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.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Editior's Note: My Break From This Continues

As you will see from the archives, I have been positing regularly here since November 2013.

This spring I look a hiatus and it is continuing. Thomas Upham wrote voluminously and there is more material to work through, but I needed a break from this and I really don't know when I'll pick it up again.

Besides The Life of Faith, the main other important books that Upham wrote about the spiritual life are the spiritual biographies of Madame Guyon and Catherine of Genoa.

The edition of the Guyon biography that I have been editing has small type. This means that the Optical Character Recognition errors are are far more numerous in text extracted from this book than in the others I have edited. The work is slow, the chapters are long, and the sentences — of course — are (characteristically) long and complex.

I just got tired of it. It doesn't mean I've given up on this project. It just means that I need a break.

And, I am glad I took one.

I will get back to this at some point.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Strength from the Cross

"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." — Gal. 6.14.

Oh, who shall sing the joyful song at last?
Oh, who shall raise in heaven the conqueror's strain,
O'er foes subdued, and inward vices slain,
And seasons of temptation safely pass'd?
'Tis he, who counts all other things but dross,
When put into the scale with God's dear Son;
Who willingly the Christian race doth run,
And fights and toils and conquers in the cross.
The cross imparts perennial peace within;
The cross resists and scatters outward foes;
'Tis by the cross the saints their victories win,
And rise to glory, as their Savior rose.
Then heed not earthly shame nor earthly loss,
But count it all for good, if thou may'st bear the cross.

The Religious Offering, Scripture Sonnets XXII.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Immersion in God

Reflections on
the Life of
Madame Jeanne de la Mothe Guyon.

When at a certain time the pious Franciscan, who had been under God the instrument of her conversion, and who now, in accordance with the practice of the church to which she belonged, acted as her spiritual Director, questioned her in relation to her feelings towards God, she answered:

I love God far more than the most affectionate lover among men loves the object of his earthly attachment. I make this statement as an illustration, because it is not easy to convey my meaning in any other way. But this comparison, if it furnishes an approximation to the truth, fails to discover the truth itself. It is merely an illustration, which may enable one imperfectly to conceive the strength of that love which exists in me, but is not, and cannot be, a true measurement of it.

She adds:

This love of God occupied my heart so constantly and strongly, that it was very difficult for me to think of anything else. Nothing else seemed worthy of my attention. So much was my soul absorbed in God, that my eyes and ears seemed to close of themselves to outward objects, and to leave the soul under the exclusive influence of the inward attraction. My lips also were closed. Not unfrequently vocal prayer, that form of it which deals in particulars, ceased to utter itself, because my mind could not so far detach itself from this one great object as to consider anything else. When the good Father, the Franciscan, preached at the Magdalen Church at which I attended, notwithstanding the importance and interest which attached to his religious addresses, I found it difficult for me, and almost impossible, to retain any definite idea of what he said. He preached there on three successive occasions about this time; and the result was always the same. I found that Thy truth, O my God, springing from the original source, as if Thy divine and eternal voice were speaking truly, yet inaudibly in the soul, made its impression on my heart and there had its effect, without the mediation of words.

This immersion in God absorbed all things, that is to say, seemed to place all things in a new position relatively to God. Formerly I had contemplated things as dissociated from God; but now I beheld all things in the Divine Union. [I could no more separate holy creatures from God, regarded as the source of their holiness, than I could consider the sun's rays' as existing distinct from the sun itself, and living and shining by virtue of their own power of life. ] This was true of the greatest saints. I could not see the saints, Peter, and Paul, and the Virgin Mary; and others, as separate from God, but as being all that they are, from Him and in Him, in oneness. I could not behold them out of God; but I beheld them all in Him.

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon, Volume 1, Chapter 7.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Union with the Divine Will

Reflections on
the Life of
Madame Jeanne de la Mothe Guyon.

Further reflections on Jean Guyon's conversion experience:

The leading and decisive characteristic of her religious experience... was, as she informs us, the subjection and loss of her own will in its union with the Divine will. It may be expressed in a single term,— union. “As Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be ONE in us."

We proceed to give some of her views, and shall introduce others hereafter, as occasion may present itself.
The union between the soul and God may exist in various respects. There may be a union of the human and the divine perceptions. There may be a union of the desires and affections to some extent and in various particulars. But the most perfect union, that  which includes whatever is most important in the others, is the union of the human and the divine will. A union of the affections, independently of that of the will, if we can  suppose such a thing, must necessarily be imperfect. When the will, which sustains a preeminent and controlling relation, is in the state of entire union with God, it necessarily brings the whole soul into subjection; it implies necessarily the extinction of any selfish action, and brings the mind into harmony with itself, and into harmony with everything else. From that moment, our powers cease to act from any private or selfish regards. They are annihilated to self, and act only in reference to God. Nor do they act in reference to God in their own way and from their own impulse; but move as they are moved upon, being gradually detached from every motion of their own.

