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.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Dangers of Social Reorganization

[The] subject [of the family] throws light upon the discussions which are now held in different parts of the world on the subject of social reorganization. These discussions, which already shake society to its basis, are of immense consequence. The intellectual ability which has been brought to them is of the highest order; and it has been sustained, in many cases, by a life of benevolence and self-sacrifice. Willing as we are to do justice to the ability, and the good motives of those who agitate these great problems, it is obviously the duty of the friends of humanity to give a careful attention to their movements, and to prevent if possible the introduction of error. We are ready to give credit for many good suggestions, which will, in due time, produce their appropriate fruits. But it has attracted the painful notice of many true friends of human progress, that propositions have been started, from time to time, which affect the existence of the family.

To build up society by the abolition of the family seems to the Christian a strange idea. This is not to reorganize and to improve society, but to destroy it. As Christians, we are bound to do everything, and, what is more, we shall love to do everything, which will tend to improve the condition, and to increase the happiness, of our fellow-men. But we cannot throw away the Bible; — we cannot violate the first principles of Christianity, especially when they are confirmed by sound reasoning, have their signatures and proofs in the affections, and are strengthened by the lessons of all history. To injure the family by bringing its claims into doubt, by diminishing its purity, or weakening its authority, is to do an injury to society in general. Law, order, the state, intellectual improvement, morals, everything, would, fall with the family. And it would so, because the family is of God; and nothing which is of God can be shaken out of its position, or be lost, without causing the most disastrous results.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Laws of the Affections

[Consider the laws of the affections.] Everything has its nature. Of course, everything has its laws, not excepting the passion or affection of love.

The original, or first center of love, is God. From this great and divine centre, it flows out and embodies itself in other centers. Love, as it exists in God, is like the ocean. The ocean is the great center of waters.  It always retains its central position; but, at the same time, it diffuses itself everywhere; — forming other subordinate centers, in plains, and on mountain tops, in fountains and in lakes, from which issue a multitude of streams and rivulets, giving life and beauty. In like manner, the great ocean of love in the Godhead empties itself into subordinate centers, which are in harmony with itself, and which, in imitation, as it were, of the great center, and being, in fact, but continuations of the ebbings and flowings of the great central ocean, send out their waters of life to all within their sphere of movement.

The central love, then, in the sphere of human life, is in the family. From the family, where it is kept full from the great center in the Godhead, it flows out to the neighborhood, the state, and the world.  If it is full and beneficent at the source, it will be full and beneficent in its issues; and not otherwise. Truth, like beauty, always harmonizes with itself. Truth, in the centre of the affections will always secure a right or true movement. He, who is not true to his father and mother, his wife and children, his brother and sister, being false at the center, is not, and cannot be, true to his neighborhood, his nation, and mankind. How is it possible  for him to be true in his affections, when the truth of affection is not in him? And besides, if it were possible that his love, or rather the pretense of love, could be given, it would be hardly possible that it could b received. Both the state and humanity would instinctively reject an offering which is false at the core.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Power of God Manifested Through the Family

In the progress of religion in the world, it may reasonably be expected that the power of God will be especially manifested in families. Each household, linked together by peculiar and strong ties, will constitute practically a church of God. The holy man, at the head of his family, stands forth in a special sense the representative of his heavenly Father. Such is the peculiar nature and the importance of his position, that he speaks, if he is a man of true religion, with an authority which belongs to no other. He is a priest, —  not, indeed, by the forms of earthly ordination, — but still a priest, like Christ himself, by the inspiration of God, and after the "order of Melchisedek." It is from him and through him, if he sets a good example, and fulfills his office of teacher or priest of his household,  that  the child obtains, more distinctly than in any other way, his first ideas of our Father in heaven. And then add to the example and influence of the father, that of the mother, (for the father is not the completed or perfect man without the mother,) — an influence so gentle, so constant, so effective, — and it will be difficult to exaggerate the importance of the family constitution, considered in its relation to human virtue and happiness.

