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.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Marks of True Humility: Seeking the Lowest Place

Deeply sensible of his entire weakness, dependence and unworthiness, it is entirely natural to him to seek and to take the lowest place. It does not occur to him, (certainly not as a matter of cherished and pleasing reflection,) that a more conspicuous position would be appropriate to him. But if the indications of the Providence of God should call him to a higher place, and impose upon him duties of a more elevated and conspicuous character, he does not refuse them. True lowliness of spirit leads him to feel that it would be very unsuitable for him to distrust the wisdom of God, and to take the direction of himself into his own hands. So that the same humility, which, in ordinary cases, leads him to decline places of responsibility and notoriety, leads him also to submit himself without hesitation to the guidance of Providence and of the Divine Will. It should always be remembered, therefore that the truly humble man, who has a profound sense of his own nothingness, and always feels at home in the lowest place, nevertheless realizes that he can do all things through the wisdom of God guiding him and the grace of God strengthening him. It does not follow, because true humility is distrustful of itself, that it is distrustful of God.

— edited from Religious Maxims (1846).

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Marks of True Humility: No Desire for Great Things

One of the surest evidences of sanctification of heart is true humility. It is this state of mind, when viewed in its true aspect, to which the Savior seems to have especial reference, when he represents to his followers the importance of becoming like little children. Without proposing, at this time, to enter very fully into this subject, we shall proceed to mention some of the marks or characteristics by which true humility is known.

The truly humble man does not desire great things for himself; nor does he desire great things in any worldly sense whatever. If God has given him distinguished talents, he is thankful for it. If God has placed him in a position of great influence in the world he is thankful for it. But he can be happy in his talents, in his influence, and any other possession which the world deems valuable, only as they are the gifts of God, and as they are employed for the promotion of his glory. If God sees flt to deprive him of knowledge, property, influence, or any other mere earthly good, he is equally thankful, equally happy. So that he does not desire worldly prosperity in itself considered; and not desiring it, the possession of it does not puff him up with sentiments of pride.

— edited from Religious Maxims (1846).

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

On Going to Heaven Alone

High in the hills the wild bird hath its nest,
And utters loud its melodies of song;
But vain its music, if no other breast
Is there to mate it, and its notes prolong.

And so in heaven, think not to dwell alone,
In cold and hopeless solitude apart;
For heaven is love; and love would leave its throne,
If at its side there were no other heart.

Then heaven-ward soar, but carry others there;
And learn, that heaven is giving and receiving;
It hath no life, which others do not share;
Its  life doth live by its great art, of giving.

Heaven is the heart, to other love-hearts beating;
'Tis open arms, to arms of fondness rushing;
'Tis songs, with other songs in concert meeting;
'Tis fountains into other fountains gushing.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LVIII.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Christian Soldier

The archer's arrow smote me sore,
Sped by a skillful foe-man's hand;
And, though I bled at every pore,
The faith within me bade me, STAND.

The MASTER plac'd me; and He knew,
His orders were my only law;
And 'twas not one, when arrows flew,
That I should cowardly withdraw.

The soldiers in the Christian war,
With much to do, and much to dare,
Proclaim, in every bleeding scar,
Their faith in Him, who placed them there.

Great Chief and Leader of the strife!
Thy death has taught us how to die;
And if with Thee we yield our life,
Then death itself is victory.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LVII.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Labor in Trust

The labor of the holy man ceases to be labor, in the ordinary sense of that term, not only for the reasons which have been mentioned, but because his humble trust in God actually supplies the place, in many cases, of positive effort. In other words, God does now reward him by actually sharing and lightening the burden which is upon him. God, whose happiness consists in the exercise of love, always delights to do the work of his people, when the circumstances are such as to allow him to do it. Man's first work, and, as compared with others, almost his only work, is to return from his sins, and to enter into union with his Maker. From that moment he not only may, but he ought to, give up all anxiety. God will never desert him. God will hold up and inspirit his weary arm. Even if the body labors, the anxieties of the spirit should cease.

