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, May 31, 2014

The Inward Before the Outward

It  is a most dangerous mistake to suppose that we can compensate, by exterior acts, however important they may be, for a want of interior devotion.  Men may even minister at the altar, with all the outward eloquence of a Massillon, and yet with hearts full of unbelief. A want of a right or perfect state of the outward action may expose us to the condemnation of men; but an imperfection of the inward or spiritual action exposes us to the condemnation of God. If we can please both God and men, it is well; but above all things, let us not fail to please God, who, in opposition to the course which men usually take, regards the inward principle much more than the mere outward development of it.

Religious Maxims (1846) LXVI.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Faithfulness in the Common Things

If we would walk perfectly before God, we must endeavor to do common things, such as are of every day's occurrence, and of but small account in the eyes of the world, in a perfect manner. Some persons are so mentally constituted, that they could more easily undergo the sufferings of martyrdom, than properly regulate and control their feelings in their families during twenty-four hours. How dreadful is that delusion, which excuses itself in its imperfections, because in the providence of God,  it  is not permitted to do or suffer some great thing. Happy is he, who can do God's will in the solitary place, and who can win the crown without going to the stake.

Religious Maxims (1846) LXV.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Savior Wounded in the House of His Friends

Many profess religion; many, we may charitably hope, possess religion; but few, very few, if we may judge from appearances, are aiming with all their powers at perfection in religion. Nevertheless, it is only upon this last class, that the Savior looks with unmingled approbation. In regard to all those, who aim at any thing short of bearing his full image, it may be said with truth, that he is wounded in the house of his friends.

Religious Maxims (1846) LXIV.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Christian is a Citizen of the World

A Christian is prospectively a citizen of heaven; but actually, and at the present time, he is a citizen of the world. Remember this, and do not think so much of what is to be as to forget what is.  We  have a great work in the present life, and in the precise situation where God has placed us. Angels glorify God in heaven; men must glorify him on the earth.

Religious Maxims (1846) LXII.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Can We Ask God's Blessing?

We may lay it down as a principle in the religious life, that every thing is wrong, in regard to which we cannot ask the divine direction and blessing. When we sin, we wish, like our first parents, to hide ourselves from Him whom we have offended. But it is the nature of a pure heart, always to seek God. Its language is, in all the occurrences and duties of life, "My Father, what wilt thou have me to do?"

Religious Maxims (1846) LXII.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Sorrow vs. Impatience

It is important to make a distinction between sorrow and impatience. We may feel sorrow without sin; but we can never feel impatience without sin. Impatience always involves a want of submission; and he, who is wanting in submission, even in the smallest degree, is not perfect before God.

Religious Maxims (1846) LXI.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Learning To Be Silent

It is a great art in the Christian life to LEARN TO BE SILENT. Under oppositions, rebukes, injuries, STILL BE SILENT. It is better to say nothing, than to say it in an excited or an angry manner, even if the occasion should seem to justify a degree of anger. By remaining silent, the mind is enabled to collect itself, and to call upon God in secret aspirations of prayer. And thus you will speak to the honor of your holy profession, as well as to the good of those who have injured you, when you speak from God.

Religious Maxims (1846) LX.

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Great Protector

"Let not your heart be troubled." And in regard to those, who indulge the hope that they are sanctified in Christ Jesus, we may well inquire, why should their heart be troubled? Have they not a great protector? Must not the archers first hit Him, whom thy soul loveth, before they can hit thee? "What can harm thee," says archbishop Leighton, who spoke on these things from the fulness of his own pious spirit, "when all must first touch God, within whom thou hast enclosed thyself?"

Religious Maxims (1846) LIX.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Holy Imagination

How pleasant, how delightful is a holy imagination! It instinctively refuses and throws away every thing that can defile. It is a sort of inner sanctuary; or perhaps we may call it the bridal chamber of the soul, fitted up and adorned with every thing pure in earth and beautiful in heaven. And God himself is the bright light thereof.

Religious Maxims (1846) LVIII.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Those Who Love Much Will Know Much

Sanctification consists in LOVE rather than in KNOWLEDGE. Nevertheless, it is a great and delightful truth, that those, who love much, shall know much. They shall be led to the very heights of knowledge. Love shall bring light. The great God himself will be their teacher.

