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, December 9, 2016

God's Testimony in the Bible

But God’s great testimony for himself is his Bible. It is said of the believer, that “he hath the witness in himself.” And so of the Word of God. Considering the early periods of the world, in which it was composed, the nature of the remarkable events which are recorded in it, the imposing character of the moral and religious doctrines which are proclaimed, the illustration of these doctrines in the lives and actions of a series of men such as the world never saw before, and of which the world was not worthy, looking at the subject in this point of view, the candid mind cannot fail to see and to acknowledge, that it is a Book, of which God himself, in some important sense, must have been the author. It seems to us, independently of the external evidence of miracles, that neither the Book, nor the things contained in the Book, could have come into existence without God. It is here, that God proclaims himself, in language both written and acted, in the language of the precept given and the language of the precept lived, which cannot fail to be understood. And hence it is, that Lord Bacon has remarked with so much truth and beauty: “Thy creatures have been my books, but thy scriptures much more. I have sought thee in fields and gardens; but have found thee in thy temples.”

The Bible may be regarded as a sort of proclamation on the part of God, to those who have revolted from him and have gone off in the ways of sin, that He is still the God, and will continue to be the God of those, who will return and acknowledge him to be such. If man is only willing to be saved by the surrender of himself into God’s hands, to be his always and his alone, to be out of his own keeping and subject to the divine keeping, God is willing and desirous to save him. All we have to do is to give ourselves to God; and he will give himself to us in return, in all which is necessary for us. And accordingly it is worthy of notice, that we have in this Book abundant promises, that those, who will sincerely seek to obtain knowledge, shall have assistance. God says in various forms of expression, try to know, and I will help you to know; seek me and ye shall be found of me.

We cannot admit, therefore, any pleas or excuses of the unbeliever, on the ground of a defect of evidence. “We do not believe, that he can deliberately offer such excuses, without compelling his own inward nature to cry out against him. His declaration of unbelief is neither more nor less, than a declaration, that he is too indolent to open his eyes, that he may read what is written not only in God’s Word, but stands out legibly inscribed upon the hands and feet and face of universal nature. Such excuses, which even heathenism rejects, will not stand the final test. Those, who make them, will be found wanting.

The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 4.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

God's Testimony in His Providences

But God has a testimony also or witness for himself in his providences; in other words, in all events which take place, especially when considered in their moral aspects and relations. The history of nations and individuals furnishes a series of facts, from which, if we could get it from no other source, may be deduced the general proposition, that all actions, which are not merely instinctive, have a moral character; and are attended with a moral retribution. We do not say, that the adjustment of reward and punishment to the moral merit and demerit of actions is entirely perfect in the present life; but it is so much so, as to leave no doubt of a moral government and a moral governor. It is true, that the vicious sometimes succeed in life, becoming rich and honored, while the virtuous suffer in poverty and contempt; but it does not follow from this, that the vicious are happy, or that the virtuous are miserable. The virtuous have an inward consolation, which more than compensates for outward adversities; and the vicious, with scarcely an exception, have inward sorrows, which are none the less deep and real for being concealed under the garb of outward prosperity. The history of man, therefore, including the history of nations as well as of individuals, utters its declarations loudly and impressively, in favor of God and of his government.

The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 4.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Design in Creation

More than a hundred years ago, Mr. Addison, speaking of the evidences of design in the works of creation, made a remark to this effect, that, if our inquiries should be adequately extended, it would be found, that the earth in its interior structure is as curious and well-contrived a frame, as that of a human body. “We should see,” he says, “the same concatenation and subserviency, the same necessity and usefulness, the same beauty and harmony in all and every of its parts, as what we discover in the body of every single animal.” The mineralogy and geology of modern times have already done enough to verify this suggestion.

But if the presence of God, if his wonderful wisdom and power, are seen in layers of earth, in successive strata of rocks, and in the deposition of fossil remains, how much more may they reasonably be expected to be seen in the organized and living bodies that cover the earth’s surface, in animals, and especially in man. And then the heavens above us, the sun, moon, and stars, all give their testimony. So that we may well say, if we had only the book of outward nature to look in, it would be hard to be an unbeliever; and could almost add, in the slightly altered language of a popular poet,

How canst thou disbelieve, and hope to be forgiven!

The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 4.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Mind Bears Witness to God

The evidence, which God furnishes, would compel belief, were it not for voluntary opposition. We choose to think of ourselves and of our own interests, to the neglect of all adequate thought of God, and of our religious interests. On this subject, I doubt not, that the feelings of thoughtful and serious men are strong and unalterable. To the suggestion, that God has left himself without witness, or that he has not furnished adequate witness, they can yield no assent.

Referring again to the sources of this witness, to which we have just now briefly alluded, we remark more particularly, that the nature of the human mind is such, that it bears, as it were, the idea of a Supreme Being, and other truths, closely connected with the idea of a Supreme Being, written on its very structure. It is a psychological fact, which a careful observation of the progress of human culture has fully demonstrated, that the human mind, when brought into full and unperverted action, always develops the idea of a God. It is an idea written there in letters uneffaceable; and, though sometimes obscured and deeply hidden, it will always come out and make itself evident, when it is brought to the light. And there too, essential in the structure of the same mind, are the conceptions of truth and justice, of sympathy and benevolence as due from man to his fellow-man, of immutable wrong and immutable right. There is no barbarism so low, so linked to the extreme of moral degradation, where these bright conceptions, in connection with their related emotions, do not exist in greater or less distinctness. The mind, therefore, by its very nature, by a voice which cries out unceasingly from its depths, bears witness for God. Were it not so, heathenism, still more degraded and destitute than it is at present, would have heard no announcement from its moral teachers; would have had no Socrates, no Plato.

The world, of which we are a part, and the systems of worlds with which we are connected, bear witness for God. There is not a tree nor a flower, no river, nor lake, nor cataract, no hill, nor valley, nor mountaintop, nothing on the earth nor under the earth, neither the fruits it bears on its surface nor the minerals it cherishes in its bosom, no insect, nor bird, nor quadruped, nor any other thing of the infinite varieties presented to our notice, which, on a careful examination in itself and its relations, does not bear its testimony.

The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 4.

Monday, December 5, 2016

God Has Not Left Himself Without Witness

The structure of the mind is such, that it does not allow a person to believe merely as he chooses or wills to believe; but, on the contrary, requires the belief to be conformed to the evidence appropriate to it.

We are aware, that this view of the subject, which seems to us too obvious to admit of controversy, opens the way, nevertheless, to an objection on the part of some persons, who will be disposed to excuse themselves in unbelief, on the ground that an opposite state is an involuntary one. Their language is, that they would like to believe; but that they are unable to do it without adequate evidence; intimating in the plea or excuse, which they offer, that the requisite evidence is not presented before them.

The answer to all pleas and excuses of this kind is the declaration, which our Heavenly Father himself has authorized, that God “has not left himself without witness.” Acts 14:15–17. “We preach unto you,” says the Apostle Paul, “that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein; who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless, he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”

The difficulty is not in involuntary belief, but in voluntary unbelief; in voluntarily, willfully, perseveringly shutting our eyes to those evidences of God’s existence, and of a supreme moral government, to which every object and every event bears testimony. God has not left himself without a witness in the structure of the human mind; he has not left himself without a witness in the beautiful array of nature’s works; he has not left himself without a witness in the wonderful succession of individual and national providences, which speak, trumpet-tongued, of eternal truth and eternal justice; he has not left himself without a witness in the long succession of consecrated and believing men, who, having the image of God, the divinity within them, were rightly commissioned to testify of him, whose image they bore. “The glorious company of the Apostles,” “the goodly fellowship of the Prophets,” “the noble army of the Martyrs,” “the holy Church throughout the world,” all persons in all ages of the world, of whatever country and of whatever name, who have borne the divine image, have been witnesses, eloquent witnesses for God.

The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 4.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Sabbath

"Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God." — Exod. 20.8, 9, 10.

Our nation's glory is her Sabbath's light,
The day of quiet, purity, and rest.
Her children then in holy acts unite,
The world forgotten, worldly cares repressed.
This is the day, "of all the week the best,"
The source of private bliss and public power:
May praises, poured from the believing breast,
And humble supplications fill each hour.
And in our day of woe, our trying time,
The Sabbath's God shall lend a listening ear,
And coming swift upon the clouds sublime,
For our protection and defense appear.
He is the friend and helper of the cause
Of those who venerate and keep his holy laws.

The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets VI.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Distant Near

On earth we meet with friends and part;
And parting bear a sorrowed heart.
They come, they go; there's nothing sure;
All full of doubt; all insecure.

But  when on earth our heaven we find
By having God within the mind;
The sorrow, which we felt before,
At parting friends, we feel no more.

However far our footsteps rove,
We always meet in God's great love;
However wide our travels run,
Our journey and our joys are one.

God is our home, and in that state
We cannot so far separate,
As not to make the distant near,
And know the lov'd are always here.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXXII.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Keeping Time

Whate'er our thoughts or purpose be,
They cannot reach their destined end,
Unless, oh God, they go with Thee,
And with Thy thoughts and purpose blend.

KEEP TIME WITH GOD, and then the power,
Which in His mighty arm doth lie,
Shall crown the designated hour
With wisdom, strength, and victory.

Be not too fast, be not too slow;
Be not too early, not too late;
Go, where His orders bid thee go;
Wait, when His orders bid thee wait.

KEEP TIME WITH GOD. Await His call;
And step by step march boldly on;
And thus thou shalt not faint nor fall,
And thus shalt wear the victor's crown.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXXI.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Power of God in Creation

"Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel my called! I am he! I am the first; I also am the last. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned out the heavens." — Isaiah 48.12, 13.

The boundless heavens, oh Lord, are made by Thee,
And Thou hast made the stars that through them gleam,
And Thou, the silver moon with placid beam;
They all proclaim Thy power and majesty.
And Thou hast made the earth and all its fountains,
The fountains, where the wild beast slakes its throat;
The myriads of birds, with vernal note,
Cheering the forests waving on the mountains.
And thou hast made the sea and all therein,
Its cavern'd solitudes and rocky shore,
Its heaving waves and everlasting roar,
Its fishes and its huge Leviathan.
Great God! The everlasting God art Thou;
Before Thee let all hearts with humble reverence bow.

The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets V.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fear of Death

"For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart to be with Christ, which is far better," — Phil. l. 23.

The body perishes, but not the mind;
The outward man decays, but that within
Shall grow more pure and bright, like gold refined,
Rebuilt in strength, and separate from sin.
E'en now I feel the purifying flame,
A fire from heaven is kindling in my heart,
Diffusing greater joy than words can name,
And pouring light through all the mental part.
That fire shall burn long after the sad hour,
When death shall bring the body to the grave.
Increasing in its brightness and its power,
Long as eternal ages roll their wave.
Why should we tremble, then, and fear to die;
Death but unbinds the soul, and frees us for the sky.

The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets IV.