1.

Why is this? Because their love of God is so immeasurably great and they cherish Him so completely, that they cherish His honor more than their own blessedness. War umbe ist daz? D minnent sie got als unmzlehe sre und hnt in s rehte liep, daz sin re in lieber ist dan ir slicheit.

Not only the saints and angels, but God Himself takes such delight in this as though it affected His own blessedness, as though His [very] being depended on it together with His contentment and well-being. Remember then, that even if we serve God for no other reason than for the exceeding joy of those in eternal life and of God Himself, yet we ought to do so eagerly and with all our zeal.

Niht aleine die heiligen noch die engel, mr: got selber ht s grzen lust dar abe, rehte als ob ez sin slicheit si, und sn Wesen swebet dar an und sn genegede und sin wollust 2. Ey, n merket! Enwellen wir gote niht dienen umbe kein ander sache wan umbe die grzen vrude, die sie dar an hnt, die in dem wigen lebene sint, und got selber, wir mhten ez gerne tuon und mit allem vlze.

And to those in purgatory (as well as to those who are alive) we should offer assistance and amelioration [of their pains].

Man sol ouch den geben, die in dem vegeviure sint, hilfe und bezzerunge und < . . . > den, die noch lebent 3.

This sort of person [who gives to each what is proper] is just in one sense, but in another sense the just are those who accept everything equally from God, whatever it may be: great or small, good or bad; all equally, no more nor less, but each thing like the other. If one thing is of more importance to you than another then you are unjust. You should depart completely from your own will.

Dirre mensche ist gereht in einer wise, und in einem andern sinne s sint die gereht, die alliu dine glich enpfhent von gote, swaz ez Joch si, ez si grz oder klein, liep oder leit, und al glich, noch minner noch mr, einz als daz ander. Wigest d daz ein iht mr dan daz ander, s ist im unreht 2. D soit dnes eigenen willen alzemle zgn.

I was thinking just now that if God does not will what I want, then I must will as He [wills]. Some people want only to have their own will in all things: that is bad and leads to error. Other people are a little better: they truly want what God wills and want nothing that is against his will; should they become ill they would truly wish for it to be Gods will that they return to health. Thus these people would prefer that Gods will accord with their wishes, rather than that they should want only what He wills.  We accept this, but it is unjust. The just have no will at all: whatever God wills is all equivalent to them, however great the hardship.

Ich gedhte niuwelche umbe ein dine : enwlte got niht als ich, s wlte ich doch als er. Sumlche liute wellent irn eigenen willen hn an allen dingen; daz ist boese, dar in vellet gebreste. Die andern sint ein wnic bezzer, die wellent wol, waz got wil, wider snen willen enwellent sie niht; wren sie siech, s wlten sie wol, daz ez gotes wille wre, daz sie gesunt wren. Als wlten die liute, daz got nch irm willen wlte, lieber dan daz sie nch sinem willen wlten. Man muoz ez vertragen, im ist aber unreht. Die gerehten enhnt zemle keinen willen; waz got wil, daz ist in allez glich, swie grz daz ungemach si 3.

The just are so completely focused on justice that if God were not just they would not care in the least about God. They are so firmly fixed in justice, they have left themselves so completely behind, that they are concerned neither with the pains of hell, nor the joys of heaven, nor any other thing. Den gerehten menschen den ist als ernst ze der gerehticheit, wre, daz got niht gereht wre, sie enahteten eine bne niht f got und stnt als vaste in der gerehticheit und sint jr selbes als gar zgegangen, daz sie niht enahtent pine der helle noch vrude des himelrches noch keines dinges.
Indeed, if all the pains of angels or human being in hell, or all the pains that have been or will be suffered by human beings on earth were [somehow] the consequences of justice, they would pay no attention them, so firmly fixed are they on God and on justice. J, wre alliu diu pine, die die hnt, die in der helle sint, menschen oder vende, oder alliu diu pine, diu in ertrche ie geliten wart oder iemer sol werden geliten, wre diu gesast bi der gerehticheit, sie enahteten sin niht einen bast; se) vaste stnt sie an gote und an der gerehticheit 1.
For the just person there is nothing more painful or burdensome than that which is contrary to justice: [namely], not to be equable in everything. In what sense? If someone is made happy by one thing and saddened by another, they are not just. Indeed, if they are happy at one moment, they are happy at all moments; for to be happy at one moment and less happy at another is unjust. Dem gerehten menschen enist niht pinlicher noch swrer, dan daz der gerehticheit wider ist, daz er in allen dingen niht glich ist. Als wie? Mac sie ein dine vruwen und ein anderz betreben, s ensint sie niht gereht, mr: sint sie ze einer zt vr, s sint sie ze allen zten vr; sint sie ze einer zt mr vr und ze der andern minner, s ist in unreht 1.
Whoever loves justice is fixed so firmly on it that what he loves is his [very] being: nothing can entice him away from it, nor can he regard anything [more highly]. Swer die gerehticheit minnet, der stt s vaste dar f, swaz er minnet, daz ist sin wesen2; den enmac kein dine abeziehen, noch keines dinges enahtet er anders.

