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.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Contemplative State

The mind, in the state of union with God, is disposed to indulge in subdued and affectionate acts of contemplation, rather than in examinative and discursive or reasoning acts. It is undoubtedly the case, that the mind may remain fixed upon God and and may be in a certain sense united to him, in what may variously be called a perceptive, reflective, or discursive manner; that is to say, engaged in a perceptive or speculative view of him, occupied in the critical examination of his various attributes, his justice, wisdom, and goodness, or something of the kind. But something more than this kind of union is implied in the state of mind, which we are now speaking of. The examinative or discursive state of the mind implies the presence of God to the intellect merely; the contemplative state, although not altogether excluding an intellectual view, implies his presence to the heart. And it is on this ground that we make the remark, that the mind in the state of divine union, is rather contemplative, than perceptive and examinative.

I have sometimes supposed, that something like the unitive state of mind, which it is so difficult to describe, might perhaps exist in the case of a blind child, who has an attentive and affectionate father. The child, being blind from birth, has visually and perceptively no distinct knowledge of his father. But he knows there is an object present to him though unseen; and that this outward and unseen being is ever beneficent and ever active in securing his happiness. He has but an indefinite and obscure notion of his form; and is not capable of any accurate analysis of his character; but his mind rests in the general complex idea of an ever present being; who, although he is unseen, and in many of his attributes is essentially unknown, is nevertheless the precise object, which of all others is the most fitted to secure, and is the most worthy of his love. It is thus, contemplatively rather than discursively, that his father is ever present to his thoughts, and is ever the object of his almost adoring affections.

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

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