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.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Song of the Angels

The star was bright o'er Bethlehem's plain,
The shepherds watched their fleecy train,
When sudden gleamed the sky; the tongue
Of angel bands in concert sung.
"Peace and good will to men," their song,
"Good will," while ages roll along;
The Savior comes, let nations hear,
Be hushed each grief, be wiped each tear.

No more shall war bear iron sway,
Vengeance and wrath shall pass away;
Oppression bind no more its chain,
And gladness dwell on earth again.
The song that charmed in Eden's bower,
Shall breathe once more its soothing power;
And peace, and praise, and truth shall bless
The world with hope and loveliness.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Saturday, December 19, 2015

This Is Freedom Indeed

"For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." —  Colossians 3:3 (KJV).

True liberty of spirit is found in those, and in those only, who, in the language of De Sales, "keep the heart totally disengaged from every created thing, in order that they may follow the known will of God." In other words, it is found with those who can say, with the Apostle Paul, that they are "dead, and their life is hid with Christ in God." The ruling motive in the breast of the man of a religiously free spirit is, that he may, in all cases and on all occasions, do the will of God. In that will his "life is hid." The supremacy of the divine will, in other words, the reign of God in the heart, necessarily has a direct and powerful operation upon the appetites, propensities, and affections; keeping them, each and all, in their proper place. As God rules in the heart, every thing else is necessarily subordinate. It is said of the Savior himself that "he pleased not himself," but that he came "to do his Father's will."

Another thing, which can be said affirmatively and positively is, that those, who are spiritually free, are led by the Spirit of God. A man, who is really guided by his appetites, his propensities, or even by his affections, his love of country, or any thing else other than the Spirit of God, cannot be said to be led by that divine Spirit. The Spirit of God, ruling in the heart, will not bear the presence of any rival, any competitor. In the heart of true liberty the Spirit of God rules, and rules alone: so that he, who is in the possession of this liberty, does nothing of his own pleasure or his own choice. That is to say, in all cases of voluntary action, he does nothing under the impulse and guidance of natural pleasure or natural choice alone. His liberty consists in being free from self; in being liberated from the dominion of the world; in lying quietly and submissively in the hands of God; in leaving himself, like clay in the hands of the potter, to be molded and fashioned by the divine will. Natural liberty may be said to consist in following the natural sentiments; in doing our own desires and purposes, which naturally throng in upon the soul and take possession. It is like a strong man, that is under the complete control of his irregular passions. Spiritual liberty consists in passively, yet intelligently and approvingly, following the leadings of the Holy Ghost. It is like a  little child, that reposes in simplicity and in perfect confidence on the bosom of its beloved mother. Natural liberty combines, with the appearance of liberty; the reality of subjection. He, who has but natural liberty, is a slave to himself. In spiritual liberty it is just the opposite. He, who is spiritually free, has entire dominion over himself. Spiritual liberty implies, with the fact of entire submission to God, the great and precious reality of interior emancipation. He, who is spiritually free, is free in God. And he may, perhaps, be said to be free in the same sense in which God is; who is free to do every thing right and nothing wrong.

This is freedom indeed. This is the liberty, with which Christ makes free. This is emancipation, which inspires the songs of angels; a freedom, which earth cannot purchase, and which hell cannot shackle.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 14.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Liberty Frees from Anxieity

The possessor of true religious liberty, when he has submissively and conscientiously done his duty, is not troubled by any undue anxiety in relation to the result. It may be laid down as a maxim, that he, who asserts that he has left all things in the hands of God, and at the same time exhibits trouble and agitation of spirit in relation to the results of those very things, (with the exception of those agitated movements or disquietudes, which are purely instinctive,) gives abundant evidence, in the fact of this agitation of spirit, that he has not really made the entire surrender, which he professes to have made. The alleged facts are contradictory of each other, and both cannot exist at the same time.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 14.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Liberty and Proper Timing

The person of a truly liberated spirit, although he is ever ready to do his duty, waits patiently till the proper time of action. He has no choice of time but that which is indicated by the providence of God. The Savior himself could not act, until his "hour was come." When he was young, he was subject to his parents; when he was older, he taught in the Synagogues. In his journeyings, in his miracles, in his instructions, in his sufferings, he always had an acquiescent and approving reference to that providential order of events, which his heavenly Father had established. On the contrary, an enthralled mind, although it is religiously disposed in part, will frequently adopt a precipitate and undeliberate course of action, which is inconsistent with a humble love of the divine order. Such a person thinks that freedom consists in having things in his own way, whereas true freedom consists in having things in the right way; and the right way is God's way. And in this remark we include not only the thing to be done, and the manner of doing it, but also the time of doing it.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 14.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Liberty and Opposition

He, who is in true liberty of spirit, is not easily excited by opposition. The power of grace gives him inward strength; and it is the nature of true strength to be deliberate. Accordingly when his views are controverted, he is not hasty to reply. He is not indifferent; but he replies calmly and thoughtfully. He has confidence in the truth, because he has confidence in God. "God is true;" and being what he is, God can have no fellowship with that, which is the opposite of truth. He knows, that, if his own sentiments are not correct, they will pass away in due time; because every thing, which is false, necessarily carries in itself the element of its own destruction. He knows too, that, if the sentiments of his adversaries are false, they bear no stamp of durability. God is arrayed against them; and they must sooner or later fall. Hence it is, that his strong faith in God and in the truth of which God is the protector, kills the eagerness of nature. He is calm amid opposition; patient under rebuke.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 14.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Liberty and Caution

The person, who enjoys true liberty of spirit, is the most deliberate and cautious in doing what he is most desirous to do. This arises from the fact, that he is very much afraid of being out of the line of God's will and order. He distrusts and examines closely all strong desires and strong feelings generally, especially if they agitate his mind and render it somewhat uncontrollable. Not merely or chiefly because the feelings are strong; that is not the reason; but because there is reason to fear, from the very fact of their strength and agitating tendency, that some of nature's fire, which true sanctification quenches and destroys, has mingled in with the holy and peaceable fame of divine love. John the Baptist, no doubt, had a strong natural desire to be near Jesus Christ while he was here on earth, to hear his divine words, to enjoy personally his company; but in the ennobling liberty of spirit which the Holy Ghost gave him, he was enabled to overrule and suppress this desire, and to remain alone in the solitary places of the wilderness.

— edited from The Interior of Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 14.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Liberty and Patience

The person, who is disturbed and impatient when events fall out differently from what he expected and anticipated, is not in the enjoyment of true spiritual freedom.  In  accordance with the great idea of God's perfect sovereignty, the man of a religiously free spirit regards all events which take place, SIN ONLY EXCEPTED, as an expression, under the existing circumstances, of the will of God. And such is his unity with the divine will, that there is an immediate acquiescence in the event, whatever may be its nature, and however afflicting in its personal bearings.  His  mind has acquired, as it were, a divine flexibility, in virtue of which it accommodates itself with surprising ease and readiness to all the developments of Providence, whether prosperous or adverse.

Those, who are in the enjoyment of true liberty, are patient under interior temptations and all inward trials of mind. They can bless the hand, that smites them internally as well as externally. Knowing that all good exercises are from the Holy Spirit, they have no disposition to prescribe to God what the particular nature of those exercises shall be. If God sees fit to try and to strengthen their spirit of submission and patience by bringing them into a state of great heaviness and sorrow, either by subjecting them to severe temptations from the adversary of souls, or by laying upon them the burden of deep grief for an impenitent world, or in any other way, they feel it to be all right and well. They ask for their daily bread spiritually, as well as temporally; and they cheerfully receive what God sees fit to send them.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 14.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Liberty and Accomodation to Others

The person is not in the enjoyment of true liberty of spirit, who is wanting in the disposition of accommodation to others in things, which are not of especial importance. And this is the case when we needlessly insist upon having every thing done in our own time and manner; when we are troubled about little things, which are in themselves indifferent, and think, perhaps, more of the position of a chair than of the salvation of a soul; when we find a difficulty in making allowance for the constitutional differences in others, which it may not be either easy or important for them to correct; when we find ourselves disgusted because another does not express himself in entire accordance with our principles of taste; or when we are displeased and dissatisfied with his religious or other performances, although we know he does the best he can. All these things, and many others like them, give evidence of a mind that has not entered into the broad and untrammeled domain of spiritual freedom.

