On the Faith of the Soul and the Treasures of Mysteries
hidden in it. And to what Extent Worldly Knowledge
is Opposed to the Simplicity of Faith.
When the soul in the course of its behavior walks in the way of faith, this improves it much. When it then turns towards the means of knowledge, it becomes alienated to faith at once. And it is removed from that intelligible force of faith which reveals itself by different acts of help in the serene soul that simply, without inquiry, uses all that belongs to it.
The soul that has once, in faith, entrusted itself unto God and, under many temptations, has received a taste of faith’s help, no longer thinks of itself, but is made speechless by ecstasy and silence, nor is it allowed to return unto the means of its knowledge or to make use of them, lest it also be bereft, on the contrary, from the divine care which visits it incessantly and provides for it and clings to it everywhere.
For the soul would consider it as a despicable thought to deem itself sufficient to guide itself by the power of its knowledge. For those in whose hearts the light of faith has dawned, do not venture to pray in their own behalf, they do not even venture to ask God: Give us this, or: Take from us that, nor dare they think of themselves in any way.
For by the initiated eyes of their faith they always see the paternal care which protects them on the part of that Father whose strong and immeasurable love surpasses the love of all fleshly fathers and who has power to supply us with all things above what we ask and think.
For knowledge is opposed to faith and faith with all its means destroys the laws of knowledge. I do not mean spiritual laws. For the circumscription of the domain of knowledge is this, that a man is not allowed to do anything without inquiry or examination; but he must investigate, so as to comply, if possible, with what befalls him.
But as to faith, what is it? If yes and no approach unto it equally, faith does not consent to remain in that position. That knowledge cannot be used without methods and means, that it even does not exist without them, is known. And this is the token a its skeptical attitude regarding truth.
Faith on the other hand requires a serene and simple mind, far from any cunning or need of means. Behold, how knowledge and faith are each other's opposites.
The mansion of faith is a childlike mind and a pure heart. For in the purity of their heart people have praised God. For ‘except ye be converted and become as little children’ and so on. Knowledge, however is the persecutor and opposite of these two. Knowledge adheres to the domain of nature, in all its ways. Faith makes its course above nature. Knowledge does not admit unto itself anything which is in disharmony with nature, not even for the sake of trial; but it lets these things dwell at a distance. Faith on the other hand orders with authority and says: ‘Thou shall tread upon the serpent and the lion: the young lion and the dragon thou shall trampled under feet.’
Knowledge is accompanied by fear: faith by trust. As long as a man uses the means of knowledge, he is not free from fear, it is not even possible that he be deemed worthy of freedom. But as soon as he clings to faith, at once a free man and the king of his soul and a son of God, he will use freedom in all things, with authority. A man that has found the keys of faith will use all the species in nature, as God. For faith is allowed even to create a new creation, just as God did. If thou willest,, anything will stand before thee. And many times it is possible to make every thing out of nothing.
He whose heart is supported by the trust of faith, will never experience want of anything. And though he does not possess anything, he dominates all things through faith. As it is written: ‘All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.’ *
* Mystic Treatises by Isaac of Nineveh, translated by A.J. Wensinck, Amsterdam 1923.