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.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Impurities Revealed

Often the water that is enclosed in a glass vessel appears to the unaided eye, clear and pure. But if a ray of bright light suddenly strikes the vessel and illuminates it, we at once discover various impurities which had before escaped our notice. So our sins have many hiding places, which conceal them from the natural conscience. And we should ask light from God, a clear, heavenly illumination, that we may find them out.

Religious Maxims (1846) LXXXV.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

O Blinded Ones!

Many, who do not love God with the whole heart, nevertheless say that they desire, that they wish so to love him. O, blinded ones! How can this possibly be, when they are so obviously unwilling to renounce the pursuits and pleasures of the world, by which God is offended and separated from them!

Religious Maxims (1846) LXXXIV.

Friday, August 29, 2014

They Say Their Path With Flowers is Strown

I.
They say, their path with flowers is strown,
And all their way is bright;
But as for me, I walk alone,
Encircled with the night.
But do not think my joy the less.
Oh, no! I love to be
Abandoned, in my helplessness,
To deep obscurity.

II.
I love the thunder's voice to hear,
And see the lightnings play;
I smile, when many a danger near
Comes thronging round my way.
'Tis then all human help is vain,
All human hopes o'erthrown;
And, in my great necessity,
I rest in God alone.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wilt Thou, Oh My Father, Leave Me?

Wilt Thou, Oh my Father, leave me?
Still I'll bless thy holy will;
I may lose, but will not grieve Thee;
I will love Thee still.

Long and sharply dost Thou chide me;
I am filled with grief and shame;
But  I have no joy beside Thee,
Loving still, the same.

Like the sun-flower, ever turning
Meekly to the skies its face;
Still my heart for Thee is burning,
Though Thou hid'st thy grace.

Thus my Father heard me praying;
Drawing near, once more He smiled;
Joyfully I heard Him saying,
Thou art still my child.

I did leave thee but to try thee;
Trying, I have found thee mine;
Now I always will be nigh thee;
All I have is thine.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Consolation in Sorrow

Although affliction smites my heart,
And earthly pleasures flee,
There is one bliss that ne'er shall part,
My joy, oh God, in Thee.

That joy is like the orb of day,
When clouds its track pursue;
The shades and darkness throng its way,
But sunlight struggles through.

Oh Thou, my everlasting light,
On whom my hopes rely;
With Thee the darkest path is bright,
And fears and sorrows die.

American Cottage Life (1850)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Desire for Heaven

My heart is in a land afar,
Unseen by mortal eyes;
A clime, that needs nor moon nor star
A land of cloudless skies.

They tell me, that the earth is bright,
And I have pleasures here;
But still, in that far land of light,
Are pleasures yet more dear.

Oh, that I had an angel's wing,
To bear me hence away;
Where virtue blooms with endless spring,
And love shall ne' er decay.

My heart is in that land afar,
Unseen by mortal eyes;
A clime, that needs nor moon nor star,
A land of cloudless skies.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Presence of God in Prayer

A life of faith is necessarily a life of PRAYER. It must be obvious, that the faith, which makes God present at all times, and in all events, and yet without inspiring a sentiment of communion and sympathy with the Divine Mind, would be of no avail. When, therefore, we speak of believingly recognizing the presence of God in all things, we do not mean a recognition, in which there shall be no feeling, no sentiments of filial dependence, no gratitude and love. Far from it. God is made present by faith, in order to be loved and communed with. The spirit of true communion with God, which is only another name for the spirit of prayer, naturally flows out, as it seems to us, of the spirit of constant and specific faith; and naturally and necessarily forms an important part of the life of faith. True prayer always has relation to the existing state or tendency of the soul. Or rather it is, for the time being, the very state of the soul itself, and nothing else. And the existing state of the soul, it is hardly necessary to say, always and necessarily has a connection, more or less intimate, with the existing development of things. Connecting, therefore, the existing state of the soul with the existing state of things around it, and the development of things with the presence and agency of God, we are at once brought into correspondence and communion with God, in relation to the things, in which we are now most especially interested, and concerning which God is most pleased to know our filial trust, and to hear our humble supplications.

Accordingly it is, in our apprehension, a true doctrine, that every returning day brings with it its special burden of prayer; in other words, something which it is especially proper for us to introduce to the notice of our heavenly Father for his direction and blessing. And this is true, not only of every day, but of every hour and every moment. And thus it is, that those who live the life of faith, may not only be said to recognize God in everything, and to be in communication with him in every thing; but to look for guidance and the divine blessing in every thing and "TO PRAY WITHOUT CEASING."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 10.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Seeing God at Work in National Events

It is important... in the experience of a holy life, to extend the principle of the recognition of God's presence and agency, to all public and national events, as well as to those of a more private nature.