See the father of a numerous family.  Day after day he toils without ceasing. Their food, their clothing, their morals, their education, their health, all successively occupy his thoughts, fill him with anxiety, and give him no rest. He is burdened and borne down to the dust, because he attempts to bear the burden alone. If he were a man of perfect faith, he would labor less; and at the same time with greatly improved results. His faith would honor God, and would secure the fulfillment of the promises. It would make God present, because it would necessarily secure the cooperation of his loving nature. And this is not all. It would react upon his own character; — giving clearness to truth, submission in sorrow, strength in temptation, patience under rebuke, and love at all times. So that, under the purifying power of a higher trust, an influence would emanate from his own character. His silence would speak. And the inaction of God, if we may so express it, (that is to say, the silent and quiet operation of God in the soul,) would do more  than the activity of the creature.

Certainly, in  view of such considerations as these, we have great reason for saying, if we cannot safely say anything more, that the labor of the man of God is a very different thing from the labor of the man of the world. It is exempt, at least, from all anxiety. And hence that calmness, which is seated on his brow. No expression of impatience, no scowl of hatred, no frown of anger; but a constant cheerfulness, which shows that the principles of faith and love at the centre make all things easy. It is one of the signs, therefore, of the truly holy man, that he is happy in his work; so much so, that under the existing circumstances, he could not be equally happy without work. So that, virtually, his work is his recreation; his labor is his play.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 7.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Light Shines of Itself

True holiness acts and influences by its innate tendencies. It merely wants opportunities of action, and not appliances and instigations to action. It is not the language of Scripture, make thy light shine, but let thy light shine. In partially sanctified hearts, where the light is comparatively small, there is a disposition, which, however, in itself considered, is not to be blamed, to set the light off to the best advantage, to place it in favorable positions, to increase it by concentrating it in and reflecting it abroad on the multitude, through the instrumentality of persons of "good reputation." This is laudable under the circumstances. But if the light were full and bright at the center, there would not be need of this additional labor at the circumference. And the reason of this remark is, that it is the nature of holiness to diffuse itself, if there are no obstacles in the way. It cannot conceal itself, if it would. The first thing is its existence; the next is, to let it shine; — not to hide it, but to let it be; — stationed as it is by the wisdom of a heavenly position as well as bright by a heavenly radiance.

The light of Jesus Christ shone brightly long before he commenced his public apostolic life. It shone, because brightness was in his nature; and, therefore, it was his nature to shine. When he was very young, it was said of him, by lips which repeated it to others, that there is a lad in the town of Nazareth, living in a poor and retired family, who has God with him.  His  candle first diffused its light in a very small circle; but within the limits of that circle it shone freely and clearly in the rays of sincere and peaceable dispositions. He was not a holy man, but a holy boy; and, being such, he was known and felt to be such. As he grew older, working day by day at the trade of a carpenter, the same unobtrusive sincerity, the same forbearance and love, attended by perfect faith in his heavenly Father, attracted attention in a sphere somewhat enlarged, and drew to him some loving hearts that were affected by the innate power of holiness. Thus, though he came, as it were, silently, without effort and without observation, the light shone from him by its own nature; a light gentle but pure; penetrating quietly, but surely, in every direction; until it was whispered from the lips of the faithful, throughout Palestine, that a holy one had come. There was, indeed, a mystery resting upon him and his character, because he was a man unannounced, unknown; but still he was a real and divine presence, though indistinctly felt  and appreciated, even before he appeared publicly and authoritatively as the messenger of God. His light shone of itself.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 7.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Labor Not in Vain

