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.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

God is the Life of Nature & Events

God's providence extends both to things and events. Inanimate nature, even in the lowest forms, is under the divine care. Not a rock is placed without a hand that placed it. Not a tree grows without a divine vitality, which is the inspiration of its growth. Not a wave of the ocean rolls without the power of God's presence to propel it. The storms and the earthquakes are the Lord’s.

God is thus the life of nature. And the man who is in harmony with God, has no controversy with him in any of these things. On the contrary, he accepts all, is at peace with all.

God is also the life of events, including in that term human actions. There is no good action which is not from God. The wisdom of the Supreme mind is the good man’s inspiration. And, on the other hand,  there is no evil action which God does not notice, and over which he has not some degree of control. The essence of evil actions, it is well understood, is the evil motive from which they proceed, —  a motive which is not and cannot be from God; but still, God will not allow the action, which proceeds from the motive, to take effect, except in the manner and the degree which pleases him. In other words, God has the prerogative, which can pertain only to an infinite being, of overruling evil, and of bringing good out of it. So that there is a providence of evil as well as a providence of good. And hence, the good man can be in peace even when the evil man triumphs, because he knows that the "triumphing of the wicked is short."

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 6.

Monday, May 30, 2016

No Longer at War with Providence

The sinful man has no true peace, among other sources of disquiet, because his position is at variance with Providence. One view to be taken of sin, is, that it is war. It is not only war against God's character, but against his commands; not only war against his commands, but against his providential arrangements. God has one way and plan of arrangement; the sinful man, who is in a state of rebellion against God, has another plan. The center of God's arrangements is benevolence or the love of all; the center of the sinful man's arrangements is the inordinate love of himself. Radiating from such different centers, the plans which are formed continually come in conflict. Under such circumstances it is impossible that the sinner should have rest. Finding himself face to face in opposition to what God has determined, and thus in conflicting lines of movement, he is continually met and counteracted, continually smitten and driven back. His life is a warfare commenced and carried on under the most hopeless circumstances; a warfare attended everywhere and unceasingly with discomfiture and suffering.

On the contrary, the man who is united with God in the possession of a common central feeling, is necessarily united with him in all the movements and arrangements which he makes. In other words, he rests from the perplexities and uncertainties of making his own choice, by accepting, under all circumstances, the choice which his heavenly Father has made for him. With the exception of sin, God's choice never varies, and never can vary, from the facts and incidents of that state of things which now exists. And it is this choice, however painful it may be in some of its personal relations, which the godly man takes and sanctions as his own. So that his choice being already made by the unvarying adoption of that which is from God, he may be said not to have any preference of his own, but to rest from his own choice, that he may repose in God's choice. And God's choice is only another name for his providence. There is, therefore, no conflict; there never can be any.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 6.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Indifference

Indifference to religion is a great evil. Indifference to SELF, (that is to say, indifference to our own interests considered as separate from those of God,) is a great good. Such is the nature of the human mind that we cannot be indifferent to every thing. To say, therefore, that we are indifferent to ourselves, if we properly recognize and feel the relations we sustain, and if we say it in a Christian spirit, is essentially the same thing as to say, that we possess a heart truly given to God. Self is forgotten, in order that God may be remembered; SELF is crucified in order that God may live in the soul.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLXXIX.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Promise of the Lord

We  thank Thee, Lord, before 'tis done;
We know Thy promise doth endure;
And battles fought are battles won,
Because Thy word is sure.

Look back, and confirmation see
In the long history of years;
When God hath uttered his decree,
No place remains for fears.

There's something brighter than the light
Of burnish'd spear and gleaming sword;
Gird on the heavenly armor bright,
The strength of God's great word.

Behold the boasting foemen flee
With flags and cohorts crush'd and broken;
'Tis God, that gives the victory;
The Lord himself hath spoken.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LIV.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

God No Respecter of Persons

"My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, with respect  of persons." "Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the  kingdom, which he hath promised to them that love him?"  James ii. 1, 5.

