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 1, 2015

Unchastened Curiosity

The principle of curiosity, like the other propensities which have been mentioned, is an original principle of our mental constitution. It is implanted there in the wisdom and goodness of the great Being, who constituted the mind; and may justly be regarded as an appropriate and essential attribute of every rational nature. It is hardly necessary to say, that this principle is given to be employed. It is altogether desirable and proper, that men should inquire, and reflect, and obtain knowledge. But this principle also is liable to be perverted. One of the greatest obstacles, which practical sanctification has to contend with, is the prevalence of a spirit of irregular and unchastened curiosity. It is here that Satan has taken up his position in great security and strength, almost unseen by any one; and is throwing his weapons, and slaying numbers, who seem to be entirely ignorant what poisoned dart has hit them.

I will take a case, by no means an uncommon one, which will stand for many others. Here is an individual, a member of a church, who sustains in the view of his brethren, a fair religious reputation, but who, by his own confession, has but little real communion with God, and like many others, has but little religious enjoyment. And what is the reason of this? He is constant at church; he is regular in his family devotions; he is fair and honest in his transactions in business; he is liberal to the poor and to the cause of religious missions; and he does not perceive himself, and others do not clearly perceive, why he does not walk with God, and enjoy continually the light of his countenance. But  the reason is, that he is ignorantly seeking himself and making an idol of himself, contrary to the will and the honor of God, by indulging a wandering and excessive curiosity. It has perhaps never occurred to him that he is as much accountable to God for the regulation of the curious or inquisitive propensity, as for any other principle of our nature. This principle he exercises in a way to gratify himself, by indulging inordinately in a variety of miscellaneous reading, by lending an itching ear to the constant influx of political news, by taking an undue interest in the constantly circulating gossip of families and neighborhoods; in a word, by a strong and almost irresistible craving to hear every thing that is to be heard, and to know every thing that is to be known, whether good or evil, profitable or unprofitable. Like the Athenians of old, he spends no small portion of that time which God has committed to him as a precious trust, in telling or hearing some new thing. Such is the melancholy statement, which is applicable to hundreds and thousands of those who bear the Christian name. There can be no doubt that the evils of this state of things are manifold and great.

— from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 7.

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