When, therefore, in examining the topics connected with religious experience, we speak of the death of the human will, we mean the human will considered in its action and its tendency to action, out of the divine order. It is the human will divergent, — resting in the origin of its movement on the limited and depraved basis of personal interest, and out of harmony with the will of God.
In the sense which has just been given, the human will, before it can have a higher and divine life, not only may die, but must die. Its death is not only possible but necessary. In its present life, if we may so express it, it has its principle of movement in motives which God cannot respect and approve; but, on the contrary, he disapproves and condemns them as inconsistent with the highest good of the universe. From such a will he is necessarily excluded.
It is impossible, therefore, that there should be any mitigation of its sentence; any pity or compromise whatever with its natural life. The hand of God himself, through the working of his unerring providences, nails it to the cross. It may exhibit much resistance; it may experience a painful and lingering death; with the nails driven through its hands and feet, it may plead that its bones may not be broken, and that its side may not be pierced; but no attention can, or ought to be given to its supplications.
The death of the will (that is to say, its death to the selfishness of nature) is the antecedent of its resurrection to holiness. In its resurrection love takes the place of selfishness. The will can no more be born into its new and divine life, and expand and flourish in its new beauty and maturity of love, before the extinction and death of its natural life of selfishness, than the spiritual body of the resurrection, adorned with immortal beauty, can come into existence before the death of the natural body. "That which thou sowest," says the apostle Paul, speaking of wheat and other grains, "is not quickened except it die." "So also," he adds, "is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body."
And these expressions, applied to the resurrection of the body, are applicable to the death and resurrection of the will. If it dies to all that is the opposite of God, it is made alive to all that has God in it. Dishonored and corrupted in its selfish nature, it perishes and is thrown lifeless into its burial place, until the spirit of God, brooding over and operating in its ruins, brings life out of death, and glory out of shame.
— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 4.