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, November 30, 2015

Holy Love

In cooperating with our heavenly Father in the great work of redemption, it is an interesting inquiry, what spirit, what form of feeling, he will especially lead us to exercise, and what methods of action and effort we shall employ. It is an obvious remark, though somewhat general in its nature, that we should never lose our simplicity of heart; — but, looking to God with "a single eye," should receive all things and be all things in him alone.

Leaving ourselves in the hands of God in simplicity, that we may thus become the subjects of the divine operation, he, more or less gradually, according to his infinite wisdom, infuses into the soul that divine element of holy love, which makes it like himself. God is love. The feeling, which exists in those who cooperate with him, is love. And when the world becomes holy by being the subject of holy love, and just in proportion as it becomes so, it will find its power in its love. And, accordingly, its influence over men will partake of the attractive rather than the aggressive form.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 9.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Unseen But Seen

He  doth not to our sight appear;
And yet the Christ, the King is here.
He is not seen by outward eye,
And yet we feel and know Him nigh.

In holy hearts He builds His throne;
By holy thoughts His presence known;
And most of all He makes His reign,
Where Love is life, where Self is slain.

Oh Life of love, oh Christ within!
A Life, without the stains of sin;
Unknown, unseen by outward sight,
We see Thee in the soul's clear light.

Christ in the Soul (1872) XLII.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Prepare the Inward Temple

He  dwelt in Tents in olden time;
Then built Moriah's gilded shrine;
But now, in temples more sublime,
In HOLY HEARTS, his glories shine.

And if in Christ He first appear'd,
Dear shrine of beauty, truth, and bliss;
He now appears in temples rear'd
In other hearts, akin to His.

Oh, cleanse THY soul from every sin,
From every grovelling, worldly care;
And let the mighty Monarch in,
To build His throne of glory there.

Christ in the Soul (1872) XLI.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Life United to God

It is evident, that the life of Christ, when examined in its elements, was sustained on the two great principles, which have been so often mentioned, viz. of entire consecration and of perfect faith. It is very true, that these two principles, as we have already seen, did not constitute the whole of his inward life; but it cannot be doubted, that they formed the essential basis of it. They were its fundamental elements; the strong pillars on which it rested. In other words, the Savior, in the true spirit of consecration, appeared in the world, not for himself and his own pleasure, but for the simple purpose of doing and suffering the will of his heavenly Father. And, in the fulfillment of this object, he lived, as all his followers ought to live, by the sublime principle of faith, and not by the inferior guidance of open vision. So that his life, to express its great outlines in a single word, was a life united to God by its disruption from every thing else. Or in still other expressions, it was a life so united to God, that it saw, knew, and loved every thing else, including himself, in its relation to the Divine Mind; IN and FOR God, and God ALONE. Happy are they, the features of whose inward existence are framed and fashioned upon this divine model.

We do not doubt, that the inward religious experience in different individuals may receive some modification, more or less, from the natural character. It will appear differently in John the Baptist and John the Disciple; it will appear differently in Stephen, in Peter, in Paul. But the difference will exist in the modifications and not in the essence of the thing; in that which is outward and incidental, rather than in that, which is internal and substantial. But in all cases of true holiness without exception; there must be, and there is the image of Christ at the bottom. In all cases in which the work of God is carried to its completion, the soul has become an "Infant Jesus;" and like its prototype, the Jesus of Nazareth and the Cross, it will grow in "wisdom, and in stature, and in favor with God and with man."

Such Christians and such Christianity will have an effect upon the world. Those, who are formed upon this divine model, not only have a noble lineage; but they bear in themselves the impress and the inscription of a true nobility. They are the tree, mentioned by the Psalmist, which is "planted by the rivers of water;" not stinted and dwarfish, as too many are, who bear the name of Christ; not smitten with rust and eaten with the worm, but sound alike in the body, the blossom, and the fruit; not crooked, knotted, and unsymmetrical, but free, expansive, and proportional. Wherever they go, the world recognizes their character, without the requisite of a formal proclamation. The image of Jesus, the divinity of the heart, is so written upon the whole outward life, that they are an "epistle, known and read of all men."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


The life of Christ in the soul is distinguished from the natural life, in being characterized by great SIMPLICITY. — It is a common idea, that those, who have been the subject of the interior transformation, have experienced something, which is very remarkable. And undoubtedly it is so. There is truth in the idea; but probably not in the sense, in which the world understands the term. The coming of Christ in the soul is remarkable, in the same sense in which the manner of Christ's entrance into the world was remarkable. It was certainly remarkable, that the Son of God, the "express image of the Father," should become the "babe of Bethlehem," the child of the humble Mary. And thus the new spiritual life when it exists in truth, is not the offspring of earthly royalty, that is heralded by the huzzas of the multitude, but rather the "infant in the manger," that is born in obscurity, and is known and honored only by the lowly in heart. It is a life, so far from any thing that is calculated to attract attention in the worldly sense, that it is known and characterized in no one particular more than by what we have denominated its simplicity; by its being in the language of the Savior like a "little child;" by its freedom from ostentation and noisy pretension; by its inward nothingness.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Life of Christ vs. The Life of Nature