Religious Maxims (1846) LVII.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Misery of Hell

In the opposite of pure love, that is to say, in selfishness, as it develops itself in a future life, we find the great principle of moral discord, and also that, which constitutes the essential basis of the misery of hell. The misery of hell is not an accident; but just to the extent it is experienced at all, it is a permanent and necessary truth. Like every thing else it has its philosophy. Its leading element is love, terminating in self as the supreme object; in other words, it is supreme selfishness. This principle, wherever it exists and wherever it is transferred, necessarily carries with it the grand element of the world of woe. A being, who is supremely selfish, is necessarily miserable. The result does not depend upon choice or volition, but upon the nature of things. Instead of the principle of unity, which tends to oneness of purpose with other beings, and naturally leads to happiness, he has within him the principle of exclusion and of eternal separation. In its ultimate operation, if it is permitted permanently to exist, it necessarily drives him from every thing else, and wedges him closer and closer in the compressed circumference of his own personality. So that he is not only at variance with God and with all holy beings; but he is not at unity even with the devils themselves. The principle of love, terminating in self as the supreme object and exclusive of other objects, in other words, supreme selfishness makes him at war with all other beings; and it is impossible for him to be happy but in their destruction, which is also an impossibility. This is the true hell and everlasting fire.

— adapted from The Interior of Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 12.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pure Love is the Basis of True Harmony

In the doctrine of pure love, existing in the highest degree, we find the true basis of Christian harmony. There never can be harmony among Christians without some common center of attraction. Without such a centre their principles of movement will vary, and they will be exposed to perpetual conflicts. What a delightful prospect would be presented, if all Christians could meet in this great centre! What unity of purpose! What mingling of affection! It is party and selfish interests which divide. A common interest unites. God, being loved with perfect love, and for his own sake, makes all hearts one. It is then, that we all drink, and are all nourished, at the same fountain. We unite in him and rejoice in him, as a principle of life-giving inspiration, having a common and universal efficacy, operating as the soul of each separate soul and the life of each separate life, and thus making what was before separate and self-interested but one life and one soul in himself.

We observe again, that we find in this doctrine the true principle, not only of union among Christians in this life, but of the permanent moral harmony of the universe. The universe must have a center. And it has. And that center is God. But there cannot be universal harmony, notwithstanding, unless all hearts are drawn to that center, as the supreme object of attraction and delight. This simple principle of pure love, always terminating in God as its center, and as its supreme object, excludes every jarring sound, and establishes universal concord. And as it is exercised without distrust and without fear, attaching itself to an object whose perfections never change, it naturally brings substantial joy; joy full as its fountain, which is God, and lasting as his existence, which is eternity.

— adapted from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 12.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Danger of Thinking More of Ourselves Than of God

It is a bad sign when Christians are thinking more of themselves than of God; in other words, when they are more taken up with their own joys and sorrows, than they are with God's will. When this is the case, they have not as yet learnt the great lesson of self-crucifixion; of doing and suffering the will of another. "The cup, which my Father giveth me, shall I not drink it?" These are the words of the Savior; and they convey deep and precious meaning. When we are fully delivered from the influence of selfish considerations, and have become conformed to the desires and purposes of the Infinite Mind, we shall drink the cup, and drink it cheerfully, whatever it may be. In a word, we shall necessarily be submissive and happy in all trials, and in every change and diversity of situation. Not because we are seeking happiness as a distinct object, or thinking of happiness as a distinct object, but because the glorious will of Him whom our soul loves supremely, is accomplished in us. To the purified mind, the sorrows and joys of this life, when contemplated in the light of God's providences, are alike. Whatever God sends is welcome to it. Hence we say, it shows a state of mind short of sanctification, or what is the same thing, short of evangelical perfection, when we think more of ourselves than we do of God, and more of our own happiness than we do of the divine glory.

— adapted from The Interior or Hidden Life, Part 1, Chapter 12.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Love Expands Itself

It is the nature of true love to react upon and to expand itself. It is satisfied with nothing but constant increase. It ever desires to love more; and is ever enlarging its own capability of loving. It can, therefore, rest firmly and quietly, and with entire satisfaction, only in an object. which has capacity and fulness enough to meet this tendency. As in God there is not only infinity of being but infinite loveliness, so the principle of love in men, though it should expand and increase itself through all eternity, will find in Him all its wants supplied. No other object can supply them; and it seeks no other. But in God it finds all that it needs. It has a home there, like no other home. It has no fear of failure in the beloved object; it has no desire of change. It exults triumphantly, and with ever increasing exultation, in the midst of the glories of the Infinite Mind. This is the true point of rest; the soul's eternal rock; the everlasting center; and it can be no where else.

