Sermon Forty Nine
ECCE MITTO ANGELUM MEUM
This written in the gospel, and in German it means: “Behold, I send my angel”.
Where the text says “I”, that means in the first place God’s is-ness, the fact that God alone is, for all things are in God and from Him, since outside of Him and without Him nothing truly is. All creatures are worthless and a mere nothing compared with God; therefore, what they truly are, they are in God, and thus only God truly is. And therefore the word “I” means the is-ness of divine truth, for it is the proof of one “is”. It thus testifies that He alone is.
Again, it means that God is not separate from all things, for God is in all things and is more inwardly in them than they are in themselves. That is how God is not separate from all things. And man too should be not separate from all things, which means that a man should be nothing in himself and wholly detached from self: in that way he is not separate from all things and is all things. For as far as you are nothing in yourself, in so far you are all things and not separate from all things. And therefore, as far as you are not separate from all things, in so far you are God and all things, for God’s divinity depends on His being not separate from all things. And so the man who is not separate from all things receives the Godhead from where God Himself receives it.
Thirdly, the word “I” denotes a kind of perfection of the designation “I”, for it is not a proper name: it stands for a name and for the perfection of that name, and denotes immutability and imperturbability, and so it denotes that God is immutable, imperturbable and eternal stability.
Fourthly, it indicates the bare purity of the divine being, which is bare of any admixture. For goodness and wisdom and whatever may be attributed to God are all admixtures to God’s naked essence, because all admixture causes alienation from essence. And so the word “I” denotes God’s purity of essence, which is bare in itself, free of alien elements that make it strange and distant.
Let us now speak further of the angels, of whom I just said that they were an image of God, and that they are a mirror containing in itself the reflection of the goodness and purity of the stillness and mystery of God, as far as that is possible. We should be like the angels, and so we would be an image of God, for God made us in His own image. An artist who wants to make an image of a man does not copy Conrad or Henry. For if he made an image like Conrad or Henry, he would not be portraying man, he would be portraying Conrad or Henry. But if he made a picture of Conrad it would not be like Henry: for, if he had the skill and ability, he would portray Conrad perfectly himself, exactly as he was. Now God has perfect skill and ability, and therefore He has made you just like Him, an image of Himself. But ‘like Him’ denotes something foreign and aloof. But between man and God there is nothing foreign and aloof, and therefore man is not ‘like him’ but he is altogether identical with Him and the very same as He is.
More I do not know and cannot tell, so my sermon must end here. But I once thought on my way, that a man should be so wholly detached in his intention that he had nobody and nothing in view but the Godhead in itself—neither salvation nor this or that, but just God as God, and the Godhead in itself. For whatever else you concern yourself with is an admixture to the Godhead. And so shed all admixtures to the Godhead, and seize it naked as it is in itself.
M. O’C. Walshe (1987). Meister Eckhart: Sermons and Treatises Volume II. UK: Element Books Limited.