The life of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High may be called a Hidden Life, because the animating principle, the vital or operative element, is not so much in itself as in another. It is a life grafted into another life. It is the life of the soul, incorporated into the life of Christ; and in such a way, that, while it has a distinct vitality, it has so very much in the sense, in which the branch of a tree may be said to have a distinct vitality from the root.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Once More Becoming the Children of God

"Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." — Matthew 18:3

In once more becoming the children of God, we receive and retain a filial nature, but without ceasing to possess a moral nature. Much is involved in that free and full consecration which every true Christian is supposed to have made of himself to his heavenly Father. As free and moral agents, we consent now, and forever, if we do what we ought to do, that God shall be a truth, a life, a nature in us; which he never has been and never will be without our consent. Adam before he fell, Christ in his humanity, angels in heaven, all holy beings everywhere, either have existed, or do now exist, as  holy beings, by means of the operation of God in the soul; and yet without any alienation of their moral attributes and responsibilities, because they have received this operation with their own choice, and have sanctioned it by their own approbation.

There is no true place of rest and safety, short of the reestablishment of those relations which we have endeavored to illustrate. Accordingly, we cannot regard it as safe for any one to stop in the progress of inward experience, until he feels and knows that he has become, in the Scripture sense of the terms, a LITTLE CHILD; not only having a child's name, but a child's nature. And when this relation is reestablished, not as a name merely, but as a reality, not as a mere conventional arrangement, but as a true nature, — then, and not till then, we are brought into true union with our heavenly Father.

It is on these principles, and these only, that we can make our position harmonize with our prayers. When we pray, we address God as our Father. This implies that we either are, or ought to be, his children. And our language throughout in prayer corresponds to the idea that our true position is the filial position. We pray that we may distrust and renounce ourselves, and look only to God for guidance and support. Recognizing our inability to supply our own wants, we pray for faith, for wisdom, for love, for the guidance of our wills. We go to him, in form at least, just as the little child goes to its earthly parent. If we will go in the same sincerity, our heavenly Father will recognize the relationship, and we shall thus become the true sons of God.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 8.­

Friday, January 30, 2015

Childlike Will

"Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." — Matthew 18:3

The will of the child is naturally merged in the will of the father. There is a nature in this case, as there is in the others. The filial will is not harmonized in the parental will as a matter of calculation, but as the result of a mental tendency. There are, undoubtedly, some variations from this view, in consequence of the power of choice inherent in the will, and particularly in consequence of man's fallen condition; but what has been said is correct as a general statement. Accordingly, yielding readily to the tendency of their mental position, little children do what they are commanded to do. Sometimes it will cost them trouble and suffering; but this does not alter the general direction and the general inclinations of their feelings and actions. Subjecting their own wisdom to a higher wisdom, they have an instinctive feeling that their appropriate and first business is to harmonize with the expression of a parent's will. And so strong is this tendency to a union of wills, that very frequently they act without knowing what will be the end of their action. It is natural to them to leave everything with their father, — the mode, the time, the object, and the results of action, as well as the action itself.

And this, in a remarkable manner, represents the state of things as it existed in man at his first creation. The will of Adam, before he fell, not only harmonized perfectly with the divine will, but naturally; that is to say, without effort, and by an implanted tendency. It is so with all holy beings now. It was eminently so, (as I think we may safely infer from the passages which indicate his submission and union of will,) with Christ, the second Adam; and it will be found to be so with all those who are restored again and perfected in Christ's image. What God chooses, they choose. What God wills, they will. The will becomes in relation to God what the will of the affectionate and dutiful child is to its earthly parent.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 8.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Childlike Love

"Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." — Matthew 18:3

Again, the child LOVES his father. The evidences of this are constantly exhibited. He rejoices with his father's joy, and weeps with his father's sorrow. The slightest injury to his father's honor is felt as an injury to his own. The true child would not hesitate to die for its father or mother, if the occasion presented. And this strong and permanent love is not a matter of calculation, but a nature.  It is born with him, grows with him, lives with him. Blows will not beat it down; waters will not drown it; fires will not burn it.

At  his first creation, man's love to his heavenly Father was like this, — a love implanted by a divine power and kept in operation by a divine presence. He afterwards lost it, it is true; but he could not have lost it, if he had not first possessed it. As a moral being, man allowed, and perhaps we may say, was expected and required, to sanction the principles and methods of his inward vitality, by his own voluntary concurrence. Failing to do this, in a way and under circumstances which the human mind does not now perhaps fully understand, God withdrew himself as the central element of his being; and he became from that time the subject of spiritual alienation and death. But in his restoration to God through Christ, he is necessarily restored to the possession of that divine nature from which he fell. As he is made anew in faith and knowledge, so he is made anew in love. The lost principle of holy love is not only restored, but becomes again, under the transforming operations of divine grace, what it was in the beginning, namely, a nature, —  an operative life, moved by a power of movement existing in itself. In other words, it once more becomes in relation to God what the child's love is in relation to its earthly father.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 8.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Childlike Knowledge

"Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." — Matthew 18:3.

Again, it is natural to the child to look up to the Father, and to be guided by him in matters of KNOWLEDGE. It is an established principle, in the philosophy of the human mind, that knowledge is and must be preceded by faith.

