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, May 30, 2015

Acting Without God

The decisions of the conscience are  always based upon perceptions and acts of the judgment; consequently he who acts from mere desire, without any intervention and helps of the judgment, necessarily acts without the approbation of conscience; and may be said, therefore, in the moral sense of the terms, to act without God.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXXVI.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Prayer and Sin

No person can pray earnestly, that the impenitent may be freed from their sins, while he himself knowingly cherishes sin.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXXV.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Fixed Determination to Belong to God

We often speak of desiring or wishing to be the Lord's; but there is not much ground for supposing that there is any considerable degree of sincerity or strength in such desires, if they stop short of a fixed determination or resolve to be his.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXXIV.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The New Birth

BE BORN AGAIN,
With birth-right from above;
Thy selfish nature slain;
Be born of LOVE.

'Tis life from heaven,
Descending in thy soul;—
'Tis Love's new nature given,
Which makes thee whole.

Oh, do not rest,
Till that bright hour shall come,
Which smites thy selfishness
With final doom.

And, in its place,
Brings forth the life, new-born
Of truth, and love, and peace,
Bright as the morn.

Christ in the Soul (1872) XXX.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Let God Answer

When wicked men thy patience try,
With haughty words and threats and blows,
Let God, and not thyself, reply;
Thy wants the Father knows.

'Tis He, with kindly presence near,
Thy words and feelings shall inspire;
Thy foes shall tremble when they hear
Lips touch'd by heaven's own fire.

The strength of human argument
And human wit, shall fail to reach
The mighty power, the great intent,
Of God's interior speech.

LEAVE ALL WITH GOD and, in the hour
Of greatest feebleness and need,
Behold the triumph of His power;
TO GOD ALONE TAKE HEED.

Christ in the Soul (1872) XXIX.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Turning From God

What is it to turn from God? 

In the earlier stages of experience, we are apt (and perhaps it is difficult to do otherwise) to assign to God a form and locality. The term from, in its original meaning, involves the idea of place; and regarding God as having form and locality, we easily adjust the expression to our conceptions, and speak with a degree of propriety, relatively to our view of things, of turning our thoughts and feelings from God. But when, in a more advanced state of experience, the idea of a local God expands itself into the idea of God  “un-local" and infinite, not only associating himself with all things as an attendant, but existing in all things as a living spirit; — what is meant by turning from God then?

In the experience of a truly sanctified mind, to turn from God, in one important sense at least, is to be out of harmony with his providences. For God, in being expanded, as it were, from the local and the finite to the un-local and infinite, can be found, as a God developing himself within the sphere of human knowledge, only in those things, acts and events, which constitute providences. To be out of harmony with these things, acts, and events, which God in his providence has seen fit to array around us, — that is to say, not to meet them in a humble, believing, and thankful spirit, — is to turn from God. And, on the other hand, to see in them the developments of God's presence, and of the divine will, and to accept that will with all the appropriate dispositions, is to turn in the opposite direction, and to be in union with him.

The man who is thus united with God in his providences, not only sees God in everything else, but he has God in himself. His soul is the "temple of the Holy Ghost." The God inward, or perhaps we should say the purified soul in the likeness of God, corresponds to the God outward. God manifests himself in his providences, sometimes in sending joy and sometimes in sending sorrow — and the life of Jesus in the heart, the God in miniature, if we may so express it, corresponds, with entire facility and perfection of movement, to the God that is manifested in the events and things around. And thus it is easy to understand, looking at the subject in these various points of view, and especially when we consider that God in his providences is the exact counterpart of God reestablished in the sanctified human heart, how man may be said, in the language of Scripture, "to walk" with his Maker, and that harmony with Providence is union with the Divinity.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 8.