The life of Christ, or rather the religious life as manifested in Christ, is entirely different in its character from the life of nature. In the life of nature, which is unprotected and unrestrained by the conservative principle of supreme love to God, every thing runs to excess. That, which is good in itself, becomes vitiated in its inordinate action. Sympathy assumes the shape of querulous weakness. Friendships are stimulated by a secret selfish influence, till they become idolatry. The love of knowledge distorts itself into obstinacy of opinion and pride of intellect. An allowable and holy displeasure degenerates into the violence of natural anger and revenge. Even a desire to do good is often perverted, through a selfish impetuosity, by an injurious and fatal disregard to the proprieties of time, person, and place.

In those who are but partially sanctified, as well as in those who are wholly dead in their sins, the natural life, in itself considered and just so far as it has an existence at all, is always weak, selfish, inconsistent, passionate, changeable.

The life of Christ in the soul, or what is the same thing, the life of the soul modeled after the image of Christ, is entirely different. Its sympathy is restrained and regulated by the suggestions of reason. Its personal friendships are rendered pure by the exclusion of all idolatrous regard. Its love is unstained by selfishness; and its indignation is hallowed by love. In the natural life, every thing is vitiated either by excess or defect. In the life of Christ, every thing is correspondent to the truth of reason and the commandment of God.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Christlikeness: The Power of the Holy Spirit

Another interesting trait in the history and character of the Savior is, that his inward life was constantly inspired and directed by the presence and operations of the Holy Ghost. From the beginning to the end of his earthly course, in all the various circumstances, in which he was placed, he was the subject of the special influences of divine grace. With a consciousness that all things were in his power, and with a prompt and consecrated readiness to act and to suffer continually, he felt at the same time entirely dependent; and it never occurred to him, that he had any thing, or that he could do any thing out of God. From God, operating by his Holy Spirit in his heart, he received all wisdom, all strength." Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I  have put my  Spirit upon him." Isa. 42:1. In accordance with this prophetic annunciation, John the Baptist is said to have seen the "Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him." In the interesting events, which occurred immediately after his Baptism, it is not said of him, that he went up into the wilderness of his own accord and of his own will, but that he was "full of the Holy Ghost, and was led by the Spirit." On one occasion when he went into the synagogue of Nazareth on the Sabbath day, he opened the Scriptures and read where it is written, "the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor." "He whom God hath sent," says the Savior, referring to himself, "speaketh the words of God; for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him."

We need not multiply testimonies to this effect. We everywhere find evidence, that the life of the Savior, in the spiritual sense of the terms) was derived from the life of God. The branch does not more surely derive its existence and support from the vine, than the Savior derived his inward existence from God. Nor is the branch more closely united to the vine, than he was united to his heavenly Father. "I and my Father," he says, "are one." It  will be noticed, that in designating some of the traits of the Savior's character, we have not paid much attention to order of arrangement. Perhaps it was not necessary that we should. Nor do we profess to have exhausted the subject, and to have mentioned every possible trait of excellency, which his character presents. Hoping, however, that enough has been said to secure the favorable and prayerful interest of the reader, we leave it, important and attractive as it is, with a single remark further, viz., That the life of the Savior, whether considered inwardly or outwardly, was characterized by a proportionate fitness or symmetry in all its parts. It cannot be said of the Savior, as he existed in his humanity, that he was a mere combination of peculiarities; a man wonderful, not by the excellencies, but by the eccentricities of his nature; exciting attention merely by his strange unlikeness to every thing, which could properly be expected in a man. On the contrary, every thing was perfect and appropriate in its position, as well as perfect in its own nature. All the remarkable qualities, which as separate elements contributed to the constitution of his perfect character, were blended together in beautiful harmony. He stands before us complete in the adaptation of the parts of his character, as well as complete in the parts themselves; complete, therefore, as a whole and generically, as well as complete separately and specifically. As nothing can be added to the amount of his excellencies; so it does not appear, that any  thing  can be improved in their relative adjustment, in their beautiful and perfect proportion. This is the man Christ Jesus, who is set before us as an example; who "was tempted in all points as we are, and yet without sin."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Christlikeness: Humility

