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, March 27, 2015

Never Move a Step Except By Divine Permission

That divine superintendence, which is denominated Providence, extends not only to every individual, but to all that pertains to every individual; including, among other things, all the various circumstances and situations of his life. Without delaying its operation for a single day, it indicates man's locality in the very beginning of his existence. In combination with the natural or physical law, which is its instrument, it places him in the cradle, under the eye of his father and mother. Helpless, but not unprotected, it is the watchful hand of Providence, using more or less of earthly instrumentality, which feeds him, clothes him, teaches him. It is Providence, also, as he exchanges childhood for youth, and thus gradually enlarges the boundaries of his habitation, which scatters both thorns and flowers in his path; the one to cheer him to activity and duty, and the other to warn him of danger, and to deter him from sin. From the early locality of the cradle and the parental hearth, from the lines drawn around him by the domestic circle where he is first placed, he never moves a step, he never goes, and never can go, rightfully and safely, except by divine permission.

The first position, then, in which man is placed by Him who overrules all things in goodness, is that  of dependence and guardianship within the limits of the family circle. Gradually the hand of Providence opens the door, and he goes out; but it is only into another department, or, perhaps we should say, into another line of demarcation, drawn by One who is invisible. As the child advances to youth, and from youth to manhood, and as he acquires the wisdom of maturer age and the increased strength of virtue, he is invited, under the guidance of that unseen Power, who proportions our trials to our strength, to different and perhaps more responsible scenes and duties. The hand, which at first restricted him to his father's home, and prescribed its limited duties, now points him to a wider sphere of endurance and action, as well as of joy and sorrow. Hidden in the vast and impenetrable future, no one can tell beforehand what that sphere will be. He may be called to labor in the field or the workshop, and, with his shepherd's staff or his plough, he may be either the master or the servant. He may be employed as the humble teacher of children in the elements of knowledge, or may be constituted a lawgiver in the halls of a national legislature. He may be the physician of the sick, and eminent in the gifts of healing, or he may himself be the inmate of a hospital, and be administered to by others, through long years of pain and despondency. To-day he is on a throne, — tomorrow in a prison.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 4.

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