Saturday, May 23, 2015

God is Present in All Events

Every event which takes place in God's providential government may be said to be God to us; — that is to say, not merely to remind us of God as coldly beholding the event at a  distance, but to bring God with it, and to manifest him in a very especial manner. I am aware that it is a common saying, and one which is generally assented to, that God is present in all events. The man of the world will assert this; — the disbelievers in the Bible will sometimes assert it. But it is hardly necessary to say, that they have not the faith which enables them to realize that which they assert. The mere declaration of his presence is a very different thing from a practical conviction, a realizing sense, of his presence. If God, in the events of his providence, afflicts me with sickness, or if he permits my neighbor to defame me, God, it is true, is not the sickness, and is not the defamation; but he is in the sickness and in the defamation, in such a sense that we are to think of him and receive him as a present God, and present probably for the specific purpose of trying our faith and patience. The event, painful as it is, and criminal as it is under some circumstances, is nevertheless a manifestation of God; and not of a God absent, but of a God present. And happy is the man that can receive this.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 8.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Seeing God in Nature

Providence, expansive as the agency of the Divine Mind, includes things as well as events, material nature as well as human action. To be in harmony, therefore, with God's Providence, we must be in harmony with everything; — not excepting the material world. It is true, that things inanimate have no life in themselves; but they are the residence of a living mind. We might almost say, in a mitigated sense of the terms, that every thing, not excluding objects the most remote from moral intelligence, becomes God to us. There is no grass, no flower, no tree, no insect, no creeping thing, no singing bird, nothing which does not bring God with it, and in such a manner that the thing which we behold becomes a clear and bright revelation of that which is invisible.

We go, for instance, into a garden and pluck a flower; and, as we permit our eye to wander over it and to behold the various elements of its graceful beauty, we not only see the flower, but the eye of faith, making a telescope of the bodily eye, and reading the invisible in the visible, sees, also, the God of the  flower. Often has the devout Christian, in all ages of the world used expressions, which indicate the fact of this divine perception. "The God, whom I love," he says, "shines upon me from these blooming leaves." And the expressions he uses convey a great truth to him, however they may fail to convey it to others. That flower is God's development.  It  is not only God present indirectly by a material token, by a mere manifested sign, while the reality of the thing signified is absent; but it is God present as a being, living, perceptive, and operative. We  do not mean to say, that God and the flower are identical. Far from  it. But what we do mean to say is, —  that  the life of God lives and operates in the life of the flower. It is not enough to say, as we contemplate  the flower, that God created  it; implying, in the remark, that, having created it, he then cast it upon the bosom of the earth to live or die, as a thing friendless and uncared for. This is the low view which unbelief taken. The  vision of faith sees much further than this. God is still in it; — not virtually, but really; not merely by signs, but as the thing signified. God is the "God of the living." And while the flower lives, he, who made it, is still its vital principle just as much as when his unseen hand propelled it from its stalk; not only the author, but the support of its life, the present and not the absent source of its beauty and fragrance, still delighting in it as an object of his skill and care.

The  sanctified mind realizes this in a new and higher sense; —  so much so that the truly holy man enjoys especial intercourse with God, and enters into a close and  divine unity with him, when he walks amid the various works which nature, or rather the God of nature, constantly  presents to his view.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 8.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Holding God's Providences Dear

In the case of the truly holy man, God's providences are dear. In conforming to the law of Providence, he obeys the law which secures efficacy and application to every other law. The law of God, for instance, requires us to reprove sin in our neighbor; but unless we are guided in doing it by the providential law, we shall be likely to do more evil than good. If we reprove him without regard to time and place, — if we take an occasion to do it which will unnecessarily expose him to contempt and injury from others, while he is made the subject of our own reprehensions, — we shall obviously fail of our object.

The law of God requires us to do good, by speaking to impenitent persons on the subject of religion. But this requisition must be carried into effect, in connection with the law of Providence; in accordance with the appropriateness of time, place, the presence or absence of friends, and all other circumstances which are naturally or necessarily involved.