— adapted from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 12.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Sciptures Teach Disinterested Love to God

The Scriptures require us to love God with disinterested or pure love. We say nothing here of the great command, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with ALL thy heart; which evidently implies the dethronement and exclusion of selfishness. There are various other passages of Scripture, which, if we rightly understand them, evidently look to this result, viz. that we should love Him for what he is in and of himself, independently of our own private interests. Accordingly it is said in Luke, chap. 14: 26: " If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." And again in the same chapter, " So likewise, whosoever he be of you, that FORSAKETH NOT ALL HE HATH, he cannot be my disciple." And again it is said in another place, " Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you." And perhaps still more directly and appositely to the subject under consideration, the inquiry is made in another passage, " If ye love them, which love you, what thanks have ye? for sinners also love those, that love them. And if ye do good to them, who do good to you, what thanks have ye? for sinners also do even the same." These are the declarations and precepts of the Savior himself. There are many others very similar, to be found in different parts of the Word of God. As when, for instance, the Apostle John says, " Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." How true it is, then, that charity, or the genuine love of God and our nelghbor SEEKETH NOT HER OWN. And how appropriate the direction, "Look not every man on his own things; but every man also on the things of others." — We have only to add, that passages, such as have now been referred to, evidently strike at the existence of that form of love, if such it can be called, which proposes to build itself on personal or selfish considerations.

But what shall be done, it will perhaps be said here, with that passage of Scripture, 1st John 4:19 [sic], which asserts, "We love God, because He first loved us." The difficulty here, as it seems to us, is easily explicable. We admit, that, in our present condition, we never should have loved God, if his love to us had not been antecedent. He formed the plan of salvation; He sent his beloved Son to make an atonement for our sins; He commissioned the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of our understandings, and to enable us to contemplate his glory. In a word, he has put us into a situation, utterly unattainable by our own unaided efforts, in which we can truly estimate his character in its whole extent of glory, not only as possessed of infinite mercy, but of infinite justice. It is in view of such procedures of the divine administration, that we can truly say, " we love God, because He first loved us." And at the same time can say with equal truth, and in a still more important and essential sense, we love Him for what He is in and of himself. His previous love to us, without which we never should have exercised any love towards Him of any kind whatever, has opened the way for the exercise on our part of that pure and holy love, which alone can be truly acceptable.

— adapted from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 12.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Disinterested Love is the Only Proper Homage to God

The character of God is so pure, so exalted, that the claims of right and justice cannot be satisfied with any homage which it may receive, short of pure, disinterested love. God contains in himself the sum of all conceivable excellence. If there is any being who is to be loved for himself, because he contains in himself every thing that is lovely, it is God. If human beings reject with an instinctive contempt, any love which is found to be based upon selfish considerations, how can God, who has so much higher claims, receive it? Upon this point all language fails. The tongues of angels cannot describe the divine excellence. It is because God is what He is, and will continue to be what he has been, that He is the true and only proper object of the heart' s highest homage. The divine character stands forth, in the view of the universe, as the natural, the appropriate, and ever sufficient object of pure love.

But the question may be asked here with some degree of force, Is not God's benevolence towards ourselves to be taken into view, and to have some effect upon our feelings? Undoubtedly it is. We shall love God, if we fulfill the divine requisition in its entire extent, as he is, and not otherwise than he is. And this implies, that we are to take into view every part of his character and of his acts. It is true, it is impossible to love him with that kind of love which is called pure love, for the simple and exclusive reason, that he has been good to us. Pure love, which does not confine itself to any personal or interested view of things, necessarily requires a wider basis of movement than this. But we love him with entire purity of love, because, while He has been good to us, He has sustained, in every other respect, the perfection of his character and acts. In other words, there has been a diffusion of truth, purity, and righteousness over his whole character and administration; including what he has done for ourselves as well as his acts in other respects. And it is his character and acts, as thus presented in their entireness, and not in partial glimpses, which command the homage of pure love.

— adapted from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part1, Chapter 12.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

People Naturally Honor Disinterested Love

People respect and honor disinterested love; while they have neither admiration nor esteem, for that form of love which is based upon personal interest merely. Some ancient heathen writers, Cicero in his treatise De Amicitia, and Plato in particular, in various places of his writings, speak in the highest terms of that friendship or affection which is disinterested. Plato advances the sentiment, that the most divine trait in man's nature, and that, without which he cannot be happy, is, "to deny and go out of himself for love." Hence it is, that ancient writers bestow such high commendation upon the friendship of Pythias and Damon, who lived under the tyrant Dionysius, and were willing to die for each other. Each of them seemed willing to forget, and, as it were, to extinguish himself, in order that the other might live and be happy. This was true love. And men are so constituted, that such love always commands their regard and honor. They instinctively perceive, that it has in itself a divine element, which necessarily allies it to the highest and purest form of existence, whatever it may be; and that it is morally beautiful and ever must be so, in its own underived luster. And accordingly they speak of it at their firesides; they crown it with historic encomiums; they sing its praises in poetry; while all other love, as existing between man and man, they despise and trample under their feet. And is it reasonable to suppose, that a love, which men themselves, darkened as they are in their natural perceptions, instinctively condemn and reject, will be acceptable to God?

