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.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Leave the Results in the Hands of God

When an action is performed, to which we are prompted by a gracious and not a mere natural or Satanic impulse, but which action is not attended with all those good results, which we expected and hoped, we are entirely acquiescent. We receive the result without trouble of mind. For instance, we are led in the providence of God and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to converse with a person on the subject of religion; and contrary to our hope and expectation, he coolly and superciliously rejects our message. The result, though painful, does not disquiet us. We leave it calmly in the hands of God. Whereas a person, who performs an action from an impulse, which is not from the Spirit of God, and who finds the result different from what he expected, will be likely to experience a degree of unsubmissive dissatisfaction, and to show signs of fretfulness.

And I think it a matter of common observation, that Christians, who are governed in a considerable degree by natural or any other impulses not divine, mistaking them for a truly spiritual guidance, are, to use the common expression in the case, "always in trouble;" — sometimes with the church; sometimes with their minister; sometimes with one thing, and sometimes with another; and alas, not unfrequently, although they seem to be wholly unaware of it, with the wisely ordered Providences of God himself. They are not childlike, and meek, and lowly in heart; as those always are, who are truly guided by the Holy Spirit. They are not like the Savior, who, when he was oppressed and afflicted, opened not his mouth, but was led as a lamb to the slaughter.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition 1844) Part 3, Chapter 4.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Present Moment Has a Moral Extension

Impressions and impulses, which are not from the Holy Spirit, but from some other source, such as a disordered imagination, the world or the devil, are not of that peaceful and quiet character which has been mentioned; but are hasty and violent. In violation of the great Scriptural maxim, "HE THAT BELIEVETH SHALL NOT MAKE HASTE" the person, who is under this pernicious influence, thinks he cannot be too quick. He makes but little account of obstacles; he cannot take time for interior examination; he has no open eye to God's outward providences; he is too impetuous, too much possessed by himself or by Satanic influence, to engage in calm and humble prayer for guidance; in a word, he rushes blindly onward just as his great adversary, who is especially interested in his movements, would have him.

The great plea of these persons is, that the time is Now; that what is to be done is to be done Now; that the present moment is the true moment of action. This is essentially true; but there is a valuable remark of FĂ©nelon, which places the doctrine of present or immediate action in its correct position.  It is, that THE PRESENT MOMENT HAS A MORAL EXTENSION. In other words, we are undoubtedly bound to fulfill the duty of the present moment; but it is the present moment, not in a state of barren insulation, but considered in all its relations to God, man, and the universe. But it is perfectly obvious, that the duties of the present moment cannot be fulfilled in their moral extension without calling in the aid of a calmly reflective and sanctified judgment.

 — edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition 1844) Part 3, Chapter 4.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Impulses Inspired by the Holy Spirit

That the Holy Spirit does sometimes act directly upon the sensibilities by exciting in them a purely impulsive feeling, we may probably admit. Undoubtedly there are some facts, in the experience of pious men, which favor this view. But is it the object of the Holy Spirit in originating impulsive impressions, to excite men to immediate action without any reflection, or to excite them to action rationally, that is to say, in connection with suitable inquiry and consideration? This is the important question. And the decision of it involves great practical results.

It is certainly reasonable to suppose, that it is not the object of the Holy Spirit, when He makes a direct impulsive impression on the human mind, to lead men to act without perception and reflection; but rather to stop them in their thoughtless and unreflecting career, and to awaken within them the slumbering powers of thought and inquiry. It is reasonable to suppose this, because as a wise being, as a being acting in accordance with the laws of the human mind, as a being infinitely desirous of true holiness in men, we do not well perceive, how He can take any other course than this.

The true tendency, therefore, of those impressions or impulses, which come from the Spirit of God, is to awaken men to a sense of their thoughtlessness, and to quicken within them a state of humble and holy consideration. When such impressions and impulses are from the right source, we cannot doubt that the results will be of this character. That is to say; they will not of themselves lead men to direct action; but will lead them to that inquiry and reflection, which is preparatory to action. But when impressions or impulses come from Satan, as they sometimes do, their tendency is to lead men to action at once, without such intermediate consideration.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition 1844) Part 3, Chapter 4.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Purely Impuslive Actions Cannot be Holy

Actions, which proceed from pure impulse or a mere internal impression without attendant perception or reaction, cannot possibly be holy actions. What we mean to say is, that there is a natural impossibility of their being such. A mere impulse, unattended by perception and reflection, is of the nature of an instinct. And any action, done from mere blind impulse, no matter how strong or extraordinary that impulse may be, is both physically and morally of the nature of an instinctive action. Now, as it is universally conceded that purely instinctive actions have no moral character, it is entirely evident, that impulsive actions, which are of the same nature with instinctive actions, have no title to the denomination or character of holiness. Some persons seem to think, the more they act from impulse, especially powerful impulse, the more holy they are. But this, if we are correct in what has been said, is a great and dangerous mistake.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition 1844) Part 3, Chapter 4.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Holy Spirit Does Not Guide us Into the Irrational or Absurd

The Holy Spirit does not, either by his gentle influences or by those which are more sudden and powerful, so operate upon a person as to guide him into any course, which is truly irrational and absurd. Now we know in many cases, if we should yield to the direction of mere impressions and impulses, especially those which are of a powerful kind, we should be led to do those things, which, to whatever test or measurement they might be subjected, could not escape the denomination of irrationality or absurdity. Of such impulses the Holy Spirit can never be the author, because nothing which is really absurd and irrational, (we speak not of the mere appearance, but of the reality of absurdity,) can come from that source.