In such a soul the principle of faith is very strong; so much so as to require nothing of the nature of visions and revelations to sustain it, and to be equally independent of that false support which is derived from human reasonings. That faith which annihilates all our powers, or rather the action of all our powers, in regard to self, making the principle of holy love predominant, and bringing the human will into subjection to the divine, is a light in the soul, which is necessarily inconsistent with, and which extinguishes every other light. That is to say, if we go by any other light, the light of mere human reason, the guidance of inward visions and voices, or of strong emotions, which may be called the lights of sense, or by any other light whatever, distinct and separate from that of faith, of course we do not go by the light of faith. In the presence of the light of faith, every other light necessarily grows dim and passes away; as the light of the moon and stars gradually passes away, and is extinguished in the broader and purer illumination of the rising sun. This light now arose in my heart. Believing with this faith, the fountains of the heart were opened, and I loved God with a strength of love corresponding to the strength of faith. Love existed in the soul; and throwing its influence around every  other  principle of action, constituted, as it were, the soul's dwelling place. God was there. According to the words of  St.  John, ‘He, that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God. God is love.’

— edited from The Life of Madame Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 7. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Spiritual Joy

Reflections on
the Life of
Madame Jeanne de la Mothe Guyon.

Further reflections on Jean Guyon's conversion experience:

It is very obvious from her statements, that, in her first experience of the new life, she had great joy. Joy was a marked characteristic of it. But taught by the great inward Teacher, she was enabled to perceive from the first, that it would not be safe for her to estimate either the reality or the degree of her reli­gion by the amount, of her happiness.

It is true there is not only such a thing as joy, but such a thing as religious joy, or joy attendant on religion, and which, therefore, may properly be described, in the language of the Scriptures, as "joy in the Holy Ghost." But this is a very different thing from saying, that joy and religion are the same thing. Joy is not only not religion, but it does not always arise from religious causes. The grounds or causes of its origin are numerous, and sometimes very diverse. A new speculative truth, new views which are at variance with the truth, or even the pleasant intimations of a dream or vision, whether more or less remarkable, (to say nothing of physical causes, and of providential causes,— causes connected with the state of our health and with our situation in life,) may be followed by a pleasurable excitement of the emotional part of our nature, which may be mistaken for true religion.

Certain it is, however, that no joys can be regarded as really of a religious nature and as involving the fact of religion, which are not attended with repentance for sin and faith in Jesus Christ, with the renovation of the desires and with the subjection of the will.

The views of Madame Guyon on this subject were distinct and decided. She took the Savior for her example, who was not the less a religious man, because he was a man of "sorrows and acquainted with grief." She did not seek joy, but God. God first,  and what God sees fit to give, afterwards. She believed and knew, (so far as she thought it necessary to give attention to the subject of her own personal enjoyments at all,) if she gave herself to God wholly, without reserve, God would not be slow to take care of her happiness. 

edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 7.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Not an Apparitional Expereince

Reflections on
the Life of
Madame Jeanne de la Mothe Guyon.

Further reflections on Jean Guyon's conversion experience:

There is a sort of inward experience, which is not only intellectual, but which, to indicate to what part of the intellect it belongs, may be described more specifically as "apparitional." It is generally found among uneducated persons, but not exclusively; and it is so frequent in its occurrence, as well as important in its results and relations, as to authorize some notice. It consists, for the most part, in sights seen and sounds heard, not excluding anything which is addressed to the intellect through the external  senses;  and can justly be regarded as especially liable to illusion. It is here, perhaps, more than anywhere else, although all such experience may be accounted for to a considerable extent on natural principles, that Satan "transforms himself into an angel of light."

So far as this form of experience is concerned, the kingdom of God was erected within her “without observation."  No sound was heard but that of the "still small voice," which speaks inwardly and effectually. There was no dream, no vision, no audible message. Her change was characterized, not by things seen, but by operations experienced; not by revelations imparted from without, and known only as existing without, but by affections inspired by the Holy Ghost from within, and constituting, from the time of their origin, a part of the inward consciousness.

— edited from The Life of Madame Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 7.

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Change of Heart

Reflections on
the Life of
Madame Jeanne de la Mothe Guyon.

Further reflections on Jean Guyon's conversion experience:

 Madam Guyon, in her Autobiography, makes a number of practical remarks on the nature of her religious experience at this time.

Recognizing a distinction, which is important in the analysis of inward experience, she regarded the change which she underwent at this period, as not merely an intellectual illumination, but as truly a change of the heart. It is true, undoubtedly, that she had received new light. She had been led to see more distinctly than ever before the extreme perversity and blindness of the natural mind. She had now a clearer perception both of what God is, and of what he requires; and especially of the way of forgiveness and salvation by faith in Christ alone.

