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, December 28, 2013

Oh, What a Fearful Thing It Is

Oh,  what a fearful thing it is,
That, from the better way,
Attracted by illusive bliss,
We love to go astray.

At first we slightly turn aside,
Nor think to travel long,
But  more and more we wander wide,
And, more and more go wrong.

Oh, poor and erring wanderer, stay!
Nor thus forsake thy God;
With hasty step regain the way
Thine earlier footsteps trod.

Oh, happy he, who loves to weep
With penitential tears,
And thus has strength divine to keep
His path in coming years.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Saturday, December 21, 2013


"Be ye angry and sin not." The life of our Savior, as well as the precepts of the apostles, clearly teaches us, that there may be occasions, on which we may have feelings of displeasure, and even of anger, without sin. Sin does not necessarily attach to anger, considered in its nature, but in its degree. Nevertheless, anger seldom exists in fact, without becoming in its measurement inordinate and excessive. Hence it is important to watch against it, lest we be led into transgression. Make it a rule therefore, never to give any outward expressions to angry feelings, (a course which will operate as a powerful check upon their excessive action,) until you have made them the subject of reflection and prayer. And thus you may hope to be kept.

— from Religious Maxims (1846), VII.

Friday, December 20, 2013

As Coming From a Father's Hand

Do not think it strange, when troubles and persecutions come upon you. Rather receive them quietly and thankfully, as coming from a Father's hand. Yea, happy are ye, if, in the exercise of faith, you can look above the earthly instrumentality, above the selfishness and malice of men, to him who has permitted them for your good. Thus persecuted they the Savior and the prophets.

— from Religious Maxims (1846) VI.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiness is Required of All

Holiness, as the term has now been explained, in other words, pure and perfect love, is required of all persons. We do not esteem it necessary to delay and repeat all the passages, in which the requisition is made. It is written very plainly upon all parts of the Bible, from the beginning to the end of it. “But as he, which hath called you, is holy,” says the apostle Peter, “so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, be ye holy, for I am holy.” All, therefore, which we have to say further at the present time is this: Those, who aim at the possession of the Hidden Life, who wish to walk with God and to hold communion with him in the interior man, as a friend converses with a friend, will find these glorious results impossible to them, except on the condition of HOLINESS OF HEART. So long as they indulge voluntarily in any known sin, they erect a wall of separation between themselves and their heavenly Father; and he cannot and will not take them into his bosom, and reveal to them the hidden secrets of his love. They must stand far off; we do not say that they are utterly rejected; but they occupy the position of their own selection; obscure and perplexed in their own experience, and darkness and perplexity to all around them.

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Nature of Christian Perfection

What, then, ... is the nature of Christian perfection, or of that holiness, which, as fallen and as physically and intellectually imperfect creatures, we are imperatively required and expected to exercise; and to exercise not merely in the “article of death,” but at the present moment and during every succeeding moment of our lives? It is on a question of this nature, if on any one which can possibly be proposed to the human understanding, that we must go to the Bible; and must humbly receive, irrespective of human suggestions and human opinions, the answer which the word of God gives. Happily for us, and happily for the world, this question is answered by the Savior himself; and in such a way as to leave the subject clear and satisfactory to humble and candid minds. When the Savior was asked, Which is the great commandment in the Law, he answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:37–39. And it is in accordance with the truth, involved in this remarkable passage, that the apostle asserts, Romans 13:10, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.”

He, therefore, who loves God with his whole heart and his neighbor as himself, although his state may in some incidental respects be different from that of Adam, and especially from that of the angels in heaven, and although he may be the subject of involuntary imperfections and infirmities, which, in consequence of his relation to Adam, require confession and atonement, is, nevertheless, in the gospel sense of the terms, a holy or sanctified person. He has that love, which is the “fulfilling of the law.” He bears the image of Christ. It is true, he may not have that physical or intellectual perfection which the Savior had; but he bears his moral image. And of such an one can it be said in the delightful words of the Saviour, John 14:23: “If a man love me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."

