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.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Good Intentions Must Still Respect Providence

It  should never be forgotten, that a good motive, however kindly and highly it may be appreciated, does not constitute a right action in the strict sense of the term, unless the action can be spoken of and regarded as right in the circumstances actually existing. It is a very important principle, therefore, especially in its connection with the higher forms of religious experience, that we ought with care to watch over even our good desires, and to bring them under a strict regulation. Our good desires, our good intentions, will not save ourselves or others from evil, if we contemplate and carry into effect objects which are out of the divine order.

A monarch, for instance, in the largeness of his heart, proposes the immediate and entire liberation of his people, notwithstanding they are obviously unprepared for it. But in thus doing an act, which, under other circumstances, would be highly commendable, he only places in the nation's hand a sword to be plunged into its own vitals. His good intentions will not shield him from responsibility. Subjecting his benevolence to the dictates of deliberation and wisdom, he should have first made his gift, not to freedom, but to the preparation for freedom.

And these remarks will apply, not to one merely, but to all the purest and holiest affections of our nature. Such affections are always good and commendable in themselves; but in the manner and degree of their exercise, they are necessarily subjected to the law of time, place, and object. It is certainly commendable and right, at all times and under all circumstances, to entertain feelings of kindness and compassion for those who suffer. But it is not commendable and right, at all times and under all circumstances, to attempt to relieve that suffering. And the reason is, that God, in his wise providence, has seen fit to impose suffering. Suffering, therefore, has its own, its appropriate work to do. And mere human pity cannot interfere with these providential intentions, without committing great error, and without experiencing a retribution on itself.

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

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