In another particular also, is the Savior's character deserving of our notice. He exhibited, in his daily deportment, a very meek, humble, and quiet disposition of mind. Every attentive reader of the Gospels will recollect, that this interesting and beautiful trait shows itself in his personal history, in a very remarkable manner. He said of himself, "I am meek and lowly of heart." In the language of the Apostle Peter, "When he was reviled, he reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him, who judgeth righteously." It was said of him prophetically, and before his advent into the world, "He  was oppressed and afflicted; yet he opened not his mouth."  Isa. 53:7. And again in the same Prophet, "He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the streets." Isa. 42:3. At a certain time, when there was a disposition among some of his disciples to put forth personal pretensions, and to claim the preeminence over others, he remarked to them, "Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your servant; even as the son of man came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give his life a ransom for many." Mat. 20:28. But it is hardly necessary to make particular references, when his whole life, in all the varieties of its situation, was a beautiful illustration of this divine trait. He had compassion upon the ignorant, he made his dwelling with the poor; he traveled on foot from place to place in weariness and sorrow; he sat at meat with publicans and sinners; he washed the feet of his disciples. In  the possession of the inestimable trait of meekness and quietness of spirit, let all, who  seek the highest degree of purification and sanctification of heart, be imitators of the example of Jesus Christ; who, in the language of the Apostle Paul, "made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant." Philip. 2:7. Whatever pretensions any of us might justly put forth as natural men or as men of the world, or, in other words, whatever we might justly claim from the world on the world's principles, we should, nevertheless, be willing, in imitation of the blessed Savior's example, to be made of no reputation, and to become the servants of our brethren.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Christlikeness: Attention to Time and Manner

Although the Savior was faithful and diligent in the work committed to his hands, he was not prematurely zealous and obtrusive. He realized, that every thing, when done in accordance with the will of his heavenly Father, (a will which can never be at variance with the highest rationality,) must necessarily have its right time and place. In repeated instances, when something was proposed to him to be done, he declined acting in the case, on the ground that the proper occasion of action had not yet arrived. "His hour had not yet come." He felt, that he must act in accordance with the will of his heavenly Father, not only in the thing to be done; but also in the TIME and MANNER of doing it. Although, considered as a mere man, he possessed powers of judgment vastly greater than fall to the lot of ordinary men, and enjoyed also the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit "without measure;" he nevertheless, felt it to be consistent with the highest duty, to nourish his powers and virtues in retirement, and not to bear his message, important and urgent as it was, prematurely to the world.

"Of the three and thirty years," says a certain writer, "which our blessed Redeemer spent on earth, thirty were spent in the obscurity and abjection of a private and humble condition. Notwithstanding the zeal for the glory of his Father, and the salvation of men, which consumed his soul; notwithstanding the tide of disorder which overran the world, and the abomination of sin and scandal which pierced his heart, the eternal incarnate Wisdom was silent, was hidden, and so remained until the hour appointed by his Father had come; repulsing, even with apparent severity, the prayer of his mother according to the flesh, because it seemed to urge his anticipating that hour." [Interior Peace of Pere Lombez, p. 329.]

This trait in the Savior's character is, in a practical view, very important.  It is probably through a disregard, in part at least, of the course taken by the Savior, which has now been mentioned, that we find, in all denominations of Christians, melancholy instances of persons, who are young in the Christian life, or who are prompted by an undue confidence, exhibiting a disposition to enter prematurely, and sometimes violently, upon measures, which are at variance with the results of former experience and with the admonitions of ancient piety. All mistakes and erroneous proceedings of this kind are discountenanced by the example of our Savior, who quietly remained in solitude and silence, and was refreshed and strengthened with the interior dews of heavenly knowledge, till the great hour arrived, appointed in the wisdom of his heavenly Father, which called him forth to the ministry and the Cross.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Christlikeness: Living for Others

The Savior was conscientious and strictly faithful in whatever his Father committed into his hands to do. He lived for others. And in living for others, he made no secret reservation, that he would in some things consult his own interest. In the language of Scripture, HE PLEASED NOT HIMSELF. In the various companies, in which he mingled, he never forgot the great mission on which he came. He was a man of labor, as well as of faith; and showed in his whole life, that action is the result of believing. It has been remarked of him, that if he had not had something to say to Simon, he probably would not have been found seated at Simon's table; and that "there is not an instance of his having sat at meat with sinners, without reproving their iniquities; or sharing the hospitality of unbelievers, without forcing them to listen to his words." He felt it his duty to leave nothing undone, which ought to  be done. And he did it deliberately, thoroughly, unremittingly. His whole being, in all its innate power and all its outward efforts, was devoted to the one great work of doing his Father's will. No personal inconvenience, no opposition and threats of men, no pressure of personal and temporary interest, nor any other obstacles of whatever nature, had the effect to deter him from doing his duty, and his whole duty to God and to men. "I find it impossible," says David Brainerd, "to enjoy peace and tranquillity of mind, without a careful improvement of time. This is really an imitation of God and Christ Jesus. 'My Father worketh hitherto, and I work,' says our Lord. If we would be like God, we must see that we fill up our time for him."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Christlikeness: Prayer

