Bœhmen, Jacob

, or Behmen, a noted visionary, and founder of the sect of the Behmenists, was born in a village near Gorlitz, in Upper Lusatia, 1575. His education was suitable to the circumstances and views of his parents, who, designing him for a mechanic trade, took him from school as soon as he could read and write, and put him apprentice to a shoe-maker. He first began to use that occupation as a master at Gorlitz, in 1594, and getting into such business as enabled him to support a family, he entered after some time into matrimony, and had several children.

In the mean time, being naturally of a religious turn of mind, he was a constant frequenter of sermons from his | youth, and took all opportunities of reading books of divinity, but, not being able to satisfy himself about the differences and controversies in religion, he grew very uneasy, till, happening one day to hear from the pulpit that speech of our Saviour, “Your heavenly Father will give the holy spirit to them that ask it” he was presently so affected, that from this moment, as he tells us, he never ceased asking, that he might know the truth. Upon this, he says, by the divine drawing and will, he was in spirit rapt into the holy sabbath, where he remained seven whole days, in the highest joy; after which, coming to himself, he laid aside all the follies of youth, and was driven by divine zeal earnestly to reprehend impudent, scandalous, and blasphemous speeches, and in all his actions forbore the least appearance of evil, continuing to earn a comfortable livelihood by diligent application to his trade. la 1600, he was a second time possessed with a divine light, and by the sight of a sudden object brought to the inward ground or centre of the hidden nature yet somewhat doubting, he went out hi to an open field, and there beheld the miraculous works of the Creator in the signatures, figures, or shapes of all created things very clearly and manifestly laid open; whereupon he was taken with exceeding joy, yet held his peace, in silence praising God. But ten years after, in 1610, through the overshadowing of the holy spirit, he was a third time touched by God, and became so enlightened, that, lest so great grace bestowed upon him should slip out of his memory ^ and he resist his God, he began to write privately for his own use (without the help of any books except the holy scripture), the truths which had been thus revealed to him. In this spirit he first published his treatise, entitled “Aurora, or the rising of the sun,” in 1612 which book was immediately carried to the magistrates of Gorlitz by George Richterus, dean of the ministers of that place, who complained of its containing many of the errors of Paracelsus and Wigelius for Boehmen had amused himself with chemistry in his youth. The magistrates suppressed the piece as much as possible, and commanded the author to write no more, observing to him, that such employment was properly the business of the clergy, and did not belong to his profession and condition.

Thus rebuked, he remained silent for seven years but finding that the directors of the electoral laboratory had | recommended him to a great many persons of the court as a good chemist, he lifted up his head, and boldly opposed Richterus and, taking up his pen again, was resolved to redeem the time he had lost; insomuch that in the remaining five years of his life he wrote ahove twenty books, the last of which, entitled “A table of his principles, or a key of his writings,” was published in 1624. He did not long survive it; for, betimes in the morning, Nov. 18 of that year, he called one of his sons, and asked him, “if he also heard that excellent music” To which being answered in the negative, he ordered the door to be set open, that the music might be the better heard. He asked afterwards what o’clock it was and being told it had struck two, he said, “It is not yet my time, my time is three hours hence.” In the interim he was heard to speak these words, “O thou strong God of hosts, deliver me according to thy will O thou crucified Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me, and receive me into thy kingdom.” When it was near six o’clock, he took leave of his wife and sons, and blessed them, and said, “Now I go hence to paradise” then bidding his son turn him, he immediately expired in a deep sigh.

A great number of persons have been inveigled by the visions of this fanatic; among others the famous Quirinus Kahlman in Germany, who says, that he had learned more, being alone in his study, from Boehmen, than he could have learned from all the wise men of that age together: and that we may not be in the dark as to what sort of knowledge this was, he acquaints us, that amidst an infinite number of visions it happened, that being snatched out of his study, he saw thousands of thousands of lights rising round about him. But our author is better known among ou-rselves, where he has hundreds of admirers and no wonder, since, as Dr. Henry More observes, the sect of the Quakers have borrowed a great many of their doctrines from our Teutonic philosopher of whom we shall venture to say, from a perusal of some of his writings, that he possessed the grand arcanum of mysterizing plain truths by an inextricably oenigmatical expression. He has still many disciples in England and we are sorry to add, met with a warm advocate and industrious disciple in the late pious Mr. William Law, who employed many years in preparing an edition and translation of Bcehmen’s works, and which were published after his decease in 2 vols. 4to, to which | two others were afterwards added. The titles of these writings will be perhaps sufficient, without entering farther into their merits, or that of their author. 1. Aurora, or the rising of the sun, 1612. 2. Of the three principles, together with an appendix of the threefold life of man, 1619. 3. Of the threefold life of man, 1620. 4. An answer to the forty questions of the soul, propounded by Dr. Walter, &c. ibid. 5. Three books; the first, of the incarnation of Jesus Christ; the second, of the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ; the third, of the tree of faith, ibid. 6. Of six parts, ibid. 7. Of the heavenly and earthly mysterium, ibid. 8. Of the last times, to P. K. ibid. 9. De signatura rerum, or the signature of all things, 1621. 10. A consolatory book of the four complexions, ibid. 11. An apology to Balthazar Tilken, in two parts, ibid. 12. A consideration upon Esaias Steefel’s book, ibid. 13. Of true repentance, 1622. 14. Of true resignation, ibid. 15. Of regeneration, ibid. 16. Of predestination and election of God; at the end of which is a treatise, entitled, 17. A short compendium of repentance, 1623. 18. The mysterium magnum upon Genesis, ibid. 19. A table of the principles, or key of his writings, to G. F. and J. H. 20. Of the supersensual life, ibid. LM. Of the two testaments of Christ, viz. baptism and the supper of the Lord, ibid. 22. A dialogue between the enlightened and unenlightened soul, ibid. 23. An apology upon the book of true repentance, directed against a pasquil of the principal minister of Gorlitz, called Gregory Rickter, ibid. 24. An epitome of the mysterium magnum, ibid. 25. A table of the divine manifestation, or an exposition of the threefold world, to J. S. V. S. and A. V. F. ibid. The following are without date. 26. Of the errors of the sects of Ezekiel Meths, to A. P. A. or an apology to Esaias Steefel. 27. Of the last judgment. 28. Certain letters to diverse persons, written at diverse times, with certain keys for some hidden words. Besides these our author left unfinished, 29. A little book of divine contemplation. 30. A book of one hundred and seventy-seven theosophic questions. 3 1 The holy weeks, or the prayerbook. 1


Life by Okeley, and an excellent review of it by Badcock, Month. Rev. vol. LXIII. —Mosheim. —Brucker. —Saxii Onomast. Preface to Warburton’s Divine Legation, &c.