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.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Social Interacton is a Human Duty

Among the duties which man owes to his fellowmen, one of the most clearly ascertained and important is that of social intercourse. The duty is so clear and imperative, whether we consult in its support the constitution of the human mind or what is said on the subject in the Scriptures, that no one can plead an exemption from it, except on the ground that the providences of God and other special indications render his case very different from that of others. A man, for instance, may be so physically disordered, that society is a burden, and solitude his only place of refuge. And this state of things may be combined with other providential indications, so marked in their character, that he may be justified in coming to the conclusion, that his great business, and essentially his only business here on earth, is that of solitary
communion with God.

"Remote from men, with God he passed his days„
"Prayer all his business, all his pleasure, praise,"

Perhaps other situations and other providential indications may lead to the same result. John the Baptist was the "voice of one crying in the WILDERNESS." There is reason to suppose, that the special providence of God called him, in a greater degree than others, to dwell in solitary places, apart from the society of men. And we probably risk nothing in saying, that the same unerring Providence, operating upon a sanctified spirit, dictated the course of Anna, the aged Prophetess of the city of Jerusalem, "who departed not from the Temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day."

But these are exempt cases, which can be judged of only by special outward circumstances and special inward operations; and which, therefore, are to be regarded rather as exceptions to the general rule, than as the rule itself. We cannot hesitate, therefore, in saying, that the duty of social intercourse is obvious and imperative. The man, who violates his duty in this respect, by shunning, without any adequate reason, the society of his fellowman, not only deprives himself of the power of extensive usefulness; but he suffers under the operation of what may be called a natural penalty, in his own person, character,  and interests, Persons, who place themselves in this situation. without a special divine guidance, are self-punished. The mind, separated from the bonds which link it to others and falling back upon itself as both center and circumference, becomes contracted in the range of its action. and selfish in its tendencies. The light of knowledge is, in many respects, shut out; and even the physical, as well as the moral and intellectual system feels the adverse influences of a course, which is opposed to the intentions of nature. Association, therefore, may be regarded as a necessary law to us. God has so linked us, man with man, and family with family, and community with community, that the life of one may be said to be multiplied in that of another; and no man, with the exception of the peculiar cases already indicated, can safely and usefully stand and act alone.

— from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 6.

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