The law of God requires us to be benevolent; but benevolence, without regard Io the adjustments and claims of Providence, is not benevolence, but prodigality; in other words, it is unbelieving and unacceptable wastefulness. We are to consult God's will in the manner of giving, as much as in the fact of giving. His written law requires the fact; — his providential law indicates the manner. A failure in the latter, if it is intentional, vitiates and annuls the obedience of the former.

The law of God requires us to be submissive and acquiescent under those afflictions which from time to time come upon us. But submission to afflictions, without recognizing God's providential foresight and arrangements in sending them, is mere acquiescence in unavoidable events, and not acquiescence in God's wise and just agency; it is the submission of a brute animal, and not the submission of a Christian.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 8.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Discordant with Providence and with God

It will be seen, on a little examination... that harmony with Providence is union with God.  As the law of Providence is only another expression for God's will, as that will is exhibited in connection with his providences, the man who lives in conformity with Providence necessarily lives in conformity with God.

This certainly cannot be said of the natural or unholy man. It is impossible that it should be. Living in the breath and heat of his own desires, in his own will and out of God's will, he is not more discordant with Providence, than with the Author of Providence. There is a perpetual conflict. Full of his own objects and purposes, he desires health, but God sends sickness; he desires riches, but God sends poverty; he desires ease, but God imposes activity and labor; he desires honor, but God sends degradation. Or, if God sends the objects of his desire, giving him health, wealth, and honor,  he still complains of the way in which they are sent; or if he is satisfied with the way in which they are sent, he is not satisfied with the degrees. There will always be found a divergency, a want of harmony somewhere.  It is impossible that they should walk together.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 8.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

He Standeth at the Door

"My head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night." Cant. v. 9.

The stars are shining from their depths of blue,
And one is standing at the door and knocks;
He  knocks to enter in. His raven locks
Are heavy with the midnight's glittering dew.
He  is our FRIEND; and great his griefs have been,
The thorns, the cross, the garden's deep distress,
Which he hath suff'ered for our happiness;
And shall we not arise, and let him in?
All hail, thou chosen one, thou source of bliss!
Come with thy bleeding feet, thy wounded side;
Alas, for us Thou hast endured all this;
Enter our doors, and at our hearth abide!
Chill are the midnight dews, the midnight air;
Come to our hearts and homes, and make thy dwelling there.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Monday, May 18, 2015

Right Disposition

God not only has the disposition to do what is right, but he always does it. Men may have the disposition, and yet fail through physical infirmity, in the realization of the thing; that is to say, in the outward act. But the disposition is accepted.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXXIII.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Holiness in the World

The rays of the sun shine upon the dust and mud, but they are not soiled by them. So a holy soul, while it remains holy, may mingle with the vileness of the world, and yet be pure in itself.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXXII.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Prayer and Action

No person can be considered as praying in sincerity for a specified object, who does not employ all the appropriate natural means which he can, to secure the object.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXXI.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Crucified Even To Our Virtues

When Satan cannot prevent our good deeds, he will sometimes effect his evil objects by  inducing  us to take an undue and selfish satisfaction in them. So that it is necessary, if we would not convert them into destructive poisons, to be crucified and dead even to our virtues.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXX.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Sovereign Will

"Thou hast  a mighty arm;  strong is  thy hand, and high is  thy  right  hand." Psalm lxxxix.  13.

There is one ruling power, one sovereign will,
One  sum and center of efficiency.
'Tis like the mystic wheel within the wheel
The prophet saw at Chebar. Its decree
Goes from the center to the utmost bounds
Of universal nature. Its embrace
And penetrating touch pervades, surrounds
Whate'er has life or form or time or place.
It  garnishes the heavens, and it gives
A terror and a voice to ocean's wave.
In all the pure and gilded heights it lives,
Nor less in earth's obscurest, deepest cave.
Around, above, below, its might is known,
Encircling great and small, the footstool and the throne.

American Cottage Life (1850).


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Millennial Day

"They  shall  not hurt nor destroy in  all  my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full  of the knowledge of the Lord,  as  the waters cover the sea."  Isa.  xi. 9.