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

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Human Infirmity Requires an Atonement

All mere physical infirmities, which originate in our fallen condition, but which necessarily prevent our doing for God what we should otherwise do; and also all unavoidable errors and imperfections of judgment, which in their ultimate causes result from sin, (we have reference here to Adam’s sin) require an atonement. It seems to be clear, that God constituted the human race on the principle of an unity, or perhaps more precisely, of a close connection, of obligations and interests; linking together man with man, as with bands of iron, in the various civil, social, and domestic relations. And in consequence of the existence of the great connective laws of nature, (laws which our own judgments and consciences alike approve,) it seems to be the case, that we may sometimes justly suffer, in our own persons, results which are of a punitive kind, although in their source flowing from the evil conduct of others rather than our own. And hence it is that the head of a family ordinarily does not sin, without affecting the happiness of its members. Nor does any member of the family ordinarily sin without involving others in the consequences of the transgression. Nor does the head of a community, or of a State, or of any other associated body, commit errors and crimes without a diffusion of the attendant misery through the subordinate parts of the association. In other words, an union or association of relations and interests, whether it be established by ourselves or by that higher Being with whose wisdom we ought ever to be satisfied, necessarily induces a common liability to error, suffering, and punishment.

And in accordance with this view, we may very properly, sincerely, and deeply mourn over those various infirmities and imperfections, which flow out of our connection with an erring and fallen parent, although they are very different in their nature from deliberate and voluntary transgressions; and may with deep humility make application to the blood of Christ, as alone possessing that atoning efficacy, which can wash their stains away. In other words, God is to be regarded as righteous in exacting from us whatever we could or might have rendered him if Adam had not fallen, and if the race had remained holy. Nevertheless he has mercifully seen fit to remit or forgive all these involuntary sins, more commonly and perhaps more justly called imperfections or trespasses, if we will but cordially accept of the atonement in the blood of Christ. But without the shedding of blood and confession, there is no more remission in this case than in any other. It is probably in reference to such imperfections or trespasses, rather than to sins of a deliberate and voluntary nature, that some good people speak of the moral certainty or necessity we are under of sinning all the time. If such is all their meaning, it is not very necessary to dispute with them.

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

Monday, December 16, 2013

Present Holiness Is Not the Holiness of Heaven

The holiness which, in accordance with the principles of the gospel, is required to be exercised in the present life, differs in some respects from the holiness or sanctification of a future life. It is important to add, however, that it does not differ in its nature; but only in some of its accessories or incidents. In its nature holiness ever will be, and ever must be the same; but it may differ in some of the attendant circumstances or incidents, under which it exists. One of the particulars of an accessory or incidental character, in which the holiness of the future life may be regarded as differing from that of the present, is, that it is not liable, by any possibility whatever, to any interruption or suspension. No physical infirmity, no weariness or perplexity, of body or of mind, nothing will ever, even for a moment, either vitiate or weaken the purity of its exercises. The spiritual body, which constitutes the residence of the soul in its heavenly state, accelerates and perfects its operations, instead of retarding and perplexing them; so that its purity is always unstained, its joy always full, the song of its worship always new.

Another ground of difference between the sanctification or holiness of the present and that of the future life is to be found in the circumstance, that in the present life we are subject to perpetual and heavy temptations. No one, however advanced in religious experience, is wholly exempt from them. On the contrary, persons, who are the most holy, often endure temptations of the severest kind. But it is not so in the heavenly world. In that happier place the contest ceases forever. There is not only no sin, and no possibility of sinning; but no temptation to sin. While, therefore, we hold to the possibility of a freedom from actual voluntary transgression in this life, it ought to be understood that we do not hold to a freedom from temptation. So that we may speak of the continuance of the spiritual warfare in the present life, as a matter of necessity, but not of the continuance of sin as a matter of necessity.

— Edited from The Interior of Hidden Life (1844), Chapter 2.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Holiness Does Not Imply Perfect Knowledge

Evangelical or gospel holiness does not necessarily imply a perfection of the intellect, either in its perceptive or in its comparing and judging powers. The perfection of the intellectual action depends in part on the perfection of physical action; on the perfection, for instance, of the organs of sense, the organs of the sight, hearing, and touch. But in our present fallen condition, it is well known that these and other physical instrumentalities, which have a greater or less connection with the mental action, are greatly disordered. And the natural and necessary consequence of this state of things will be a degree of perplexity and obscurity in such mental action. And such is the connection of the powers of the mind, one with another, that an erroneous action in one part of the mind will be likely to lay the foundation for a degree of erroneous action in some other part. Hence in the present life a perfect knowledge of things, either in themselves or in their relations, may be regarded in the light of a physical impossibility. And such perfect knowledge, in which there is not the least possible mistake or error, does not appear to be required of us in the gospel, as a necessary condition of holiness and of acceptance with God.