We may properly add here, that the fault-finder, especially one who is in the confirmed habit faultfinding, is not a man of a free spirit. Accordingly, those who are often complaining of their minister, of the brethren of the church, of the time and manner of the ordinances, and of many other persons and things, will find, on a careful examination, that they are too full of self, too strongly moved by their personal views and interests, to know the true and full import of that ennobling liberty, which the Savior gives to his truly sanctified ones.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 14.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Liberty from Aversions

When we are wrongly under the influence of disinclinations and aversions, we cannot be said to be in internal liberty. Sometimes, when God very obviously calls us to the discharge of duty, we are internally conscious of a great degree of backwardness. We do it, it is true; but we feel that we do not like to do it. There are certain duties, which we owe to the poor and degraded, to the openly profane and, impure, which are oftentimes repugnant to persons of certain refined mental habits; but if we find that these refined repugnancies, which come in the way of duty, have great power over us, we are not in the true liberty. We have not that strength in God, which enables us to act vigorously and freely. Sometimes we have an aversion to an individual, the origin of which we cannot easily account for; there is something unpleasant to us, and perhaps unreasonably so, in his countenance, his manners, or his person. If this aversion interferes with and prevents the prompt and full discharge of the duty which, as a friend and a Christian, we owe to him, then we have reason to think that we have not reached that state of holy and unrestrained flexibility of mind, which the true idea of spiritual liberty implies.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 14.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Liberty from Domestic and Patriotic Affections

A man, who is in the enjoyment of true religious liberty, will not be enthralled by inordinate domestic or patriotic affections, however ennobling they may be thought to be; such as the love of parents and children, the love of friends and country. It is true that spiritual liberty does not exclude the exercise of these affections, which are in many respects generous and elevated, any more than it condemns and excludes the existence and exercise of the lower appetites and propensities. It pronounces its condemnation and exclusion upon a certain degree of them, or a certain intensity of power. When they are so strong as to become perplexities and entanglements in the path of duty, then they are evidently inconsistent with the existence of true spiritual freedom; and in that shape and in that degree necessarily come under condemnation. I have, for instance, a very near and dear friend, who is exceedingly worthy of my affections; but if my love to him leads me, perhaps almost involuntarily, to seek his company, when my duty to my God and my fellow-men calls me in another direction; and if I find it difficult to subdue and regulate this disposition of mind, it is evident that I am not in the purest and highest state of internal liberty. I have wrongly given to a creature something which belongs to God alone.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 14.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Liberty from Higher Desires

The person, who is in the enjoyment of true spiritual liberty, is no longer enthralled by certain desires of a higher character than the appetites; such as the desire of society, the desire of knowledge, the desire of the world's esteem and the like. These principles, which, in order to distinguish them from the appetites, may conveniently be designated as the propensities or propensive principles, operate in the man of true inward liberty as they were designed to operate, but never with the power to enslave. He desires, for instance, to go into society, and, in compliance with the suggestions of the social principle, to spend a portion of time in social intercourse; but he finds it entirely easy, although the desire, in itself considered, may be somewhat marked and strong, to keep it in strict subordination to his great purpose of doing every thing for the glory of God. Or perhaps, under the influence of another propensive tendency, that of the principle of curiosity, he desires to read a book of much interest, which some individual has placed before him; but he finds it entirely within his power, as in the other case, to check his desire, and to keep it in its proper place. In neither of these instances, nor in others like them, is he borne down, as we often perceive to be the case, by an almost uncontrollable tendency of mind. The desire, as soon as it begins to exist, is at once brought to the true test. The question at once arises, Is the desire of spending my time in this way conformable to the will of God? And if it is found or suspected to be at variance with the divine will, it is dismissed at once. The mind is conscious of an inward strength, which enables it to set at defiance all enslaving tendencies of this nature.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 14.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The True Idea of Spiritual Liberty

It has probably come within the observation of many persons, that there is a form or modification of religious experience, which is denominated "Liberty." Hence in common religious parlance, it is not unfrequently the case that we hear of persons being "in the liberty," or in the "true liberty." These expressions undoubtedly indicate an important religious truth, which has not altogether escaped the notice of writers on the religious life. The account, which is given by Francis de Sales of "liberty of spirit," is, that "it consists in keeping the heart totally disengaged from every created thing, in order that it may follow the known will of God."

To  this statement of De Sales, considered as a general and somewhat indefinite statement, we do not find it necessary to object. Certain it is that he, who is in the "true liberty," is "disengaged," and has escaped from the enslaving influence of the world. God has become to him an inward operative principle; without whom he feels he can do nothing; and in connection with whose blessed assistance he has an inward consciousness, that the world and its lusts have lost their enthralling power. Liberty, considered in this general sense of the term, is to be regarded as expressive of one of the highest and most excellent forms of Christian experience. And we may add further, that none truly enjoy it in this high sense but those who are in a state of mind, which may with propriety be denominated a holy or sanctified state; none but those whom God has made "free indeed." We proceed now to mention some of the marks, of which the condition or state of true spiritual liberty is characterized. Nor does there seem to be much difficulty in doing this, because liberty is the opposite of enthrallment; and because it is easy, as a general thing, to understand and to specify the things, by which we are most apt to be enthralled.

The person, who is in the enjoyment of true spiritual liberty, is no longer enthralled to the lower or appetitive part of his nature. Whether he eats or drinks, or whatever other appetite may claim its appropriate exercise, he can say in truth, that he does all to the glory of God. It is to be lamented, but is, nevertheless, true, that there are many persons of a reputable Christian standing, who are subject, in a greater or less degree, to a very injurious, tyranny from this source. But this is not the case with those, who are in the possession of inward liberty. Their souls have entered into the pleasures of divine rest. And they can truly say they are dead to all appetites, except so far as they operate to fulfill the original and wise intentions of the Being who implanted them.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 14.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Physician of the Mind

"And Jesus answering, said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician;  but  they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."  Luke v. 31.

He makes the deaf to hear, the blind to see,
Restores the faint, and doth the bleeding bind,
But shows himself more strong in charity,
In healing the diseases of the mind.
Thou sick and bowed of soul, to Jesus go!
Tell him how weak and how diseased the heart,
And learn how he compassionates your woe,
And plucks the spirit's, as the body's smart.
He  quells the fears that throng thee and annoy,
With brighter views the intellect doth fill,
Gives strength to hope, and permanence to joy,
And aids with power divine the doubting will.
Others may heal the body; Christ makes whole,
(And only He hath power,) the crushed and fallen soul.

American Cottage Life (1850) XXIII.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The True Ground of Joy

"Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."  Luke x. 20.

Rejoice not in thy wealth of house and fields,
Nor build your hopes and bliss on earthly fame;
Earth but a momentary glory yields,
Its brightest joys are as an empty name.
Oh, fix no fondness there; 't will prove a thorn;
Many, that deeply loved, have deeply rued
Attachments so unworthy; and they warn
Others from treading where their feet have stood.
The Savior teaches a far wiser course,
To deem it glory, not that we possess
Mere wealth or power, or learning's proud resource,
Which mock us with the show of happiness;
But that we have, in that dread Book on high,
Our names inscribed of God, in words that never die.

American Cottage Life (1850) XXII.

Friday, December 4, 2015

How the Power of Love Prevails

Certainly it is not surprising that love, operating without cessation in this divine manner, should have power. Powerful in its truth and powerful in its beauty, it acquires additional power by its mode of operation. Even, therefore, when it is estimated on natural principles, and with reference to its own laws of influence, we cannot doubt its mighty efficiency; — an efficiency, which is more than equal to all possible difficulties, when it is attended, as it cannot fail to be, with the divine presence and favor.

If these remarks are correct, then it may be added, that the holy man has power with his fellow-men, on the same general principles and much in the same way, as Christ had when here on earth. Christ, considered in his human nature, may truly be described as a man. And like other holy men, he was full of the Holy Ghost; — but the divine power which was in him showed itself to others chiefly through the medium of a holy sympathy. There is, perhaps, no trait of his character more remarkable than this. It was sympathy which brought the Savior down from heaven to earth; it was sympathy which, in early times, carried apostles and martyrs to the stake; and it is sympathy, like that of the Savior, which, at the present day, conducts his followers to the dwellings of the poor, the sick, and the ignorant; which secures their presence and supplications in the church and the prayer-meeting; which inspires their self-denying labors for the prisoner and the criminal; and which separates them from the endearments of home, and sends them to the toils, the sufferings, and the death of heathen lands.

What is here said of sympathy is, at the same time, said of love. They are two names for one principle. Sympathy is only another name for love, when it is exercised in such a way as to harmonize, in the most beneficial manner, with the wants and the situation of others. We repeat, therefore, that a principle so divine as this must ultimately renovate and control the world. And it will do it in the manner which has already been mentioned, namely, by its attractive rather than its aggressive influence. Reaching in every direction, and attracting the attention of all men by its innate loveliness, it draws them gently but surely to itself. It prevails by means of its truth and beauty, and not less by that gentle touch of fellow-feeling, with which it weeps with every tear, and smiles upon every smile.

