The state of divine union may exist under two modifications; the one characterized by our being distinctly conscious of its existence, the other without such consciousness. The union of the human with the divine mind, when it is once originated, is not easily broken. The fact, for instance, of our being taken up at times with indispensable worldly cares, does not necessarily destroy the state of union, although we may not be distinctly percipient or conscious of it at such times.
But what we wish to remark here is, that the state in question, whenever it is the subject of distinct inward notice or consciousness, seems to be characterized, among other marks, by a tendency, not only to inward contemplation, but to outward silence. At such times the soul appears to know but one object, and that is God; and to have but one feeling, and that is love. It is drawn inwardly; and outward objects seem to have but little influence. Hence words are few. It has but little disposition to express even what itself feels. In fact, the conversation, which is carried on at such times between the soul and God is too high for human language; and what is more, it is carried on with a Being, who can understand the soul's meaning without the medium of human speech. The conversation is with God, and not with men; and is in God's manner and not after the manner of men; and, therefore, it would be difficult to repeat it, even if there were a disposition to do it. The soul, in its attitude of serene and fixed contemplation, continually but silently repeats to itself sentiments of trust and adoration, of gratitude and love. God recognizes the import of this hidden language and returns it, by condescendingly unveiling himself in his amiableness and benevolence. There is a constant flowing and re-flowing of affection; love ascending to God and love returning; so that there is not only a consciousness of love to God on the part of the person; but what is yet more striking, there is a consciousness, or rather a deeply wrought conviction, that God loves him in return. He can say in the beautiful expressions of the Canticles, "Thou dost place thy left hand under my head and with thy right hand Thou dost embrace me; and thy banner over me is love."
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.