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

Friday, December 13, 2013

Holiness Does Not Imply Physical Perfection

The holiness, which Christ requires in his people, and which, in order to distinguish it from Adamic perfection, is sometimes designated as evangelical or gospel holiness, does not necessarily imply a perfection of the physical system. Adam, before his fall, was a perfect man physically as well as mentally. His senses were sound; his limbs symmetrical; his muscular powers uninjured; and in all merely corporeal or physical respects, we may reasonably suppose, that he possessed all that could be desired. But this is not our present condition. Far from it. In consequence of the fall of Adam, we inherit bodies that are subject to various weaknesses and infirmities. Many are called, in the Providence of God, to endure a great degree of suffering through the whole course of their days. These weaknesses and infirmities, which are often the source of great perplexity and suffering, are natural to us. To a considerable extent at least, we cannot prevent their coming; nor, when they have come, can we, by any mere voluntary acts, send them away. We admit, therefore, if gospel holiness necessarily implies physical perfection, that none can be holy. But this is not the case.

— from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844).

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Need to Believe That Holiness is Attainable

It becomes a very important inquiry, whether holiness, in any strict and proper sense of that term, is something attainable in the present life. Among other reasons it is important to be able to answer properly this question, because, unless we believe in the attainableness of holiness, we shall not be likely, such are the laws of the human mind, to attain it. Perhaps we may say, that without this belief it will be impossible to attain it. And without holiness, without a heart thoroughly purified from the stains of voluntary transgression, we may be assured that we shall not enter into the secrets of the Most High; the Hidden Life will be hidden to us: and there will be many things in the Christian’s privileges, more precious than rubies, which will never, in the present state of being, come within the range of our experience.

— from The Interior of Hidden Life (1844), Chapter 2.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Holiness in This Life

The Gospel evidently contemplates, in the case of every individual, a progress from the incipient condition of mere forgiveness and acceptance, immensely important as it is, to the higher state of interior renovation and sanctification throughout. The Apostle appears to have reference to this onward progress of the soul in the expressions he employs in the commencement of the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. “Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith towards God; of the doctrine of baptism and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit.” What direction, then, shall we take? What course shall we pursue, that we may rise above the merely initiatory principles and feelings of the gospel life, and enjoy the delightful privilege of walking in close and uninterrupted communion with God? In answer to this general inquiry we remark, that the first and indispensable prerequisite is HOLINESS OF HEART. It is generally supposed, that God may exhibit pity and pardon to those in whom there still exist some relics and stains of inward corruption; in other words, that those, may be forgiven or pardoned, who are not entirely sanctified. But those, who would walk acceptably with their Maker, who would receive from him his secret communications and enjoy the hidden embraces of his love, must see to it, first of all, that they are pure in heart; that they have a present, as well as a prospective salvation; in other words, that they are holy.

We are aware, that, in the view of some, this condition of realizing the full life of God in the soul is an impracticable one. They regard holiness in this life, as a thing unattainable; or, what seems to me to be practically the same view, as a thing never attained. The persons, to whom we now allude, seem to look upon holiness as a sort of intangible abstraction, as something placed high and remotely in the distance, as designed to be realized by angels and by the just made perfect in heaven, but situated far beyond mere human acquisition. Hence it is, that followed and scourged by an inward condemnation, they remain in the condition of servants, and do not cheerfully and boldly take that of sons. They wander about, oftentimes led captive by Satan, in the low grounds of the gospel life, amid marshes and tangled forests; and do not ascend into the pleasant hills and that emblematical land of Beulah, where are spicy breezes and perpetual sunshine.

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

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Think Not that Nothing Can be Done

Think not that nothing can be done, because thou art little in the eyes of the world. The result does not depend upon what thou art in the world, but upon what thou art in God. It is God only, who is the source of all good. Various are the instruments he employs. He selects them, and he places them in the appropriate situations to be used by him. The power, whether it be more or less, is not in the instrument, in itself considered, but in God, who selects and locates it. In a multitude of instances has the declaration of the apostle been illustrated, that God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things which are mighty (1 Cor 1:27). A man of faith and prayer, however humble his situation in life, may yet have influence enough to affect the destiny of nations.

— from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851).

Monday, December 9, 2013

At War with Providence

There are exceptions, it is true, but not enough to reverse, or to modify essentially the assertion, that man is at war with Providence.