And one of its crowning glories is this. It conquers without knowing how or why it conquers; — the mighty power which is in it being hidden in its own simplicity of spirit.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 9.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Love Adapts to the Situation

One of the characteristics of holy love, in its developed and operative forms is, that it naturally and necessarily adapts itself to the existing state of things. Feelingly alive to every possible variety of circumstance, it assumes, at successive times, an infinity of modifications, without failing, under any of them, to maintain its own simplicity and truth. Its own nature, which harmonizes with the true good of all other natures, requires this. When it is alone, for instance, and its thoughts are
allowed to revert to God in distinction from the creatures of God, sympathizing with the divine excellence and blessedness, it naturally takes the form of adoring communion and praise. It begins to sing. "Bless the Lord,” it says with the Psalmist, "Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget not all his benefits!"

When it is not permitted to be in retirement, but is in company with others, it takes its character from those with whom it is. In the good and proper sense of the expressions, "it becomes all things to all men." If they are persecuted and in prison, if they are sick, or blind, or lame, or deprived of reason, or are afflicted in any other manner, then it is full of compassion.  It  feels all their sufferings. It sheds sincere tears. It binds up their wounds. And these kind acts, which are not more full of truth and beauty than of moral power, are not the results of artifice, but of nature. It cannot do otherwise.

If, on the contrary, those with whom it associates at a given time are in health and in joy, it naturally rejoices in their joy, just as in the other case it has sorrow in their sorrow. Love, in the form of benevolent sympathy, is the just reward and the life of innocent pleasure. It may be said to double the happiness of every smile by the reflection of sympathetic happiness from itself.

The results in religious things are analogous to those in natural things. It harmonizes there also, in a manner appropriate to its own nature, with the weak and the strong; rejoicing with the one, and rendering pity and aid to the other. If, for instance, it enters the church on the Sabbath, and hears a man proclaiming God’s message with sincerity, but still with evidence of want of intellectual power, it does not turn away with scorn or coldness; but deeply sympathizes with him, and prays the more earnestly that the divine power may be revealed and perfected through human weakness.  Its course, as would naturally be expected, is just the opposite of that of selfishness. Its desire is not to please itself; but, in its sympathy with God and his word, to help out, as it were, the struggling message.

And it is the same in other cases. Everywhere, freed as it is from the restrictions of a low and selfish spirit, it is seen to do the thing which is appropriate to the time and place; and always by the impulse of a spiritual nature, and never by human artifice. Accordingly, if we transfer this principle of holy love from the public assembly in the church to the smaller assembly of the private prayer-meeting, the same results are witnessed. It sees those assembled together, who, it is obvious, need to be conversed with, to be instructed, to be encouraged. Being always in sympathy with God, and knowing that its heavenly Father has called them together in order that they might be assisted, it does not set itself aside and wrap itself up in its own isolation; but feels in its own nature all the wants of those around, just as God does. It sees God in everything. It is God, who in his providence has assembled them together. It is God, who has placed itself in communication with them, and has done it with some benevolent object appropriate to their situation. It cannot be doubted, that the mighty heart of God desires their restoration; and he, who is united with God in love, desires it also. And such is the sympathy between his state of mind and the arrangements of Providence, that his thoughts and feelings and words may justly be expected to be in precise accordance with the occasion. And this feeling of benevolent sympathy, (such are the reciprocal influences of mind upon mind,) will necessarily be known, and felt, and appreciated, by those with whom he sympathizes.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 9.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Power of Love

The man, therefore, who is inspired and moved by the sentiments of pure or holy love, is a man of power. The maxim, that knowledge is power, is not more true than the proposition, that love is power. Limited in knowledge, and weak perhaps in social position, the man who loves is powerful by character. His mere opinions, divested as they necessarily are of the perversions of selfishness, inspire more confidence than the proofs all arguments of other men. His wish becomes a law, and has far more influence with those around him than the arts and compulsions, which a spirit less pure and generous would be likely to apply. Power is lodged in him, lives in him, moves in him, goes out from him. It costs him no effort. It is felt, almost without being exercised.

When he is smitten he turns the other cheek, and like the Saviour, forgives and loves his enemies. And, in doing so, he confers by the grandeur of his sentiments. He does good from the impulse of good, and without asking or seeking reward. And, in doing so, he places himself above the common level of humanity; disarms enmity, commands friendship, controls sensibility. The world stands abashed in his presence; and does him homage. He realizes, in the spiritual sense of its terms. which is far more important than the temporal, the fulfillment of the declaration of the Saviour, "Give, and it shall be given unto you. Good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom."

It may, undoubtedly, be admitted, that those who have not arrived at this high degree and purity of love nevertheless have influence. But their influence, whether we regard it as more or less considerable, is aggressive rather than attractive.  It compels, rather than draws. By arguments in support of revelation, by appeals addressed to their interest and fears, by social and prudential arrangements, they aim to bring others within the currents of religion, and coerce them, as it were, to come in. They are much at work, developing. plans and prudences of action, mining and countermining with the highest dexterity of moral and religious strategy, sometimes with considerable effect, and sometimes, like the apostle Peter and his associates, toiling all night and catching nothing.

But to the man whose heart is filled with divine love, his life is his strategy; his heart is his argument; and the Holy Ghost within him is his prudential consideration. The less his strategy, and the more his simplicity, provided his simplicity is founded on purity and faith, the greater will be his power. He can no more separate power from himself, or himself from power, than he can separate himself from existence.

Love, therefore, is the principle operating by its own divinity, and attractive in its influence rather than aggressive and compulsive, which is destined not only to control, but to renovate the world. It will conquer, it is true, on a new system, and by means of new principles; but its conquest will be none the less effectual. And it is in such doctrines as these, which imply and require the renovation of the heart in love, that the Christian is destined to find the true and mighty secret of millennial power.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 9.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Pure Love Makes Itself Beloved

Pure or unselfish love has a power, beyond anything else, to make itself loved. This remarkable power is as permanent as its own existence. As its attributes of universality and purity, its dispositions to love all, and to love all without selfishness, are essential to its nature; so, also, is the attribute of its influence, that secret but certain  power of making itself beloved, which it has over all minds. It is not a power therefore, which is acquired, but inherent;  not incidental, but permanent; exerting its authority by virtue of its own right, and not merely as the gift of favorable circumstances.

Pure love necessarily makes itself beloved, because it involves in its own nature two things, which have a power over love, namely, Truth and Beauty.

Pure love is in the truth; — that is to say, it exists in accordance with the truth. In other words, it has a true or right foundation.  If God is a true or right being then pure love, which constitutes the central element of his character, is a right or true affection. Love, which seeks the good of others merely because it delights is goodness, and without any private or selfish views, is what it ought to be; — and it cannot be otherwise than it is, without a violation of the facts and order of the universe. True in its foundation, and true in all the relations it sustains it is, at the same time, truth to God and truth to nature, and truth to humanity.

And pure love, which is thus inscribed everywhere with the signatures of its divine verity, is as beautiful as it is true. Beauty is the daughter of truth. When things are in truth, they are where it is fitting and right, that they should be; — just in their facts, just in their relations, just in their influences; — and such things cannot be indifferent to us. They have an innate power which is real, though not always explainable. And not being indifferent, but having a natural power to excite emotions, it is not possible, with such a foundation and such relations, that they should excite any emotions but those of beauty. We regard it, therefore, as a fixed and permanent law of nature, that the true and the beautiful have an eternal relation. It is impossible to separate them. Wherever the truth is, standing out to the eye in its own free and noble lineaments, there is, and must be, beauty.

With such elements involved in its very existence, pure or holy love cannot fail to make itself beloved. While its nature is to go out of itself for the good of others, and its very life is to live in the happiness of others, such is the transcendent truth and beauty of its divine generosity, that, without thinking of itself, it makes itself the center of the affections of others. In its gently pervading and attractive nature, it finds the analogy and the representation of its influence in the natural world. The sun, as the center of the solar system, binds together the planets which revolve around it, because it has something in itself, which may be said to allure and attract their movements, rather than compel it. What the sun is to the natural world, pure love is to the moral world. It not only has life in itself, which necessarily sends out or gives love, but has an innate power in itself, which necessarily  attracts love. Receptive, at the same time that it is emanative, it stands as the moral center, which, without violating their freedom, turns the universe of hearts to itself.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 9.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Holy Love

In cooperating with our heavenly Father in the great work of redemption, it is an interesting inquiry, what spirit, what form of feeling, he will especially lead us to exercise, and what methods of action and effort we shall employ. It is an obvious remark, though somewhat general in its nature, that we should never lose our simplicity of heart; — but, looking to God with "a single eye," should receive all things and be all things in him alone.