St Augustine says, Where the soul loves there she [truly]is; more so, even, that where she gives life. This phrase sounds simple, even commonplace; but few understand what it means, and it is nonetheless true. Whoever understands the significance of justice and the just will understand everything I say.

Sant Augustnus sprichet : d diu sle minnet, d ist si eigenlcher, dan d si leben gibet 1. Daz wort ltet grop und gemeine, und verstt doch wnic ieman, wie im s, und ist doch war. Swer underscheit verstt von gerehticheit und von gerehtem, der verstt allez, daz ich sage.

THE just shall live. Of all things nothing is more precious or desirable than life. There is no life so bad or hard that a human being would not rather live.  It is written, the nearer to death the greater the pain. But no matter how bad the life, [people] will choose to live. Why do you eat? Why do you sleep? So you can live. Why do you long for good [things] or honor?  You know that perfectly well. `Die gerehten suln leben' 2. Ez enist kein dine s liep noch s begirlich als leben under allen dingen. S enist kein leben s beese noch s swrlich, ein mensche enwelle dennoch leben. Ein geschrift diu sprichet: ie daz dine dem tde nher ist, ie pnlcher ez ist. Nochdenne swie bse daz leben ist, s wil ez leben. War umbe izzest d? War umbe slfest d? Umbe daz d lebest. War umbe begerst d guotes oder ren? Daz weist d harte wol.

So why do you live? In order to live - yet you still do not know why you live. So desirable is life in itself that we desire it for its own sake. [Even] those in hell in eternal pain have no wish to lose their life, whether fiends or [human] souls, for their life is so noble that it flows without any intermediary into their souls from God. And because it flows from God without any intermediary, this is why they wish to live. What is life? Gods essence is my life. If my life is Gods essence then Gods being is my being and Gods is-ness is my is-ness, neither less nor more.

Mr: war umbe lebest d? Umbe leben, und enweist dennoch niht, war umbe d lebest. S begirlich ist daz leben in im selber, daz man ez umbe sich selber begert. Die 3 in der helle sint in wiger pne, die enwlten niht ir leben verliesen, noch vende noch slen, wan ir leben ist s edel, daz ez sunder allez mitel vliuzet von gote in die sle. Dar umbe wan ez von gote als vliuzet sunder mitel, dar umbe wellent sie leben 1. Waz ist leben? Gotes wesen ist min leben. Ist min leben gotes wesen, s muoz daz gotes sin min sin und gotes isticheit min isticheit, noch minner noch mr2.

[THERE are] those who live eternally with God, right next to Him, not below or above [Him]. They engage in all their works with God and God with them. St John says, the Word was with God (Jn.1:1). It was exactly equal and near to Him, neither beneath nor above but equal. When God made human beings he made woman from the mans side so that she might be his equal. He made her not from the head or feet: that is, neither [inferior as ] woman nor [superior to] man, but [mans] equal. In the same way the just soul should be equal to God and near to Him, neither beneath nor above God.

Sie Iebent wiclche `b gote' 3, rehte glich b gote, noch unden noch oben. Sie wrkent alliu iriu werk b gote und got bi in. Sant Johannes sprichet: `daz wort was b gote'. Ez was alzemle glich und was bi neben, noch undenn noch obenn, sunder glich D got den menschen machete, del' machete er die vrouwen von des mannes sten, dar umbe daz si im glich wre. Er machete sie niht von dem houbte noch von den viiezen, daz si im wre weder vrouwe noch man, sunder daz si glich wre 1. Als sol diu gerehte sle glich bi gote sin und bi neben gote, rehte glich, noch unden noch oben.