The Savior was a man of PRAYER. We have already had occasion to notice his declaration, that "without his Father he could do nothing." And as if in practical recognition and manifestation of his entire personal dependence, we find him often kneeling in supplication, and drawing divine strength from the Everlasting Fountain. As God, he had all power. As man, (the aspect in which we are now contemplating him,) he had no power, which he did not receive from his heavenly Father. And if there was ever any instance of "living by the moment," (which seems to us the true way of Christian living, and which obviously implies praying by the moment,) we find it undoubtedly in the life of Jesus Christ. He may be said, therefore, with a great deal of truth, to have been praying all the time. Certainly he was always in the spirit of prayer. But, besides this spirit of continual intercourse with God, which was as natural to him as the breath which he breathed, he had especial seasons of supplication, when he went apart from men, and poured forth his soul in private.

"Cold mountains and the midnight air,
"Witnessed the fervor of his prayer."

If even the Savior could do nothing without his Father, if prayer was as necessary to his spiritual support as the very air he breathed was to the support of his body, let no one suppose, that he can sustain the grace of a truly regenerated and sanctified heart, without possessing a like prayerful spirit.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Christlikeness: Simple Faith

The Savior, considered as a man, lived by SIMPLE FAITH. — A life of faith is almost necessarily implied in a state of entire self-renunciation. It does not easily appear, how a person, who, in the spirit of self-renunciation, has placed himself in the hands and under the direction of another, can live spiritually in any other way than by means of faith. There is nothing left him but simple trust. To renounce ourselves entirely and not to repose trust in another, would soon be followed by a state of despair. So that we may regard it as the natural order of religious sequence, that the principle of faith, which is life in another, should take the place of the extinct principle of life in ourselves. The memorable statement, therefore, that "the just shall live by faith," was as applicable to the Savior, as to any other holy being. The whole history of the intercourse, which took place in his state of humiliation between him and his Father, is a confirmation of this position, and declares emphatically, that he NEVER DOUBTED. "Man shall not live by bread alone," he said to the Tempter, "but  by every word, that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." He said to the Jews on a certain occasion, "I am not come of myself, but he, that sent me, is TRUE." This single expression carries with it important meaning. It was the truth of God, his  firm  and unchanging faithfulness, upon which his soul rested, as upon an everlasting rock. He assures us, that "without his Father, he could do nothing;" a declaration which seems necessarily to imply the existence of unwavering confidence in the Being, who was the present and the only source of his power. There can be no doubt, therefore, that, the direction, which he gave to his disciples, he was willing to apply in its full import to himself. "Have faith in God." In his prayer  at  the grave of Lazarus, he said, "Father, I thank Thee, that thou hast heard me. And I KNEW, [that is to say, had entire confidence, unwavering  faith,] that thou hearest me always." Faith sustained him in trial as well as in duty; in the depths of affliction as well as in the active labors of his ministry. Even in the agonies of the Cross, when every possible sorrow was inflicted, and every other consolation was taken away, he was supported by its mighty power alone.

And in connection with this view, we are not to be surprised that we find the Savior so often and so earnestly urging upon his followers the necessity of living in the same manner. He taught them, in various ways and at various times, that faith was the source of their inward life and power; and that by it they could overcome all difficulties, "removing even mountains." Discountenancing every other mode of living, he decidedly rebuked the disposition, originating in unbelief, to seek a sign, (that is to say, a striking and confirmatory manifestation of some kind, ) in addition to and in support of the simple declaration of God. "An evil and  adulterous  generation," he says," seeketh after a sign."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Christlikeness: Entire Consecration