Leaving ourselves in the hands of God in simplicity, that we may thus become the subjects of the divine operation, he, more or less gradually, according to his infinite wisdom, infuses into the soul that divine element of holy love, which makes it like himself. God is love. The feeling, which exists in those who cooperate with him, is love. And when the world becomes holy by being the subject of holy love, and just in proportion as it becomes so, it will find its power in its love. And, accordingly, its influence over men will partake of the attractive rather than the aggressive form.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 9.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Unseen But Seen

He  doth not to our sight appear;
And yet the Christ, the King is here.
He is not seen by outward eye,
And yet we feel and know Him nigh.

In holy hearts He builds His throne;
By holy thoughts His presence known;
And most of all He makes His reign,
Where Love is life, where Self is slain.

Oh Life of love, oh Christ within!
A Life, without the stains of sin;
Unknown, unseen by outward sight,
We see Thee in the soul's clear light.

Christ in the Soul (1872) XLII.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Prepare the Inward Temple

He  dwelt in Tents in olden time;
Then built Moriah's gilded shrine;
But now, in temples more sublime,
In HOLY HEARTS, his glories shine.

And if in Christ He first appear'd,
Dear shrine of beauty, truth, and bliss;
He now appears in temples rear'd
In other hearts, akin to His.

Oh, cleanse THY soul from every sin,
From every grovelling, worldly care;
And let the mighty Monarch in,
To build His throne of glory there.

Christ in the Soul (1872) XLI.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Life United to God

It is evident, that the life of Christ, when examined in its elements, was sustained on the two great principles, which have been so often mentioned, viz. of entire consecration and of perfect faith. It is very true, that these two principles, as we have already seen, did not constitute the whole of his inward life; but it cannot be doubted, that they formed the essential basis of it. They were its fundamental elements; the strong pillars on which it rested. In other words, the Savior, in the true spirit of consecration, appeared in the world, not for himself and his own pleasure, but for the simple purpose of doing and suffering the will of his heavenly Father. And, in the fulfillment of this object, he lived, as all his followers ought to live, by the sublime principle of faith, and not by the inferior guidance of open vision. So that his life, to express its great outlines in a single word, was a life united to God by its disruption from every thing else. Or in still other expressions, it was a life so united to God, that it saw, knew, and loved every thing else, including himself, in its relation to the Divine Mind; IN and FOR God, and God ALONE. Happy are they, the features of whose inward existence are framed and fashioned upon this divine model.

We do not doubt, that the inward religious experience in different individuals may receive some modification, more or less, from the natural character. It will appear differently in John the Baptist and John the Disciple; it will appear differently in Stephen, in Peter, in Paul. But the difference will exist in the modifications and not in the essence of the thing; in that which is outward and incidental, rather than in that, which is internal and substantial. But in all cases of true holiness without exception; there must be, and there is the image of Christ at the bottom. In all cases in which the work of God is carried to its completion, the soul has become an "Infant Jesus;" and like its prototype, the Jesus of Nazareth and the Cross, it will grow in "wisdom, and in stature, and in favor with God and with man."

Such Christians and such Christianity will have an effect upon the world. Those, who are formed upon this divine model, not only have a noble lineage; but they bear in themselves the impress and the inscription of a true nobility. They are the tree, mentioned by the Psalmist, which is "planted by the rivers of water;" not stinted and dwarfish, as too many are, who bear the name of Christ; not smitten with rust and eaten with the worm, but sound alike in the body, the blossom, and the fruit; not crooked, knotted, and unsymmetrical, but free, expansive, and proportional. Wherever they go, the world recognizes their character, without the requisite of a formal proclamation. The image of Jesus, the divinity of the heart, is so written upon the whole outward life, that they are an "epistle, known and read of all men."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


The life of Christ in the soul is distinguished from the natural life, in being characterized by great SIMPLICITY. — It is a common idea, that those, who have been the subject of the interior transformation, have experienced something, which is very remarkable. And undoubtedly it is so. There is truth in the idea; but probably not in the sense, in which the world understands the term. The coming of Christ in the soul is remarkable, in the same sense in which the manner of Christ's entrance into the world was remarkable. It was certainly remarkable, that the Son of God, the "express image of the Father," should become the "babe of Bethlehem," the child of the humble Mary. And thus the new spiritual life when it exists in truth, is not the offspring of earthly royalty, that is heralded by the huzzas of the multitude, but rather the "infant in the manger," that is born in obscurity, and is known and honored only by the lowly in heart. It is a life, so far from any thing that is calculated to attract attention in the worldly sense, that it is known and characterized in no one particular more than by what we have denominated its simplicity; by its being in the language of the Savior like a "little child;" by its freedom from ostentation and noisy pretension; by its inward nothingness.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Life of Christ vs. The Life of Nature

The life of Christ, or rather the religious life as manifested in Christ, is entirely different in its character from the life of nature. In the life of nature, which is unprotected and unrestrained by the conservative principle of supreme love to God, every thing runs to excess. That, which is good in itself, becomes vitiated in its inordinate action. Sympathy assumes the shape of querulous weakness. Friendships are stimulated by a secret selfish influence, till they become idolatry. The love of knowledge distorts itself into obstinacy of opinion and pride of intellect. An allowable and holy displeasure degenerates into the violence of natural anger and revenge. Even a desire to do good is often perverted, through a selfish impetuosity, by an injurious and fatal disregard to the proprieties of time, person, and place.

In those who are but partially sanctified, as well as in those who are wholly dead in their sins, the natural life, in itself considered and just so far as it has an existence at all, is always weak, selfish, inconsistent, passionate, changeable.

The life of Christ in the soul, or what is the same thing, the life of the soul modeled after the image of Christ, is entirely different. Its sympathy is restrained and regulated by the suggestions of reason. Its personal friendships are rendered pure by the exclusion of all idolatrous regard. Its love is unstained by selfishness; and its indignation is hallowed by love. In the natural life, every thing is vitiated either by excess or defect. In the life of Christ, every thing is correspondent to the truth of reason and the commandment of God.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Christlikeness: The Power of the Holy Spirit

Another interesting trait in the history and character of the Savior is, that his inward life was constantly inspired and directed by the presence and operations of the Holy Ghost. From the beginning to the end of his earthly course, in all the various circumstances, in which he was placed, he was the subject of the special influences of divine grace. With a consciousness that all things were in his power, and with a prompt and consecrated readiness to act and to suffer continually, he felt at the same time entirely dependent; and it never occurred to him, that he had any thing, or that he could do any thing out of God. From God, operating by his Holy Spirit in his heart, he received all wisdom, all strength." Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I  have put my  Spirit upon him." Isa. 42:1. In accordance with this prophetic annunciation, John the Baptist is said to have seen the "Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him." In the interesting events, which occurred immediately after his Baptism, it is not said of him, that he went up into the wilderness of his own accord and of his own will, but that he was "full of the Holy Ghost, and was led by the Spirit." On one occasion when he went into the synagogue of Nazareth on the Sabbath day, he opened the Scriptures and read where it is written, "the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor." "He whom God hath sent," says the Savior, referring to himself, "speaketh the words of God; for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him."

We need not multiply testimonies to this effect. We everywhere find evidence, that the life of the Savior, in the spiritual sense of the terms) was derived from the life of God. The branch does not more surely derive its existence and support from the vine, than the Savior derived his inward existence from God. Nor is the branch more closely united to the vine, than he was united to his heavenly Father. "I and my Father," he says, "are one." It  will be noticed, that in designating some of the traits of the Savior's character, we have not paid much attention to order of arrangement. Perhaps it was not necessary that we should. Nor do we profess to have exhausted the subject, and to have mentioned every possible trait of excellency, which his character presents. Hoping, however, that enough has been said to secure the favorable and prayerful interest of the reader, we leave it, important and attractive as it is, with a single remark further, viz., That the life of the Savior, whether considered inwardly or outwardly, was characterized by a proportionate fitness or symmetry in all its parts. It cannot be said of the Savior, as he existed in his humanity, that he was a mere combination of peculiarities; a man wonderful, not by the excellencies, but by the eccentricities of his nature; exciting attention merely by his strange unlikeness to every thing, which could properly be expected in a man. On the contrary, every thing was perfect and appropriate in its position, as well as perfect in its own nature. All the remarkable qualities, which as separate elements contributed to the constitution of his perfect character, were blended together in beautiful harmony. He stands before us complete in the adaptation of the parts of his character, as well as complete in the parts themselves; complete, therefore, as a whole and generically, as well as complete separately and specifically. As nothing can be added to the amount of his excellencies; so it does not appear, that any  thing  can be improved in their relative adjustment, in their beautiful and perfect proportion. This is the man Christ Jesus, who is set before us as an example; who "was tempted in all points as we are, and yet without sin."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Christlikeness: Humility