Upon God's  Holy  Mountain all is peace.
Of  clanging arms and cries and wail, no sound
Goes up to mingle with the gentle breeze,
That bears its perfumed whispers all around.
Beneath its trees that spread their blooming light,
The spotted leopard walks; the ox is there;
The yellow lion stands in conscious might,
Beneath the dewy and illumined air.
A little child doth take him by the mane,
And leads him forth, and plays beneath his breast.
Nought breaks the quiet of that blest domain,
Nought mars its harmony and heavenly rest:
Picture divine and emblem of that day,
When peace on earth and truth shall hold unbroken sway.

American Cottage Life (1850).


Monday, May 11, 2015

What is Life?

The question naturally arises in the inquiring mind what Life is? In answering this question, it is admitted that we may not be able, in consequence of its ultimate and primary position, to say what life is, in itself considered: but it will aid much in giving clearness to our conceptions, if we proceed to give concisely but distinctly some of its marks or characteristics.

1.—One of the marks or characteristics of Life, in its primary or ultimate sense, in distinction from anything of a subordinate or secondary nature which may sometimes bear that name, is, that it is without beginning. If the Life, meaning by the term what may be conveniently designated as the true or essential Life, could not be said to exist without a beginning, then it would be true, that there was a time, (namely, the time antecedent to its beginning,) when it had no existence: a doctrine, which would leave the universe for unnumbered ages without any life-giving principle. It is hardly necessary to say that this is a view which is inadmissible. And besides, if there was a time when the Essential Life did not exist, and afterwards a time when it began to exist, then, inasmuch as not having existed at first it could not have created itself, it must have been brought into being by another Life antecedent to it in existence. And if there was another principle of Life antecedent to it in existence, which was without beginning and had also by means of its higher and broader nature the power of developing existence in other forms, then that antecedent life was, and is, the Essential Life. Therefore it is reasonable to say that one of the marks or characteristics of Life, in the true and higher sense of that term, is, that it is without beginning.

2.—Another mark or characteristic of Life, in the higher or essential sense, is, that it is eternal. Eternity, which has reference to termination as well as commencement, and excludes both, is without beginning and also without end. The Essential Life is eternal. And it is so because it is without beginning. That which exists without beginning to exist, has the reason or ground of existence in itself; and, therefore, having life in itself and of itself, there is no reason why it should die. The fact of existence, with no reason of existence but what is found in itself, obviously involves the idea of eternity of existence. Being what it is, and with adequate reasons for thus being, and without any dependence for its existence on any thing outside of itself, it necessarily continues to be what it is. Continuance is the opposite of cessation. The Essential Life, therefore is eternal.

3.—Another and third characteristic of the great living principle which we are considering, is that it is universal. If the principle of Life is limited, then, place the limitation wherever you may, the great universe of things, in comparison with which the restricted or limited universe is as nothing, is beyond this limit; reaching out in all directions in immensity which is boundless; and this infinitely wider or true universe is a universe without life, which is inconceivable. The fixed and necessary conceptions of the human intellect require life, wherever there is a capacity of life. A universe without life is nothing more or less than universal death. The doctrine of a universe without life is just as contradictory to the conceptions of the intuitive or suggestional intellect of man, (that department of our nature which gives us all our primary or elementary ideas,) as would be the doctrine of a universe without the attendant conceptions and facts of space and time. It is on such grounds, stated as briefly as possible, that we are justified in the assertion, that the Essential Life is universal.

4.—A fourth mark or characteristic is, that it is a life which in its own interior nature is without change. Changes spring out of it, since it is that essential unity of existence out of which comes all variety. But in itself it is unchangeable. And it is so, because it is eternal and universal. Being eternal, it cannot limit itself in time; and being universal, it cannot limit itself in place. And being thus commensurate with all place and time, meeting the wants of every moment of time and of every condition of things, a change in its own nature, whatever may be true of change in its varied manifestations, becomes an impossibility. It is life now; and it is life always. And it is the same life, the same in its nature and extent, to-day, yesterday, and forever.