In this state of things it is obviously impossible that there should be peace or happiness. The divine harmony is broken. Man, in being by his selfishness antagonistical to God and God's arrangements, is necessarily antagonistical to his neighbor. Place is at war with place, and feeling with feeling. Judgment is arrayed against judgment, because false and conflicting judgments necessarily grow out of the soil of perverted affections. On every side are the outcries of passion, the competitions of interest, and the crush of broken hearts.

Shall it always be so? The remedy, and the only remedy, is an adherence to the law of Providence. Renounce man's wisdom, and seek that of God. Subject the human to the divine. Harmonize the imperfect thoughts and purposes of the creature with the wisdom of the Eternal Will.

— from A Treatise on Divine Union.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Living by the Moment

We see, further, that the doctrine of LIVING BY THE MOMENT, which is the doctrine generally adopted by persons who have had deep experience in holy living, has a real and permanent foundation and ought to be universally received and put in practice. No man lives well, who lives out of the will of God. No man lives in the will of God, who anticipates the divine moment or moment of actual duty, by making up a positive decision before it arrives, or by delaying a decision until after its departure. We must meet God there, and stand in his will there, or meet him no where, and stand out of his will every where. If, therefore, we would live in the will of God, we must conform to that beautiful and sacred order, in which his will is made known. In other words, if it is our sincere desire to live in the divine will, it seems to follow that we must live by the moment.

— from The Life of Faith (1852)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Harmonizing With Our Maker

Man's moral agency, when he exists in full union with God, either in his original creation or in his restoration to God through Christ, is felt, not so much in guiding himself as in harmonizing with God's guidance; — not so much in originating knowledge and holy affections, as in rejecting all confidence in himself and accepting God as his teacher: — in a word, not so much in willing or purposing to do whatever he may be called to do by an independent action, as in ceasing from everything which is not God, and in desiring and willing to let God work in him.

At the same time it is true, that God, in thus taking possession of the mind and becoming its inspiration, harmonizes with the mind, not less really than the mind harmonizes with himself; namely, by originating thought, feeling, and purpose, through the medium of their appropriate mental susceptibilities and laws.

It is thus that God, acting upon the basis of man's free consent, becomes the life of the soul; and as such he establishes the principle of faith, inspires true knowledge, gives guidance to the will, and harmonizes the inward dispositions with the facts of outward providence. In a word, God becomes the Giver, and man the happy recipient. God guides, and man has no desire or love but to follow him.

From that important moment, which may well be called the crisis of his destiny, man, without ceasing to be morally responsible, harmonizes with his Maker. 

— from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851).

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Spirit of Watchfulness

Be not disheartened because the eye of the world is constantly and earnestly fixed upon you, to detect your errors and to rejoice in your halting. But rather regard this state of things, trying though it may be, as one of the safeguards, which a kind Father has placed around you to keep alive in your own bosom an antagonist spirit of watchfulness, and to prevent those very mistakes and transgressions, which your enemies eagerly anticipate.

— from Religious Maxims (1846), V.

Silence When Attacked

Be silent when blamed and reproached unjustly, and under such circumstances that the reproachful and injurious person will be likely, under the influence of his own reflections, to discover his error and wrong speedily. Instead of replying, receive the injurious treatment with humility and calmness; and He, in whose name you thus suffer, will reward you with inward consolation, while He sends the sharp arrow of conviction into the heart of your adversary.

— from Religious Maxims (1846), IV.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Prayerful State of Mind

In whatever you are called upon to do, endeavor to maintain a calm, collected, and prayerful state of mind. Self-recollection is of great importance. "It  is good for a man to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." He, who is in what may be called a spiritual hurry, or rather who runs without having evidence of being spiritually sent, makes haste to no purpose.

— from Religious Maxims (1846), III.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Seek Holiness, Not Consolation

Seek holiness rather than consolation. Not that consolation is to be despised, or thought lightly of; but solid and permanent consolation is the result rather than the forerunner of holiness; therefore he, who seeks consolation as a distinct and independent object, will miss it. Seek and possess holiness, and consolation, (not perhaps often in the form of ecstatic and rapturous joys, but rather of solid and delightful peace,) will follow, as assuredly as warmth follows the dispensation of the rays of the sun. He, who is holy, must be happy.

— from Religious Maxims (1846), II.