In another particular also, is the Savior's character deserving of our notice. He exhibited, in his daily deportment, a very meek, humble, and quiet disposition of mind. Every attentive reader of the Gospels will recollect, that this interesting and beautiful trait shows itself in his personal history, in a very remarkable manner. He said of himself, "I am meek and lowly of heart." In the language of the Apostle Peter, "When he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him, who judgeth righteously." It was said of him prophetically, and before his advent into the world, "He  was oppressed and afflicted; yet he opened not his mouth."  Isa. 53:7. And again in the same Prophet, "He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the streets." Isa. 42:3. At a certain time, when there was a disposition among some of his disciples to put forth personal pretensions, and to claim the preeminence over others, he remarked to them, "Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your servant; even as the son of man came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many." Mat. 20:28. But it is hardly necessary to make particular references, when his whole life, in all the varieties of its situation, was a beautiful illustration of this divine trait. He had compassion upon the ignorant, he made his dwelling with the poor; he traveled on foot from place to place in weariness and sorrow; he sat at meat with publicans and sinners; he washed the feet of his disciples. In  the possession of the inestimable trait of meekness and quietness of spirit, let all, who  seek the highest degree of purification and sanctification of heart, be imitators of the example of Jesus Christ; who, in the language of the Apostle Paul, "made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant." Philip. 2:7. Whatever pretensions any of us might justly put forth as natural men or as men of the world, or, in other words, whatever we might justly claim from the world on the world's principles, we should, nevertheless, be willing, in imitation of the blessed Savior's example, to be made of no reputation, and to become the servants of our brethren.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Christlikeness: Attention to Time and Manner

Although the Savior was faithful and diligent in the work committed to his hands, he was not prematurely zealous and obtrusive. He realized, that every thing, when done in accordance with the will of his heavenly Father, (a will which can never be at variance with the highest rationality,) must necessarily have its right time and place. In repeated instances, when something was proposed to him to be done, he declined acting in the case, on the ground that the proper occasion of action had not yet arrived. "His hour had not yet come." He felt, that he must act in accordance with the will of his heavenly Father, not only in the thing to be done; but also in the TIME and MANNER of doing it. Although, considered as a mere man, he possessed powers of judgment vastly greater than fall to the lot of ordinary men, and enjoyed also the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit "without measure;" he nevertheless, felt it to be consistent with the highest duty, to nourish his powers and virtues in retirement, and not to bear his message, important and urgent as it was, prematurely to the world.

"Of the three and thirty years," says a certain writer, "which our blessed Redeemer spent on earth, thirty were spent in the obscurity and abjection of a private and humble condition. Notwithstanding the zeal for the glory of his Father, and the salvation of men, which consumed his soul; notwithstanding the tide of disorder which overran the world, and the abomination of sin and scandal which pierced his heart, the eternal incarnate Wisdom was silent, was hidden, and so remained until the hour appointed by his Father had come; repulsing, even with apparent severity, the prayer of his mother according to the flesh, because it seemed to urge his anticipating that hour." [Interior Peace of Pere Lombez, p. 329.]

This trait in the Savior's character is, in a practical view, very important.  It is probably through a disregard, in part at least, of the course taken by the Savior, which has now been mentioned, that we find, in all denominations of Christians, melancholy instances of persons, who are young in the Christian life, or who are prompted by an undue confidence, exhibiting a disposition to enter prematurely, and sometimes violently, upon measures, which are at variance with the results of former experience and with the admonitions of ancient piety. All mistakes and erroneous proceedings of this kind are discountenanced by the example of our Savior, who quietly remained in solitude and silence, and was refreshed and strengthened with the interior dews of heavenly knowledge, till the great hour arrived, appointed in the wisdom of his heavenly Father, which called him forth to the ministry and the Cross.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Christlikeness: Living for Others

The Savior was conscientious and strictly faithful in whatever his Father committed into his hands to do. He lived for others. And in living for others, he made no secret reservation, that he would in some things consult his own interest. In the language of Scripture, HE PLEASED NOT HIMSELF. In the various companies, in which he mingled, he never forgot the great mission on which he came. He was a man of labor, as well as of faith; and showed in his whole life, that action is the result of believing. It has been remarked of him, that if he had not had something to say to Simon, he probably would not have been found seated at Simon's table; and that "there is not an instance of his having sat at meat with sinners, without reproving their iniquities; or sharing the hospitality of unbelievers, without forcing them to listen to his words." He felt it his duty to leave nothing undone, which ought to  be done. And he did it deliberately, thoroughly, unremittingly. His whole being, in all its innate power and all its outward efforts, was devoted to the one great work of doing his Father's will. No personal inconvenience, no opposition and threats of men, no pressure of personal and temporary interest, nor any other obstacles of whatever nature, had the effect to deter him from doing his duty, and his whole duty to God and to men. "I find it impossible," says David Brainerd, "to enjoy peace and tranquillity of mind, without a careful improvement of time. This is really an imitation of God and Christ Jesus. 'My Father worketh hitherto, and I work,' says our Lord. If we would be like God, we must see that we fill up our time for him."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Christlikeness: Prayer

The Savior was a man of PRAYER. We have already had occasion to notice his declaration, that "without his Father he could do nothing." And as if in practical recognition and manifestation of his entire personal dependence, we find him often kneeling in supplication, and drawing divine strength from the Everlasting Fountain. As God, he had all power. As man, (the aspect in which we are now contemplating him,) he had no power, which he did not receive from his heavenly Father. And if there was ever any instance of "living by the moment," (which seems to us the true way of Christian living, and which obviously implies praying by the moment,) we find it undoubtedly in the life of Jesus Christ. He may be said, therefore, with a great deal of truth, to have been praying all the time. Certainly he was always in the spirit of prayer. But, besides this spirit of continual intercourse with God, which was as natural to him as the breath which he breathed, he had especial seasons of supplication, when he went apart from men, and poured forth his soul in private.

"Cold mountains and the midnight air,
"Witnessed the fervor of his prayer."

If even the Savior could do nothing without his Father, if prayer was as necessary to his spiritual support as the very air he breathed was to the support of his body, let no one suppose, that he can sustain the grace of a truly regenerated and sanctified heart, without possessing a like prayerful spirit.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Christlikeness: Simple Faith

The Savior, considered as a man, lived by SIMPLE FAITH. — A life of faith is almost necessarily implied in a state of entire self-renunciation. It does not easily appear, how a person, who, in the spirit of self-renunciation, has placed himself in the hands and under the direction of another, can live spiritually in any other way than by means of faith. There is nothing left him but simple trust. To renounce ourselves entirely and not to repose trust in another, would soon be followed by a state of despair. So that we may regard it as the natural order of religious sequence, that the principle of faith, which is life in another, should take the place of the extinct principle of life in ourselves. The memorable statement, therefore, that "the just shall live by faith," was as applicable to the Savior, as to any other holy being. The whole history of the intercourse, which took place in his state of humiliation between him and his Father, is a confirmation of this position, and declares emphatically, that he NEVER DOUBTED. "Man shall not live by bread alone," he said to the Tempter, "but  by every word, that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." He said to the Jews on a certain occasion, "I am not come of myself, but he, that sent me, is TRUE." This single expression carries with it important meaning. It was the truth of God, his  firm  and unchanging faithfulness, upon which his soul rested, as upon an everlasting rock. He assures us, that "without his Father, he could do nothing;" a declaration which seems necessarily to imply the existence of unwavering confidence in the Being, who was the present and the only source of his power. There can be no doubt, therefore, that, the direction, which he gave to his disciples, he was willing to apply in its full import to himself. "Have faith in God." In his prayer  at  the grave of Lazarus, he said, "Father, I thank Thee, that thou hast heard me. And I KNEW, [that is to say, had entire confidence, unwavering  faith,] that thou hearest me always." Faith sustained him in trial as well as in duty; in the depths of affliction as well as in the active labors of his ministry. Even in the agonies of the Cross, when every possible sorrow was inflicted, and every other consolation was taken away, he was supported by its mighty power alone.