The life of the Savior was characterized by the spirit of  ENTIRE CONSECRATION. The idea of consecration seems to be much the same with that of self-renunciation; with this difference only, that he, who is the subject of consecration, has not only renounced himself, but has done it in favor of some other object, or some other being. Accordingly he, who, in renouncing himself, has renounced all his own private desires, purposes, and aims, and has surrendered his will, which, in some sense, constitutes  himself,  into the keeping of the divine will, is emphatically a person consecrated to the divine will; or what is the same thing, he is a person consecrated to God. Now it is very evident, that the Savior, considered in his humanity, and as a messenger of God here in the world, had no will of his own. If he cannot be said, properly speaking, to have renounced his will, it is because he never possessed a will, which operated at variance with the infinite and divine will. It was not on his own account, that he came into the world. "Wist ye not" he says on a certain occasion, "that I must be about my Father's business?" "I came down from heaven," he says in another place, "not to do mine own will, but the will of Him, that sent me." John, 6:38. And again he says, "my meat is to do the will-of him that sent me, and to knish his work." John 4:34. There are many other passages of a similar import. And the whole history of his life, which is unstained by any selfish and personal purpose, constitutes a confirmation of them. He could say, "I and my Father are one," because his whole soul lay, as it were, upon the divine altar; set apart both to do and to suffer his Father's will, "brought as a lamb to the slaughter," "slain from the foundation of the world," "offered up to bear the sins of many."

It is the same spirit of devout and entire consecration, which is the abiding and in its results the victorious element of the religious life in all his followers. And it is so, because, by the alienation of self it puts them in a situation, where they can take hold of the divine power by faith. Those, who have made such consecration, feel that they have no longer any thing, which they can call their own. In every thing, which concerns their personal desires and interests; in every thing, which is at variance with the divine purposes, they are nailed to the Cross. And hence, in the want of all things in themselves, they have the possession of all things in God.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Christlikeness: Intellectual Culture

The Savior exhibited and valued INTELLECTUAL CULTURE. We do not perceive that he at any time showed a disposition, to separate religion from rationality. Even in early youth he exhibited a strong desire of knowledge. It is related of him at the early period of twelve years of age, that he was found in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the Jewish religious teachers, "both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all, that heard him, were astonished at his understanding and answers." He knew very well, that religion must have a basis in the perceptions; and that its existence, without some degree of knowledge and reflection, is a natural impossibility. He knew also, that religion cannot be spread abroad from heart to heart, so as to take root to any great extent and become effective in those who are ignorant of it, except by means of the truth. And accordingly he improved his early opportunities of knowing; and while he grew in stature and in favor with God and with man, it is stated also, that he "grew strong in spirit," and that "he increased in wisdom." In particular, he seems to have nourished and strengthened himself intellectually by the faithful study of the divine lessons of the Old Testament. His repeated public instructions in the Synagogues are a proof of his intimate knowledge of the Scriptures. In all his personal and private intercourse also, even on occasions, which were calculated to agitate and afflict him, he was calmly deliberate, reflective, and argumentative. In his interviews with his disciples, in his conversations with publicans and sinners, in his controversies with the Pharisees and Sadducees, and on all similar occasions, it is very evident, that he acted not by passion, but by sober judgment; not by impulses but in a truly reflective and rational manner; meeting argument with argument; opposing scripture to scripture, as one who knew how to wield the "sword of the Spirit;" and subverting sophistry with the well considered and appropriate responses of truth.

It is true, that his illustrations and manner varied with the circumstances and the occasion, and that he was at certain times more animated, pointed, and severe than at others; but he never did or said anything, which was at variance with sound judgment. I have sometimes thought, that persons of flighty conceptions and vigorous enthusiasm would regard the Savior, if he were now on the earth, as too calm and gentle, as too thoughtful and intellectual, as too free from impulsive and excited agitations, to be reckoned with those, who are often considered the most advanced in religion. He never performed the feat of Simeon Stylites, who, from mistaken religious motives, spent years on the top of a pillar of stone; nor was he violently whirled round like a top, as is related of some persons who have been the subjects of religious excitement; nor did he experience the other bodily and convulsive agitations, which in some instances have characterized the religious movements of modern times, and have sometimes been mistaken for religion itself. In violation of the proud anticipations of the Jews, and in conformity with what might be expected from a being endued with the highest rationality, he appeared as a plain, unobtrusive, and reflective man; coming and acting like the "kingdom of God" itself, essentially "without observation;" and attracting notice, so far as he did so, by pure and sober piety only, by the beauty of virtue sustained and characterized by the strength of deliberation and wisdom, and not by being the subject or the agent of eccentricities.

In making these remarks we do not mean to imply, that the Savior was without feeling. His sympathy with the sick and the poor, his personal attachments, his earnest desire for the salvation of sinners, his denunciations of hardened transgressors, all show, that he was susceptible of deep feeling. But what we mean to say is, that he did not undervalue knowledge and truth. But on the contrary, he estimated them highly, and under the teachings of the Holy Spirit, made them, as it were, the basis of the inward life. And I think we may properly add here, as in accordance with what has been said, that no feeling, that no contrition or sorrow, and no other form of feeling whatever, does, or can possess any religious value in the sight of God, except so far as it has its origin in perception and knowledge.