— adapted from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 12.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Disinterested Love

There are various kinds of love. There are not only differences in degree, which separate perfect love from all the weaker or inferior gradations; but, what is of vital importance, it is generally understood that there are differences also in nature. For instance, we may love another merely for the benefits which he has conferred upon us; or we may love him for what he IS IN AND OF HIMSELF. It is the latter only, which is to be regarded as pure love, disinterested love. We must not only love God in the highest degree, but with that sort of love, which is in its nature pure or disinterested.

We are required to do this on natural principles. Nature herself,— in other words, the common feeling and common sense of mankind,— teaches us what true love is, in distinction from interested or merely selfish love. If we profess to love a person, it is the common and natural understanding in the case, that we profess to love him as he is; in other words, we love him for what he is in and of himself; and not merely or chiefly for the benefits which he may have conferred upon us. The principles of the philosophy of the mind, which are drawn chiefly from an observation of the feelings and conduct of men, do not appear to recognize any other true love than this. If my neighbor, for instance, declares that he loves me, I accept his declaration, and rejoice in it; but if I afterwards learn, that he loves me merely in consequence of some benefits I have conferred upon him, I can truly say to him, he is mistaken in the whole matter; and that he loves himself, and not me. It seems to be self-evident, that all true love must terminate in the object that is beloved; and not in the person that exercises love. And accordingly true love is never egotistical. In other words, it shows no disposition to revert continually to itself; and to revolve around its own center of origin. On the contrary, true or pure love, in distinction from that which is self-interested, is diffusive, generous, and self-forgetting. It expatriates itself, as it were; flying on its beautiful wings from its own heart to find a home in the heart of another. And it is accordingly with such love, a love which lives for another and not for itself, a love devoid of any debasing and inferior mixture, that we ought to love God.

The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 12.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Holiness is Perfect Love

Evangelical holiness is to be regarded as the same thing with perfect love. The great commandment is: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself." He who begins to love may be said to begin to be holy; but it is he, and he only, in whom the principle of love has subdued that of selfishness, and who loves with his whole heart, in whom holiness can be said to be complete or entire. Faith undoubtedly, whether we consider the subject scripturally or psychologically, is the foundation of love. Faith is a principle antecedent to love in time, and absolutely indispensable. But it is love, nevertheless, to which God has assigned the high honor of declaring it to be "the fulfilling of the law." So that the great question, that in comparison with which every other is of small importance, whether we are wholly the Lord's, and are truly holy, may be resolved into another, viz. whether we are perfected in love?

— adapted from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844), Part 1 Chapter 12.

A Desire for the Good of All That Exists

Love necessarily has its object. The object of pure love (and we regard this as an important remark) is existence; all percipient and sentient existence whatever. So that love, in distinction from every appearance and modification of affection which is not true or pure love, may be defined to be a desire for the good or happiness of everything which exists. And, in accordance with this view, everything which has a being, from the highest to the lowest, whatever its position, whatever its character, the whole infinity of percipient and sentient existence, simply because it has such an existence, is the appropriate object of pure love.

This is a great truth, and one which, it must be admitted, is difficult to be realized by those who have not an instinct of perception and of affirmation in their own purified hearts. Those who are the subjects of this exalted feeling sincerely desire the happiness of all those, whoever or whatever they may be, who are capable of enjoying happiness while, at the same time, it may be so, that they disapprove and perhaps even hate their character; and, accordingly, they love the evil as well as the good, sinners as well as saints.

We  have a striking illustration of the nature of pure love in the case of the Savior. He loved sinners. "He came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." It was not for angels, but for erring men, that he  died. He bowed his head upon the cross for those that persecuted him, reviled him, slew him. He loved men, not because they were good, for such they were not, and certainly not because they were evil, because evil can never be the foundation of love, but because they were existences, — percipient and moral existences. He  saw them created with the elements of an eternal being, but destitute, in their fallen state, of those attributes which would make that being a happy one. He saw them destitute of truth which they might possess, of holiness to which they were strangers, the enemies of God when they might be his friends, the heirs of hell when they might be the heirs of heaven. He loved them, therefore, not because they were good, but because they had a sentient, and especially because they had a moral, existence. It was their existence and not their merit; it was what they were capable of being, and not what they were, which brought him down from heaven.

