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, September 5, 2014

Love to our Neighbor and to All Beings

We proceed now to the consideration ... of love to our neighbor, and of created and inferior beings in general. And the first proposition, which we lay down is this. If our love to God be disinterested and pure, and at the same time exist in a degree suitable to the object, viz. in the highest degree, then all other love, and the love of all other creatures will be entirely subordinate to this, and will exist only in relation to it. If we possess pure and perfect love to God, we shall perfectly sympathize with Him in his love towards whatever He has made; and shall, according to our capacity, love just as He does. Our love will naturally, and perhaps we may say of necessity, flow in the same channel. And whatever things He takes an interest in, whether material or immaterial, whether of greater or less consequence, will possess precisely the same interest for us, so far as we possess an equal knowledge of their nature and an equal capacity of love. The devout recollection of the great Architect will impart a degree of sacredness and value to whatever is the work of his hands. In his woods, his rivers, his mountains, his burnished sky and his boundless ocean, we shall see the indistinct reflection of himself, and join to our perception of beauty in the object a still higher admiration of the wisdom and goodness of its Maker. We shall recognize in the birds of the air, in the cattle of the verdant hills, and even in the heedless insect that hums around our path, the agency of Him, who doeth all things well. And we shall feel here, as in other things, that we can never be indifferent to any thing, which our Heavenly Father has made and takes an interest in.

As we rise in the scale of beings to those, which have a rational and moral nature, to those, who are kindred in race and are perhaps kindred by the nearer relationship of family ties, we shall experience the exercise of love on the same principle. We do not deny, that we shall be susceptible of a natural love. We know that we shall be. But what we mean to say is, that our love, whether purely natural and founded on the relations we sustain to the object, or whether an acquired love and resting wholly upon the deliberate perception of its amiable qualities, will be perfectly subordinate to the love of God and will be regulated by it. It  would perhaps be a concise expression of the fact to say, whatever specific modifications our love may assume under the operation of natural causes, that we shall love all things IN AND FOR GOD. And if we are required in the first instance to love God with ALL our heart, it does not clearly appear when we fulfill the divine requisition, how we can love our neighbor or anything else in any other way than this.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 13.

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