5.—Another characteristic of the Essential Life is, that it never ceases in its action. Activity is a part of its nature; it is a principle, which ever goes out of its subject to its object, and finds the necessary nourishment of its own life in the good it does to another. To cease to act, therefore, would be to cease to live. It is true, that it changes its modes of action; and this change of mode in action may be regarded as furnishing the compensation of rest; but still, there is properly speaking, no cessation of activity. And accordingly, in being a perpetual life, it is also a perpetual development. Always one, and yet exhaustless and countless in its diversity; the endless out-going of the central infinite in the multiplied and constantly varied manifestations of the finite.

6.—It is, then, a life which is endless, boundless, changeless, ceaseless; the source of all other life, because it is itself the true life; and the source also, in an important sense of all knowledge, because knowledge is inseparable from Life in its highest form; and yet, Life in its own nature, in many respects, is necessarily and forever unknown.

And now comes a remarkable fact. Such characteristics as have now been described, will apply equally well to God, and to God only. The characteristics of Life are equally the characteristics of God. And they justify us in saying, that God has the true life in himself; that God is not only the great causative and living principle of all things, but more concisely and yet truly, that God is Life.

— from Absolute Religion (1873) Chapter 3.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Socializing as Christians

It is obvious, that the claims of society can never be allowed to go so far as to interfere with and prejudice the claims of religion at the very time of social intercourse. In other words, we should always so conduct, when we mingle socially with our fellow men, that we may be known as religious persons, not merely by special acts of religion, but in our general manner. And it seems to us, that this desirable result may be secured, in consistency with a suitable regard to modesty of deportment; Men generally possess a prompt and almost instinctive power of interpretation on the subject of moral and religious character. If we truly possess religion, they will see it and know it. There is a calmness and propriety of manners on the part of truly holy persons; a placidity of countenance; a freedom from exaggeration and over-urgency; a modesty, and a sincere good-will to others, whatever may be their characters; a conscientious regard for truth and justice; a forbearance under ill-treatment and injury; a seriousness which is the opposite of foolish talking and jesting; an interest in whatever has relation to the claims of virtue and religion, which, taken together, and aided perhaps by other indications not less favorable, furnish significant DATA to those who behold them; and which cannot fail to stamp the character as religious without the formality of a specific declaration.

— from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 6.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Christians Socialize to do Good

The desire of society is natural; and the pleasure which results from it, when its object is secured, is oftentimes very great. But acting on religious principles, and with a view to God's glory, it is obvious that we must mingle in society, not only to enjoy happiness, but to do good and even to suffer.

If one motive with the holy person in mingling with society is to do good, we shall beware how we yield to our own choice. The life of nature would lead us to seek the company of the well informed, the wealthy, and the honorable; but the life of God in the soul, in connection with the safe rule of his blessed Providences, and in imitation of the Savior's example, will lead us among the poor and sick, the degraded and the sinful. But this is not all. We are not only called to do good in this way; but are sometimes called, as already intimated, even to endure and to suffer. When we mingle in society, we mingle with men; men, who are beset with many and trying infirmities, and who often show their weaknesses and errors, saying nothing of positive transgressions, both in manner and in language. As those, who seek to be wholly the Lord's, we are bound to endure the troubles, which result from this source, with entire meekness and patience. Not to bear meekly and patiently with those imperfections of others, sometimes greater and sometimes less, which we must always expect to encounter when we associate with them, would be a sad evidence of our own imperfection.

We are sometimes severely tried, even when we are in the company of truly devout and holy persons. Such persons may at times entertain peculiar views, with which we cannot fully sympathize; and may occasionally exhibit, notwithstanding the purity and love of their hearts, imperfections of judgment and of outward manner, which are exceedingly trying. These also are to be patiently and kindly borne with.