But perception is not love. The righting of the understanding is not necessarily identical with the rectification of the sensibilities. The understanding, enlightened of God, will sometimes dictate what the heart, in its opposition to God, will be slow to follow. This was not her case. Her under­standing was not only enlightened, but her heart was renewed.

— edited from The Life of Madame Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 7.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Strive to Believe

Those persons, who have been inwardly convinced, that the promises of God ought to control their belief, and those who have endeavored to secure this result by resolves or purposes calculated to diminish the effects of former habits of unbelief, have found themselves blessed in it. The susceptibility of belief, which had been weakened and almost prostrated in its action, has in this way become invigorated. And not only this, it is continually increasing its facility and strength of movement by each repeated exercise. The powerful law of habit lends its aid. So that the exercise of faith, which once seemed the most difficult thing, is now found to be easy.

If these views are correct, it seems to be a proper and important direction: STRIVE TO BELIEVE. Make efforts to exercise faith. Resist, as much as possible, the dreadful influence of long-continued habits of unbelief; not in order that belief may be yielded to that which is not the truth; but that the truth, liberated from such unpropitious and erroneous influences, may have its appropriate and just effect.

— edited from The Life of Faith Part 1, Chapter 12.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Overcoming Disbelief

In reading some account of the experience of a pious person, who is said to have died in the triumphs of faith, I find the following expressions:

I have given God my undivided heart; believing that he does accept of it, and believing that the blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin. Like a stone which the builder takes, and puts on the foundation, so do I lie on Christ’s blood and God’s promises; giving God my soul and body a living sacrifice, and covenanting with him never to doubt more. My language is, I will believe. I will sooner die than doubt.

And we may add, it is very proper, and it seems to us indispensable on the part of those, who wish to live the life of faith, that they should not only watch against unbelief, but that they should resolve against unbelief.

This course is sometimes objected to. It is said, and in a general view of the subject is said very correctly, that belief ought to rest upon evidence, and not upon volition. The objection, however, is divested of validity, when it is understood, that the act of volition is not designed to have an influence independently of evidence, but in accordance with it, and in its support. Such have been the results of long-continued habits of doubting, that the faculty of belief, when exercised upon religious subjects, seems to have lost its appropriate power. It has become in a degree paralyzed, and its assent fails to be given, where it obviously ought to be. Under such circumstances it is obvious, that an act of the will may not only be proper, but that it is necessary. The mind, in consequence of having become in some degree disordered, stands in need of the aid, which a purpose or resolve of the will is calculated to give.

A person, for instance, has been the subject of that inward experience, which may be supposed to constitute him a religious person; and as such a person, he has given himself to God in an act of sincere and permanent consecration. He has an inward conviction, in accordance with what is really the case, if he be truly a devout and sincere man, that he has placed all upon the divine altar. And he knows from the Scriptures, that God is pledged to receive all who are in this situation; and that, in accordance with his promises, he will be, and that he is now, a friend and father to them; and that all such persons are, and will be, so long as they continue in such a state of entire consecration, encircled and blessed in his paternal love. All this he knows to be true, because statements and promises of this kind, and to this effect, are abundantly announced in the Scriptures. But it is true, notwithstanding, that he finds a great difficulty in taking these promises home to himself. They are written, but they are not received; they are applicable to his own case, but they are not applied. He has so long disbelieved, that the very faculty of believing, as already has been intimated, may be said to be struck with a palsy. It certainly seems incapable of moving and acting effectually, until it is encouraged and aided by some accessory influence. And a portion of this influence is a volition, or firm resolve, embodied in the declaration, “I will believe,” which I understand to be the same thing with saying, and nothing more than saying, “I will no longer yield to doubts, which I have found to be unreasonable, and which I know to be destructive. The evidence of God, to which Satan, taking advantage of my former evil habits, would blind me, shall have its effect. I will receive it.” 

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 12.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Faith and the Law of Habit

One of the most general laws of our mental nature, is the law of habit.

The law of HABIT, in its application to the principles of the mind, may be expressed by saying, that it is the facility and strength of action, resulting from frequent exercise or repetition. The perceptive powers, the memory, the power of reasoning, the affections, all invigorate themselves under the influence of this mighty law. The same can be said of faith. Faith unexercised, becomes weak; faith, in frequent exercise, becomes strong. He, who believes frequently, will believe energetically; while he, who puts forth the act of belief only at distant intervals, will find the impotency of his faith corresponding to the infrequency of its exercise.

And, in accordance with this general view, it is related of some pious persons, who have distinctly seen the connection between a strong faith, and the life of God in the soul, that they have endeavored to sustain and strengthen acts of faith, by acts of the will. Taught by an experience, which had already cost them much, that, in the language of an English poet,

—— "Our doubts are traitors,
"And make us lose the good we oft might win,
"By fearing to attempt,"

they have determined to meet and resist the treachery of unbelief by the religious patriotism, if we may so express it, of a fixed resolve. Their language has been, “I will believe.” “I am determined not to doubt.”

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 12.