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, October 10, 2014

The Affections and the Will Must Also be Subject to God

There are mental susceptibilities, which, on account of their being subsequent in the time of their action, may be described as laying back of the emotive part of the mind, as truly as the emotions can be said to lay back of the intellectual part. In making this remark, we have especial reference to the desires in their various modifications, particularly those modifications which are denominated the affections, and to the will.

Any religion, or rather pretense of religion, which is not powerful enough to penetrate into this region of the mind, and to bring the affections and will into subjection to God, is in vain. It is an important fact, and as melancholy as it is true, that a person may be spiritually enlightened and have new views on the subject of religion, and that he may also have very raised and joyful emotions, and yet may be a slave to his natural desires. He has not experienced what every one must experience, who would enter into communion with the Divine Mind, viz. the death of nature. He loves the things of the world more than the things of God.

Many, very many, are the instances, which can verify this remark. As the result of their intellectual illumination, the persons, to whom these statements will apply, are undoubtedly in advance of what they were previously, and are able to talk fluently on the subject of religion. And in consequence of some premature application of the Savior's merits to their own case, they can speak of pleasures and of hopes, which they never before experienced. But only urge upon them the necessity of self-crucifixion; only touch the idols which they cherish in their inner heart; and they discover at once the dominion which the world has over them still. God has not become the life of the soul. At a proposition, so necessary to the life of God and so repugnant to the life of nature, the spirit of untamed and almost unmitigated evil, which reposed so closely and secretly in their bosoms, will start into existence with features of opposition and malignity, altogether at variance with the peace and purity of a holy heart.

We may probably discover in these principles the reason, why it is, that, in times of especial religious attention, so many persons, who appeared to be much engaged in religion for a season, subsequently lose their interest, and become, both in practice and feeling, assimilated to the world. Such persons are undoubtedly the subjects of an inward experience; and this experience, in common parlance, is frequently called a religious experience; but it is obviously defective in the essential particular of not having a root. "But he, that received the word into stony places, the same is he, that heareth the word, and anon with joy, receiveth it. Yet hath he not root in himself."

Notwithstanding their increased ability and readiness to converse on the subject of religion, and the exhibitions which they make of emotion, sometimes of high emotion, they do not understand what it is to place themselves a living sacrifice upon the divine altar. They do not appreciate, and still less do they realize in their own hearts and lives, the "all of God and nothing of the creature."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 16.

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