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, February 26, 2015

Study God's Will in God's Providences

It is an important part of Christian duty to study God's will in his providences. We neither know how to act, nor how to feel, without a regard to them. This remark is sufficiently obvious in relation to action. It is hardly less obvious in relation to feeling.  For instance, a near friend dies, perhaps a  child, or brother. This is an event in Providence. The feeling appropriate to it is SORROW; but, when we consider that, being an event in Providence, it is an event ordered in divine wisdom, the appropriate feeling is not only sorrow, but sorrow mingled with acquiescence and patience. The law of Providence requires this modification of the feeling as strictly and as truly as the written law; so that we may lay it down as a principle, that the law of Providence must regulate, to a considerable extent, not only our outward acts, but our affections. It is Providence which places before us the objects we must love; and, what is more, it indicates the degree of our love, and the ways of its manifestation. And, on the other hand, the same Providence indicates to us the objects which should excite our disapprobation, and also the degree and manner of our disapprobation.

If we are in full harmony with Providence, we walk in all things humbly and softly, neither too slow nor too fast. The light which is imparted to us, is given moment by moment. And it is the true light, if our souls are so far renovated into the nature of Christ as to be in a disposition to receive it. It teaches us, not only to work FOR God, but, what is hardly less important, to work WITH God; — that is to say, in harmony with his own wise and benevolent plans.

Again, in acting in accordance with Providence, we do good without doing evil. No matter how desirable a thing may appear to be to us, if the law of Providence stands in our way, it cannot be done. There is, in such a case, what is called a moral, in distinction from a physical, impossibility, because the thing cannot be done without violating other obligations. Therefore, we are to do the good which we are called to do; in other words, we are to do the good which Providence allows and requires us to do; and then, and then only, we do good without doing evil. It is desirable that those who aim at the highest results in religion, should keep this in mind.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 2.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Moral Harmony With God's Providence

Things animate and things inanimate, things in space and things in time, things said and things done, all being and all action, in themselves and in their relations, in their rights and in their influences, form a part of the great system of the facts and arrangements of divine Providence. Man, and all the acts and all the sufferings of which he is the source and the subject, is placed in the midst of this great ocean; this great and moving flux and reflux of other men, and other acts, and other sufferings, and is required to be in moral harmony with it. It is this requisition, this rule, existing under these circumstances, which constitutes the providential law, —  a law operating from the external upon the internal; a law founded in infinite wisdom, just and inflexible in its requirements, just and inflexible in its retributions.

The law of Providence coincides with the law of the Scriptures. God, who speaks in Providence as well as in the Scriptures, cannot utter voices which, in their principles and claims, are discordant with each other. We may sometimes fail in our interpretations of the Scriptures; we may sometimes attach a meaning to them different from God's meaning; but when the declaration of God in the Scriptures is rightly understood, it will always be found to harmonize with his providential voice. If, for instance, he requires us, in his written law, to love our neighbor as ourselves, he has also arranged in such a manner the things and relations which constitute his providential law as to make the same requisition. And it will be found true, under the operation of the divine Providence, that man will and must suffer just in proportion as he comes short of that divine law of love. It will be the same in other similar instances.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 2.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Law of Providence

We cannot well understand and appreciate the doctrine of the law of Providence without some proper view of the mutual relationship and connection of things. It was a maxim of the Schoolmen, and is not less a maxim of nature, NIHIL EX NIHILO FIT. Everything, therefore, which exists, if it do not have an existence which is eternal and independent, must come from a common source. Consequently, there must be some common relationships, some common alliances.

And this is just as true of events which exist in time as of things which exist in place. It is true of everything of which it can be said, it is. If God calls into existence, or, in any way, gives rise to certain things and events and establishes them in their order, which, as a "God of order," he cannot fail to do, he necessarily gives to them their position, their relations, their rights, their influences. All these are theirs by the nature of the case. They do not make them of themselves, but have them, as it were, by inheritance. It is not easy to see how it can be otherwise. It is a matter of necessity, although we may properly make a distinction between things and events in some respects, that they should have their place and relations, their appropriate rights, their appropriate effects.

We will endeavor to illustrate what we mean, in the first place, from things which have merely an animate, and not a moral, existence. Among the multitude of created things that fill the air and earth, behold the feeble worm that makes its home in the clod. God has created it. Here is a fact, unimportant as it may seem to be, which makes a part, nevertheless, of his providential arrangements. The fact of the creation of this worm involves the fact of a sphere of life; that is to say, an appropriate place of residence, and adequate means of protection and support. This little animal has not only its assigned place and its means of protection, but it has its rights and claims also in relation to other beings; rights which reach from the dust in which it crawls to the infinite throne, and are as unchangeable as immutable justice. Infinite holiness holds its aegis over this weak creature. Continually the burning eye of Jehovah watches in order to see who invades its sphere, and does it an injury. The protection which is assured to it is not measured by the fact of its strength, but by the fact of its existence. God cannot create a being without, at the same time, pledging his friendship to it. The providence of God, therefore, cannot place a worm by our side without establishing a code of laws between us. The traveller, who sees it crawling in the dust, is obliged to turn aside his foot. The obligation binds the tread of a king as clearly and strongly as the tread of a peasant. He who crushes it without a justifiable cause violates the moral order of things, and tramples on the eternal will of the Creator.

Still more easily is the subject illustrated from other instances, where the rights of human beings are involved. Not far distant from a certain rich man's residence is a very poor family. One of its children has been infirm and helpless from birth; and nothing but the aid of others, more favored in their circumstances, can save it from the greatest suffering. The position of the child, with its wants and sufferings, is a PROVIDENCE. The duty, which devolves upon the rich man to take an interest in its welfare, and to render it aid, is the law of Providence. The law is developed from existing things; but, as the things existing are from God, the law which they disclose and establish is from him also. And he, who will not see a worm trampled upon without displeasure, will never see an injury done to an immortal being with impunity.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 2.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The True Rest

'Tis not in vain the mind,
By many a tempest driven,
Shall seek a resting-place to find,
A calm like that of heaven.

The weak one and dismayed,
Scarce knowing where to flee,
How happy, when he finds the aid,
That comes alone from Thee.

In Thee, O God, is REST;
Rest from the world's desires,
From pride that agitates the breast,
From passion's angry fires.

In Thee is rest from fear,
That brings its strange alarm,
And sorrow, with its rising tear,
Thou hast the power to calm.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Madam Guyon: A Little Bird I Am

Translated from a poem of Madam Guyon, written when she was in prison.

A little bird I  am,
Shut from the fields of air;
And in my cage I sit and sing
To Him, who placed me there;
Well pleas'd a prisoner to be,
Because, my God, it pleases Thee.

Nought have I else to do;
I sing the whole day long,
And He, whom most I love to please,
Doth listen to my song;
He caught and bound my wandering wing,
But  still he bends to hear me sing.

Thou hast an ear to hear;
A heart to love and bless;
And, though my notes were e'er so rude,
Thou wouldst not hear the less.
Because Thou knowest, as they fall,
That love, sweet love, inspires them all.
Thou wouldst not hear the less.

My cage confines me round;
Abroad I cannot fly;
But, though my wing is closely bound,
My heart's at liberty.
My prison walls cannot control
The flight, the freedom of the soul.

Oh, it is good to soar,
These bolts and bars above,
To  Him, whose purpose I adore;
Whose providence I love;
And in Thy mighty will to find
The joy, the freedom of the mind.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Friday, February 20, 2015

One Great Consideration

Amid all the trials of life, amid the rebukes, calumnies, and persecutions of evil men, in seasons when Satan seems to triumph, there is one great consideration which ought to tranquilize and elevate the Christian mind; and that is, that God, who sees the end from the beginning, will glorify himself, and will make even the wrath of his enemies to praise him.

Religious Maxims (1846) CVIII.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

All of God and Nothing of the Creature

There is a remarkable expression of the Savior, and worthy of serious consideration, vis: "I can of mine own self do  nothing." John v. 30. Hence the voice from heaven recognizing the paternal care over him, and saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Hence the interesting statement, that Jesus, who had his weeping infancy and his helpless childhood, "increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." Hence the Savior's disposition to go apart into gardens and forests and mountains, that he might hold communion with God in prayer. Hence, in the mount of transfiguration, the appearance of Moses and Elias, who "spake of his decease, which he should accomplish at Jerusalem." Hence the appearance and the ministration of angels who appeared to him and administered to him after the temptation in the wilderness and in the agony of the garden. But if the Savior, in his human nature, was thus dependent on the Father, deriving all things from him and able to do nothing of himself, who among his followers can hesitate for a moment to acknowledge his own littleness and dependence? Who can doubt, that, whatever religious light and strength he has, comes from God? Who will not rejoice in the "All of God and nothing of the creature?"

Religious Maxims (1846) CVII.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Holiness is Power

If, as the wise men of the world assure us, "knowledge is power," the Christian can assert with still greater truth, that  holiness is power. But holiness wins its victories, not by the accessory aids of cunning devices and of artificial eloquence; but by its own intrinsic excellence. It is gentle in its language, and mild in its gesticulation; but the energy of the great God is heard with transcendent efficacy in its still small voice.

Religious Maxims (1846) CVI.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

To Freedom From the Earliest Days

To freedom from the earliest days,
The soul of poetry has given
The tribute of its mighty lays,
A note, that had its breath from heaven.

Nations have started at its call;
And not a heart and not a hand
Was absent from the living wall
That rose around the bleeding land.

And yet, which gives the greatest pain?
The links the outward man that bind?
Or  that unseen but galling chain,
Which subjugates the sinful mind?

Oh Sinner! If there's truth and power
In all that calls us to be free,
Awake! 'Tis now the day, the hour!
Arise, assert thy liberty!

American Cottage Life (1850).

Monday, February 16, 2015

Quietness of Spirit Reflected in the Life

When from the heart its ills are driven,
And God restor'd, resumes control,
The outward life becomes a heaven,
As bright as that within the soul.

Where once was pride and stern disdain,
And acts expressing fierce desire;
The eye, that closest looks, in vain
Shall seek the trace of nature's fire.

No flame of earth, no passion now,
Has left its scorching mark behind;
But lip, and cheek, and radiant brow,
Reflect the brightness of the mind.

For where should be the signs of sin,
When sin itself has left the breast;
When God alone is Lord within,
And perfect faith gives perfect rest.

American Cottage Life (1850).