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, May 22, 2015

Seeing God in Nature

Providence, expansive as the agency of the Divine Mind, includes things as well as events, material nature as well as human action. To be in harmony, therefore, with God's Providence, we must be in harmony with everything; — not excepting the material world. It is true, that things inanimate have no life in themselves; but they are the residence of a living mind. We might almost say, in a mitigated sense of the terms, that every thing, not excluding objects the most remote from moral intelligence, becomes God to us. There is no grass, no flower, no tree, no insect, no creeping thing, no singing bird, nothing which does not bring God with it, and in such a manner that the thing which we behold becomes a clear and bright revelation of that which is invisible.

We go, for instance, into a garden and pluck a flower; and, as we permit our eye to wander over it and to behold the various elements of its graceful beauty, we not only see the flower, but the eye of faith, making a telescope of the bodily eye, and reading the invisible in the visible, sees, also, the God of the  flower. Often has the devout Christian, in all ages of the world used expressions, which indicate the fact of this divine perception. "The God, whom I love," he says, "shines upon me from these blooming leaves." And the expressions he uses convey a great truth to him, however they may fail to convey it to others. That flower is God's development.  It  is not only God present indirectly by a material token, by a mere manifested sign, while the reality of the thing signified is absent; but it is God present as a being, living, perceptive, and operative. We  do not mean to say, that God and the flower are identical. Far from  it. But what we do mean to say is, —  that  the life of God lives and operates in the life of the flower. It is not enough to say, as we contemplate  the flower, that God created  it; implying, in the remark, that, having created it, he then cast it upon the bosom of the earth to live or die, as a thing friendless and uncared for. This is the low view which unbelief taken. The  vision of faith sees much further than this. God is still in it; — not virtually, but really; not merely by signs, but as the thing signified. God is the "God of the living." And while the flower lives, he, who made it, is still its vital principle just as much as when his unseen hand propelled it from its stalk; not only the author, but the support of its life, the present and not the absent source of its beauty and fragrance, still delighting in it as an object of his skill and care.

The  sanctified mind realizes this in a new and higher sense; —  so much so that the truly holy man enjoys especial intercourse with God, and enters into a close and  divine unity with him, when he walks amid the various works which nature, or rather the God of nature, constantly  presents to his view.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 8.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Holding God's Providences Dear

In the case of the truly holy man, God's providences are dear. In conforming to the law of Providence, he obeys the law which secures efficacy and application to every other law. The law of God, for instance, requires us to reprove sin in our neighbor; but unless we are guided in doing it by the providential law, we shall be likely to do more evil than good. If we reprove him without regard to time and place, — if we take an occasion to do it which will unnecessarily expose him to contempt and injury from others, while he is made the subject of our own reprehensions, — we shall obviously fail of our object.

The law of God requires us to do good, by speaking to impenitent persons on the subject of religion. But this requisition must be carried into effect, in connection with the law of Providence; in accordance with the appropriateness of time, place, the presence or absence of friends, and all other circumstances which are naturally or necessarily involved.

The law of God requires us to be benevolent; but benevolence, without regard Io the adjustments and claims of Providence, is not benevolence, but prodigality; in other words, it is unbelieving and unacceptable wastefulness. We are to consult God's will in the manner of giving, as much as in the fact of giving. His written law requires the fact; — his providential law indicates the manner. A failure in the latter, if it is intentional, vitiates and annuls the obedience of the former.

The law of God requires us to be submissive and acquiescent under those afflictions which from time to time come upon us. But submission to afflictions, without recognizing God's providential foresight and arrangements in sending them, is mere acquiescence in unavoidable events, and not acquiescence in God's wise and just agency; it is the submission of a brute animal, and not the submission of a Christian.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 8.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Discordant with Providence and with God

It will be seen, on a little examination... that harmony with Providence is union with God.  As the law of Providence is only another expression for God's will, as that will is exhibited in connection with his providences, the man who lives in conformity with Providence necessarily lives in conformity with God.

This certainly cannot be said of the natural or unholy man. It is impossible that it should be. Living in the breath and heat of his own desires, in his own will and out of God's will, he is not more discordant with Providence, than with the Author of Providence. There is a perpetual conflict. Full of his own objects and purposes, he desires health, but God sends sickness; he desires riches, but God sends poverty; he desires ease, but God imposes activity and labor; he desires honor, but God sends degradation. Or, if God sends the objects of his desire, giving him health, wealth, and honor,  he still complains of the way in which they are sent; or if he is satisfied with the way in which they are sent, he is not satisfied with the degrees. There will always be found a divergency, a want of harmony somewhere.  It is impossible that they should walk together.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 8.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

He Standeth at the Door

"My head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night." Cant. v. 9.

The stars are shining from their depths of blue,
And one is standing at the door and knocks;
He  knocks to enter in. His raven locks
Are heavy with the midnight's glittering dew.
He  is our FRIEND; and great his griefs have been,
The thorns, the cross, the garden's deep distress,
Which he hath suff'ered for our happiness;
And shall we not arise, and let him in?
All hail, thou chosen one, thou source of bliss!
Come with thy bleeding feet, thy wounded side;
Alas, for us Thou hast endured all this;
Enter our doors, and at our hearth abide!
Chill are the midnight dews, the midnight air;
Come to our hearts and homes, and make thy dwelling there.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Monday, May 18, 2015

Right Disposition

God not only has the disposition to do what is right, but he always does it. Men may have the disposition, and yet fail through physical infirmity, in the realization of the thing; that is to say, in the outward act. But the disposition is accepted.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXXIII.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Holiness in the World

The rays of the sun shine upon the dust and mud, but they are not soiled by them. So a holy soul, while it remains holy, may mingle with the vileness of the world, and yet be pure in itself.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXXII.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Prayer and Action

No person can be considered as praying in sincerity for a specified object, who does not employ all the appropriate natural means which he can, to secure the object.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXXI.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Crucified Even To Our Virtues

When Satan cannot prevent our good deeds, he will sometimes effect his evil objects by  inducing  us to take an undue and selfish satisfaction in them. So that it is necessary, if we would not convert them into destructive poisons, to be crucified and dead even to our virtues.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXX.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Sovereign Will

"Thou hast  a mighty arm;  strong is  thy hand, and high is  thy  right  hand." Psalm lxxxix.  13.

There is one ruling power, one sovereign will,
One  sum and center of efficiency.
'Tis like the mystic wheel within the wheel
The prophet saw at Chebar. Its decree
Goes from the center to the utmost bounds
Of universal nature. Its embrace
And penetrating touch pervades, surrounds
Whate'er has life or form or time or place.
It  garnishes the heavens, and it gives
A terror and a voice to ocean's wave.
In all the pure and gilded heights it lives,
Nor less in earth's obscurest, deepest cave.
Around, above, below, its might is known,
Encircling great and small, the footstool and the throne.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Millennial Day

"They  shall  not hurt nor destroy in  all  my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full  of the knowledge of the Lord,  as  the waters cover the sea."  Isa.  xi. 9.

Upon God's  Holy  Mountain all is peace.
Of  clanging arms and cries and wail, no sound
Goes up to mingle with the gentle breeze,
That bears its perfumed whispers all around.
Beneath its trees that spread their blooming light,
The spotted leopard walks; the ox is there;
The yellow lion stands in conscious might,
Beneath the dewy and illumined air.
A little child doth take him by the mane,
And leads him forth, and plays beneath his breast.
Nought breaks the quiet of that blest domain,
Nought mars its harmony and heavenly rest:
Picture divine and emblem of that day,
When peace on earth and truth shall hold unbroken sway.

American Cottage Life (1850).