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.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Love Goes Before, Joy Comes After

The love of God, as it exists in the minds of those who are his devoted followers, always inquires after his will. It does not ask after ease, pleasure, reward; nor, on the other hand, does it ask after trial, suffering, and contempt; it merely asks after the Father's will. Its language is that of the Savior, when he says, "Lo, I come to do thy will, O God." And as in common life we think much of a person that is beloved, and desire his favor and approbation; so in regard to God, if we truly love him, he will be very much in our thoughts, and his approbation and favor will be to us of great price. If he is the highest object of our love, we shall desire no higher happiness than that of constant communion with him, and of being always united to him by oneness of will. Thus we may be said to be in him, and he in us; and that eternal rest of the soul, which constitutes the true heaven, will be commenced here. Then we shall have the true joy, calm, deep, unchangeable. Love goes before; joy comes after. Love is the principle of action; joy is the reward. In the spiritual tree of life, love is the nutritive sap, the permeating and invigorating power, that flows through the body and the soul of man; joy is one of its beautiful fruits and flowers. If, therefore, love is strong, joy will never fail us. But, on the other hand, if love is wanting, there can be no joy, except that joy of the world, which worketh death.

If we are truly sanctified to the Lord, in other words, if we love God with all our hearts, our course as Christians will be a consistent and stable one. Our rule of action will be the will of God; our principle of action will be the love of God. And as the will of God is fixed, and is made known to us in various ways, especially in his holy Word, we shall endeavor to fulfill it at all times humbly and faithfully, without regard to those temporary and changing feelings which too often perplex the religious life.

In the state of mind which has been spoken of, we shall not fail of any consolation which is needful for us. It belongs to the very nature of desire, that, when the desire is gratified, we are more or less happy. Accordingly in exercising love to God, the leading element of which is desire, and in doing and suffering his holy will, in accordance with such desire, we cannot be otherwise than happy in a considerable degree. If we seek joy or happiness as an ultimate object, we cannot fail, on religious principles, to miss of it. If, under the promptings of love, we seek merely to do and suffer the will of God, we shall certainly, except in those cases, where God, by a special act of sovereignty, withdraws consolation in order to try our faith, possess all that consolation, which will be needful. And in the case which has just been mentioned, if our faith, still trusting in the beloved object, sustains the terrible shock of apparent desertion, (as when our Savior exclaimed, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?") we shall soon find abundant consolation returning.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 14.

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