Who, then are they who are [His] equal? Only those who are equal to nothing are equal to God. The divine essence is equal to nothing, containing neither likeness nor form.
The Father gives equally to the souls that are
[His] equal, withholding nothing from them.
Wer sint die als glich sint? Die niht glich sint, die sint aleine gote glich. Gtlich wesen enist niht glich, in im enist noch bilde noch forme. Die slen, die als glich sint, den gibet der vater glich und entheltet in nihtes niht vor.

Everything the Father can attain he gives equally to this soul, provided she is no more equal to herself than to any other, nor closer to herself than to any other. Her own honor, her needs, and her possessions she neither desires nor considers more significant than any strangers. What pertains to another, whether good or evil, is neither foreign nor distant to her.  All love of the world is based on love of self: if you leave that behind, you leave the whole world behind.

Swaz der vater geleisten mac, daz gibet er dirre sle glich, J ob si glich stt ir selber niht mr dan einem andern, und si sol ir selber niht nher sin dan einem andern. Jr eigen are, ir nuz und swaz ir ist, des ensol si niht mr begern noch ahten dan eines vremden. Swaz iemannes ist, daz sol ir weder sin vremde noch verre, ez si boese oder guot2. Alliu minne dirre werlt ist gebwen f eigenminne. Htest d die gelzen, s htest d al die went gelzen I.

The Father brings forth His son in eternity, equal to Himself. The Word was with God and God was the Word (Jn.1:1): He was the same in the same nature. I will even say He has brought Him forth in my soul. [The soul] is not only with Him and He equally with her but He is in her: the Father gives birth to His Son in the soul in the very same way as He brings Him forth in eternity, and in no other way. He must do so, whether it brings him joy or sorrow. The Father brings forth His Son: furthermore I say He brings me forth as His son - the same son. Der vater gebirt snen sun in der wicheit im selber glich. Daz wort was bi gote, und got was daz wort': ez was daz selbe in der selben natre. Noch spriche ich mr: er ht in geborn in miner sle. Niht aleine ist si bi im noch er b ir glich, sunder er ist in ir, und gebirt der vater snen sun in der sle in der selben wise, als er in in der wicheit gebirt, und niht anders. Er muoz ez tuon, ez si im liep oder leit2. Der vater gebirt snen sun ne underlz, und ich spriche mr: er gebirt mich snen sun und den selben sun.
I even [dare to] say, not only does he bring me forth as His Son: even more, He brings me forth as Himself and Himself as me - his essence and his nature. Ich spriche mr: er gebirt mich niht aleine snen sun, mr: er gebirt mich sich und sich mich und mich sin wesen und sin natre.

From the innermost stream I stream forth as the Holy Spirit, where there is one life, one being and one work. Everything God does is one; therefore he brings me forth as His son without any distinction. My physical father is not really my father except in one small fragment of his nature: I am different from him; he may be dead and I alive.

 In dem innersten quelle d quille ich z in dem heiligen geiste, d ist in leben und in wesen und in werk. Allez, waz got wrket, daz ist ein; dar umbe gebirt er mich sinen sun ne allen underscheit 1. Min lplcher vater ist niht eigenlche min vater sunder an einem kleinen stckeln sner natre, und ich bin gescheiden von im; er mac tt sin und ich leben2.

Thus the heavenly Father is truly my father for I am His Son and all I have comes from Him; I am the same Son and no other. Since the Father performs a single act His act is me, His only-begotten Son without any distinction. Dar umbe ist der himelische vater wrlche min vater, wan ich sin sun bin und allez daz von im hn, daz ich hn, und ich der selbe sun bin und niht ein ander. Wan der vater in werk wrket, dar umbe wrket er mich sinen eingebornen sun ne allen underscheit 3.

We will be wholly transformed in[to?] God and changed (2 Cor.3:). Note this analogy: just as in the sacrament bread is changed into the body of Our Lord; however much bread there may be there is only one body. In the same way if all the breads were changed into my finger there would be no more than the one finger. But note: if my finger were changed back into the breads, there would be as many of the one as of the other; for whatever is changed into another becomes one with it. Thus am I changed into Him into him and he effects his being in me without dissimilarity: by the living God it is true that there is no distinction.

`Wir werden alzemle transformieret in got und verwandelt.' Merke ein glchnisse. Ze glcher wise, als an dem sacramente verwandelt wirt brt in unsers herren lchamen, swie vil der brte wre, s wirt doch in lichame. Ze glcher wise, wren alliu diu brt verwandelt in mnen vinger, s wre doch niht mr dan in vinger. Mr: wrde min vinger verwandelt in daz brt, s wre diz als vil als jenez wre. Waz in daz ander verwandelt wirt, daz wirt ein mit im. Als wirde ich gewandelt in in, daz er wrket mich sin wesen ein unglch; bi dem lebenden got s ist daz war, daz kein underscheit enist 1.

