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.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Retributions of the Providential Law

There seems to be good reason for saying, that common opinion, founded upon the general experience, assents to the strictness and inflexibility of the action of physical laws. If a man, for instance, thrusts his hand into the fire, we have no doubt that he will be burned. If he plunges himself into the depths of the ocean, we are confident that he will be drowned. If he throws himself down a rocky eminence, we naturally expect that he will be dashed to pieces. The result, secured by known and inflexible physical laws is considered certain.

It may be added, that common opinion attaches the same idea of strictness and inflexibility to the action of laws instituted by civil governments. If a man, contrary to the laws of the land, takes another's property, it is generally regarded as a matter of certainty that punishment will overtake him. If a man strikes another, the law, without-regard to his position in society, or even his penitence, strikes him in return. Fines, stripes, stocks, prisons, show how inflexible is the arm of civil and criminal justice.

But it does not appear to be the common opinion that the retributions of the providential law are equally strict, equally inflexible. The tendency is, partly because its modes of operation are less obvious to the senses, to look upon Providence as a lenient master, who generally defers punishment, who punishes slightly at most, and sometimes not at all. But this is a mistake. The providential law is as strict in its operation as the others, and even more so. It is possible, certainly, that natural laws may be suspended in their operation, and may fail. The penalty of the civil and criminal laws may sometimes be evaded. But the retributions of the providential law, (a law modified in its application by the incident of existing facts and events, but always founded on the principles of eternal right and wrong,) can never be annulled, can never be escaped.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 3.

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