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, September 3, 2014

Do Not Depend Upon Signs

God does not design, that men in the present life should live by means of specific signs, testimonies, or manifestations, but by simple faith alone. The great design of the Gospel, in its practical and final result on man, seems to be to restore and firmly establish the lost principle of faith, as the true and only available basis of the religious life. And there seems to be a necessity that it should be so. From the nature of the case there never can be any true reconciliation and harmony between God and his creatures, until they can so far have confidence in him as to receive his declarations, and to draw their life, as it were, from the words, which have proceeded out of his mouth. In any other way of living, whatever may be the nature of their inward or outward experiences, they live at variance with the order and the plans of God; out of the line of his precepts, and of course in the same degree out of the range of his blessings. And hence it is, that we find the remarkable expressions of the Savior to the doubting disciple. "Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed. Blessed are they that have NOT seen, and yet have believed."

And we desire here, as a matter of some importance, to lay down a practical test or rule on this subject. It is this. Whenever we desire a specific experience, whether inward or outward, whether of the intellect or the affections, [prior] to the exercise of faith, we are necessarily in so doing seeking a sign, or testimony, or something, whatever we may choose to call it, additional to the mere declaration and word of God. There is obviously a lingering distrust in the mind, which jostles us out of the line of God's order; which is not satisfied with his way of bringing the world into reconciliation with himself; and under the influence of which we are looking round for some new and additional witness for our faith to rest upon. In other words, although we may not be fully conscious of it, we desire a sign. In the language of the experienced Mr. Fletcher of Madely, "we want to see our own faith," a state of mind, which, as it requires sight to see our faith with, in other words a basis of faith additional to that which God has already given, is necessarily inconsistent with and destructive of faith. This simple test will aid very much, in revealing to us the true state of our hearts.

The Interior of Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 11.

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