The Household of God
The early history of mankind
- Chapter 86 -
THE PATRIARCHS' THOUGHTS ABOUT ASMAHAEL'S SPEECH
After Asmahael had concluded his speech there reigned a prolonged silence among the patriarchs. Even Enoch was lost in a lengthy contemplation of love and pondered as to whether it might be possible to be in error where love is concerned.
"For," he said to himself, "Asmahael is right in everything he said. But the love that takes hold of you, the mighty love that draws the heart with sweet, invincible force upward to the eternal, holy Father so that the one it has taken full possession of cannot, and will not, free himself from it, should- no, no, I can neither feel nor think it! - should this almighty love not be an eternal law in the Lord Himself, out of which, according to which and through which He creates, arranges and perpetually preserves everything?
"And yet Asmahael said it so clearly that this very love is the supreme freedom, as in God so also in all His children.
"It is, of course, true and certain that every life depends on an adequate degree of freedom and that this freedom always has to keep in step with love. Then, where the highest love is, there is also the highest life and, thus, the highest freedom.
"But how is it with the established order according to which every being must retain the form it has been given, unable to change it at will? This is how the Creator, our holy God and Father, has arranged it - that is true and will be so forever! But may not that which with the beings and children implies the unchangeable form be with the Lord a law set by Him which He must observe to the last jot as long as for His infinite love the beings are to remain as what He created them out of His eternal order?
"Here is law! Who can deny it and maintain that it is not a law, but the most unrestrained and liberal freedom?
"O Asmahael, Asmahael! Who can comprehend your words and live?
"O fathers, poor fathers, you have chosen me as a teacher. While I could love, I could speak through the inconceivable grace of the Lord. However, Asmahael's speech showed me that I have never as yet in the least understood the words with which eternal Love inspired me for myself and for the fathers. The free, sweet love has now become a dual concept; it is the highest freedom and at the same time the immutable, firmest Law of all laws on which the life of everything depends. In freedom I can love and live - in the law I must love or die an eternal death! But how can freedom, the fullest, unrestrained freedom and on the other hand the totally irrevocable law be reconciled with each other?
"Who can tell me convincingly whether my love is freedom or law? Since I love and live, it is freedom; but since love draws me and gives me unspeakable delight, it is an eternal judging law through which I, who must love owing to an irresistible attraction to God in my heart, am dead, yes, forever dead and must necessarily be so.
"O holy Father, behold, I am destroyed through Asmahael's speech and unable to help myself. If You do not help me and the fathers and lift us up, all of us are lost forever.
"Only now do I see how absolutely helpless man is, and unless You, O holy Father, guide him constantly, he ceases to be and is annihilated forever as if he had never been. O Father, dear, holy Father, save us from this destruction, or Asmahael's impossible to comprehend speech will prove the ruin of all of us. Amen."
But Seth, once he had got over his amazement at Asmahael's words, rose and asked the father Adam: "Listen, beloved father, Enoch's preliminary speech has given me much light on my road of many an error. On this road I fell asleep in the spirit and you awakened me from an unnatural dream I felt so good when you blessed me, but what can, what will become of us?
"Asmahael has uttered words the meaning of which a natural man will hardly ever grasp. But if he has not fully grasped it, he is like a stone which bas death and darkness within it.
"I do not really dare ask Enoch. If you do not feel as I do, but have light concerning this speech, do enlighten me, too, so that heaven and earth may not perish because of my great ignorance, before we have reached our homeland. Amen."
Adam looked at Seth quite bewildered and did not know what he, vindicating his honor as a father, could tell his son. After pondering on it for a while, he told him to wait until a more suitable time, as he had now to think of other things.
Meanwhile Enos nudged Jared and whispered into his ear, without rising: "Listen Jared, you are a wise teacher of your son and have shown him how to love God in the heart and that the love of God is like the love of one person to another, but more intense than the love of a man for his wife and his children. Behold, he is now witnessing the embarrassment of all of us; why does he leave us in the lurch?
"I almost feel as if Asmahael had completely discouraged him. Do go to him and ask him not to leave us in the lurch now, for this is the time when it is, above all, necessary to help us, his fathers, out of the greatest embarrassment through his blessed tongue. Do go and tell him that, if you are willing! Amen."
But Jared scratched his head and finally remarked: "Behold, father Enos, when a ray of the sun scorches me, I leave the spot where I am and seek the cooling shade. Then let the intense ray burn a hole into the ground; it does not worry me for I have found the pleasant shade. I would have to be crazy to leave this shade before the sun has set.
Therefore, let us leave this matter to the others, and if they think the sun too hot, let them spread an awning over the whole firmament. The teacher should be able to manage his pupil! And will the pupil be above his master?
"However, if the pupil speaks of things the heart of the teacher cannot grasp, it is wrong to make the one a pupil whose inner wisdom so considerably exceeds that of the master and all the fathers that they do not even find a single word for an answer. So I confidently remain in the shade and am satisfied with the splashes of light sparkling through the rustling leaves and allow the one who wants to be completely blinded to gaze at the sun.
"Behold, father Enos, this is the reason why I do not want what you want, for my eyes are more important to me than all the understanding of things one could actually never completely comprehend. And so, without having achieved anything, I say in the name of all Amen."
Also Kenan and Mahalaleel had the following discussion in a low voice:
Mahalaleel: "What do you think, Kenan, are we going to get home still today? The children of the evening are all lying mute like stones on the dear earth, and after the really extraordinary speech of Asmahael, we are not any better off. It seems to me that even the dear, good Enoch is considerably embarrassed."
Kenan: "If you know something, speak; but if you do not know any thing, do as I do who does not know either. One thing is certain, namely, that Asmahael knows more than I and you. But then, what is the use of preaching to the deaf and showing to the blind? You know my dream and it was certainly not without significance I related it conscientiously exactly as I had dreamt it. In the end Seth and all the others were able to tell me just as much as I myself, namely, nothing. Then I thought: Prior to it I did not know a thing, now I do not know anything either and shall know nothing also henceforth. And behold, I am satisfied with this."
Mahalaleel: "If you, as a good speaker, say that about yourself, when your style is so similar to Asmahael's, whatever am I to say who have a hard tongue as you very well know? However, in this general silence my indifference is beginning to somewhat desert me, for if there will not soon come a solution from above, I tell you, father, we shall not only spend the evening here, but probably also midnight, which at least spiritually does not seem to be too far from us!"
Kenan: "Let this matter pass! If it should really come to our having to stay here overnight, the earth will not become worm-eaten nor the firm ground turn into water. The Lord knows best why He has prepared a day of rest for our busy tongues. I always say that it is better to be active than always to talk and teach. Of course, I like to listen to good speeches and precepts, but on this journey there is really too much of the good thing; one cannot digest it and the speech of Asmahael is even a stone which still might need some rest until it can be digested. So let us leave it at that and keep silent! Amen."