And in connection with this view, we are not to be surprised that we find the Savior so often and so earnestly urging upon his followers the necessity of living in the same manner. He taught them, in various ways and at various times, that faith was the source of their inward life and power; and that by it they could overcome all difficulties, "removing even mountains." Discountenancing every other mode of living, he decidedly rebuked the disposition, originating in unbelief, to seek a sign, (that is to say, a striking and confirmatory manifestation of some kind, ) in addition to and in support of the simple declaration of God. "An evil and  adulterous  generation," he says," seeketh after a sign."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Christlikeness: Entire Consecration

The life of the Savior was characterized by the spirit of  ENTIRE CONSECRATION. The idea of consecration seems to be much the same with that of self-renunciation; with this difference only, that he, who is the subject of consecration, has not only renounced himself, but has done it in favor of some other object, or some other being. Accordingly he, who, in renouncing himself, has renounced all his own private desires, purposes, and aims, and has surrendered his will, which, in some sense, constitutes  himself,  into the keeping of the divine will, is emphatically a person consecrated to the divine will; or what is the same thing, he is a person consecrated to God. Now it is very evident, that the Savior, considered in his humanity, and as a messenger of God here in the world, had no will of his own. If he cannot be said, properly speaking, to have renounced his will, it is because he never possessed a will, which operated at variance with the infinite and divine will. It was not on his own account, that he came into the world. "Wist ye not" he says on a certain occasion, "that I must be about my Father's business?" "I came down from heaven," he says in another place, "not to do mine own will, but the will of Him, that sent me." John, 6:38. And again he says, "my meat is to do the will-of him that sent me, and to knish his work." John 4:34. There are many other passages of a similar import. And the whole history of his life, which is unstained by any selfish and personal purpose, constitutes a confirmation of them. He could say, "I and my Father are one," because his whole soul lay, as it were, upon the divine altar; set apart both to do and to suffer his Father's will, "brought as a lamb to the slaughter," "slain from the foundation of the world," "offered up to bear the sins of many."

It is the same spirit of devout and entire consecration, which is the abiding and in its results the victorious element of the religious life in all his followers. And it is so, because, by the alienation of self it puts them in a situation, where they can take hold of the divine power by faith. Those, who have made such consecration, feel that they have no longer any thing, which they can call their own. In every thing, which concerns their personal desires and interests; in every thing, which is at variance with the divine purposes, they are nailed to the Cross. And hence, in the want of all things in themselves, they have the possession of all things in God.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Christlikeness: Intellectual Culture

The Savior exhibited and valued INTELLECTUAL CULTURE. We do not perceive that he at any time showed a disposition, to separate religion from rationality. Even in early youth he exhibited a strong desire of knowledge. It is related of him at the early period of twelve years of age, that he was found in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the Jewish religious teachers, "both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all, that heard him, were astonished at his understanding and answers." He knew very well, that religion must have a basis in the perceptions; and that its existence, without some degree of knowledge and reflection, is a natural impossibility. He knew also, that religion cannot be spread abroad from heart to heart, so as to take root to any great extent and become effective in those who are ignorant of it, except by means of the truth. And accordingly he improved his early opportunities of knowing; and while he grew in stature and in favor with God and with man, it is stated also, that he "grew strong in spirit," and that "he increased in wisdom." In particular, he seems to have nourished and strengthened himself intellectually by the faithful study of the divine lessons of the Old Testament. His repeated public instructions in the Synagogues are a proof of his intimate knowledge of the Scriptures. In all his personal and private intercourse also, even on occasions, which were calculated to agitate and afflict him, he was calmly deliberate, reflective, and argumentative. In his interviews with his disciples, in his conversations with publicans and sinners, in his controversies with the Pharisees and Sadducees, and on all similar occasions, it is very evident, that he acted not by passion, but by sober judgment; not by impulses but in a truly reflective and rational manner; meeting argument with argument; opposing scripture to scripture, as one who knew how to wield the "sword of the Spirit;" and subverting sophistry with the well considered and appropriate responses of truth.

It is true, that his illustrations and manner varied with the circumstances and the occasion, and that he was at certain times more animated, pointed, and severe than at others; but he never did or said anything, which was at variance with sound judgment. I have sometimes thought, that persons of flighty conceptions and vigorous enthusiasm would regard the Savior, if he were now on the earth, as too calm and gentle, as too thoughtful and intellectual, as too free from impulsive and excited agitations, to be reckoned with those, who are often considered the most advanced in religion. He never performed the feat of Simeon Stylites, who, from mistaken religious motives, spent years on the top of a pillar of stone; nor was he violently whirled round like a top, as is related of some persons who have been the subjects of religious excitement; nor did he experience the other bodily and convulsive agitations, which in some instances have characterized the religious movements of modern times, and have sometimes been mistaken for religion itself. In violation of the proud anticipations of the Jews, and in conformity with what might be expected from a being endued with the highest rationality, he appeared as a plain, unobtrusive, and reflective man; coming and acting like the "kingdom of God" itself, essentially "without observation;" and attracting notice, so far as he did so, by pure and sober piety only, by the beauty of virtue sustained and characterized by the strength of deliberation and wisdom, and not by being the subject or the agent of eccentricities.

In making these remarks we do not mean to imply, that the Savior was without feeling. His sympathy with the sick and the poor, his personal attachments, his earnest desire for the salvation of sinners, his denunciations of hardened transgressors, all show, that he was susceptible of deep feeling. But what we mean to say is, that he did not undervalue knowledge and truth. But on the contrary, he estimated them highly, and under the teachings of the Holy Spirit, made them, as it were, the basis of the inward life. And I think we may properly add here, as in accordance with what has been said, that no feeling, that no contrition or sorrow, and no other form of feeling whatever, does, or can possess any religious value in the sight of God, except so far as it has its origin in perception and knowledge.

 — edited from The Interior of Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Christlikeness: Personal Friendships

The Savior was susceptible of, and that he actually formed, to some extent, PERSONAL FRIENDSHIPS AND INTIMACIES. It would be unreasonable to doubt, that he had a sincere affection, analogous probably in its nature to the filial and fraternal affections in other cases, to his mother, his reputed father, and his brethren and sisters after the flesh. Certainly we have an evidence of this declaration in part, not only in the fact of his dwelling so long with them as he did; but in the circumstance that, when he was suspended in the agonies of the Cross, he commended his mother to the care of the disciple John. It would hardly be consistent with the doctrine of his humanity, and would certainly be at variance with the many developments of his life as the "son of man," to suppose that he did not form a strong, personal attachment to the little company of his disciples. It  is said expressly in especial reference to his disciples, "having loved his own, which were in the world, he loved them to  the end." It  is also explicitly narrated, that he loved Mary, and Martha, and Lazarus, the favored family of Bethany, whom he often visited. The disciple John, in particular, is characterized as the disciple whom Jesus loved. As he was set before us as an example, that we should follow him, this interesting trait, which resulted in the formation of friendly and affectionate intimacies, is what we should naturally expect to find in him. And furthermore, as one who came to suffer as well as to act, as a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," had he not some need even of human sympathy? And if this suggestion be well founded, where would he be disposed to look for the consolations, which even the sympathy of men is capable of affording, except in the bosoms of those, whom he loved peculiarly and confidentially?

In connection with what has been said in relation to this interesting trait in the Savior, we may remark here, that nature teaches us, or rather the God of nature, that increased and special love, other things being equal, may properly flow in the channel of the domestic affections. And also that it is entirely consistent with holiness, and not only consistent but a duty, to exercise special love towards those, whether we are naturally related to them or not, with whom we are intimately connected in life, and whose characters are truly lovely.

As Christians, therefore, as those who have experienced or who aim at experiencing the sanctifying graces of the Spirit, we may regard ourselves as permitted, both on natural principles and in imitation of the Savior, to form such personal friendships and attachments as the Providence of God may favor and his holiness approve. Intimacies and friendships, formed on purely worldly principles, have no religious value, and are often positively evil. It is important, therefore, to remember, that all such friendships should be entirely subordinated, as they were in the case of the Savior, to the will of our heavenly Father. If, through the influence of the life of nature, they become inordinate, they are no better than any other idols.  It  is certain there is much in them that is amiable and pleasant, that they are authorized by the example of the Savior, and that they seem to be even necessary in our present situation; but like every thing else they must receive the signature of the divine approbation, and must be sustained or abandoned at the call of religious duty.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Christlikeness: Sympathy

We propose to mention briefly some of the traits of character, which are conspicuous in the life of our Savior; and which present themselves particularly to our notice and observation; beginning with those, which, in consequence of their close alliance with the constitution of human nature, seem to have a natural as well as a religious character.