 — edited from The Interior of Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Christlikeness: Personal Friendships

The Savior was susceptible of, and that he actually formed, to some extent, PERSONAL FRIENDSHIPS AND INTIMACIES. It would be unreasonable to doubt, that he had a sincere affection, analogous probably in its nature to the filial and fraternal affections in other cases, to his mother, his reputed father, and his brethren and sisters after the flesh. Certainly we have an evidence of this declaration in part, not only in the fact of his dwelling so long with them as he did; but in the circumstance that, when he was suspended in the agonies of the Cross, he commended his mother to the care of the disciple John. It would hardly be consistent with the doctrine of his humanity, and would certainly be at variance with the many developments of his life as the "son of man," to suppose that he did not form a strong, personal attachment to the little company of his disciples. It  is said expressly in especial reference to his disciples, "having loved his own, which were in the world, he loved them to  the end." It  is also explicitly narrated, that he loved Mary, and Martha, and Lazarus, the favored family of Bethany, whom he often visited. The disciple John, in particular, is characterized as the disciple whom Jesus loved. As he was set before us as an example, that we should follow him, this interesting trait, which resulted in the formation of friendly and affectionate intimacies, is what we should naturally expect to find in him. And furthermore, as one who came to suffer as well as to act, as a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," had he not some need even of human sympathy? And if this suggestion be well founded, where would he be disposed to look for the consolations, which even the sympathy of men is capable of affording, except in the bosoms of those, whom he loved peculiarly and confidentially?

In connection with what has been said in relation to this interesting trait in the Savior, we may remark here, that nature teaches us, or rather the God of nature, that increased and special love, other things being equal, may properly flow in the channel of the domestic affections. And also that it is entirely consistent with holiness, and not only consistent but a duty, to exercise special love towards those, whether we are naturally related to them or not, with whom we are intimately connected in life, and whose characters are truly lovely.

As Christians, therefore, as those who have experienced or who aim at experiencing the sanctifying graces of the Spirit, we may regard ourselves as permitted, both on natural principles and in imitation of the Savior, to form such personal friendships and attachments as the Providence of God may favor and his holiness approve. Intimacies and friendships, formed on purely worldly principles, have no religious value, and are often positively evil. It is important, therefore, to remember, that all such friendships should be entirely subordinated, as they were in the case of the Savior, to the will of our heavenly Father. If, through the influence of the life of nature, they become inordinate, they are no better than any other idols.  It  is certain there is much in them that is amiable and pleasant, that they are authorized by the example of the Savior, and that they seem to be even necessary in our present situation; but like every thing else they must receive the signature of the divine approbation, and must be sustained or abandoned at the call of religious duty.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Christlikeness: Sympathy

We propose to mention briefly some of the traits of character, which are conspicuous in the life of our Savior; and which present themselves particularly to our notice and observation; beginning with those, which, in consequence of their close alliance with the constitution of human nature, seem to have a natural as well as a religious character.

And accordingly we proceed to remark, in the first place, that the Savior, considered in his human nature, was a man of SYMPATHY. And in making this remark, we mean to imply, that he was a man of sympathy on natural as well as on religious principles; sympathetic as a man, as well as  sympathetic as a religious man. And as such, it is very obvious from the Scriptures, that he felt a deep interest in all those, who are the proper objects both of natural and religious sympathy; for the sick, for the poor, the ignorant, the tempted, the suffering of all classes and conditions. Although he loved religious retirement, and knew more than any one else the inestimable privilege of being alone with God, he felt deeply the claims of a common humanity; and in obedience to those claims came forth, and lived, and suffered among men; weeping with those who wept and rejoicing with those who rejoiced. He gave no countenance to an exclusively solitary religion; a religion, which under the name of meditation and prayer, shuts itself up in barren insulation, and has no deep and operative sympathy with men. Where there were wounds to be healed, whether mentally or bodily; where there were tears to be dried up; whenever and wherever he could add to the amount of human happiness or detract from the sum of human misery, he was present.

He deeply sympathized with those, who are the subjects of religious trials and duties, especially with the beginners in the divine life, with the weak ones and lambs of his flock. Accordingly he adapted his instructions to their capacity of understanding; and also to their present degree of advancement and strength of purpose. And hence it is, that on a certain occasion after having made some communications to his disciples, he added, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now."  It  is expressly said, in allusion to this interesting trait of his character; "a bruised reed he shall not break and smoking flax he shall not quench."

It is hardly necessary to add, that those, who, in experiencing the inward restoration; have been raised anew in the image of Christ's likeness, will exhibit this interesting trait in a marked degree. There can be no such thing as a truly holy heart, which is destitute of a pure and deep sympathy.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


"Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away. Behold, all things are become new." 2 Cor. 5:17.