—edited and adapted from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 4, Chapter 1.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Seperate From God, We Seperate From Truth

All knowledge exists necessarily in God. Human knowledge, so far as it can be called the truth, or true knowledge, is based upon the divine.

The fact is, that we can no more dissociate ourselves from God in the matter of knowledge, (understanding by the term, true knowledge or the truth,) than we can in that of physical existence. God did not create the body, which is the inferior and less difficult work, and leave the mind to create itself. And, on the other hand, man can no more create his mental nature than he can create his physical nature. He can no more create the attributes of his mental nature, its powers or faculties, than he can create those of his physical nature. And if, in the exercise of the moral freedom with which he is endowed, he may make the effort, independently of God, to sustain them in their right exercise, the endeavor, however sincerely it may be made, will be found to be ineffectual. He  will necessarily fail in all such efforts, because, in substituting the finite for the infinite, in resting upon himself instead of God, he has chosen means that are wholly inadequate to the result. The Savior himself says, "I have not spoken  of myself,  [that is to say, by any source of knowledge or wisdom in myself,] but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak." Separate from God, therefore, we are separate from the truth.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 3, Chapter 2.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Action Without Guidance

Any action of man's faculties, without the presence and inspiration of the mighty master of the mind who made them, is not guidance, but merely action. If man is in harmony with his Maker, he is in harmony with all moral truths and relations, and his faculties, under such circumstances, cannot fail to be rightly guided. Being in harmony with their Maker, their Maker becomes their life. If man is out of harmony with God, and just in proportion as this is the case, his faculties are not guided. They may be said to act, and it is action only. Sometimes the action is violent. There is the action of impulse, the action of selfish passion, the action of contradiction and strife; but there is no true guidance. The rightful authority, the authority which would carry them to their true goal, is in abeyance. Like another Phaeton, man has seized the reins of this chariot of fire; but the steeds know that it is not the hand of the true Apollo, and, frenzied in the want of that mastership which they need, they rush wildly on to destruction.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 3, Chapter 2.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Oneness of Life

If life on earth, and life in heaven,
As ancient seers and prophets say,
Is from the same great radiance given,
And burns with one celestial ray;

If brightness there, and brightness here,
Is in its central nature one;
And, shining in whatever sphere,
Is from the same imperial sun;

Oh, then, come down, and fill my heart,
Great God with Thine own life of love,
So that I may not stand apart
From the bright life, which shines above.

The secret of the heavens reveal,
And make its inward glory known,
Till all of thought and heart and will,
And life itself are made Thine own.

Christ in the Soul (1872) X.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

God is Love

Men make such idols as they choose,
And worship low before their throne;
But little know they what they lose,
By not enthroning LOVE alone.

Before great LOVE the angels bow,
Moving in radiant, joyful bands;
And Love, controlling here and now,
Unites our hearts, and joins our hands.

Remember, God himself is LOVE;
And is there other throne than His,
Who reigns below, who reigns above,
Supreme in truth, supreme in bliss?

Before celestial Love bow down;
All selfish deities remove;
Bright as the heavens shall be the crown
Of those, whose hearts are fill'd with LOVE.

Christ in the Soul (1872) X.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Partial and Universal Love

There is a love; a love for one;
On one alone its blessings fall;
But heavenly love is like the sun;
It throws its golden light on ALL.

The love, which holy heaven imparts,
To narrow limits unconfin'd,
Extends the sympathy of hearts
To friends, to foes, to all mankind.

There's nothing which it calls its own;
In self it hath no power to live;
And 'tis by this its life is known,
That what it hath, it hath to give.

Oh holy Love! Oh heavenly Love!
To hearts of truth and virtue given;
The Love, that lives in hearts above;
The Love, that makes of earth a heaven.

Christ in the Soul (1872) IX.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Little Trust, Little Love

"Little  love, little trust,"  says Archbishop Leighton. The converse of this is equally true. If there be but little trust, there will be but little love. If we believe the words of  our heavenly Father with the whole heart, it will be certain that we shall love him with the whole heart.

Religious Maxims (1846) LVI.

Friday, May 2, 2014


He, that is united to God, loves solitude. But it is solitude in the relative rather than the absolute sense. True, he is secluded from men; but while he is shut out from the world, he is shut up in God; and in the absence of human society, has the far better society of the Infinite Mind.

Religious Maxims (1846) LV.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Spirit of Entire Obedience

A spirit of entire obedience is one of the important characteristics of a sanctified state. Not obedience merely, but entire obedience. He who obeys in some things, but is fretful and rebellious in others, has not the reality; and it can hardly be said that he has even the appearance of holiness.

Religious Maxims (1846) LIV.