— from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 6.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Solitary Communion with God as a Means to Regulalting the Social Instinct

The social principle, like others, may become inordinate in its action. In the natural life, in distinction from the regenerated or sanctified life, every thing runs to excess, in consequence of the prevalence of selfishness and the absence of the love of God. And thus the social principle, implanted originally for a good end, may become, as in point of fact it often does become, more or less excessive and vicious in its operation. In what way then, shall the discharge of the duty of social intercourse be regulated, so that the divine blessing may rest upon it? In reply to this question it may be admitted, that it is neither easy nor safe to lay down specific rules applicable in all cases. It is obvious that what would be right and proper under some circumstances, would be inexcusable under others. It is perhaps best, therefore, that the conduct of each individual should be left to be regulated by the decisions of a sound and consecrated discretion, made in view of the circumstances of each occasion as it arises.

In all ordinary cases, however, it may be safely said, that some portion of each day, and especially a portion at the commencement of the day, should be devoted to solitary communion with God. The soul needs the resources and refreshment of such seasons of sacred retirement, in order to put itself into a situation to meet those trials of its faith and patience, which are incidental even to social intercourse.— Nor is this all. We should also have seasons of special religious recollection, while we are acting in and with society, in which we may turn our thoughts inward and upward; to the state of our own hearts on the one hand, and to God as the true source of wisdom and support on the other. Many pious persons have found this practice very important to them. It is said of FĂ©nelon, in connection with the numerous claims of society upon him, claims which he promptly met with admirable condescension and wisdom, that he nourished the inward divine life, even in the midst of such multiplied interruptions, by praying "in the deep retirement of internal solitude."

— from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 6.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Social Interacton is a Human Duty

Among the duties which man owes to his fellowmen, one of the most clearly ascertained and important is that of social intercourse. The duty is so clear and imperative, whether we consult in its support the constitution of the human mind or what is said on the subject in the Scriptures, that no one can plead an exemption from it, except on the ground that the providences of God and other special indications render his case very different from that of others. A man, for instance, may be so physically disordered, that society is a burden, and solitude his only place of refuge. And this state of things may be combined with other providential indications, so marked in their character, that he may be justified in coming to the conclusion, that his great business, and essentially his only business here on earth, is that of solitary
communion with God.

"Remote from men, with God he passed his days„
"Prayer all his business, all his pleasure, praise,"

Perhaps other situations and other providential indications may lead to the same result. John the Baptist was the "voice of one crying in the WILDERNESS." There is reason to suppose, that the special providence of God called him, in a greater degree than others, to dwell in solitary places, apart from the society of men. And we probably risk nothing in saying, that the same unerring Providence, operating upon a sanctified spirit, dictated the course of Anna, the aged Prophetess of the city of Jerusalem, "who departed not from the Temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day."

But these are exempt cases, which can be judged of only by special outward circumstances and special inward operations; and which, therefore, are to be regarded rather as exceptions to the general rule, than as the rule itself. We cannot hesitate, therefore, in saying, that the duty of social intercourse is obvious and imperative. The man, who violates his duty in this respect, by shunning, without any adequate reason, the society of his fellowman, not only deprives himself of the power of extensive usefulness; but he suffers under the operation of what may be called a natural penalty, in his own person, character,  and interests, Persons, who place themselves in this situation. without a special divine guidance, are self-punished. The mind, separated from the bonds which link it to others and falling back upon itself as both center and circumference, becomes contracted in the range of its action. and selfish in its tendencies. The light of knowledge is, in many respects, shut out; and even the physical, as well as the moral and intellectual system feels the adverse influences of a course, which is opposed to the intentions of nature. Association, therefore, may be regarded as a necessary law to us. God has so linked us, man with man, and family with family, and community with community, that the life of one may be said to be multiplied in that of another; and no man, with the exception of the peculiar cases already indicated, can safely and usefully stand and act alone.

