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.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Crucifying the Desire for Inward Consolations

In order to the full attainment of what is designed for the Christian, that, in the continuance of this process of excision and crucifixion, he should cut off and crucify the desire of internal consolations and comforts.

We do not mean to imply in this remark, that the advanced and fully established Christian is in a situation, which either directly or indirectly is inconsistent with a full share of pleasurable and happy experience. On the contrary, his consolations, especially when he has found his true center and has fully united his once wandering heart to the heart of God, are tranquil, enduring, and substantial. But to think of such consolations much, to desire them much, and especially to aim at them as an ultimate object, is the precise way to miss them. I think it is very obvious, that he, who is seeking comfort as an ultimate object, is not seeking God but seeking himself. He is not seeking religion, in the proper sense of the term; but he is seeking just what he professes to seek, viz. comfort. Such seeking is in vain. There is but one ultimate object, at which, as those who wish to know the heights and depths of religion, we can safely aim, viz. God himself; or what may be considered as essentially the same thing, a sympathy of our whole being with the holy will of God.

It will be understood here, that we have not reference in these remarks to temporal or worldly consolations, so much as to those which are internal and spiritual. Nor do we mean to say, that to desire spiritual consolations and comforts is, in all cases, wrong. But what we mean to assert is, that we cannot desire them and seek them, out of the will of God and as ultimate objects, without some degree of spiritual injury, and without falling short of the highest attainments in the divine life. To seek them in the way they are commonly sought is evidently to nourish the natural life or the life of self, which it is the object of true religion to destroy.

The question was once put to a pious person, 'whether she enjoyed herself.' Her answer was to  this effect, that she could not speak positively and promptly in regard to herself because she  endeavored to forget self, but she ENJOYED GOD. The reply evidently involved a great principle in religion. No one can enter into the true rest of the soul, in whom the principle of self-love exists in any degree, inconsistent with loving God with the whole heart. "Oh, my God," says the pious Lady Maxwell, "hear the cries of one on whom Thou hast had mercy, and prepare my heart to receive whatever Christ has purchased for me. Allow me not to rest short of it. Put a thorn is every enjoyment, a worm in every gourd, that would either prevent my being wholly thine, or in any measure retard my progress in the divine life."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 10.

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