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, 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.

No comments:

Post a Comment