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.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Social Interacton is a Human Duty

Among the duties which man owes to his fellowmen, one of the most clearly ascertained and important is that of social intercourse. The duty is so clear and imperative, whether we consult in its support the constitution of the human mind or what is said on the subject in the Scriptures, that no one can plead an exemption from it, except on the ground that the providences of God and other special indications render his case very different from that of others. A man, for instance, may be so physically disordered, that society is a burden, and solitude his only place of refuge. And this state of things may be combined with other providential indications, so marked in their character, that he may be justified in coming to the conclusion, that his great business, and essentially his only business here on earth, is that of solitary
communion with God.

"Remote from men, with God he passed his days„
"Prayer all his business, all his pleasure, praise,"

Perhaps other situations and other providential indications may lead to the same result. John the Baptist was the "voice of one crying in the WILDERNESS." There is reason to suppose, that the special providence of God called him, in a greater degree than others, to dwell in solitary places, apart from the society of men. And we probably risk nothing in saying, that the same unerring Providence, operating upon a sanctified spirit, dictated the course of Anna, the aged Prophetess of the city of Jerusalem, "who departed not from the Temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day."

But these are exempt cases, which can be judged of only by special outward circumstances and special inward operations; and which, therefore, are to be regarded rather as exceptions to the general rule, than as the rule itself. We cannot hesitate, therefore, in saying, that the duty of social intercourse is obvious and imperative. The man, who violates his duty in this respect, by shunning, without any adequate reason, the society of his fellowman, not only deprives himself of the power of extensive usefulness; but he suffers under the operation of what may be called a natural penalty, in his own person, character,  and interests, Persons, who place themselves in this situation. without a special divine guidance, are self-punished. The mind, separated from the bonds which link it to others and falling back upon itself as both center and circumference, becomes contracted in the range of its action. and selfish in its tendencies. The light of knowledge is, in many respects, shut out; and even the physical, as well as the moral and intellectual system feels the adverse influences of a course, which is opposed to the intentions of nature. Association, therefore, may be regarded as a necessary law to us. God has so linked us, man with man, and family with family, and community with community, that the life of one may be said to be multiplied in that of another; and no man, with the exception of the peculiar cases already indicated, can safely and usefully stand and act alone.

— from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 6.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Being a True Child of God

The holy man's will, therefore, operating by its own law of action, and secured in the possession of a just moral freedom, moves in the superintendence and harmony of a higher, better, and unchangeable will.

Such an union with Providence not only requires simplicity of spirit, but it may be said to make a man simple. He thinks, as some ancient writer expresses it, “without thinking;"  that is to say, his thoughts, taken out of the order of his once selfish nature, are suggested by and fall in with the providential order; and they do it so easily and so beautifully, like the thoughts of angel natures, that another power seems to think in them and to give them life. He thinks without the labor of thinking, because his thoughts are given to him.

He feels, as the same writer expresses it, “without feeling."  That is to say, he feels without making a special effort to feel, and without having his thoughts particularly directed to his feelings. They arise spontaneously in connection with actions and events.

If his spirit has become one with God's spirit, then all he has to do is to feel as God feels; — which he does by a natural sympathy rather than by a constrained voluntary effort.  And so true is this, that God, operating by the gentle attractions, and by the ebbing and flowing of divine love, almost seems to take his place, and to feel for him.

He wills, it is further remarked by the writer just now referred to, “without willing.” That is to say, his will, freed from selfish impulses, and from the power of antecedent habits, operates so harmoniously with the Universal Will, that the two wills, not physically, but morally, are made one. And he wills as if another willed in his stead.

And is not a man who thus thinks without thinking, feels without feeling, and wills without willing, by the loss of his own thoughts, feelings, and volitions, in the thoughts, affections, and purposes of God, — is not such a man truly characterized by simplicity of spirit? It is sometimes said of the truly renovated and sanctified man, that he has become a child. And it may well be asked, who is or can be more a child than the man we have just described? The child thinks as his father thinks, feels as his father feels, wills as his father wills. And it is this, much more than his physical likeness, which makes him the true child. He is sometimes taunted with that which constitutes his true honor, namely, that he dares not think for himself, nor feel nor will for himself, but that he is just as his father is. The child of God, also, is just as his Father is. It is this, more than anything else, which makes him the true child. And as the Father establishes, or makes Providence, the child harmonizes with Providence; and it is much the same thing to say, that he is the child of Providence, and to say that he is the child of God. In either case, he is a child, and a child is SIMPLE; that is to say, he has that simplicity of spirit, which makes him think, feel, and will, as another thinks, feels, and wills. In his simplicity, not knowing which way to direct his steps, he goes as he is led. God leads him. From the hand of God's providence he receives his daily food. The same Providence which leads him, feeds him. All things and all events are his teachers, because God is in them. He BELIEVES, and God takes care of him.

