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.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Entering Into Rest

It is very obvious, that this state of mind — union with God — cannot be fully understood, except in connection with inward experience. In the language of the author of the Life of Sir Henry Vane, "Divine life must have divine words; words which the Holy Ghost teacheth, to give its own character." [Life of Sir Henry Vane, anonymous, printed in 1662.] Therefore we will not attempt to pursue the topic any further than to say, that the state of union with God, when it is the subject of distinct consciousness, constitutes, without being necessarily characterized by revelations or raptures, the soul's spiritual festival, a season of special interior blessedness, a foretaste of heaven. The mind, unaffected by worldly vicissitudes and the strifes and oppositions of men, reposes deeply in a state of happy submission and quietude, in accordance with the expressions in the Epistle to the Hebrews, that those who believe, ENTER INTO REST.

So true it is, in the language of Thomas à Kempis, that "he, who comprehendeth all things in His will, and beholdeth all things in His light, hath his heart fixed,  and abideth in the peace of God." And in the language of Blosius, another devout writer of early times, such holy souls "enjoy the most calm and peaceable liberty, being lifted up above all fear and agitation of mind concerning death or hell, or any other things which might happen to the soul, either in time or in eternity."

How can there be otherwise than the peace of God, pure, beautiful, sublime, when consecration is without  reserve  and faith is without limit; and especially, when self-will, the great evil of our fallen nature, is eradicated and subdued. What higher idea can we have of the most advanced Christian experience, than that of entire union with the divine will, by a subjection of the human will, When the will of man, ceasing from its divergencies and its disorderly vibrations, becomes fixed to one point, henceforward immovable, always harmonizing, moment by moment, with God's central and absorbing purposes, then we may certainly say, that the soul, in the language which is sometimes applied to it, and in a modified sense of the terms, has become not only perfected in faith and love, but "united and one with God," and "transformed into the divine nature." —  "He, that is joined to the Lord, is one  spirit." And from that moment, in its higher nature, and so far as it is not linked to earth by sympathies; which its God has implanted, and which were smitten and bled even in the case of the Savior, the soul knows sorrow no more; the pain of its inward anguish is changed into rejoicing; it has passed into the mount of stillness, the Tabor of inward transfiguration, the Temple of unchanging tranquility.

Oh, sacred union with the Perfect Mind!
Transcendent bliss which Thou alone canst give!
How blest are they, this pearl of price who find,
And dead to earth, have learnt in Thee to live.

Thus, in thine arms of love, Oh God, I lie.
Lost, and forever lost, to all but Thee!
My happy soul, since it hath learnt to die,
Hath found new life in thine Infinity.

Oh, go, and learn this lesson of the Cross;
And tread the way; which saints and prophets trod,
Who, counting life, and self, and all things loss,
Have found, in inward death, the life of God.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 13.

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