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 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.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Loving the Children of God

Those, in whom the love of God is perfected, will love the children of God with peculiar strength. Perfect love is the image of Christ in the soul; and wherever we see that image, in whatever denomination of Christians, and in whatever persons, our hearts will recognize the divine relationship, and rejoice in it. Without this strong love to those who bear the divine image, we may be sure that our love is not perfect. It is God's great work, and highest delight, to create this image in the hearts of men; and if our will is swallowed up in his will, we shall rejoice in it in some degree as he does, and shall know the delightful meaning of those numerous passages of Scripture which speak of the love of Christians to each other.

"Tis Love unites what sin divides;
The centre, where all bliss resides;
To which the soul once brought,
Reclining on the first Great Cause,
From his abounding sweetness draws
Peace, passing human thought."

The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 17.



Saturday, October 18, 2014

Perfect Love Perserveres

Perfect love will exhibit a trait of permanency and perseverance under the most trying circumstances. Our fears and hopes vary; our joys and sorrows vary; but we may reasonably expect that the love, which is pure in its nature and perfect in its degree, will continue the same. There is no reason why it should change, since the object at which it aims is the same with the immutable will of God. The will of God is its true life. Accordingly, when in the providence of God we are afflicted, our joys will be less, but there will be no diminution of love. Joy flourishes in the sunshine, but love grows and flourishes in the storm also. God may hide his face from us, but hearts of love still look in that direction where his face is. The Savior, on a certain occasion, was greatly afflicted. His language was, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." His joy was taken from him, but his love remained. He could still say, while he prayed that the cup might, if possible, pass from him, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt."

The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 17.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Love for the Bible

A person who has perfect love, will love his Bible above all other books. It will be dear to his heart, an inexpressible treasure. And the reason is obvious. It is because in the Bible he learns the will of God, which he delights in, more than in any thing else. And hence it is one of the artifices of Satan, who is no friend of the Bible, to endeavor to detach devout minds from the study of the Di­vine Word under the plausible pretense that the inward teachings of the Spirit are of more value, than the outward letter. An artifice, which he, who desires a close walk with God, will carefully guard against; remembering that God cannot consistently, and will not, neglect and dishonor his own divine communications; that the Holy Spirit operates in a peculiar manner, in connection with the written Word; and that he, who deserts the Word of God, may reasonably expect to be deserted by the Spirit.

—  from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 17.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Forgetfulness of Self

Perfect love excludes, in a great degree, and perhaps entirely, any reflections upon self, (or "reflex acts," as they are sometimes termed,) which are of a self-interested or selfish character, In other words, perfect love, when in actual exercise, implies a forgetfulness of self. Whenever our thoughts return upon ourselves; whenever in the exercise of "reflex acts" we begin to inquire into the specific nature of our feelings, for the purpose of estimating the amount of their enjoyment; whenever we experience a jealousy, that God does not give to us all those returns and caresses of love which we should be pleased with; we may be assured, that although we may possibly love much, we might love much more. In other words, our love, whatever other terms may be applied to it, cannot be regarded as perfect. It is the nature of perfect love, in its forgetfulness of self, to array the object, towards which it is directed, in every possible excellence. To that object, so far as it is truly worthy of its attachment, it gives the strength of its affections, without reservation and without limits. It is perfectly self-sacrificing; and it would account itself dishonored and degraded, if it turned back on itself for a moment, to estimate its own reward. It has its reward, it is true. Perfect love is necessarily its own rewarder. But the reward comes without seeking. And is enjoyed so entirely without notice, that it does not turn the mind away a moment from the object of its affections.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 17.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Perfection of Love is Willing God's Will

We may, perhaps, illustrate [our view of perfect love], by what we sometimes notice in the various forms and degrees of filial love. We will take, in the first place, the case of a child, who is sincerely attached to his father, but who, as we sometimes express it, exhibits a "will of his own." This child, undoubtedly, loves his father very much; but at the same. time he does not always do, with entire pleasure and readiness, what his father wishes him to do. He sometimes hesitates, exhibits a clouded brow, or utters an impatient expression when certain things are required of him. He has certain little objects of his own, which he is very much attached to; and if his father's plans happen to cross and oppose them, he exhibits, in a greater or less degree, a disposition to set up for himself and to rebel. And when he outwardly obeys, it is found that he does it reluctantly, and not with a will harmonizing and blending with the paternal will. Now we may say very truly, that this child loves his father — perhaps he loves him very much — and yet it is clear he does not love him perfectly. But when we see a child who is happy only when he sees his father happy; whose delight it is to anticipate the father's wishes; whose will, by a sort of instinctive tendency, is invariably and powerfully united and blended with the paternal will, so that the least opposition between the two wills is a source of the greatest grief to him, we at once feel, and cannot help feeling, that the love of such a child may properly be called perfect. And in accordance with this view, it is said to have been one of the sayings of the devout Francis Xavier, that "the perfection of the creature consists in willing nothing but the will of the Creator."

What other idea of perfection of love can we have than this? The heart of such a person is made one with another heart, and what could we ask for more? This, then, more than any thing else, is the decisive mark of perfection in Christian love, viz. an entire coincidence of our own wills with the divine will; in other words, the rejection of the natural principle of life, which may be described as love terminating in self and constituting self-will; and the adoption of the heavenly principle of life, which is love terminating and fulfilled in the will of God. And this view, which is practically, as well as theologically, a very important one, seems to be confirmed by what the Savior says of himself in a number of passages. John 6. 38, "For I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." John 4. 34, "Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." Heb. 10. 9, "Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God." The same idea, viz. that perfection of Christian love exists, and exists only in connection with a will united to and perfectly coincident with the will of God, is conveyed in that interesting passage, Mark 3. 34, 35, "And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother." Matt. 7. 21, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 17.