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, June 29, 2015

Practical Guidelines for Conversation

We proceed to make a few brief practical remarks.

We should make it a general rule to avoid expressing ourselves in a very emphatic and passionate manner, and with a high tone of voice.  It is well understood, that such a method of outward expression reacts upon the mind, and has a tendency to produce an excited and inordinate state of the feelings within. And besides, it is generally unpleasant and unprofitable to the hearers. It will be noticed, that we are not speaking here of public occasions, in respect to which the rule must be adopted with its appropriate restrictions, but of conversation. And I think we may profitably add here, that the rule is capable of some extension. A truly consecrated person will not only be characterized by quietness of manner, so far as words and voice are concerned; but also in other outward respects.  His  countenance, his action, his general movement will be pervaded, in a great measure, by the same beautiful and Christ-like trait.

We should be careful not to speak much of ourselves and of our own affairs. There are undoubtedly some exceptions to this view; especially when suitable opportunities present themselves of speaking of God's dealings with our souls. But, nevertheless, this seems to be the correct general rule. Such conversations, viz. those which turn frequently and almost exclusively upon ourselves, besides not being in general edifying to others, are apt, by directing our thoughts from the glory of God to the persons and the affairs of the creature, to reanimate and strengthen the dying life of self.

It is not religiously profitable to make the persons and concerns of our neighbors  the frequent subjects of our discourse, unless it be for the purpose of saying what we know can properly be said in their favor, of vindicating them against aspersions, or for some other good and charitable purpose. This rule too has, in practice, its appropriate limitations, which a judicious piety will be likely to suggest. The only further practical remark, which we wish to make on this subject at present, is, that, when we are falsely spoken against, or in some other way greatly injured, we should not, as a general rule, be hasty to reply. The life of nature would prompt us to reply quickly, to vindicate ourselves at all hazards; and sometimes perhaps with a considerable degree of sharpness and violence. But the gentle spirit of Christ in the soul which says, "without my Father I can do nothing," always leads us to look to God for aid and direction before we look to ourselves and our own wisdom, or to the precipitate help of earthly friends. It was thus with the prophet Daniel. When misrepresented, injured, and persecuted; he at once turned his thoughts to God as his only protection. In his solitary chamber, kneeling before the face of the Infinite Presence, and with no disposition to look any where else, he entrusted his cause to Him; who alone is able to help. The example of the Savior also, in relation to this subject, is particularly instructive. When brought to trial before Pilate, although he could easily have made a defense, he chose to be silent; "he answered him to never a word,  insomuch that the Governor marveled greatly." In the language of the evangelical prophet, "He was oppressed and he was affllicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." The deep grace, which manifests itself by patience and silence under the circumstances which have been mentioned, will plead far more eloquently in our behalf, than all the torrent of words and all the vivacity of effort, which the life of nature is so ready to pour forth.

"Teach us in time of deep distress,
To own thy hand, O God!
And in submissive silence learn
The lessons of thy rod.
In every changing scene of life,
Whate'er that scene may be;
Give us a meek and humble mind,
A mind at peace with thee."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 8.

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