Another reason that the labor of the holy man ceases to be labor, is this; he knows that he will be prospered in what he does; in other words, that his "labor is not in vain in the Lord." There are many promises to this effect. But this is not all. He knows that, when God imposes on his people something to be done, it is not merely to secure a particular outward result, but also, and sometimes chiefly, for the purpose of training and disciplining the inward dispositions. And if he fails to do the particular thing which is required to be done, still, if the effort has resulted in the trial and strengthening of his faith and obedience, he has his reward. He is sure of success in one way or the other. This imparts a joyousness of spirit, which gives a new character to his toil. Labor, which is enlivened by the joy of anticipated fruition, is rendered by that circumstance so delightful, that it virtually ceases to be labor.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 7.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Labor Inspired by Love

Another reason why the labor of the holy man, whose soul is in union with God, ceases to be labor in the ordinary sense of that term, is, that his labor is inspired by love. The labor of those who do everything from love, is a very different thing from the labor of those who act exclusively or chiefly from the impulse of conscience and the forced efforts of the will. The single circumstance of labor's being originated with or without the inspiration of the heart, makes all possible difference. The labor of the partially sanctified man, who stirs himself to action by reasonings and reflections, and by the efforts of the will, is the recreation, the happiness of the holy man. The holy man works without knowing that he works; because love converts what would otherwise be work into the spontaneous activity of a pleased and joyous nature. In doing what he loves to do, he labors just as much as the birds do when they fly in the air and sing; and just as much as the angels do, whose nature it is to fulfill the commands of their heavenly Father.

In  saying, therefore, that the holy soul rests from labor, we do not mean that it rests from action; but that its action is so easy and natural, so harmonious at the same time with the desires of the soul and with the arrangements of Providence, that it is exempt from the attributes of pain and distastefulness which are commonly associated with labor.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 7.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Labor Empowered by God

One reason that the labor of the truly holy man ceases to be labor, in the ordinary sense of that term, is, that there is a divine power working in him. The Infinite Mind is necessarily the life of the created and finite mind, so long as sin does not separate them from each other. Man is the instrument, in which and through which God works.

The Savior himself said, "I can of myself do nothing." The wonderful power which was manifested in him, in his incarnate state, had its source in his Father, from whom, in the exercise of faith, he continually drew divine strength. [See Acts, Ch. 1:3, and other passages of similar import.] The language of Paul and of other holy men, who derived their strength from God through Christ, is, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philipp. 4: 13.

There is an inward conviction, a consciousness felt in the depths of the pious man's spiritual nature, that virtue has a necessary alliance with power, and that the good man never, can be deserted. God, who inspires this remarkable conviction, is pledged, both by nature and by promise, to see it realized. And thus the man of God, who feels this increased strength, finds that easy which would otherwise be hard to him.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 7.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Rest From Labor

The soul which is fully the Lord's may be said also to rest from labor.

This depends in part, however, upon the meaning which we attach to the term labor. As the term is commonly understood, it implies some degree, more or less according to the circumstances, of forethought and calculation, strivings of the will, and physical effort. But this is not all. It implies, also, not only effort, but pain. There is something unpleasant in it. In this view of the import of the term, God does not labor; angels do not labor; nor do glorified saints. There is obviously no such thing as labor of this sort in heaven. There is life; there is activity; everything is done which ought to be done; but all labor which involves pain ceases.

And, to a considerable extent, these views are true of the holy man in the present life. He does not cease to be active, and to do what the providence of God calls him to do; on the contrary, cooperating with God in the great work of redemption, he finds and knows no idle moments; but still, the work which he does, ceases so far to possess the ordinary attributes of labor, that he may be said, in a certain sense, to cease from labor.

It will be kept in mind by the reader, that this is not said of the sinful man, nor of the partially sanctified man, but of the man whose soul, freed from the separations of self, has passed into a state of entire union with God. Undoubtedly the rest, which is experienced even by such an one, is not so perfect, in consequence of the imperfections and hindrances of the body, as it will be hereafter; but still, it is so real and great, and besides, so naturally results from the principles involved in holy living, that it deserves to be noticed.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 7.