Three books of occult philosophy written by Henry Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim ... ; translated out of the Latin into the English tongue by J.F.
Agrippa von Nettesheim, Heinrich Cornelius, 1486?-1535., French, John, 1616-1657.

CHAP. II. Of concealing of those thing which are secret in Religion.

WHosoever therefore thou art that now desirest to study this science, keep silence and constantly conceal within the secret closets of your Religious breast, so holy a de∣termination; for (as Mercury saith) to publish to the know∣ledge of many a speech throughly filled with so great majesty of the Deity, is a sign of an irreligious spirit; and Divine Plato commanded, that holy and secret mysteries should not be di∣vulged to the people; Pythagoras also and Porphyrius conse∣crated Page  347 their followers to a Religious silence; Orpheus also, which a certain terrible authority of Religion did exact an oath of silence, from those he did initiate to the Ceremonies of holy things: Whence in the verses concerning the holy word he sings,

You, that Admirers are of vertue, stay,
Consider well what I to you shall say.
But you, that sacred laws contemn, prophane!
Away from hence, return no more again.
But thou O Museus whose mind is high,
Observe my words, and read them with thine eye,
And them within thy sacred breast repone,
And in thy journey, think of God alone
The Author of all things, that cannot dye,
Of whom we shall now treate—
So in Virgil we read of the Sybill
The goddess comes, hence, hence, all ye prophane,
The Prophet cries, and from her grove refrain.
Hence also in celebrating the holy mysteries of Ceres Eleusine, they only were admitted to be initiated, the cryer proclaiming the prophane vulgar to depart; and in Esdras we read this precept concerning the Cabalisticall secret of the Hebrews, declared in these verses, Thou shalt deliver those books to the wise men of the people, whose hearts thou knowest can com∣prehend them, and keep those secrets. Therefore the Religious volumes of the Egyptians & those belonging to the secrets of their ceremonies, were made of consecrated paper; in these they did write down leters which might not easily be known which they call holy. Macrobius Marcellinus and others say, they were called Hieroglyphicks, least perchance the writings of this kind should be known to the prophane, which also Apu∣leius testifies in these words, saying, The sacrifice being ended, Page  348 from a secret retyred closet he bringeth forth certain books noted with obscure letters, affording compendious words of the conceived speech, partly by the figures of beasts of this kind, partly by figures full of knots, and crooked in manner of a wheele & set thick, twining about like vine tendrels, the reading thereby being defended from the curiosity of the prophane; Therefore we shall be worthy scholars of this science, if we be silent, and hide those things which are secret in religion, for the promise of silence (as saith Tertullian) is due to Religion; but they which do otherwise, are in very great danger, whence Apuleius saith concerning secrets of holy Writs; I would tell it you, if it were lawfull to tell it; you should know it, if it were lawfull to hear it; but both ears and tongue would con∣tract the same guilt of rash curiosity. So we read Theodorus the tragick poet, when he would have referred somethings of the mysteries of the Jews Scripture to a certain fable, was de∣prived of sight. Theopompus also who began to translate somethings out of the Divine law into the Greek tongue, was presently troubled in mind and spirit, whence afterward ear∣nestly desiring God, wherefore this had happened to him, re∣ceived an answer in a dream, because he had basely polluted Divine things, by setting them forth in publike. One Numenius also being very curious of hidden things, incurred the displea∣sure of the Divine powers, because he interpreted the holy mysteries of the goddesse Eleusina and published them for he dreamed that the goddesses of Eleusis stood in a whores habit before the Brothell house, which when he wondred at, they wrathfully answered, that they were by him violently drawn from their modesty and prostituted everywhere to all com∣mers, by which he was admonished, that the Ceremonies of the gods ought not to be divulged. Therefore it hath alwaies been the great care of the Ancients to wrap up the mysteries of God and nature, and hide them with diverse Aenigmaes, which law the Indians, Brachmans, Aethiopians, Persians, and Egyptians also observed; hence Mercurius, Orpheus, and all the ancient Poets and Philosophers, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato Aristoxenus, Ammonius, kept them inviolably. Hence PlotinusPage  349 and Origenes and the other disciples of Ammonius (as Por∣phyry relates in his book of the education and Discipline of Flotinus) sware never to set forth the Decrees of their master. And because Plotinus, brake his oath made to Ammonius, and published his mysteries, for the punishment of his transgression, he was consumed (as they say) by the Horrible disease of Lice. Christ also himself, while he lived on earth, spoke after that manner and fashion that only the more intimate disciples should understand the mystery of the word of God, but the o∣ther should perceive the parables only: commanding more∣over that holy things should not be given to Dogs, nor pearles cast to Swine: Therefore the Prophet saith, I have hid thy words in my heart, that I might not sin against thee. There∣fore it is not fit that those secrets which are amongst a few wise men, and communicated by mouth only, should be pub∣likly written. Wherefore you will pardon me, If I pass over in silence many and the chiefest secret mysteries of Ceremonial Magick. I suppose I shal do enough, if I open those things which are necessary to be known, and you by the reading of this book go not away altogether empty of these mysteries; but on that condition let these things be communicated to you, on which Dionysius bound Timothy, that they which perceive these Secrets, would not expose them to the unworthy, but gather them together amongst wise men, and keep them with that re∣verence that is due to them. Furthermore I would also warne you in this beginning, that even as the divine powers detest publike things and profane, and love secrecy: So every Ma∣gical experiment fleeth the publike, seeks to be hid, is strength∣ened by silence, but is destroyed by publication, neither doth any compleate effect follow after; all these things suffer losse, when they are poured into prating and incredulous minds; therefore it behoveth a Magicall operator, if he would get fruit from this art, to be secret, and to manifest to none, nei∣ther his work nor place, nor time, neither his desire nor will, unless either to a master, or partner, or companion, who also ought to be faithfull, believing, silent, and dignified by nature and education: Seeing that even the prating of a companion, Page  350 his incredulity and unworthiness hindreth and disturbeth the effect in every operation.