BEHOLD yon poor old man, that plods along,
Sadly and slowly in the crowded street.
How beggarly! Of those whom he doth meet,
Scarce one doth note him in that countless throng.
The very winds make sport of him, and rend
His tattered garments rude. Yet  do not deem,
That he is all so lost, as he doth seem.
Though all desert him else, he hath one friend.
There is a God, who hath an equal eye,
Who marks the high, nor spurns the lowly one;
The wretched, whom the world pass scornfully,
May be the blood-bought purchase of' his Son.
He deeper looks than the outside of things;
The beggar's soul to Him is as the soul of kings.

American Cottage Life (1850) XXXIV.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Despise Not the Beginnings

"The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed which  a man took and sowed in his field; which indeed is the least of  all  seeds; but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree." Matt. xiii. 31, 32.

See, how beyond the hills, the morning bright
Doth write its coming with a single ray;
But gleam is joined to gleam, and light to light,
Till feeblest dawn expands to perfect day.
Despise not the beginnings.  When the heart
Receives, however small, the primal beam,
Which God doth to the new-born soul impart,
Revere and cherish its incipient gleam.
Though the first ray from Heaven's eternal throne,
The frail young shoot from Glory's morning star,
Yet fostered well, it dwelleth not alone,
But grows in its own light, and shineth far,
And bindeth ray with ray, till what was one,
Compacted of itself, expands a new-born sun.

American Cottage Life (1850) XXXIII.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Cooperation With God: Living by the Moment

God requires a constant cooperation; a cooperation moment by moment; what some writers have described "living to God by the moment."  It is an universal law, unalterable as God is and lasting as eternity, that no created being can be truly holy, useful, or happy, who is knowingly and deliberately out of the line of divine cooperation, even for a moment. Accordingly we are to consider every moment as consecrated to God. It is true, that, in order to the full and assured life of God in the soul, there must be the general act of Consecration... which is understood to relate to a man's whole nature, and to cover the whole ground of time and eternity. And we may say further, that it is proper to recall distinctly to mind and to repeat at suitable times the general act of Consecration: but it does not appear to be necessary, in the strict sense of the terms or in any other sense than that of repeating it, to RENEW it, unless it has been, at some period really withdrawn. But while the general act remains good, and diffuses its consecrative influence over the whole course of our being, it is necessary to consecrate ourselves in particulars, as the events or occasions of such particular consecration may successively arise. And in the remark, as we now wish it to be understood, we do not mean merely those events, which, while they are distinct, are peculiarly marked and important; but all events of whatever character. In other words, although we may have consecrated ourselves to God in a general way and by an universal act of consecration, in all respects and for all time, we must still consecrate ourselves to him in each separate duty and trial, which his Providence imposes, and moment by moment.  The present moment, therefore, is, in a special sense, the important moment, the divine moment; the moment, which we cannot safely pass, without having the divine blessing upon it.

Thus extensive is the doctrine of divine cooperation, when it is rightly understood. How thankful should we be, thus to be permitted, to enter into partnership, insignificant as we are, and to become co-workers with God! Such was the life of Enoch, of Abraham, of Daniel, of John, of Paul. How the idea of the life of man, thus united with the life and activity of God, throws discouragement and dishonor upon all low and groveling pursuits, and at once elevates and sanctifies our nature!

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 5.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Cooperation With God: Receptivity

In accordance with the commonly received doctrine of "preventing" or prevenient grace, we remark further, that, in cooperating with God, it seems to be necessary, that we should be in a state of recipiency, rather than of communication. In other words, it being admitted that we have nothing of our own which we can communicate or give to God, it would seem to follow, that our cooperation, so far as it has an existence at all, must depend upon the fact of our receiving from him. Accordingly it seems to be our great duty, by meekness and simplicity of heart, by freedom from worldly vanities and entire self-renunciation, to put ourselves in the true receptive attitude. We must remember, especially as unbelief is apt to find its way in at this entrance, that God is always ready to communicate himself; we need not fear that our divine associate in this great co-partnership will be found wanting. On the contrary, it is his desire, his delight, his highest happiness to communicate himself. And the reason why he does not communicate himself to all men at once, is the existence in their bosoms of obstacles, which they themselves have voluntarily placed there. So that the highest honor and the highest power of man is, having put away these obstacles, to wait upon God, in the exercise of simple faith, for the reception of the divine sufficiency.