— from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 6.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Being a True Child of God

The holy man's will, therefore, operating by its own law of action, and secured in the possession of a just moral freedom, moves in the superintendence and harmony of a higher, better, and unchangeable will.

Such an union with Providence not only requires simplicity of spirit, but it may be said to make a man simple. He thinks, as some ancient writer expresses it, “without thinking;"  that is to say, his thoughts, taken out of the order of his once selfish nature, are suggested by and fall in with the providential order; and they do it so easily and so beautifully, like the thoughts of angel natures, that another power seems to think in them and to give them life. He thinks without the labor of thinking, because his thoughts are given to him.

He feels, as the same writer expresses it, “without feeling."  That is to say, he feels without making a special effort to feel, and without having his thoughts particularly directed to his feelings. They arise spontaneously in connection with actions and events.

If his spirit has become one with God's spirit, then all he has to do is to feel as God feels; — which he does by a natural sympathy rather than by a constrained voluntary effort.  And so true is this, that God, operating by the gentle attractions, and by the ebbing and flowing of divine love, almost seems to take his place, and to feel for him.

He wills, it is further remarked by the writer just now referred to, “without willing.” That is to say, his will, freed from selfish impulses, and from the power of antecedent habits, operates so harmoniously with the Universal Will, that the two wills, not physically, but morally, are made one. And he wills as if another willed in his stead.

And is not a man who thus thinks without thinking, feels without feeling, and wills without willing, by the loss of his own thoughts, feelings, and volitions, in the thoughts, affections, and purposes of God, — is not such a man truly characterized by simplicity of spirit? It is sometimes said of the truly renovated and sanctified man, that he has become a child. And it may well be asked, who is or can be more a child than the man we have just described? The child thinks as his father thinks, feels as his father feels, wills as his father wills. And it is this, much more than his physical likeness, which makes him the true child. He is sometimes taunted with that which constitutes his true honor, namely, that he dares not think for himself, nor feel nor will for himself, but that he is just as his father is. The child of God, also, is just as his Father is. It is this, more than anything else, which makes him the true child. And as the Father establishes, or makes Providence, the child harmonizes with Providence; and it is much the same thing to say, that he is the child of Providence, and to say that he is the child of God. In either case, he is a child, and a child is SIMPLE; that is to say, he has that simplicity of spirit, which makes him think, feel, and will, as another thinks, feels, and wills. In his simplicity, not knowing which way to direct his steps, he goes as he is led. God leads him. From the hand of God's providence he receives his daily food. The same Providence which leads him, feeds him. All things and all events are his teachers, because God is in them. He BELIEVES, and God takes care of him.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 7.




Monday, May 4, 2015

No Plans But Those Suggested by God's Providences

The simple man, being in harmony with God's will, forms no plans and enters upon no schemes, except such as are suggested by God's providences.

Whatever general plans he forms, (and it ought to be added, in passing, that he is always deliberate and cautious in making such plans,) they are all subordinate to the suggestions and orders of the great providential Power. He may be said, therefore, to be a man moved as he is moved upon; —  not so much a man without motion, as one whose motion or action evolves itself in connection with a higher motion. His action, spontaneous and morally responsible, is nevertheless consentingly and harmoniously regulated by a higher arrangement, antecedently made. Providence is not a thing accidental, but eternal. The events which are involved in it are letters, which describe the Everlasting Will. The holy man's will, therefore, operating by its own law of action, and secured in the possession of a just moral freedom, moves in the superintendence and harmony of a  higher, better, and unchangeable will.