The Father brings forth his Son unceasingly. Once the Son is born he takes nothing from the Father, since he has it all; but from the Father come his being brought forth. Der vater gebirt snen sun ne underlz. D der sun geborn ist, d ennimet er niht von dem vater, wan er ht ez allez; aber d er geborn wirt, d nimet er von dem eater 1.
From this [we learn that] we should not ask things from God as if from a stranger. Our Lord said to his disciples, I have not called you servants, but friends (Jn.15:14). One who begs from another is a servant; one who gives is a Lord . In disem ensuln wir ouch niht begern von gote als von einem vremden. Unser herre sprach ze snen Jngern: `ich enhn Tuch niht geheizen knehte sunder vriunde'. Waz ihtes begert von dem andern, daz ist kneht, und waz d lnet, daz ist herre.

I recently pondered whether I wish to ask or accept anything from God. I must reflect carefully on this; for by accepting from God I would make myself like a servant, and He like a Lord in regard to giving. That is not how it will be for us in eternal life.

 Ich gedhte niuweliche, ob ich von gote iht nemen wlte oder begern. Ich wil mich harte wol beraten, wan d ich von gote wre nemende, d wre ich under gote als ein kneht und er als ein herre an dem gebenne. Als ensuln wir niht sin in dem wigen lebene2.

I have said here, and it is true, When a man obtains or receives something outside himself it is unjust. One should not accept or conceive of God as outside of himself, but rather as his own and within him,  Nor should one serve or work for any reward; not for God or his honor nor for anything at all that is outside himself, but only for that which is within him as his own being, his very life. Ich sprach einest alhie und ist ouch war: waz der mensche zer im ziuhet oder nimet, dem ist unreht. Man ensol got niht nemen noch ahten zer im sunder als min eigen und daz in im ist; noch man ensol dienen noch wrken umbe kein warumbe, noch umbe got noch umbe sin fire noch umbe nihtes niht, daz zer im s, wan aleine umbe daz, daz sin eigen wesen und sin eigen leben ist in im 1.
There are simple people who imagine they are going to see God as if He were standing here or there. This is not true. God and I are one. By knowing I receive God into myself; by loving I go out into God. Some say that blessedness does not lie in knowledge but only in the will. They are mistaken: if [blessedness] were only in the will it would not be one. Working and becoming are one. Sumlche einveltige liute wnent, sie siiln got sehen, als er d stande und sie hie. Des enist niht. Got und ich wir sint ein 2. Mit bekennenne nime ich got in mich, mit minnenne gn ich in got 3. Etliche sprechent, daz slicheit niht lige an bekantnisse sunder aleine an willen. Die hnt unreht; wan large ez aleine an willen, s enwLere ez niht ein I. Daz wrken und daz werden ist ein.

When the carpenter stops working the house ceases to become. If the axe lies motionless becoming ceases. God and I are one in this acting: he works and I become. Fire changes into itself what is cast into it, which then becomes fire's  nature. The wood does not convert fire into itself, rather the fire converts wood into itself. Thus we shall be changed into God so that we shall know him as he is (1Jn.3:2).  St Paul says, So shall we know Him, just as I know Him and He knows me (1Co.13: 12 ),, neither more nor less but completely equally. The just shall live for ever and their reward is with God (Wis. 5:18) - therefore equally.

 S der zimmerman niht enwiirket, s enwirt ouch daz hs niht. D diu Barte liget, d liget ouch daz gewerden. Got und ich wir sint ein in disem gewrke; er wiirket, und ich gewirde 2. Daz viur verwandelt in sich, swat im zuogeveget wirt und wirt sin natre. Daz holz daz verwandelt daz viur in sich niht, mr: daz viur verwandelt daz holz in sich I. Als werden wir in got verwandelt, daz wir in bekennen suln, als er ist. Sant Paulus sprichet : als suln wir bekennende sn, rehte ich in als er mich 2, noch minner noch mr, glich blz. `Die gerehten suln leben wiclche, und ir ln ist bi gote' als glich.

That we may love justice for its own sake and God without [asking] why, may God help us. Amen.

Daz wir die gerehticheit minnen durch sich selben und got ne warumbe, des helfe uns got. Amen.

 

 

 


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