In republican governments, and in all governments of a constitutional character, there are almost constantly before the public questions of great interest, which, when viewed out of their relation to the Divine Mind, are calculated to excite in the Christian, as well as in others, a degree of anxiety. When he beholds conflicting parties and nations, when he witnesses the wild political commotion and uproar, which has characterized almost every age of the world, the heart of the good man would faint within him, if he he did not know and feel, that the hand of the Lord is in it. And yet the faith even of Christians, when exercised in relation to public events, is exceedingly weak; so much so as hardly, in the comparative sense, to have an existence. It is very different, in this matter from what it should be. Nothing but a strange and blind unbelief could thus exile God from a participation in national movements. There has no political event ever taken place; there has been no fall or rise of empires; no building up or overthrow of parties; no aggressions of war or pacifications of peace, without the presence of the hand of the Lord either for good or for evil, for punishment or reward. Such is the doctrine of the Scriptures, as well as of reason. Their language is, "The kingdom is the Lord's; and he is the governor among the nations." Ps. 22: 28. "By me kings reign, and princes decree justice." Prov. 8: 15. God says of Cyrus, the Persian king and conquerer, "He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure; even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built, and to the temple, thy foundation shall be laid." Isa. 44: 28. And He adds in the next chapter a remarkable passage, which shows, that kings and rulers, who have no realizing sense of the divine superintendence and presence, may yet be the instruments in his hands for the accomplishment of his purposes. "For Jacob, my servant's sake, and Israel, mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name; I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me."

Oh, that we might learn the great lesson, (the lesson absolutely indispensable to him, who would experience the highest results of the inward life,) of beholding God, either in his direct efficiency or his permissive and controlling guardianship, as present in all things, whether high or low, of whatever name or nature. Without taking this view of his presence, we deprive ourselves of that great Center, where the soul finds rest. We are tossed and agitated by passing events. Every thing is perplexed, mysterious, and hopeless.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 10.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Finding God in Our Daily Work

It is obvious from the Scriptures, that we are required to be "diligent in business;" "whatever our hand findeth to do, to do it with our might;" "to provide for our own households;" and undoubtedly every person must, on Christian principles, regularly and conscientiously, accomplish the appropriate work of his hands, whatever it may be.

But here also, as in every thing else, we must recognize the presence and agency of God. We must do whatever God requires us to do; and must recognize him alike in the fulfillment and the disappointment of our efforts. We must not think too much of the inferior instrumentality of the rain and the sunshine; of the turning of the furrow and of the planting of the seed, although these are important in their place; but placing these and all other secondary acts and causes comparatively under our feet, must endeavor to gain a higher position, and to stand in nearer proximity to the Primitive Agency. "He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he, that regardeth the clouds, shall not reap." God works in connection with second causes; but not in dependence on them. They are his servants, and not his masters; a sort of dumb expositors of his purposes and will, but in no sense, though blind man seldom looks above them, the originating and effective cause. "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thy hand; for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good." [Ecclesiastes, 11: 4, 6.] Blessed is the man, who, as he goes about his daily business, tending his flocks with Abraham, or ploughing his fields with Elisha, can see God in trees and flowers and running brooks, in hills and valleys and mountains, in clouds and in sunshine; and can connect him, as an intelligible and effective agency, with everything that has relation to the time and the place, the nature and the results of his labors.

— edited from The Interior of Hidden Life (1844) Chapter 10.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Faith That Makes God Present

The form of faith, which is especially necessary, in order to live the life of faith, is that, which makes God present, moment by moment, in any and all events which take place. The want of this form of faith is one great source of evil. It is owing to a defect here, in a great part at least, that many persons, who believe, to some extent, in God, and in Christ, and perhaps in their own final acceptance, nevertheless make but little progress in sanctification. Adhesive in a general faith, which looks at things in masses, and rejecting that which is particular, they necessarily place God at a great distance; while, on the other hand, that faith, which is specific and particular, brings him near; makes him present and intimate in all our concerns, and establishes between him and our own souls a perpetual and happy relationship. We hope we shall not be misunderstood. We admit that other modifications of faith are important in their place. We know them to be so. But we cannot doubt, that the true life of God in the soul must be sustained, in a very considerable degree, by means of that specific form of faith, which recognizes God, AS PRESENT, NOT ONLY IN EVERY MOMENT OF TIME, BUT AS PRESENT, EITHER PERMISSIVELY OR CAUSATIVELY, IN EVERY EVENT THAT TAKES PLACE.

Those who are in the exercise of that form of faith, which makes God present in every thing, will perceive and recognize the hand of God in every thing which relates to themselves, viz. in the preservation of their lives and health, in their affairs of business, in their sufferings and joys, in the strength or weakness of their intellectual powers, in their opportunities of acquiring knowledge, in their opportunities of discharging duty, in their inward and outward temptations, in every thing whether it relates to mind, body, or estate, or whether it relates to suffering or to action, which in any way concerns themselves, or which in any way concerns those with whom they are closely connected by family ties.

If we are in the exercise of that kind of faith, which makes God present in all things, we shall be enabled to see distinctly his presence and his operative hand in the movements and acts of those, who entertain hostile dispositions towards us, and who may properly be denominated our enemies. Notwithstanding the suffering, to which the cruel and unjust course of our enemies often exposes us, we shall find no difficulty, if we are in the exercise of this form of specific faith, in recognizing and believing the presence of God in that, as in other things. The mind is in that delightful position, which enables it to think much more of God, than of the instrument, which he employs. Looking up to the great Author, it accepts from his hand with acquiescence and thankfulness the cup of bitterness; while it has mingled emotions of disapproval and pity, (compassion being the predominant feeling,) for the subordinate agent. But it is the distinct and unwavering perception, that God is present, and that it is God who offers it to our lips, which most of all changes and sweetens the draught. It is inexpressibly delightful, in all the trials that come upon us from within and without, to realize, without any misgivings of spirit, that the rod, whatever may be the subordinate agency, is in the hands of our heavenly Father.

— edited from The Interior of Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 10.