But this important doctrine, it must be admitted, requires to be correctly and thoroughly understood. It should be particularly remembered, that God does not, and cannot speak in this way, unless there is SINCERITY. And by sincerity we mean a sincere desire to do his will in all things, as well as a sincere desire to know and do his will in the particular thing which is laid before him. Such sincerity, which may be regarded as but another name for entire consecration, naturally excludes all the secret biases of self-interest and prejudice, and places the mind in the position most favorable for the admission and discovery of truth. It is in such a mind, and not in a mind which is governed by worldly passions, that the Holy Ghost, whose office it is to guide men into all necessary truth, loves to dwell. We may, therefore, lay down the general principle, that the decision of a spiritually enlightened judgment, made in a state of entire consecration to God's will, and with a sincere desire to know his will, may justly be regarded as a divine answer, or an answer from God, in the particular matter or subject, in relation to which an answer has been sought. The decision of the judgment, which is arrived at in such a state of freedom from self-interest and passion, and under the secret guidance of the Holy Spirit, is oftentimes so clear and so prompt, that it almost seems to be a voice audibly speaking in the soul. It is true, however, in point of fact, that it is only the inward ear, or the ear of faith, and not the outward or bodily ear which is spoken to. In yielding our assent to the decisions of our judgments, we have faith, under all the circumstances of the case, and especially in view of the promise of God to give light to those that sincerely ask him, that we are adopting the decisions to which our Heavenly Father would lead us. So that we may confidently say, that the answer of the judgment, in connection with the spirit of entire consecration on the one hand, and of entire faith in God's promises on the other, is God's answer; that is to say, is the answer, which God, under the existing circumstances, sees fit to give, whether it be more or less full and explicit. And this is all which the truly humble Christian either expects or wishes to receive, viz. such an answer, be it more or less, as God sees fit to give. Even if he is unable to come to a specific determination on the subject before him, he still feels that he is not without an inward voice. He has God's answer even then, viz. that, under the circumstances of the case, God has no specific communication to make; and that He requires him to exercise the humility and faith, appropriate to a state of ignorance. And this response, humbling as it is to the pride of the natural heart, he truly regards as very important, and as entirely satisfactory. It is in this method, a method which appears to be free from dangers, that God ordinarily answers and converses with his people.
In view of what has been said, we come to the conclusion, that it is very proper for pious people, especially for those whose hearts are truly sanctified, to speak not only of laying their requests before God, but of receiving a divine answer. It is not improper for them to speak, if it is done with a suitable degree of reverence, of holding conversation with God — of talking with God. The expressions correspond with the facts. To talk with God — to go to him familiarly as children to a parent — to speak to him in the secrecy of their spirits, and to receive an inward answer as gracious as it is decisive, is not only a privilege granted them, but a privilege practically realized. When, therefore, we find in the memoirs of very pious persons, as we sometimes do, statements and accounts of their holding internal conversations with God, of the requests they make, and of the answers they receive, we are not necessarily to regard such experiences as fanatical or deceitful. On the contrary., we think it impossible for a person to be truly and wholly the Lord's, without frequently being the subject of this inward and divine intercourse.
— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd Edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 8.