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

Monday, May 4, 2015

No Plans But Those Suggested by God's Providences

The simple man, being in harmony with God's will, forms no plans and enters upon no schemes, except such as are suggested by God's providences.

Whatever general plans he forms, (and it ought to be added, in passing, that he is always deliberate and cautious in making such plans,) they are all subordinate to the suggestions and orders of the great providential Power. He may be said, therefore, to be a man moved as he is moved upon; —  not so much a man without motion, as one whose motion or action evolves itself in connection with a higher motion. His action, spontaneous and morally responsible, is nevertheless consentingly and harmoniously regulated by a higher arrangement, antecedently made. Providence is not a thing accidental, but eternal. The events which are involved in it are letters, which describe the Everlasting Will. The holy man's will, therefore, operating by its own law of action, and secured in the possession of a just moral freedom, moves in the superintendence and harmony of a  higher, better, and unchangeable will.

To him the world, in all its movements, is full of God. It is a great ocean, never at rest, flowing in different directions, though always at unity with itself. And as each drop of the natural ocean, without ceasing to be a drop, flows on as a part of and in harmony with the great billows, so is he, freely leaving his will to the Impulse of a higher will, moved on in harmony with the great sea of Providence.

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

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Simplicity of Spirit

There is a state of mind which is properly expressed by the phrase  SIMPLICITY OF SPIRIT. It is a state of mind simplified; —  that is to say, a state which is prompted in its views and actions by the  simple or single motive of God's will, instead of being led in various directions and multiplied,  as it were, by worldly motives, such as pride, pleasure, anger, honor, riches and the like. Being one in its controlling element, having its thought, its feeling, and its action subjected to the domination of a single principle, it cannot be multiplied. Like the law of gravitation in the natural world, it is not only one and undivided in itself, but always tends to one and the same center.

Such simplicity is aided, in being carried into action, by the providential law. The multiplied man is full of worldly schemes. The  simple  man, being in harmony with God's will, forms no plans and enters upon no schemes, except such as are suggested by God's providences. And the consequence is, that he ceases from all those anxious forecastings and calculations, which result from a worldly spirit. As he receives what God now gives, and does not wish to receive anything else; so he does what God now requires him to do, without wishing to do otherwise. Everyday, made up of its various incidents and events, constitutes a map, on which Providence has drawn the path which he is to pursue. As each coming hour unrolls this map before his eye of faith, and before his heart of love, he promptly takes his position, step by step, without knowing at each moment where he shall be, and what he shall do, in the next moment.

It is obvious, therefore, that it is not possible for him to lay down future plans, or to make any such calculations, to be carried into effect at a future time, as have a fixed and absolute character. So far as he exercises what may be termed a prudent foresight, and forms plans of future action, it is always done in subjection to the developments of Providence.

The worldly man, in the independence of a worldly spirit, says he will do this or that, whatever it may be, which is most pleasing to him. He will go to some distant city, to Jerusalem, to Athens, to Rome, to London, and bring many things to pass. But the man who is possessed of a holy simplicity of spirit,  true to the inscrutable law of Providence, is like a little child. Without excluding a prudential foresight, which is always conditional in its applications, he says, I will go to the designated place, if the Lord wills; or I will do this or that, if the Lord wills.  And it cannot be doubted, if this condition of action is not always expressed, it is at least always implied.

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

Friday, May 1, 2015

Stay Under the Process of Divine Excision

Neither the garden of providence nor that of nature can do its work, unless the seed which is planted remain quiet in its position. If the material seed, under the pretense that a moister or drier, a richer or poorer, soil is better, or for any other reason, is removed from place to place, the processes of nature are hindered, re-production does not take effect. So, if the soul of man, when it is planted in the midst of God's providence, does not remain quiet under the divine operation, but, before its coats of selfishness can be displaced, moves off in its blind and dead life into what it considers a better soil, it cannot be born into the true and living life. The hand of the great Master, operating by its prescribed laws, will always perfectly accomplish its purpose, if the subject upon which it operates will remain fixed and steady to the process, but not otherwise.