I am reminded, in these remarks, of a passage in the beautiful poem of the Cotter's Saturday Night:­

"Then, kneeling down to heaven's eternal King,
The saint, the father, and the husband prays;
Hope springs exulting on triumphant wing,
That thus they all shall meet in future days:
There ever bask in uncreated rays,

"No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear,
There ever hymning their Creator's praise,
In such society, yet  still more dear,
While circling time moves round in an eternal sphere."

Within a few days, and since commencing the writing of these remarks, an incident has come to my knowledge, which illustrates the subject. A young man not far distant, having arrived at an age when it seemed to be proper for him to do so, left his father's house to engage in some business in another place. He was soon exposed to unforeseen temptations, and fell into great sin.  He not only sinned, but became hardened and desperate in sin. His friends followed him, reasoned with him, entreated him, but all in vain. The victory of the great adversary, who had entangled him in his toils, seemed to be complete. They then made one request; — that, fixed and desperate as he was in his vicious course, he would so far yield to the common claims of humanity as to visit once more his father's house, and permit his aged parents to look upon him before they died.  It was with great reluctance that he consented.  As he came back, the home of his youth rose before him. The fields, where he had wandered in the delightful days of childhood, expanded in his sight; — beautiful in themselves, but, alas, how changed to him, who had lost the mirror of beauty in his own darkened heart! All received him with those unaffected tokens of benevolent interest, which are the natural language of love. There were no reproofs, no remonstrances. They understood that he came back professedly a sinner, — and a sinner by choice. And having already exhausted their efforts for his recovery, they had no courage to do or say anything more.

Accordingly, the day of his return passed away without any visible signs of penitence and returning union. And yet he was a son and a brother. The bright sun went down over the hills; and the various members of the family, resting from their labors, shared in each other's society. At the usual hour in the evening, they gathered around the domestic hearth, as had ever been their custom, that they might pray together, and mingle their hearts in penitence and faith, in the presence of their Maker, before they slept. The father read the Bible, and prayed; and they sang their evening hymn. This affecting scene, that Bible which had warned and instructed his childhood, a parent's supplication, that sacred song in which brothers and sisters joined, the presence of so many beloved objects, the peace and purity of the dear and sacred heaven of home, presented in contrast with the wretchedness and sin of the scenes to which he had recently been accustomed, broke the barrier of his rebellious spirit; the tears of true penitence and love fell from his eyes; and he was rendered doubly happy by being restored, at the same time, to the center of affections in God, and the center of affections on earth.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Elevation of the Place of Women in Society

One of the results of God's great work which is now going on in the world, will be, to raise and perfect woman's position and character. The darkest page in human history is that of the treatment of woman. Oppressed by man's depravity, injured in her most sacred affections, — the slave of man instead of his companion,— she has bedewed the earth with tears, and has had consolation only in that faith in God, which is appropriate to her confiding nature. But when, in the progress of divine truth, it is understood that man cannot fulfill his own destiny, and is not the completion of himself without her, — in other words, when, by being restored to God, he is restored to himself, — he will also be restored to that which is a part of himself; and will thus perfect, in completed unity, what would otherwise necessarily remain in the imperfection of an undeveloped and partial nature.

And, in connection with the accomplishment of this desirable end, nothing is to be considered as unimportant which in any way tends to secure it. And this leads to the remark, that female education, considered in its religious aspects, is one of the great works of God which will more and more characterize the coming ages. A general conviction on this subject is beginning to he felt; but it must be admitted that the way in which this conviction, and the hopes involved in it, are to be realized, is not well understood. And, accordingly, educational efforts for the improvement of the intellect are out of proportion to those which are designed for the improvement of the heart. What we need now, and what the designs of God upon our race require us to have, are seminaries, in which all necessary sciences and literatures shall be attended to, but in which it shall be understood and taught, at the same time, that the first and indispensable knowledge is that of repentance and salvation through Christ, and of sanctification by the constant indwelling and guidance of the Holy Ghost. In other words, we need seminaries in which the education of the female heart in holiness shall take the precedence of all other forms of education.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Marriage Should be Under the Guidance of the Spirit

The union of souls in the marriage state, like everything else, ought to be under the guidance of the Spirit of God. The first work, both of man and of woman, is the recovery of their own souls, their spiritual sanctification. Until this is done, they are not fitted, — certainly not in the full sense of the terms, — for anything else. And especially do they fail of being fitted for true mental union.

In the present state of the world, and in the imperfect condition of human things, it will often be the case, that those who are brought into the marriage state by human arrangements, and under the forms of human law, have not been united by spiritual attraction. Such marriages cannot be happy; — certainly not in the highest degree. It will be very different, in proportion as holiness advances in the world. In a purified, or millennial state of the race, the first step towards the finite marriage will be the marriage union with the Infinite. This, as we have already intimated, is the first great work of man under all circumstances; a work which cannot be superseded by any other; and without which no other can be perfectly done. When the soul is once united with God, it becomes the subject of the divine guidance; and while it loves all, and seeks the good of all, it enters into the state of perfect union only with that soul which develops most perfectly corresponding traits of character. The instinct of holiness will lead together kindred hearts; and the truth of spiritual union will take the place of the falsehood and misery of that union which merely allies the body without the union of the mind.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Everyone Has a Right to a Home

One of the results of the diffusion of holiness, and of the spirit of union with God, will be to recognize to every man and woman the right, not merely to a home, but to that best of all homes, the home of the heart. Much has been said, among social and political philanthropists, of the right of each man to a portion of land, a homestead; and, undoubtedly, there is a great religious, as well as social idea, at the bottom of this suggestion. But if man has a right to a home for his body, much more has he a right to a home for his soul. His soul's home is love. To love and to be loved, and in such a manner as to secure the highest happiness, is the sacred right of all moral beings; and the obstructions which exist in the present state of society to this desirable result, will gradually be removed. Such is obviously the design of Providence; and those who are united with God will aid in it.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Bible's Teachings on Marriage and Family

The language of the Savior is this:

"The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning, made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

"They said unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so." [Matt 19:3]

The form of the original institution, established in infinite wisdom, was not only that of correspondent spirits, of soul formed and mated to soul, but that of permanent as well as perfect union. Those facts of mental and providential correspondence, which led to the union in the first instance, necessarily involved and established its permanency. Various expressions in the New Testament conform to and strengthen these views. Everywhere are denunciations uttered against the violation of this bond of the heart. Everywhere are encouragements uttered to the preservation of its purity, and the increase of its strength. "Husbands," says the apostle Paul, "love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." [Eph 5:25] These are remarkable expressions. Christ's love is perfect. Christ’s love never changes. The expressions of the apostle, therefore, harmonize well with the declaration of the Savior, that in the beginning, the husband and wife were not allowed to be separated; that the union, when made in the truth, and as it ought to be, is of God, and that no human power has authority to rend it asunder.

Without quoting any further from the Scriptures, we will only notice the fact, that God very frequently illustrates the strength of the love which is due to him, by references to conjugal love. He speaks of his people as espoused to him. He repeatedly calls himself their husband. Speaking, for instance, of the rebellious Israelites, he says, in a certain place, "they brake my covenant, although I was an husband unto, them." [Jeremiah 31:32] And he compares their unholy wanderings from him to the  conduct and the crime of a wife, who violates the marriage obligation. Such illustrations and references, if they do nothing more, may properly be regarded as showing the estimation which our heavenly Father places upon conjugal love. If they do not directly assert as much, they certainly seem to imply, that in a truly holy and perfect state of things, husbands and wives would love each other with something of that sacredness and purity of affection with which God himself is loved.

In other cases, he illustrates the relation he sustains to his creatures, by referring to the constitution of the family as it is presented to our notice in other respects. "A  son," he says, in a certain place, "honoreth his father, and a servant his master. If I then be a father, where is mine honor?” And again it is said in another place, "As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." And it is thus, in a multitude of instances, that the family illustrates the relations of  God to man, and of man to God. And it is not surprising that references and illustrations of this kind should be so frequent. The family embodies the highest forms of truth, as well as of beauty.