And accordingly we proceed to remark, in the first place, that the Savior, considered in his human nature, was a man of SYMPATHY. And in making this remark, we mean to imply, that he was a man of sympathy on natural as well as on religious principles; sympathetic as a man, as well as  sympathetic as a religious man. And as such, it is very obvious from the Scriptures, that he felt a deep interest in all those, who are the proper objects both of natural and religious sympathy; for the sick, for the poor, the ignorant, the tempted, the suffering of all classes and conditions. Although he loved religious retirement, and knew more than any one else the inestimable privilege of being alone with God, he felt deeply the claims of a common humanity; and in obedience to those claims came forth, and lived, and suffered among men; weeping with those who wept and rejoicing with those who rejoiced. He gave no countenance to an exclusively solitary religion; a religion, which under the name of meditation and prayer, shuts itself up in barren insulation, and has no deep and operative sympathy with men. Where there were wounds to be healed, whether mentally or bodily; where there were tears to be dried up; whenever and wherever he could add to the amount of human happiness or detract from the sum of human misery, he was present.

He deeply sympathized with those, who are the subjects of religious trials and duties, especially with the beginners in the divine life, with the weak ones and lambs of his flock. Accordingly he adapted his instructions to their capacity of understanding; and also to their present degree of advancement and strength of purpose. And hence it is, that on a certain occasion after having made some communications to his disciples, he added, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now."  It  is expressly said, in allusion to this interesting trait of his character; "a bruised reed he shall not break and smoking flax he shall not quench."

It is hardly necessary to add, that those, who, in experiencing the inward restoration; have been raised anew in the image of Christ's likeness, will exhibit this interesting trait in a marked degree. There can be no such thing as a truly holy heart, which is destitute of a pure and deep sympathy.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


"Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away. Behold, all things are become new." 2 Cor. 5:17.

"For even hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an EXAMPLE, that ye should follow his steps." 1 Pet. 2:21.

The old life perishes, in order that there may be a new creation in Christ. The deformity of the ancient nature passes away, and the image of Christ in the soul takes its place. And we can try and be assured of the truth of the resurrection from the death of sin, only by its likeness to the life of the Savior. It is a matter of great gratitude, therefore, that the Gospel not only delineates holiness, which is but another name for the true inward life, by means of abstract statements; but represents it visibly and sensibly in the beautiful mirror of the Savior's personal history. This is a mirror, which it is necessary for every Christian, and especially for those who are earnestly seeking the entire sanctification of the heart, to contemplate prayerfully and unceasingly. The more we study the life of Christ, if we do it with a consecrated and prayerful spirit, the more it is reasonable to suppose we shall be like him. And in proportion as we bear his likeness, will those various imperfections and inconsistencies, which often mar the lives of his followers, disappear.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition 1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Present Moment

It is difficult to attach too much importance to the present moment, considered in its relations to inward experience. The value of our past experience, in itself considered, can never be changed; and the untried future is wholly unknown to us. It is obvious, therefore, that we are what we are NOW. We are, and we can be, only what we are, when we are estimated by the facts, the relations, and the duties of the present moment. It is only in the facts, the relations, and the duties of the present moment that God offers himself to our notice.  We must meet with him there, and harmonize with him there, or meet with him and harmonize with him no where.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXLVII.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The World Living In Us

The world is sometimes described as a troublesome world; but there is still greater and more practical truth in a remark which is sometimes made, that our chief troubles do not arise from our living in the world, but from the fact of the world's living in us.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXLVI.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

"The Kingdom of God is Within You."

"The kingdom of God is within you."  The soul's inward redemption, that is to say, its redemption from present sin and its unity with God in will and life, can be sustained, and sustained only, by the present indwelling and operation of the Holy Ghost.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXLV.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Means and Ends

In the discharge of those duties which are incumbent upon us, if our hearts are right with God, we shall consider it indispensably necessary to employ just means, as well as to aim at just ends. And however just and desirable the ends may be, in themselves considered, if the methods or means are such as we cannot rightfully employ, we must always regard the end as forbidden.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXLIV.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Last Trump

"Behold I show you  a  mystery. We  shall not  all  sleep, but we  shall  all  be  changed.  In a moment, in  the twinkling  of an eye, at the  last trump: for  the trumpet shall sound, and  the  dead  shall  be raised." 1 Cor. xv. 51, 52.

When the last trump shall sound, all earth shall hear,
The sea's wide tumbling waves be fixed with dread,
The startled mountains turn their iron ear,
The hills shall flee away, and hide their head.
Leviathan shall plunge into his cave,
His deepest cave; the lion to his den;
In the black clouds the birds their wings shall wave,
And screaming loud, respond the cries of men;
And men, poured forth from cot and splendid hall,
Shall mingle with the cattle in the fields,
While, tost and breaking at the trumpet's call,
The rending ground beneath their footstep yields.
When all is changing, all in horror mixed,
The Christian's soul remains believing, calm, and fixed.

American Cottage Life (1850) XXI.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Glimpse of Heaven

"But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city." Heb. xi. 16.

When on some voyage of trade in distant seas,
The gallant ship has ploughed for many years,
At last, with sails rejoicing in the breeze,
Her own, her lovely native coast she nears;
The hardy sailors look from deck and mast,
Their fathers' hills and hamlets to descry;
As one by one they point them out, full fast
Unwonted tears of gladness fill the eye;
They shout with joy; 'tis their own native land;
Where brothers, sisters, fathers, grandsires dwell.
So, when the Christian on life's bounds doth stand,
On heaven's bright hills his eyes with fervor dwell,
His blessed Father's home is in his sight,
He shouts aloud with joy, unspeakable delight.

American Cottage Life (1850) XX.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Remembrance of a Godly Teacher

In all institutions [of learning]... there should be living teachers, men "full of the Holy Ghost," who should be able to explain and apply the principles which are found in the Bible.

In early life I had the privilege of being associated for a short time, in an institution, where it seemed to me that some of these views were happily illustrated. Studies always opened in the morning and closed at night with religious services. The first half hour of every morning, in particular, was devoted to the reading of the Scriptures, the explanatory and practical remarks of the worthy and learned instructor, and to prayer. And it was understood by all, whatever might be the state of their own minds, that this religious exercise was regarded by the teacher as one of preeminent importance. When he came before his pupils on this occasion, they did not doubt that he had first commended them to God in private; and that of all objects which he desired and had at heart, there was none so dear to him as their souls' salvation. Every movement was stilled; — every voice hushed; — every eye fixed. And whatever might be their creed or want of creed, their religious adhesions or aversions, such was their sympathy with his obvious sense of responsibility and his divine sincerity, that even the hearts of the infidel and the profane were cheerfully laid open before him; — so that with their own consent he was enabled, by means of his prayers and warnings, to write upon them, as it were, inscriptions for immortality. I was not a pupil in the seminary to which I refer, but an assistant teacher; and had a good opportunity to observe and to judge. My own heart never failed to be profoundly affected; — and, from what I have learned and known of his pupils since, scattered as they have been in all parts of the world, and engaged in various occupations, I have no doubt that God eminently blessed the faithful labors of this good man, and that he was permitted to realize in his instructions, to an extent not often witnessed, the beautiful union of the culture of the heart with that of the understanding.

Christ came into the world to redeem man to God; — in other words, to restore him to God by redemption; — that is to say, by the purchase of his own blood. The object is secured, and man is restored to God, whenever God becomes the in-dwelling, the universal, and permanent principle of his soul.  And the restoration of man involves the restoration of all that  pertains to man. The restoration of man is, at the same time,  the  restoration of the family and of civil society; the restoration of  art and literature. It implies the extinction of vice, the prevalence of virtue, the dignity of labor, the universality of education, and the perfection of social sympathy and intercourse. And no man is, or can be redeemed, in the truer and higher sense of the terms, without being, in his appropriate degree and place, a co-worker with God in all these respects.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 8.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Divine Guidance and Education

 It is a part of God's plan to teach man by the aid of his fellow-man, and to secure his cooperation by means of educational institutions. And looking at such institutions in this light, namely, in their relation to God, it seems to us that the time has come when they should be formed upon new principles, — in part at least. Christians will not do justice to themselves, and will not fully unite in God' s designs in reference to man's redemption, until the learned institutions they establish and support shall combine with the cultivation of the intellect the higher and nobler object of the restoration of the heart to its Maker. It should be written upon the walls of every seminary; — Education for Truth, for Humanity, for God.

The state of things is far different from this. If we had no other evidence of this remark, we might find it in one fact which all are acquainted with. We have reference to the general exclusion of the Bible from the list of books which are systematically and thoroughly studied. If the Bible were estimated by its literary merits alone, it ought not to be condemned to such an exclusion. Considered simply as documents, which threw light upon the origin of the human race and the early history of mankind, there are no books more worthy of being studied than the five books of Moses and the other historical books of the Old Testament. We would not easily yield to others in our admiration of the writers of Greece and Rome; but, looking at them in a merely literary point of view, we find the poets of those countries excelled by the Psalms of David and by many passages of the prophets; — and probably no one will say, that the moral doctrines of Socrates and Cicero, eminent and enlightened men as they were, are to be brought into comparison with the divine teachings of the Son of God. But on such a subject we might be distrustful of our own opinions, were it not that they are in harmony with sentiments frequently expressed by literary men of so much learning and eminence, that their right to judge in such a  matter will not be likely to be questioned. The subject, for instance, is repeatedly referred to in the writings of Sir William Jones He says, on one occasion, "I have carefully and regularly perused the Holy Scriptures, and am of opinion, that, independent of its divine origin, the volume contains more sublimity, purer morality, more important history, and finer strains of eloquence, than can be collected from any other book, in whatever language it may have been written."

