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, February 25, 2016

Illustrations of Spiritual Rest

The rest of the soul, in the highest spiritual sense of the terms, is that state of the soul, whether it be in repose or in action, which is in harmony with God. There is only one right position of the soul. All others must necessarily be wrong. And that position is one where the creature is brought into perfect adjustment with the Creator, by deriving its perceptions from God, by merging its affections in God's affections, and by harmonizing its will with God's will. In such a state of the soul there must necessarily be rest, if God has rest.

Of rest, as thus explained, — the rest, not of inaction but of harmony of position, — we have illustrations everywhere. In this view of it, physical nature is at rest. It is impossible to look on the mingled expanse of land and water, of field and forest, without a deep sense of harmony and repose. The various objects which nature thus presents to us, "from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that springeth out of the wall," are arranged in their appropriate place, and are clothed in strength and beauty, but without the turmoil of labor. As their rest is the rest of harmony, a rest appropriate to their nature and involved in the fulfillment of their own laws of life, it is necessarily incidental to their growth and perfection. They grow in rest; — they shine in rest. Their rest, therefore, is at the same time their work. But their work, great as it is in extent, and wonderful in its  variety, is always accomplished without effort and without the sense of fatigue. "Behold the lilies of the field. They toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you, that Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these."

Again, we may find an illustration of the subject in the aspect of repose, the beautiful stillness which characterizes the heavenly bodies, when seen in a cloudless sky at night. The beautiful orbs which then spangle and adorn the heavenly vault, are always in motion; always fulfilling the ends for which they were made; but, at the same time, they are never in a state of discordance and unrest, because their movement always harmonizes with law. Their constant motion, as in the language of an English poet, they "wheel unshaken through the void immense," does not cost them more labor than that constant proclamation of God's greatness, which the Scriptures ascribe to them. And it is not more wonderful that  they should move in rest, and fulfill their destiny without labor, than that they should thus proclaim the glory of God by the mere perfection of their being, "without speech or language." [Psalm 19:1-3.] Both are the developments, the unconstrained but necessary results, of their own nature, and of their perfect adjustment to the facts and relations of things.

But if material existences may be described as being in a state of rest while fulfilling the laws and purposes for which they exist, we may be certain that this may be said, with equal or greater truth, of all sentient and moral beings. All such beings, in conformity with that eternal wisdom which assigns to everything its place and its laws, have their sphere of action, their orbit of movement.  By their capabilities of perception, feeling, and action, they are as precisely fitted to their sphere of movement as the material bodies which move and shine in the heavens, or as any classes of animated existences below them, all of which have their place, their sphere their laws, their destination. And in the sphere which is thus allotted them, in their appropriate place and under their appropriate laws, they fulfill the ends of their existence by action carried on without any care or labor, which is inconsistent with true peace.

In making these remarks, we speak, of course, of their original constitution; of what they were designed to be; and of what they are, so long as they do not deviate from the principles and designs, in view of which they were formed. So long as this is the case, there will always be found to be a harmony of position, a truth and harmony of movement, which will always be characterized by peace. And on no other condition can it be said of them that they are either right in morals or happy in experience. Angels, for instance, have their sphere of life. To that sphere they are undoubtedly limited. And so long as they do not deviate from it, they exist in and have the experience of true spiritual rest; — not stupid, not inactive, not without thought, feeling, and purpose; but always in the perfection of repose, because always in the perfect harmony of physical and moral position. If they were otherwise than they are, if there were the least variation of adjustment in place or in action, their rest would be disquieted, their joyous repose be broken.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 1.

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