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 22, 2015

Solitude From Words

Again, the true solitude of spirit, in the full import of the terms, may be regarded as including, to some extent at least, a cessation or solitude from words. If speech is a blessing when it is under the regulation of holy principles, it is a source of great and almost unmitigated evil when it proceeds from unsanctified passions. And when we consider how closely and extensively it is connected with such passions, we have good reason, at least in a multitude of cases, for regarding silence as a sign of moderation, truth, and peace. To say nothing but what is appropriate, to say nothing but what Christ would say, bearing reproaches without reply, and uttering the truth in love, is a virtue, which is a product of the Holy Ghost, and which belongs to him only who has been taught of God. The speech of him who is the subject of spiritual solitude, like everything else that comes within the reach of moral obligation, is under the restrictions of a divine law; and he can no more speak without God to guide him in his utterance, than he can do anything else without God. In being silent, with the exception of those occasions in which the providence of  God calls him to speak, he has sundered one of the strong links, which would otherwise have bound him to what is vain, frivolous, and wicked in the world.

Solitude from words is not solitude from communication. The soul that,  in consequence of its sanctification, does not speak outward to things that are temporal, speaks inward to things that are eternal. And in proportion as it ceases from those communications with men which God does not call for and does not authorize, it increases its communications with God himself.

And these last remarks indicate the true result of spiritual solitude, when it is rightly understood and experienced. The soul is not left alone with itself,— which  would be much the same as to say, that it is left alone with Satan, — but is left alone with God, who is Eternal Life. Separation, in its spiritual application, is not only seclusion, but transition.  Separation from the world, when predicated of a being to whom absolute separation is an impossibility, is transition to God; and he who is not of the world, is of God; alone and in unison at the same time; in solitude from that which is evil, but in union with that which is good. He has hidden himself, not in the dark and weak enclosure which selfishness furnishes to those who do not believe, but in the strong fortress of the Infinite. He is not only with God, but in him; not only in harmony of action, but in the sacred enclosure of his being: — so that God may be said, in the language of Scripture, to  “compass him round  about." No noise of unholy thoughts, no suggestions of unhallowed reason, no clamors of unsatisfied desire, no confusion of the tongues of men, nothing that is hurtful, nothing that is unprofitable, reaches him. "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people." Ps. 125:2.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 10.

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