It is there that we see justice, which, standing alone, would smite and destroy, tempered with mercy.  It is there that we see filial love sustained and heightened by reverence. It is there, especially, that we find illustrations of the higher truths of religious experience. Where else do we find so fully exemplified the lesson of the nature and laws of pure love, as we find it in the family? The love which exists in the family, — the love which flows between those who, in different persons, constitute the unity of its head, — the love which flows from the parents to the children, and reciprocally from the children to the parents, — is so far divested of selfishness, even in the present injured and fallen state of things, as to give some idea, faint though it may be, of the pure love of a better world. And, in the true or holy family, that is to say, in the family where hearts are first filled with the love of God and then of each other, we may be said to have the realization of heaven, as well as the idea of it.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Idea of Marriage in the Old Testament

The Bible, in the primitive records on the subject, represents that man was created in God's image.  It also represents, that man and woman were one; and that woman was made from man; — the two existing henceforth in a diversity, but correspondence of form, and with an unity of life.  If the passages to which we refer, do not expressly state it, it is obvious that they naturally imply and involve the doctrine of correspondent or mated spirits, of duality in unity, to the exclusion of all affections to others which are inconsistent with such unity. There is a passage in the prophet Malachi, in reproof of the conduct of the Israelites, which throws some light upon this subject. The Israelites had become dissolute in principles and manners; — a state of things, which showed itself in violations of conjugal fidelity, and in frequent divorces. "The Lord," says the prophet, "hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously; yet she is thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did he not make one? Yet  had he the residue of the Spirit. And wherefore one? [That is to say, wherefore did he create one only? And the answer is,] that he might seek, [that is, prepare or secure to himself,] a godly seed. Therefore, [he adds,] take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously again the wife of his youth."

The passage is a decided and just reproof of those frequent violations of the true idea of the marriage state, which had crept in among the Israelites. God was offended; and the prophet gives the reason of it. When God, in the beginning of things, had created man, he separated from him, in the moment of his "deep sleep," a part of his existence And from that which he thus separated, he made the counterpart and completion of humanity in woman. He made one. In the language of the prophet, he had "the residue of the spirit;" and therefore he might have made a greater number. But that perfect conception which he had of a moral constitution of things, and of the elements of moral happiness, did not allow of more than one.

It was necessary, being good and perfect in himself, that he should so create man, as to evolve or develop from his existence, so long as it continued an unperverted existence, the highest possible degree of happiness. But perfect happiness cannot grow on the basis of a divided affection. It is only fullness of love, or love in the highest degree, — a state of mind which seems to be inconsistent with a multitude of objects of love, — that is crowned with fullness of bliss. And besides, that form or arrangement of the domestic constitution which limits the central or highest affection to one, was foreseen to be most favorable, as we should naturally suppose it would be, and as the passage in Malachi implies, to the birth and training of a "godly' seed." Polygamy and concubinage, and still more other systems, which propose a yet wider and more vicious liberty, are obviously inconsistent with that degree of watchful care, and religious instruction, which is necessary in training up a seed or people for God. And I think it cannot be doubted that the perpetuation of a godly seed is one of the objects involved in the constitution of a moral order of beings. Holiness, like sin, has its law of origin, and its line of descent.

— edited from A treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Eternal Nature of the Family Relation

We cannot deny our own conviction, founded upon such considerations as we have been able to give to the subject, that the family relation, as it is recognized and established in the New Testament, has its  foundation in the nature of things, and is eternal. This, it will be perceived, is a very different doctrine from that which makes it a mere positive institution, founded upon arbitrary command. It will be conceded, I suppose, that God never mends his own work. His conceptions, founded upon, or rather involving, the fact of a knowledge and comparison of all possibilities of being and action, are always perfect. And, consequently, when we ascertain what his views and plans of things are, we ascertain that which is unchangeable.