I recollect once to have read the account of a person published by himself, in which he gives the reader to understand, that on a certain occasion he was suddenly and violently seized by the power of God as he expresses it; an expression undoubtedly synonymous in the view of the writer with the power of the Holy Ghost; that he was raised up by this divine impulse from the chest on which he was sitting, and was "whirled swiftly round, like a top for the space of two hours, without the least pain or inconvenience." We do not see on what grounds such an extraordinary result as this, so unmeaning, so unprofitable, and absurd can properly be ascribed to the power of God or the power of the Holy Ghost; especially if it be susceptible of explanation, as we think it can be in a considerable degree at least, on any natural principles. We know that the Savior was full of the Holy Ghost; but we do not read of his being subjected to any operation of this kind. We know also, that the Apostles, although they were plentifully endowed with the Divine Spirit, and under his teachings wrought various wonderful works, yet were never at any time made the subjects of such irrationalities. We have here, therefore, a mark of distinction, viz. that various irrational and absurd results may flow from natural impressions and impulses; but can never flow from the true operations of the Holy Spirit.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition 1844) Part 3, Chapter 4.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Spiritual Guidance and the Human Mind

The Holy Spirit is very various in his operations upon men; but it will be conceded, I suppose, as a correct principle, that He generally conforms himself in his operations, whatever they may be, to the structure and laws of the human mind. Accordingly in those operations, the object of which is to guide or direct men, it will be found, that He always acts in connection with the powers which are appropriate to such a result; and particularly in connection with the perceptive and judging powers.
We desire it to be kept in mind, that we are speaking here of his directing or guiding operations; in other words, those, which have a special connection with human conduct. These are the operations, which most intimately concern us; and in regard to which it is most important to establish correct principles.

We proceed to say, therefore, it is very obvious from man's mental structure, although he is sometimes the subject of a purely instinctive movement, that God designed, that the perceptive and judging powers, which He has given us, should ordinarily furnish the fundamental condition or basis of human action. And if in his spiritual providences it should be found to be his practice to guide men in any way not in accordance with this design, he would be inconsistent with himself. The first principle, therefore, which we lay down is this, that the Holy Spirit guides men, by operating in connection with the perceptive and judging powers.

And we may properly remark here, that this view, which is so important, as to be deserving of the reflection of the most judicious persons, seems to be in accordance with the sentiments of the pious and learned John Howe.

"We cannot" says this esteemed writer, "so much as apprehend clearly and with distinction the things which are needful for us to apprehend, without the light of the spirit of wisdom. It is necessary, (viz. the light which the Spirit of wisdom gives,) in order to the act of distinguishing or discerning, between things, what is to be done, and what is not to be done. There is a continual need through the whole course of our spiritual life, for the using of such a discretive judgment between things and things. And in reference hereto, there needs a continual emanation of the Holy Ghost, for otherwise we put good for evil and evil for good; light for darkness and darkness for light. We need the Spirit's help, to shine with vigorous and powerful light into our minds, so as to bring our judgments to a right determination."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition 1844) Part 3, Chapter 4.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Natural Impulses Are Not Spiritual Guidance

It is sometimes the case, that persons act from certain interior impressions, which may properly be termed IMPULSES. It would certainly be very injurious to the cause of holiness, if the doctrine should prevail, that mere interior impressions or impulses may of themselves become the rule of conduct to a holy person. That persons in sanctification are under a divine guidance, and that they cannot retain the grace of sanctification without such guidance, is entirely true. But it has sometimes been the case, that men have mistaken natural impulses for the secret inspirations of the Spirit; and in the flattering belief of being guided by a higher power, have experienced no other guidance than that of their own rebellious passions. On the danger of such a state, of which the church has seen too many melancholy instances, it is unnecessary to remark.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 4.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Christian Pilgrim

"These  all  died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them a far off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on  the  earth." Heb. xi.  13.

Farewell, my native country! Thy bright star,
Thy sky, green woods, clear waters, no more greet
Mine eye delighted. But with pilgrim feet,
In waste and horrid lands, I wander far.
I wander far, unknown, but not dismayed;
I leave my native country; but my soul,
Unmoved, unshaken, in its purpose whole,
On higher power, than aught of earth, is stayed.
My God shall be my country! I will call,
And he will hear me in the desert place.
When troubles come, before his feet I fall,
And then he sheds the sunshine of his grace.
On Afric's arid sands, on Asia's plain,
On Greenland's ice-bound coast, no prayer to Him is vain.

American Cottage Life (1850) XXXII.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Grave of the Beautiful

"So also 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 in weakness; it is raised in power."  1 Cor. xv. 42, 43.

Where, near yon river's brink, the willows wave,
And summer's flowers to golden life have sprung;
Is dimly seen the village maiden's grave,
Forever gone, the beautiful and young.
The boatman turns to that sad spot his eye,
When o'er the wave his lingering sail is spread,
And see, when sunset gilds the pictured sky,
Her sister maids draw near with silent tread.
Alas, how oft the gems of earth grow pale,
And stars, that blessed us, dim their rising ray!
But not in vain their beauty do they veil,
And see their earthly glory pass away.
For beauty here, they snatch immortal bloom,
And light, eternal light, doth blossom on the tomb.

American Cottage Life (1850). XXXI.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Afflictions are from the same benevolent source from which mercies originate. They equally indicate God's goodness, and in their result will show that they are equally beneficial, and perhaps more so, to those who, in being the subjects of them, receive them in a proper temper of mind.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLXXIV.