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.

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.

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