"For even hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an EXAMPLE, that ye should follow his steps." 1 Pet. 2:21.

The old life perishes, in order that there may be a new creation in Christ. The deformity of the ancient nature passes away, and the image of Christ in the soul takes its place. And we can try and be assured of the truth of the resurrection from the death of sin, only by its likeness to the life of the Savior. It is a matter of great gratitude, therefore, that the Gospel not only delineates holiness, which is but another name for the true inward life, by means of abstract statements; but represents it visibly and sensibly in the beautiful mirror of the Savior's personal history. This is a mirror, which it is necessary for every Christian, and especially for those who are earnestly seeking the entire sanctification of the heart, to contemplate prayerfully and unceasingly. The more we study the life of Christ, if we do it with a consecrated and prayerful spirit, the more it is reasonable to suppose we shall be like him. And in proportion as we bear his likeness, will those various imperfections and inconsistencies, which often mar the lives of his followers, disappear.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition 1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Present Moment

It is difficult to attach too much importance to the present moment, considered in its relations to inward experience. The value of our past experience, in itself considered, can never be changed; and the untried future is wholly unknown to us. It is obvious, therefore, that we are what we are NOW. We are, and we can be, only what we are, when we are estimated by the facts, the relations, and the duties of the present moment. It is only in the facts, the relations, and the duties of the present moment that God offers himself to our notice.  We must meet with him there, and harmonize with him there, or meet with him and harmonize with him no where.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXLVII.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The World Living In Us

The world is sometimes described as a troublesome world; but there is still greater and more practical truth in a remark which is sometimes made, that our chief troubles do not arise from our living in the world, but from the fact of the world's living in us.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXLVI.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

"The Kingdom of God is Within You."

"The kingdom of God is within you."  The soul's inward redemption, that is to say, its redemption from present sin and its unity with God in will and life, can be sustained, and sustained only, by the present indwelling and operation of the Holy Ghost.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXLV.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Means and Ends

In the discharge of those duties which are incumbent upon us, if our hearts are right with God, we shall consider it indispensably necessary to employ just means, as well as to aim at just ends. And however just and desirable the ends may be, in themselves considered, if the methods or means are such as we cannot rightfully employ, we must always regard the end as forbidden.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXLIV.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Last Trump

"Behold I show you  a  mystery. We  shall not  all  sleep, but we  shall  all  be  changed.  In a moment, in  the twinkling  of an eye, at the  last trump: for  the trumpet shall sound, and  the  dead  shall  be raised." 1 Cor. xv. 51, 52.

When the last trump shall sound, all earth shall hear,
The sea's wide tumbling waves be fixed with dread,
The startled mountains turn their iron ear,
The hills shall flee away, and hide their head.
Leviathan shall plunge into his cave,
His deepest cave; the lion to his den;
In the black clouds the birds their wings shall wave,
And screaming loud, respond the cries of men;
And men, poured forth from cot and splendid hall,
Shall mingle with the cattle in the fields,
While, tost and breaking at the trumpet's call,
The rending ground beneath their footstep yields.
When all is changing, all in horror mixed,
The Christian's soul remains believing, calm, and fixed.

American Cottage Life (1850) XXI.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Glimpse of Heaven

"But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city." Heb. xi. 16.

When on some voyage of trade in distant seas,
The gallant ship has ploughed for many years,
At last, with sails rejoicing in the breeze,
Her own, her lovely native coast she nears;
The hardy sailors look from deck and mast,
Their fathers' hills and hamlets to descry;
As one by one they point them out, full fast
Unwonted tears of gladness fill the eye;
They shout with joy; 'tis their own native land;
Where brothers, sisters, fathers, grandsires dwell.
So, when the Christian on life's bounds doth stand,
On heaven's bright hills his eyes with fervor dwell,
His blessed Father's home is in his sight,
He shouts aloud with joy, unspeakable delight.

American Cottage Life (1850) XX.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Remembrance of a Godly Teacher

In all institutions [of learning]... there should be living teachers, men "full of the Holy Ghost," who should be able to explain and apply the principles which are found in the Bible.

