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, January 13, 2015

Walking Through the Darkness

The tendency of suffering is not only to lead us to God, as the only being who can help us, but to keep us there. The general result, in the case of Christians, is, the more they suffer, the more they trust; and the more they trust, the more will the principle of trust or faith be strengthened. So that affliction, by impressing the necessity of higher aid than human, tends not only to originate faith in God, but indirectly to increase it; tends not only to unite us with God, but to strengthen that union.

Indeed, it is difficult to see how faith can be much strengthened in any other way. When we walk by faith, we walk, in a certain sense, in darkness. If it were perfectly light around us, we should not walk by faith, but by open vision. Faith is a light to the soul; but it is the very condition of its existence, that it shall have a dark place to shine in. It is faith which conducts us, but our journey is through shadows. And this illustrates the meaning of certain expressions fre­quently found in the experimental writings of Dionysius the Areopagite, and found also in other writers who hold similar views, such as the "night of faith," "the divine darkness," "the obscure night of faith,"  and the like.

It  is hardly necessary to say, that darkness or night, in its application to the mind, is a figurative expression, and means trial or suffering, attended with ignorance of the issues and objects of that suffering. And, accordingly, these writers teach, in harmony with other experimental writers, that seasons of trial, leading to the exercise of faith, are exceedingly profitable. The biblical writers, whom they profess to follow, obviously teach the same. "Persecuted," says the apostle, "but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed. Always bearing about in the body  the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." And again, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." 2  Cor.  4:9, 10, 17.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 7.

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