The idea of the family, namely, of duality in unity, reproducing itself in a third, which combines the image of both, is entitled, if we are correct in what has been said, to be regarded as a plan or arrangement of things which God has adopted as the best possible to be carried out and realized. And if so, it bears the stamp of divine perpetuity, as well as of divine wisdom.

Every being has its two-fold center; first, its center or home in God; second, its center or home relative to its sphere of life; — the one corresponding to and harmonizing with the other. Another principle is, that the life of holy or unfallen beings is, and must be, holy love. It is this principle, which brings their powers into movement, and constitutes them active beings. A third principle is, that love, in whatever beings it may exist, must have an object. Being a principle which does not turn back and rest upon itself, but which always has a tendency to move outward, it cannot exist without having an object somewhere. A fourth is, that love, by its very nature, has an attractive as well as an emanative power. That is to say, while it goes out to others, it attracts others to itself. A  fifth is, that the highest happiness of holy beings, drawn towards each other as they are by the attractions of love, will be secured, and can only be secured, when they find objects perfectly correspondent to themselves. And it is only when they have experienced this completed happiness, that they have found the true center of their created sphere of life, and are at home.

And, accordingly, it will be found, as the laws of intelligence and feeling obviously require this state of things, that to every spiritual existence in the universe, though differently constituted and sustained in their different spheres of life, there is, and must be, a correspondent spirit. The union of these two constitutes the highest happiness; a happiness which is never experienced in this degree, antecedent to such union. And this union, which thus results in the highest happiness, is indissoluble. The moment that such beings are unveiled to each other as perfect correspondences, the mutual attraction, at once strengthened to its highest intensity, becomes irresistible; and the bond which binds them, stronger and more beautiful than clasps of gold, can never be rent asunder.

In support of these views we might refer to other sources of argument, which are frequently adduced in discussions of this nature. An argument in support of the  permanency of the family, as it is constituted among Christian nations, is frequently drawn from the fact, that the sexes are equal, or nearly equal, in number. The subject has been frequently argued, also, in connection with the instinctive tendencies of our nature, both mental and physical, which so universally impel men to domestic associations. Such considerations go to confirm the views which have been taken; but they are so generally known, and so often referred to, that it is not necessary to dwell upon them here.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Godhead is the Antetype of the Family

The Godhead itself, mysterious and unsearchable as it is, is the fore-shadowing, the antetype of the family. Man is said to be created in the divine image;  but the combined man, which constitutes the family, far more than the solitary man or woman, is the true image of God. And the reason is, "God is love.” And if he is so, then there must have been an eternal Beloved. Otherwise, he would have been the most miserable of beings. Absolute solitude is inconsistent with happiness. What could be more miserable than a being, the very essence of whose nature is love, without an object to meet and to satisfy its unalienable and mighty tendencies? And that object, to meet the ends for which it exists, must be as infinite as the love of which it is the subject.  And if it must be infinite, because nothing short of infinite would be an appropriate object of the divine affections, it must also have been eternal, because otherwise the divine affection, through countless ages, would have had no object at all. And hence, there is, and must be, innate in the Godhead, the infinitely beloved, the Chosen and Anointed of the Father, the Eternal Word, the Immanuel. But this duality of existence, which is constituted into unity by the unchangeable bond of the affections, cannot be perfectly happy except in some object possessing a like infinity of character, which may be regarded, speaking after the manner of men, as "a procession or emanation" from the two. And this re-production of itself, infinite in its nature, perfect in its love and by "an everlasting generation," constitutes and completes the adorable family of the Trinity.

Man, created in the divine image, is male and female; and these two are one. And their united existence, deriving a new power from their union, multiplies and images itself in a third, which is also a part of itself. It is man, therefore, in his threefold nature, — the father, the mother, and the child,— the beautiful trinity of the family, and yet so constituted that in man's unfallen state it would never have suggested the idea of a weakened or discordant unity, — which may be regarded as the earthly representation, the visible, though dim,  shadowing  forth of the divine personalities existing in the unity of the Godhead. The original type is in the infinite; but it is reproduced and reflected with greater or less degrees of distinctness in all orders of moral beings. 

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.