— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 13.
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.
Monday, September 8, 2014
Self Love Is Subordinate to Love for God
We love ourselves, only as we love God. In other words, if we love God with perfect love, the love of ourselves will be subordinated and restricted by the controlling desire, THAT GOD MAY BE GLORIFIED IN US. We can seek nothing, desire nothing, love nothing for ourselves, but what is subordinate to and has a tendency to God's glory. So that the love of self, whatever it may be, is merged and purified in the encircling and absorbing love of God. The love of our neighbor is properly measured, on the principles of the Scriptures, by the love of ourselves. And as we can love ourselves only in subordination to God's will and glory; so we can love our neighbor only in the same manner and the same degree. In other words both the love of ourselves and of our neighbor are only rills and drops from the mighty waters of love to God. And on the supposition, that we are filled with the love of God, the love of our neighbor flows out from the great fountain of divine love, in the various channels and in the degree which God chooses, as easily and as naturally, as a stream flows from its lake in the mountains over the meadows and valleys below. There is no need of effort. Only let God in his providence furnish the occasion; and in a moment the heart will open, and the streams will gush out. Hence the remarks, which are found in various places of the writings of Augustine, Thauler, and Fenelon to this effect, (and some eminent theologians of this country appear decidedly to favor this view,) that the love of God is capable of animating and regulating all those affections, which we owe to his creatures, that the true manner of loving our neighbor, is to love him in and for God; and that we never love him so purely and so much, as when we love him in this way.