But some will perhaps inquire, in connection with the views now presented, Shall we remain inactive? I reply, that man is justly and efficiently active, when he is active in communication with God; and yet remaining deeply in his own sphere of nothingness. Man never acts to higher and nobler purpose, than when, in the realization of his own comparative nihility, he places himself in the receptive position, and lets God work in him. He, who is receptive, is neither idle nor unprofitable. In the intercourse between man and his Maker, it is the receptive and not the communicative activity, which is the source of truth, riches, and power. The religious man, in his receptive activity, is like the earth, (so far as we can compare things mental with material,) which receives into its ploughed and expanded bosom the morning dew and the summer shower and the daily sunshine; that thus, by being prepared to receive them and by being endowed with abundant communications from without and above, it may subsequently become rich in itself; and in its own vitality, as it were, be crowned with fruit and flower. Or perhaps we may say more appropriately, that he is like those scholars, who are impressed with a sense of their own inferiority and ignorance, and are willing to sit patiently and humbly at the feet of their distinguished teachers, that they may grow in knowledge. Their minds are receptive, but not inert; are in the attitude of listening, but are not idle. They ultimately, in the way of cooperation with what they have received, become fruitful in themselves; but it is only because they are humble and attentive recipients in the first instance.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 5.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Cooperation With God: Dependency

When we enter into the state of cooperation with God, we must feel, that our agency is entirely dependent and secondary in all the subsequent progress of the work, whatever it is, not less than in its incipient stages. I know that man has will, and that he has power. It would be a great error to deny or to doubt it. But it is equally true, that he is dependent; and that, in a very important sense, he has nothing. We must, therefore, not only begin in our nothingness; but must be willing to remain in it. It is a partnership, where we must realize, that not only all the capital; but, when properly considered, that all the personal operative power are from one source. Man works, it is true; but God works  IN him. Man's working without God's working, as the basis of it, is of no avail. Man's strength is in God's strength, Hence there must be no undue anxiety, no unsuitable and excited eagerness, no methods and plans of action, originated and prosecuted on worldly principles; which necessarily implies some distrust of the skill and resources of the great Being, who has thus condescended to work by means of human instrumentality. We must move when God moves; stop when He stops; deliberate when He deliberates; act when He acts. Any assumption on our part of superior wisdom or strength, any disposition to move in anticipation of his movement, or in any way to forestall the divine intimations, would be getting not only out of the position of dependence and nothingness, but out of the line of cooperation.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 5.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Cooperation With God: Strict Impartiality

In order to realize personally the conditions of divine cooperation, which have been mentioned, it is necessary to be mentally in a state of PASSIVITY, as it is sometimes expressed; or more properly and truly, of strict impartiality before God. In other words, we must be willing to submit ourselves to the divine guidance, without the least resistance or bias of mind; remaining in the attitude of silent and sincere waiting upon God, that we may learn from Him what he would have us to do; and also at what time and in what manner. The language of our souls must be essentially that of the Psalmist, when he exclaimed, "My soul, wait thou only upon the Lord; for my expectation is from him." And it is implied in this especially, that our minds should not be under the influence of prejudice or of wrong passion in any form. When the mind has arrived at the state of entire submission and of holy impartiality, resulting in the removal of the stains of prejudice and the shades of passion, it resembles a clear and bright mirror; reflecting easily and distinctly the desires and purposes of God. In this state of mind, it is easy to leave every thing with Him; to receive from Him implicitly the annunciation of the thing to be done, and also all the attendant conditions of doing it. God is pleased to be present with, and to operate in such a soul. The Holy Spirit teaches it; and it has both the power to hear and the spirit to obey. But in any other condition of mind there must necessarily be a conflict between the agitated and self-interested will of the creature and the decisions of the Supreme Mind.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 5.