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.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Lord's Spiritual Garden

Providence, considered as the divine arrangement of things in relation to men, is the Lord's spiritual garden. It is to the spiritual growth what the earth is to the germination and growth of material products. If it be true, that the earth is the appointed instrumentality, through which and by which the seeds of things grow up, it is not the less true, though it may be less obvious, that the arrangements of Providence, spread out in the wide and variegated surface of things and events, constitute, in like manner, the instrumentality, the receptive and productive medium, in which the seed of the spiritual life is to be planted, to germinate and perfect itself.

The analogy is not limited to the productive medium. It extends to that which is produced, and also to the manner of production. The seed, which is planted in the earth, is a dead seed. So man's soul, when it is first cast into the soil of God's providence, is a dead seed. They are both alike dead, the material seed and the seed of immortality.

But neither the ground of nature nor that of providence, into which they are first received, would of itself alone reproduce them to a new life. To the natural seed, when planted in the earth, there must be applied the rain and the sunshine before it can be decomposed, incorporated with new elements, and vivified with new life and beauty. The earth, operating in connection with these exterior helps, takes off and removes the outer coats of the seed, until it reaches the central principle, which had been encrusted and shut out from all the benign influences of the sun and atmosphere, and with its fostering care rears it up from its embryo of existence to its developed and beautiful perfection. In like manner, when the seed of man's immortal spirit is planted in the midst of God's providences, it is not till the influences of the Holy Spirit are applied, that it is decomposed, if we may so express it, by a separation of the good and evil, and the eternal element, deprived of life by reason of sin, is made alive in the spiritual regeneration.

The analogy in the two cases is a very close one. The encircling system of providential arrangements, operating in connection with the aiding energy of God's Spirit, removes coat after coat of that selfishness which had enveloped and paralyzed every faculty; and reaching at last the central element of the soul, the principle of love, which had suffered this dreadful perversion, it restores it to that life, light, and beauty, from which it had wickedly fallen.

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

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