In early life I had the privilege of being associated for a short time, in an institution, where it seemed to me that some of these views were happily illustrated. Studies always opened in the morning and closed at night with religious services. The first half hour of every morning, in particular, was devoted to the reading of the Scriptures, the explanatory and practical remarks of the worthy and learned instructor, and to prayer. And it was understood by all, whatever might be the state of their own minds, that this religious exercise was regarded by the teacher as one of preeminent importance. When he came before his pupils on this occasion, they did not doubt that he had first commended them to God in private; and that of all objects which he desired and had at heart, there was none so dear to him as their souls' salvation. Every movement was stilled; — every voice hushed; — every eye fixed. And whatever might be their creed or want of creed, their religious adhesions or aversions, such was their sympathy with his obvious sense of responsibility and his divine sincerity, that even the hearts of the infidel and the profane were cheerfully laid open before him; — so that with their own consent he was enabled, by means of his prayers and warnings, to write upon them, as it were, inscriptions for immortality. I was not a pupil in the seminary to which I refer, but an assistant teacher; and had a good opportunity to observe and to judge. My own heart never failed to be profoundly affected; — and, from what I have learned and known of his pupils since, scattered as they have been in all parts of the world, and engaged in various occupations, I have no doubt that God eminently blessed the faithful labors of this good man, and that he was permitted to realize in his instructions, to an extent not often witnessed, the beautiful union of the culture of the heart with that of the understanding.

Christ came into the world to redeem man to God; — in other words, to restore him to God by redemption; — that is to say, by the purchase of his own blood. The object is secured, and man is restored to God, whenever God becomes the in-dwelling, the universal, and permanent principle of his soul.  And the restoration of man involves the restoration of all that  pertains to man. The restoration of man is, at the same time,  the  restoration of the family and of civil society; the restoration of  art and literature. It implies the extinction of vice, the prevalence of virtue, the dignity of labor, the universality of education, and the perfection of social sympathy and intercourse. And no man is, or can be redeemed, in the truer and higher sense of the terms, without being, in his appropriate degree and place, a co-worker with God in all these respects.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 8.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Divine Guidance and Education

 It is a part of God's plan to teach man by the aid of his fellow-man, and to secure his cooperation by means of educational institutions. And looking at such institutions in this light, namely, in their relation to God, it seems to us that the time has come when they should be formed upon new principles, — in part at least. Christians will not do justice to themselves, and will not fully unite in God' s designs in reference to man's redemption, until the learned institutions they establish and support shall combine with the cultivation of the intellect the higher and nobler object of the restoration of the heart to its Maker. It should be written upon the walls of every seminary; — Education for Truth, for Humanity, for God.

The state of things is far different from this. If we had no other evidence of this remark, we might find it in one fact which all are acquainted with. We have reference to the general exclusion of the Bible from the list of books which are systematically and thoroughly studied. If the Bible were estimated by its literary merits alone, it ought not to be condemned to such an exclusion. Considered simply as documents, which threw light upon the origin of the human race and the early history of mankind, there are no books more worthy of being studied than the five books of Moses and the other historical books of the Old Testament. We would not easily yield to others in our admiration of the writers of Greece and Rome; but, looking at them in a merely literary point of view, we find the poets of those countries excelled by the Psalms of David and by many passages of the prophets; — and probably no one will say, that the moral doctrines of Socrates and Cicero, eminent and enlightened men as they were, are to be brought into comparison with the divine teachings of the Son of God. But on such a subject we might be distrustful of our own opinions, were it not that they are in harmony with sentiments frequently expressed by literary men of so much learning and eminence, that their right to judge in such a  matter will not be likely to be questioned. The subject, for instance, is repeatedly referred to in the writings of Sir William Jones He says, on one occasion, "I have carefully and regularly perused the Holy Scriptures, and am of opinion, that, independent of its divine origin, the volume contains more sublimity, purer morality, more important history, and finer strains of eloquence, than can be collected from any other book, in whatever language it may have been written."

But if the Scriptures are thus valuable in a merely literary point of view, it would be difficult to express their importance, considered in their moral and religious relations. It is in this view that they present claims, which can be brought forward in support of no other system and no other book.

The mere study of the Bible, however, is not enough. There are institutions at the present day, in which the Bible is carefully studied; — but less with  a reference to moral than intellectual culture. The study of the Bible for the mere purpose of increasing our amount of knowledge, is not all that is needed. It should be studied with a view to the supply of our moral and religious wants. There should, therefore, be a distinct recognition, in every institution of learning, of man's alienation from God, and of the necessity of his restoration. Upon these two great subjects, which are vital in every true system of mental culture, all possible light should be thrown. And it ought to be understood that no person is to be regarded as thoroughly educated, who cannot say that he has given his heart to God at the same time that he has given his intellect to the pursuit of the truth.

Nor are such views to be considered as impracticable There are principles, perhaps not yet fully ascertained, which will result, (we will not say infallibly, but certainly as a general thing,) in spiritual renovation. And it seems to be a part of God's plan, that they shall be applied in connection with the relationship of man with man, and their mutual agency one upon the other. In all institutions, therefore, there should be living teachers, men "full of the Holy Ghost," who should be able to explain and apply the principles which are found in the Bible. If such institutions could take the place of many which now exist, the favorable results to morals and religion would be immense.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 8.