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, October 31, 2014

Worldly Concerns

It is a sure sign that our heart is not perfect before God, and does not entirely rest in him, when, like the unconverted Athenians of old, we are anxious to hear or tell some new thing, when we are exceedingly troubled about our own reputation among men, and when in regard to anything of a worldly nature, we exhibit an eager and precipitate state of mind

Religious Maxims (1846) XC.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sorrow the Nurse of Love

Oh God, Thou heard'st my early vow,
('Twas sacred then, 'tis sacred now,)
The vow which promised to fulfill,
With Thee to aid me, all thy will.

Resigning all the soul held dear,
It pledged Thee, with a heart sincere,
Never, Oh never, to incline
To plan or choice, which was not thine.

And Thou hast put me to the test
In times and ways Thou thoughtest best;
But He, who smote me, gave the power
To conquer in the trying hour.

When sickness Thou didst on me send,
When Thou didst take each dearest friend;
I found, in spoiling earthly bliss,
Thou madest thyself my happiness.

My earthly loss, my earthly pain,
Was changed to joy and heavenly gain;
And Thou didst grieve me but to prove,
That sorrow is the nurse of love.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Resource in Temptation

My Savior! Wilt thou leave me now,
When sharp temptations round me throng?
All other helps have failed — and thou
Alone canst hope and truth prolong.

TEMPTED; — but can I turn away,
And give my thoughts to aught but thee?
Oh, let me die; but ne'er betray
My pledge of truth and constancy.

I know that sorrow has its power,
I know that pleasure has its charm;
But oft the least propitious hour
Beholds the triumph of thine arm.

Oh, who or what shall lead to sin,
Whate'er its power, whate'er its art —
So long as Christ is King within,
And binds his being round my heart?

American Cottage Life (1850).

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Death and Resurrection of the Human Will

Properly speaking, or perhaps we should rather say, in this case, psychologically speaking, man's will can never die. A will is essential to man's nature, as it is to the nature of every moral being. Man, without a will, ceases to be man.

When, therefore, in examining the topics connected with religious experience, we speak of the death of the human will, we mean the human will considered in its action and its tendency to action, out of the divine order. It is the human will divergent, —  resting in the origin of its movement on the limited and depraved basis of personal interest,  and out of harmony with the will of God.

In the sense which has just been given, the human will, before it can have a higher and divine life, not only may die, but must die. Its death is not only possible but necessary. In its present life, if we may so express it, it has its principle of movement in motives which God cannot respect and approve; but, on the contrary, he disapproves and condemns them as inconsistent with the highest good of the universe. From such a will he is necessarily excluded.

It is impossible, therefore, that there should be any mitigation of its sentence; any pity or compromise whatever with its natural life. The hand of God himself, through the working of his unerring providences, nails it to the cross. It may exhibit much resistance; it may experience a painful and lingering death; with the nails driven through its hands and feet, it may plead that its bones may not be broken, and that its side may not be pierced; but no attention can, or ought to be given to its supplications.

The death of the will (that is to say, its death to the selfishness of nature) is the antecedent of its resurrection to holiness. In its resurrection love takes the place of selfishness. The will can no more be born into its new and divine life, and expand and flourish in its new beauty and maturity of love, before the extinction and death of its natural life of selfishness, than the spiritual body of the resurrection, adorned with immortal beauty, can come into existence before the death of the natural body. "That which thou sowest," says the apostle Paul, speaking of wheat and other grains, "is not quickened except it die." "So also," he adds, "is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body."

And these expressions, applied to the resurrection of the body, are applicable to the death and resurrection of the will. If it dies to all that is the opposite of God, it is made alive to all that has God in it. Dishonored and corrupted in its selfish nature, it perishes and is thrown lifeless into its burial place, until the spirit of God, brooding over and operating in its ruins, brings life out of death, and glory out of shame.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 4.

Monday, October 27, 2014

How Do We Come to Love God?

How can we obtain the basis of love which unites our will with God's will? How can we be made to possess that which we are not possessed of, by being made to love that which we do not love?  Especially as love, in that higher sense of the term which has been explained, is not human, but divine; not a thing created, but eternal.