One stroke of God's providence, perhaps by destroying a man's barn or ship, will remove the coat of inordinate desire of possession. Another stroke of the same providence, perhaps by unfolding some act of human treachery, will strike off and destroy the corrupting envelope of inordinate desire for human applause. Another blow, coming in another direction, by disappointing and destroying some lofty and cherished expectations, will separate and remove from the soul the destroying adhesions of a wicked ambition. And thus every inordinate propensity and passion may be smitten and removed one after another, until the principle of love, which had been enchained by the tyranny of lust, disenthralled from this heavy oppression, returns at last, and finds its center in God.

Stay, therefore, son of man, under the process of the divine excision. Remain in the union of time and place, however painful it may be, until God shall bring thee into the union of disposition. If he smites thee, it is  only that he may heal. If the dead limb is cut off, it is only that a new one may be grafted in. If, like the seed  in the earth, thy spirit must be planted in the dark­ness of the burial place, it will find an angel in the tomb, who will burst its prison house. If thou must be brought down, and crucified, and perish in the dead Adam, it is only that thou mayst be re-produced, and elevated, and made joyful in the living Jesus.

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

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Lord's Spiritual Garden

Providence, considered as the divine arrangement of things in relation to men, is the Lord's spiritual garden. It is to the spiritual growth what the earth is to the germination and growth of material products. If it be true, that the earth is the appointed instrumentality, through which and by which the seeds of things grow up, it is not the less true, though it may be less obvious, that the arrangements of Providence, spread out in the wide and variegated surface of things and events, constitute, in like manner, the instrumentality, the receptive and productive medium, in which the seed of the spiritual life is to be planted, to germinate and perfect itself.

The analogy is not limited to the productive medium. It extends to that which is produced, and also to the manner of production. The seed, which is planted in the earth, is a dead seed. So man's soul, when it is first cast into the soil of God's providence, is a dead seed. They are both alike dead, the material seed and the seed of immortality.

But neither the ground of nature nor that of providence, into which they are first received, would of itself alone reproduce them to a new life. To the natural seed, when planted in the earth, there must be applied the rain and the sunshine before it can be decomposed, incorporated with new elements, and vivified with new life and beauty. The earth, operating in connection with these exterior helps, takes off and removes the outer coats of the seed, until it reaches the central principle, which had been encrusted and shut out from all the benign influences of the sun and atmosphere, and with its fostering care rears it up from its embryo of existence to its developed and beautiful perfection. In like manner, when the seed of man's immortal spirit is planted in the midst of God's providences, it is not till the influences of the Holy Spirit are applied, that it is decomposed, if we may so express it, by a separation of the good and evil, and the eternal element, deprived of life by reason of sin, is made alive in the spiritual regeneration.

The analogy in the two cases is a very close one. The encircling system of providential arrangements, operating in connection with the aiding energy of God's Spirit, removes coat after coat of that selfishness which had enveloped and paralyzed every faculty; and reaching at last the central element of the soul, the principle of love, which had suffered this dreadful perversion, it restores it to that life, light, and beauty, from which it had wickedly fallen.

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

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Localities of Heaven and Hell

The Scriptures assert the doctrine of a local heaven, and also of a local hell. But  it  is not the locality or place which constitutes either the one or the other. Supreme love to God is the element or constituting principle of heaven. And nothing more is wanted than its opposite, viz., supreme selfishness, to lay the foundation of all the disorder and misery of hell.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXIX.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Confession and Repentance

Confession of sin is an important duty; but there is no true confession of sin where there is not at the same time a turning away from it.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXVIII.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Singleness of Heart

The desires and affections should all converge and meet in the same center, viz., in  the love of God's will and glory. When this is the case,  we  experience true simplicity or singleness of heart. The opposite of this, viz., a mixed motive, partly from God and partly from the world, is what is described in the Scriptures as a double mind. The double minded man, or the man who is not in true simplicity of heart, walks in darkness and is unstable in all his ways. "If thine eye be SINGLE, thy whole body shall be full of light."

Religious Maxims (1846) CXVII.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Same Things, Different Character

A holy person often does the same things which are done by an unholy person, and yet, the things done in the two cases, though the same in themselves, are infinitely different in their character. The one performs them in the will of God, the other in the will of the creature.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXVI.