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.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sinful Desires

The tendency of temptations, in some instances, is, to bring feelings into existence, which, under the circumstances of the case, are wrong in the very fact of their existence, wrong in their very nature, and which therefore ought not to exist at all. The temptation, by a special concurrence of circumstances, or through the well calculated influence of Satanic agency, is precisely adapted to that particular wrong result. And if the feeling, appropriate to the temptation, exists, not only in a degree inordinate and irregular, but if it exists at all, it is sin.

Our Savior was at a certain time tempted by having the kingdoms and wealth of this world presented before him, obviously with the view of their being desired and possessed by him as a means of personal aggrandizement and enjoyment; but we suppose we give the general sentiment of Christians and of biblical interpreters, in saying, that the temptation went no further, and under the circumstances of the case could innocently go no further, than the thoughts. It had no effect upon the Savior's desires or will; that is to say, it secured no pleased and consentient action; but was instantly rejected. The temptation presented to the Savior at the same time, to throw himself down from the temple, is equally appropriate and decisive, considered as an illustration of the present subject. It could hardly be considered less than a proposition under a very specious pretext to commit himself immediately and fully into the hands of Satan, instead of remaining in the will and under the government of God. Considered intellectually, or rather in reference to the intellect, there is no doubt that the temptation was distinctly perceived and appreciated in itself and in its relations. Without this it could hardly be regarded as a temptation. But it seems very obvious, that it found no entrance into the heart; and the only action, which it did or could produce, in such a pure spirit as the Savior's, was that of decided resistance, resulting in its instant rejection.

The incipient and what may be called, in the cases we are now considering, the innocent stage of the temptation, is, when the object, which embodies the temptation or is the medium of temptation, is first presented to us intellectually; that is to say, in our mere thoughts or perceptions; and is there perceived and known, not only as an object, but as an object of temptation. If it stops at the limit of the intellectual action, and does not enter into the heart and the will, there is no sin. It is obviously necessary in all cases of temptation, that the object should exist first in this manner, viz. intellectually; in other words that it should exist in the thoughts, or be perceived and thought of. Without this, viz. the perceived or intellective presence of the object, it is entirely clear, that there could not possibly be any such thing as temptation. But, as has been observed, the temptation may exist to this extent, and may be perceived and felt by us so far to exist without sin.

Temptations, limited in their results to the intellectual action, and which do not in any degree take effect in the desires, could not properly be considered temptations, without the physical or natural possibility of a further and sinful action of the mind, without an internal conviction of that possibility, and perhaps we may add, without a distinct sense of danger. Hence, when temptations of this particular character are presented, although they do not take effect in the desires, they are both perceived and felt to be temptations; that is to say, there is a clear perception of their true character, both in themselves and in relation to certain possible results. And in addition to this, there appears to be an instinctive and prompt alarm of the sensitive and moral nature. The desires and affections are not inert and dormant, as some may perhaps suppose; neither are the conscience and the will; but all seem to be penetrated with the sense of imminent hazard, and are thrown into the conscious attitude of repellancy.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 19.

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