The answer is, that God, in being a benevolent existence, necessarily loves to dispense his own nature, to enter into all hearts where there is a possibility of entrance, to pour out everywhere the radiance of his own brightness. What we have to do, then, is first to be emptied, in order that we may be filled; first to cease from self, that we may be recipients of that which is not self.

But how can we do this? Or how can we learn to do it? Daily, O man, is the Providence of God teaching thee, by perplexing human wisdom, by disappointing human efforts, and by showing, in a thousand ways, the blindness, the weakness, and the iniquity of selfishness. It is for this that thou art smitten. Sorrow is thy teacher. It is a hard lesson to learn, but still a necessary one, that a life out of the divine life is not life, but that the true life is from God. Our heavenly Father, in the infinite fulness of his nature, will pour out upon us the principle of holy love, as soon as we are ready to relinquish the opposing principle of self.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 4.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Moral Union and Affectional Union

There are two forms of union of the will; — namely, moral union, and affectional union. It is the combination of the two, uniting the outward act, or the thing done, with the motive of doing it, which constitutes perfect or holy union.

Moral union of the will exists when the will is united with God by means of moral enforcement merely, that is to say, under the constraints of moral obligation, without the consenting and affectionate concurrence of the heart. Such an union, which can exist only in respect to outward acts, makes what the world calls a moral man, but not a religious one. When a man does what God commands,— in other words. does what is right in action,  but does it in opposition to his own selfish desires, — he is in union with God, if we may so express it, morally, or in the outward manner, but not  affectionally, or in the inward disposition. He is a man divided; partly for God, and partly against him.  His conscience is right, but his heart is wrong. In the language of the apostle Paul, he does that which he hates to do: he does good, but "evil is present with him."

Some would, perhaps, say, that a union so imperfect as this, including only a part of our nature, is not to be regarded as union in any proper sense of the term. But looking at the subject psychologically, that is to say, in reference to the nature of the mind, it is obviously a positive or real union as far as it goes. Undoubtedly it is imperfect. It has not that full and broad basis which it might have, and which it ought to have. But still it is something, and especially because it involves that conviction of mind which is likely to lead to something else better. He who observes the Sabbath, not because he loves to observe it, but because his conscience requires it is in a more favorable condition than he who has neither conscience  nor love. But if something is done, it is still certain that the most important part remains to be done.

The union of the will, which has just been described, becomes consolidated and perfect when we add the concurrence of the affections to the supports of the moral sense.  It is this union which we have denominated affectional. In order, therefore, to that union of the will with God which is requisite in the highest state of religious experience, the action of the will, in harmonizing with God's will, must rest upon the twofold basis of the approbation of the conscience and of the love of the heart.  In any other state of the mind, the union of the will with God is more or less obstructed and enfeebled. When, in connection with the moral union, the obstruction of all discordant tendencies and desires is out of the way, and the affections are in the right direction, the union is such as it should be. Of a will thus united with God, it may be said, with almost literal truth, that it is the subject of a new creation, and has a new life.

— from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 4.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Prayer and Union With God

In order to determine whether our wills are in harmony with the divine will, it is not necessary nor best, as a general thing, to look at the will itself and to examine its action as it comes under our notice independently of the influences which surround it.

When certain conditions are fulfilled, certain results may be expected to follow.

And, accordingly, we may anticipate that our wills will be in harmony with the divine will when we are in the habit of asking God for a divine direction of our wills. There can be no union with God without prayer. We do not mean to say that the prayer, which, if it be a true prayer, always implies a state of sincere and entire consecration, must always be formal;  but there must always be an inward disposition, which constantly recognizes the soul's dependence upon God, and which as constantly looks for his aid. To such a soul, if it has faith corresponding to its desires, God will not fail to grant his assistance. When we feel that we have strength from God, by feeling that we have an accepted communion with him. then we may have hope that we shall and do will only what God wills.

— from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 4.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Union Not Extinction

Union of the human will with the divine is a different thing from an extinction of the human will. A will, a proper and effective will, is essential to humanity. Man, without a will, ceases to be man. The perfection of man's nature does not consist in the extinction of his will, but in its union with God's will.

The truly holy person, therefore, ought to be able to say specifically, at all times, that he wills as God wills. It  is due both to his happiness and his safety to be able to know, and on proper occasions to assert, the union of the two wills. If there is a separation of wills, even if it be a slight one, there will be likely to be something out of position somewhere else. A separation of wills is a separation of natures. As the will is, so is the man, either for God or against him. It is as true in philosophy as religion, that it is impossible to serve God and Mammon at the same time.

It may be asked, perhaps, what view are we to take of ourselves when we do not will at all. The answer to such a question is not difficult, because we can hardly ever be said to be in that state. Our whole life, with the exception of purely involuntary states, may be represented by two terms, action and inaction. Neither of these states can exist without volition as its basis. If we act, we will to act; if we are in a state of inaction, we will not to act. Whatever state we are in as moral agents, and not as mere involuntary agents, whether it be characterized as action or inaction, we will to be in it. So that we may, without impropriety, speak of the action of the will as perpetual. Perpetual action implies the obligation of perpetual harmony.

— from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 4.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

We Cannot Rightly Seperate Ourselves From God

All moral beings, whether men or angels, as they have a right to do only what is right, have no right to dislocate and remove themselves from under the divine will. The liberty they have of doing as they please undoubtedly gives them the power or enables them to do it: but the law of right, which prescribes in what manner their capability is to be exercised, forbids it. If it is not right for them to remove [themselves] from under God's will, then it is their duty to remain under it. As moral beings, they cannot do otherwise without a violation of morals. God's will is supreme over them physically or naturally, because their natural or physical life is wholly dependent upon it. It is supreme over them morally, because they cannot abdicate its supremacy without doing a wrong. The supremacy is secured in the one case by a physical necessity; in the other, by a moral necessity. The physical law subjects them to God as physical men; the moral law subjects them to God as moral men.

Accordingly, if we carry these principles into particulars, we shall find that, in no case whatever, can we separate ourselves from God rightly. In union alone, that union which is appropriate to the relation of superior and inferior, is there true life. And here, living, not by what we have originally, but by what is momentarily given us, if we need strength, the law of morals requires us to look for it where we can best obtain it. If we need wisdom, we cannot, without a violation of duty, seek it where it is not to be had, but must go to him, who alone has true wisdom. If we need love, which, more than anything else, is the true inspiration of the soul, we must go to him, who, in being himself LOVE, can supply us from the original fountain. And so in every other case. If it be true, as the apostle James asserts, that "every good gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights," then we can have nothing good which does not come from him. And, as the law of duty requires us to seek good in preference to evil, and as we can find the true good in God alone, it is not possible for us, in doing what we ought to do, to take any other position than that of humble recipients. And in that position, bound to submit to a higher guidance if that guidance will be best for us, God's will becomes morally supreme over us, and we can neither be in the right nor the good, except so far as we are in harmony with that blessed will.

— from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 3. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Natural and Moral Suprememcy of God's Will

There is a natural supremacy of the divine will. There is a moral supremacy also. In natural things, it is supreme by nature. In moral things, it is supreme by right.

The natural supremacy, which presents itself first for consideration, is fixed, and cannot be otherwise than it is. It is the supremacy which makes and originates; the infinite energy concentered in the one infinite purpose, overspreading all, consummating all. All things which exist, so far as the mere fact of being is concerned, have their existence, both in its origin and its continuance, in the natural supremacy of God's will. In that will, all trees and plants, and all other things which are produced on the earth's surface, have their life. In that will, the sun, and moon, and stars live; and all things and beings that inhabit them. In that will, all men, and all animals inferior to men, in all their varieties, have their origin and their continued support. It is a will supreme, because everything else is a dependency.

This, it will be noticed, is said in connection with the physical  nature of things. Over all things in their physical nature, there is what may be called a natural or physical supremacy of the divine will, which transcends everything because it is the source of everything.

There is also a moral supremacy of the divine will. God, in the exercise of the natural supremacy of his will, and acting under the direction of his moral nature, created beings like himself, beings having a moral nature. In  doing this, he gave them the power to do as they pleased; that is to say, to take any course which they might choose to take within the sphere of their natural or physical capability. But in giving them the power thus to act, which was essential to them as moral beings, he did not give them the right.  He could not do it. As a being possessed of all power, he could give them the power to do what they pleased; but, as a being possessed of all holiness, he could give them the right to do only what  was right, and nothing else. Further than this, they never had any right, nor ever can have.

— from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 3.