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.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Inward Suggestions and Outward Providence

We cannot, as a general thing, arrive at the true interpretation and import of the inward suggestions of the Holy Spirit, except by connecting them with, and considering them in their relation to God's outward providences.

What are we to understand by the providences of God? In answering this question, it does not seem to be necessary for any purposes we have at present in view, to go into the distinction which is frequently and very properly made, of the ordinary or common providence of God, viz; that which is exercised in connection with secondary causes and in the common course of things; and of the extraordinary providence of God, or that which is altogether out of the common way and has the nature of a miraculous operation. Saying nothing of extraordinary providences, we apprehend, that there is no ordinary or common providence of God of such a nature, as to exclude him from an actual presence and supervision in relation to all things whatever. It is enough for us to know that the hand of God, is either positively or permissively in every thing. In our apprehension, therefore, all events, (excepting such as involve the commission of sin, and even these are to be regarded as permissively providential,) are to be considered as providential in the positive sense of the term. In other words, whatever takes place, sin only excepted, is to be regarded as expressive, in some important and positive sense, of the will of the Lord. The controlling presence of the Almighty is there. God is in it. Certainly there is abundant foundation for this view. If God clothes the grass of the field, if not a sparrow falls to the ground without his notice, if the very hairs of our heads are numbered, how can it be otherwise? It seems to us, therefore, that every true Christian ought to see, and will see, God providentially and positively present, with the exception which has just been made, in the events of every passing moment.

The presence and agency of God, in his providences, is not an accidental thing; but is a result, which has reference to the divine wisdom and choice. What ever takes place, with the exception of sin, is not only a portion in the great series of events; but takes place in accordance with the well considered and divinely ordered arrangement or plan of things, Accordingly every thing, which takes place, indicates, all  things considered, the mind of God in that particular thing. And hence we may be said to reach, through the divine providences, a portion of the divine mind; and to become acquainted with it. We do not mean to say, that we possess, in respect to that particular thing, the whole of the divine wisdom; but we undoubtedly possess a portion of it, which is unspeakably valuable.  To some extent certainly, it can always be said, that God reveals himself. That is to say, he reveals his mind and will.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844). Part 3, Chapter 2.

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