To him the world, in all its movements, is full of God. It is a great ocean, never at rest, flowing in different directions, though always at unity with itself. And as each drop of the natural ocean, without ceasing to be a drop, flows on as a part of and in harmony with the great billows, so is he, freely leaving his will to the Impulse of a higher will, moved on in harmony with the great sea of Providence.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 7.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Simplicity of Spirit

There is a state of mind which is properly expressed by the phrase  SIMPLICITY OF SPIRIT. It is a state of mind simplified; —  that is to say, a state which is prompted in its views and actions by the  simple or single motive of God's will, instead of being led in various directions and multiplied,  as it were, by worldly motives, such as pride, pleasure, anger, honor, riches and the like. Being one in its controlling element, having its thought, its feeling, and its action subjected to the domination of a single principle, it cannot be multiplied. Like the law of gravitation in the natural world, it is not only one and undivided in itself, but always tends to one and the same center.

Such simplicity is aided, in being carried into action, by the providential law. The multiplied man is full of worldly schemes. The  simple  man, being in harmony with God's will, forms no plans and enters upon no schemes, except such as are suggested by God's providences. And the consequence is, that he ceases from all those anxious forecastings and calculations, which result from a worldly spirit. As he receives what God now gives, and does not wish to receive anything else; so he does what God now requires him to do, without wishing to do otherwise. Everyday, made up of its various incidents and events, constitutes a map, on which Providence has drawn the path which he is to pursue. As each coming hour unrolls this map before his eye of faith, and before his heart of love, he promptly takes his position, step by step, without knowing at each moment where he shall be, and what he shall do, in the next moment.

It is obvious, therefore, that it is not possible for him to lay down future plans, or to make any such calculations, to be carried into effect at a future time, as have a fixed and absolute character. So far as he exercises what may be termed a prudent foresight, and forms plans of future action, it is always done in subjection to the developments of Providence.

The worldly man, in the independence of a worldly spirit, says he will do this or that, whatever it may be, which is most pleasing to him. He will go to some distant city, to Jerusalem, to Athens, to Rome, to London, and bring many things to pass. But the man who is possessed of a holy simplicity of spirit,  true to the inscrutable law of Providence, is like a little child. Without excluding a prudential foresight, which is always conditional in its applications, he says, I will go to the designated place, if the Lord wills; or I will do this or that, if the Lord wills.  And it cannot be doubted, if this condition of action is not always expressed, it is at least always implied.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 7.



Friday, May 1, 2015

Stay Under the Process of Divine Excision

Neither the garden of providence nor that of nature can do its work, unless the seed which is planted remain quiet in its position. If the material seed, under the pretense that a moister or drier, a richer or poorer, soil is better, or for any other reason, is removed from place to place, the processes of nature are hindered, re-production does not take effect. So, if the soul of man, when it is planted in the midst of God's providence, does not remain quiet under the divine operation, but, before its coats of selfishness can be displaced, moves off in its blind and dead life into what it considers a better soil, it cannot be born into the true and living life. The hand of the great Master, operating by its prescribed laws, will always perfectly accomplish its purpose, if the subject upon which it operates will remain fixed and steady to the process, but not otherwise.

One stroke of God's providence, perhaps by destroying a man's barn or ship, will remove the coat of inordinate desire of possession. Another stroke of the same providence, perhaps by unfolding some act of human treachery, will strike off and destroy the corrupting envelope of inordinate desire for human applause. Another blow, coming in another direction, by disappointing and destroying some lofty and cherished expectations, will separate and remove from the soul the destroying adhesions of a wicked ambition. And thus every inordinate propensity and passion may be smitten and removed one after another, until the principle of love, which had been enchained by the tyranny of lust, disenthralled from this heavy oppression, returns at last, and finds its center in God.

Stay, therefore, son of man, under the process of the divine excision. Remain in the union of time and place, however painful it may be, until God shall bring thee into the union of disposition. If he smites thee, it is  only that he may heal. If the dead limb is cut off, it is only that a new one may be grafted in. If, like the seed  in the earth, thy spirit must be planted in the dark­ness of the burial place, it will find an angel in the tomb, who will burst its prison house. If thou must be brought down, and crucified, and perish in the dead Adam, it is only that thou mayst be re-produced, and elevated, and made joyful in the living Jesus.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 6.