 It is impossible for us, in the very nature of things, to accept as our teacher a being in whom we have no confidence. Faith, extending to all things which are its appropriate objects, is first given to the child as an inherent and essential part of his nature. Then, under the influence of that filial confidence which leads him to look to his parents for everything else, it is natural to him (and it would be against nature to do otherwise) to look for and to receive his intellectual guidance from the same parental source. We have evidence of this original and natural tendency of the mind in what we notice every day, every hour. By a law of nature, the mind of the father becomes the mind of the child.

It was in this manner that man, at his first creation, recognized God as his teacher. He believed in God, and received him constantly as a source of inward inspiration. God was his knowledge. Such was the state of things before he fell. And such will always be the state of things, whenever, in being united with God, he is brought back to the simplicity and purity of his estate.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 8.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Childlike Faith

"Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." — Matthew 18:3

The earthly child, in its relations to its earthly father, is the representation, the earthly development, if we may so express it, of the relations of the child of God to his Father in heaven.

And this is seen, in the first place, in the matter of FAITH. It is very obvious, in regard to the faith which the earthly child has in its earthly parent, that it is a faith given, a faith implanted.  The filial confidence which it exhibits is not something which the child makes himself; nor is it, as some seem to suppose, the result of experience; but is innate. God himself is the giver of it. Implanted by the divine hand, and operating instinctively, the faith of the child is seen in the earliest movements of its infancy. And ever afterwards, in the various situations in which the child is placed, it retains all the attributes and exhibits all the results of an implanted or connatural principle; so much so, that, to withhold confidence from a father or mother, we all feel to be doing that which is a violation of nature.

And such precisely was the character of the faith which man possessed in his heavenly Father before he fell.

 The first man was created in the possession of faith. He could not have been created in any other way. To believe in God was a nature to him; just as we find, at the present time, that it is natural for the child to place confidence in its earthly parent. And in the full restoration of man to God, (a restoration for which provision is made in the coming and atonement of Christ, and in the renewing agency of the Holy Spirit,) the principle of faith will be re-established, not merely as a variable exercise of the mind originating in the will, but as a permanent element or nature of the mind existing in harmony with the will, and with the  will's  consent. And those who are thus restored will become, in respect to their faith, "little children."

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union Part 5, Chapter 8.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Jesus' Illustration of the Little Children

One of the striking incidents in the history of our Savior is the notice which he takes of little children. "And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them; and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God." Mark 10: 13, 14. And again it is said in Matthew [Matthew 18: 3], "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."

Taking all the various passages which may be found on this subject, we may properly deduce from them the following general proposition, namely: It is necessary to possess and to exhibit towards our heavenly Father such dispositions, both in kind and degree, as exist in the minds of children towards their earthly parents.

The analogy between the two cases is very striking; and it was the clear perception of its closeness, and of the beautiful and important instruction involved in it, which seems to have so much interested the Savior’s mind. As he looked upon little children, he perceived that they felt towards their earthly fathers very much as he felt towards his own Father in heaven; and, with such a striking illustration before him of what he experienced in his own bosom, he could not fail to be interested.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 8.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Oh Love! Thou Day-Star of My Heart!

Oh love! thou day-star of my heart!
Ascend upon thy throne!
Victor and lord, where' er thou art, 
To all within the power impart,
Of life to God alone.

Such is the magic of thy sway
Upon the holy mind;
That sin, all powerless in thy ray,
Departs, as night-shades flee the day,
And leaves no cloud behind.

My soul was dark in other years;
The stain was on my brow;
And something whispers to my fears
The loss of all but sin and tears,
If thou should'st leave me  now.

But fears are gone, and tears are bright,
Lit with the beams of love:
There is no sin, nor grief, nor night,
To him, whose inmost soul is light
With radiance from above.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Friday, January 23, 2015

How Happy Is the Peaceful Breast

How happy is the peaceful breast,
No agitating strife that knows; —
Through which the stream of holy rest
In one unbroken current flows?

To few, alas, that rest is given; —
And who can claim it as his own,
But he, who makes his heart a heaven,
And seats Jehovah on its throne.

Jehovah! Sovereign of the soul!
He has no throne but that within;
And grief and strife can ne'er control,
Where God destroys the reign of sin.

'Tis sin, that agitates the mind,
While sorrow, like the clouded sky,
Illumin'd soon, leaves nought behind,
But fields of light and purity.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Thorny Diadem

Oh, breathe not to my soul the name
Of joys that bear the mark of earth;
What bond or likeness can they claim
With souls that have a heavenly birth?

Like snows, that melt beneath the sun,
Like flowers thrown heedless on the river,
They shine a moment, then are gone,
A moment here, then flown forever.

Oh no! We cannot stop for them;
Not joys, not crowns would suit us now;
We ask the thorny diadem
Which bound the Savior's bleeding brow.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Power of Holy Love

The  soul, that loves Thee, cannot fear;
Terror is conquer'd by desire;
For Thee it leaves each object here,
And seeks Thee with its wing of fire.

Rejecting pleasure, hating rest,
It counts for loss its highest gain,
Till of its Lord once more possess'd,
With Thee it lives, with Thee doth reign.

See how the things of lower birth,
How joy and care perplex its way!
It spurns them, as it spurns the earth,
And upward seeks the realms of day.

One object occupies its gaze;
No other can it seek or see;
Till plunging in the central blaze,
It finds itself at home with Thee.

American Cottage Life (1850)