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, August 26, 2015

Objections to the Idea of Inward Crucifixion

When a person has gone through the process of inward crucifixion in its entire length and breadth, the great spiritual result is the complete extinction of all selfishness and of all self-will: a result brought about by means of an entire and unchangeable consecration, attended by the inwardly operating and searching influences of the Holy Spirit; a result, which in the end is so minutely explorative, so thoroughly destructive of those inward influences which obstruct the presence of God in the soul, and withal so painful oftentimes, that it may well be termed the BAPTISM OF FIRE. It is by means of such a process of inward crucifixion, that the natural life dies; and the way is thus prepared for the true resurrection and life of Christ in the soul.

(1.) Some will say perhaps, that this doctrine, if true, is discouraging; that they have not gone through this process of inward crucifixion, and therefore are not Christians. But we answer, such an inference would be a hasty one. But I think we may say this also. If such persons are really Christians, they are now going through this process. The little leaven is at work, which will ultimately affect the whole lump. God is showing them their idols and slaying them one after another, in order that he himself may enter and occupy their place. We must not think to go to heaven, and at the same time carry the natural life with us. It must be slain, and wholly slain, sooner or later.

(2.) In some persons, though not in many, the natural man, in the comparative sense of the terms, dies easily. These persons, these chosen ones of the Lord, seem to have an intuitive appreciation of what God justly and necessarily requires. They see with the clearness of light, that it is impossible at the same time to serve God and Mammon. Accordingly they submit themselves to the leadings and the power of God without resistance. They yield readily and willingly, like the lamb that is led to the slaughter; and the result is, that the inward crucifixion though not less deep and thorough, is personally less afflictive. The Holy Spirit proceeds gently but constantly in his operations; unbinding every tie of nature; cutting loose every ligament which fastens the soul to the earth, until, in its freedom from the slavery of the world, it expands and rejoices in the liberty of God.

(3.) Other persons, and we may add, the great majority of persons, are not brought to this state of freedom from the world and of union with God, without passing through exceeding afflictions, both external and internal. And this happens partly through ignorance, and partly and more generally through SELF-WILL. They are slow to learn what is to be done; and equally reluctant to submit to its being done. God desires and intends, that they shall be his; but the hour of their inward redemption not being fully come, they still love the world. They attach their affections first to one object, and then to another. They would perhaps be pleased to have God for their portion; but they must have something besides God. In other words, they vainly imagine that they would like to have God and their idols at the same time. And there they remain for a time, fixed, obstinate, inflexible. But God loves them. Therefore, as they will not learn by kindness, they must learn by terror. The sword of Providence and the Spirit is applied successively to every tie, that binds them to the world. Their property, their health, their friends all fall before it. The inward fabric of hopes and joys, where self-love was nourished and pride had its nest, is leveled to the dust. They are smitten within and without; burnt with fire; overwhelmed with the waters; peeled and scathed and blasted to the very extremity of endurance; till they learn, in this dreadful Baptism, the inconsistency of the attempted worship and love of God and Mammon at the same time; and are led to see that God is and ought to be, the true and only sovereign.

(4.) Some will say perhaps, we are thus left alone; we are stripped of every thing which once gave us pleasure; we are reduced to a state of mere desolation and nothingness. And we may add, if such be really the result, that nothing could be more desirable. But it is necessary to make distinctions here. We are not reduced to an absolute nothingness; a nothingness of existence, of identity, and of personal capability; but to a nothingness of SELF and of the corrupt life of nature. The natural life is taken away; and it is true also, that every idol is taken away, to which the life of nature clung for its support. But there is this consolation, that whatever of true value, external to the soul itself, is taken away in accomplishing the death of nature, is abundantly restored again, and is deprived too of all hurtful power, in the subsequent experience of the reviving life of God. We find that all, which is necessary, is given back  to us in the day of our inward restoration; and for the most part increased an hundred fold. We now love our friends, and families, and whatever else is proper to be loved; but we do it in a different manner. We have been taught a lesson, which it is impossible to forget. We have ceased to be idolaters. We henceforth love the gifts of God, which we had laid upon the divine altar as no longer our own, in their source more than in their termination, and not so much for ourselves, as for the sake of the GIVER.

(5.) And this brings us to our concluding remark, that from the death of nature springs a new life, altogether different from that which is crucified and dead; a life born of the Spirit of God, and bearing the image of the Savior. Just so far, then, as the old nature has experienced a crucifixion, and a new nature has taken its place, we are the subjects of a spiritual resurrection in Christ. We are dead, and we are alive again; dead to the world and alive to God. "If ye then be risen with Christ," says the Apostle, Colos. 3; 1-3, "seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, and not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."

And now in the experience of the divinely renovated life, the soul, that is the subject of it, goes forth, not with the marks of external observation, but attended with the Holy Ghost and with power. Such an one has nothing in himself. Self is taken away. But he has all things in God. At this point commences the true Apostolic life. Such an one is a true messenger, set apart to labor for God and to win souls; not by human eloquence and not by the display of worldly pomp; but by the simplicity of holy living and by the word of power uttered in faith.

If thou, Oh God, wilt make my spirit free,
Then will that darkened soul be free indeed;
I cannot break my bonds apart from thee;
Without thy help I bow and serve and bleed.
Arise, oh Lord, and in thy matchless strength,
Asunder rend the links my heart that bind,
And liberate and raise and save, at length,
My long enthralled and subjugated mind.

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

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