But if the Scriptures are thus valuable in a merely literary point of view, it would be difficult to express their importance, considered in their moral and religious relations. It is in this view that they present claims, which can be brought forward in support of no other system and no other book.

The mere study of the Bible, however, is not enough. There are institutions at the present day, in which the Bible is carefully studied; — but less with  a reference to moral than intellectual culture. The study of the Bible for the mere purpose of increasing our amount of knowledge, is not all that is needed. It should be studied with a view to the supply of our moral and religious wants. There should, therefore, be a distinct recognition, in every institution of learning, of man's alienation from God, and of the necessity of his restoration. Upon these two great subjects, which are vital in every true system of mental culture, all possible light should be thrown. And it ought to be understood that no person is to be regarded as thoroughly educated, who cannot say that he has given his heart to God at the same time that he has given his intellect to the pursuit of the truth.

Nor are such views to be considered as impracticable There are principles, perhaps not yet fully ascertained, which will result, (we will not say infallibly, but certainly as a general thing,) in spiritual renovation. And it seems to be a part of God's plan, that they shall be applied in connection with the relationship of man with man, and their mutual agency one upon the other. In all institutions, therefore, there should be living teachers, men "full of the Holy Ghost," who should be able to explain and apply the principles which are found in the Bible. If such institutions could take the place of many which now exist, the favorable results to morals and religion would be immense.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 8.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Divine Guidence and Poetry

Without stopping to say what poetry is, or on what principles it operates, every one knows that its influence has been very great. But it is to be regretted, that, like history, it has been employed, for the most part, in immortalizing deeds of cruelty, and in giving luster to crime. Or, if it should be said in modification of this statement, that it has given a larger share of its attention to love than history has, it ought to be added that the love which it celebrates has not always been that refined and pure love, which receives the sanction of Christianity.

It is a matter of great satisfaction, however, that  a change is beginning to take place in this department of literature, as well as in others. The eclat of war, although it has yet a strong hold upon fallen humanity, is much diminished; and domestic affections, regulated and refined by religious sentiment, are more highly  appreciated, as compared with irregular and sinful desires. Rural and domestic life and other subjects, such as are congenial with the truths of nature, and with the spirit of the Gospel, are beginning to find hearts that can estimate, and pens that can develop, them. The man who writes a poem after the manner and in the spirit of the Eclogues and Georgics of Virgil, or, taking more recent examples, in the spirit of the Seasons of Thomson and the Task of Cowper, in which the beauties of nature and the humble virtues of agricultural life are celebrated, does a great work for God and humanity. The Scotch poet, Burns, has sung both of war and love; and few persons have touched with a stronger hand those mighty passions; but the time is coming, when the gentler and purer virtues, which are celebrated in his beautiful poem, entitled "The Cotter's Saturday Night," will excite a wider and deeper interest.

Poetry has done much for vice. The day has come when it is expected to do much for virtue. This is not an art in which it is safe for a man to separate himself from God. Let it be employed in showing the deformities of wickedness and the excellences of goodness; in depicting the beauties of nature, and in describing the attributes of the God of nature; and in encouraging men to walk in the paths of truth and peace.

Among other things, it ought not to be forgotten that poetry has its religious uses. If angels sung at the birth of the Savior, certainly there is more reason that men should sing. The author of a good hymn, expressive of sentiments of Christian piety, may feel that he has lived and labored to some purpose. In enumerating those who through divine grace have done a good and great work for God and his church, we should not be likely to forget the names of Watts, Cowper, and Wesley.

But whatever a person undertakes to write of this kind, whether hymns or poetry which is more secular in its character, it is very certain that he can do nothing well, without God to help him. If the ancients needed the aid of Apollo and the muses, it would be a shame to a Christian poet to attempt to write without the aid of that divine inspiration which Christianity teaches him to supplicate.  And, accordingly, Milton was unwilling to proceed in his great work, the Paradise Lost, without first invoking the divine assistance:

"And chiefly Thou, O Spirit! that dost prefer
Before all temples the upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for Thou knowest."

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 8.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Divine Guidance in the Account of Human History

Literature also will fail to arrive at and to sustain itself in its perfected life and beauty without the spirit of God in it.

Take, for instance, the single department of history, which is undoubtedly one of great importance and interest. The importance of history is seen, when we consider that the history of the deeds and sufferings of man is at the same time the history of the dealings of God with man. It details the conflicts of virtue and vice and anticipates, in the conclusion of its pages, the destruction of the one, and the final victory of the other. There is a close connection between human history and the coming of Christ in the world; — as the incidents in the history of all nations, previous to that event, seem to have been arranged in reference to it, and all subsequent history has been influenced by it. And, in this point view, many judicious persons have been disposed with much reason, to set a high value upon the work of  President  Edwards, entitled "The History of Redemption." The object of this interesting work is, to give an outline of the history of the human race, in connection with the history  of redemption; — uniting the two in such a  manner  as to show their reciprocal relations and influences. And the history is exceedingly valuable, not because it illustrates the idea of history in all respects, but because it so fully introduces an element, or point of view, which is generally left out.

As a general thing, history has limited itself to giving an account of national wars.  It has been so written, for she  most part, as to be a commemoration of deeds of violence, so that he, who kills the most and conquers the most, however deficient in civic and moral virtues, holds the prominent position, and is made the subject of undue panegyric. But history, in order to be a true record of the human race, should embrace not only war, but also civil and political events, and the progress of the arts and literature; — so that the man, who serves his country by peaceful labors and excellencies, may have his reward, as  well as the warrior.

A favorable change, however, has already taken place. The spirit of the Gospel is beginning to take effect. The rights, the happiness, the immortal interests of the masses of men are receiving a consideration which they have not received before. And history at last sees the wisdom of placing the man who has made improvements in some useful art, or has done some benevolent deed, on a footing at least with those who command armies. And so far as the historian, looking to God and receiving direction from that source, has an eye to the good of mankind and the claims and advancement of virtue, he is in union with God. And this is at the same time his highest honor, and the source of his highest power.

The doctrine of divine union applies to everything.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union Part 7, Chapter 8.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Divine Guidance and the Arts

If a divine guidance is necessary to make a man perfect in the more common arts of life, so that he cannot build his own habitation, or do any other mechanic work as he ought to do, without God to help him, still more is such guidance necessary in those arts which imply higher exercises of the intellect, such as painting and sculpture. Give a man all the requisites of a great painter, a practiced hand, an eye alive to all the beauties of external nature, a creative imagination; — and then add a heart in alliance with God, and rich in holy feelings, and it is not easy to limit the beautiful and sublime works which his pencil will give rise to. The same may be said of sculpture and of architecture in its higher forms.

And such are the difficulties attending these arts, when it is proposed to carry them to their highest results, — so much invention is necessary, so much care in the relative adjustment of the parts which a happy invention has given rise to, so much wisdom and skill in conveying inward thought and feeling by outward form and gesture, — not to speak of other difficulties and other requisites, that all great artists, if they sympathize with their own aspirations, and are true to the instincts of their own nature, feel very much their need of a higher power to guide them. They know that nothing but God could carry out and complete the outlines of beauty and grandeur, which often float vividly before them; — and, under the pressure of this conviction, their souls instinctively yearn for the possession of that divine presence and aid, which would enable them to complete what their imaginations have conceived.

The subject of one of the great paintings of Raphael is "Paul preaching at Athens." The conception of the apostle as the living embodiment of a new and purer religion, his position in the front and on  the steps of a heathen temple, the mighty power of truth and Christian benevolence which struggles forth in his dignified but fervent attitude and action, the different groups that stand or are seated around him; — some calmly indifferent and skeptical; — some expressing in their countenances the mingled feelings of fear and hatred; — others yielding a rational conviction, and showing the signs of true sensibility and rising hope; — all combined together present a scene of the greatest conceivable interest. How is it possible that a great painter, who appreciates the magnitude of such a work, the exceeding difficulties attending its execution, and the mighty moral influence which follow a successful result, can enter upon it,  without first praying to God for wisdom and help, and without continuing to pray for them at every successive step?

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 7.