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 10, 2014

The Difference Between Love and Joy

Some persons, who are truly seeking the sanctifying power of assured faith and perfected love, and who suppose that they are seeking it in the right way, have nevertheless committed the dangerous error of confounding joy with love; and are in fact, without being fully aware of it, seeking after a state of highly joyful and rapturous excitement, instead of true love.  It  is to some mistake of this kind that the pious Lady Maxwell probably has reference, when she says, "The Lord has taught me, that it is by faith, and not JOY I must live." It seems to me, therefore, important, in order to understand the true foundation of the christian life, to draw the distinction between joy and love.

The distinction is very properly made in philosophical writers between Emotions and Desires; and that joy is to be regarded as an emotion, rather than a desire. Regarded as an emotive state of the mind, joy, like the emotions generally, naturally terminates in itself. That is to say, a person may be the subject of highly raised joyful emotions, and at the same time may remain inactive.  He may be wholly occupied with the ecstatic movement of his own feelings, and be destitute of thought, feeling, and action for others.— But the leading characteristic of love, that in particular which distinguishes it from mere joy, is the element of desire. It is the nature of love, as it is the nature of every thing else of which desire is the prominent element, not to stop or terminate in itself: but to lead to something else. And, furthermore, love, like other benevolent affections, is not only active in relation to others; but is active for the good of others. We have here, therefore, an important ground of distinction. If Christians were filled with joyful feelings merely, they might, being destitute of other principles of action, remain slothful at their own firesides, and see the world perish in their sins. But love, on the contrary, is sweetly and powerfully impulsive; and constrains us, especially if it be strong, to do good in every possible way to our fellow men. And hence the expression of the Apostle, "the love of Christ CONSTRAINETH us."

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

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