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, November 2, 2016

The Tendency Toward Union With God

The following principle appears to lay at the foundation of the doctrine of DIVINE UNION, as we find it represented in various writers, viz. That all moral and accountable beings, just in proportion as they are freed from the dominion of sin, have a natural and inherent tendency to unite with God. Of the correctness of this principle, when properly understood, there does not appear to be any reasonable doubt. It is nothing more nor less than this, that holy beings recognize in each other a mutual relationship of character, and are led, by the very necessities of their nature, to seek each other in the reciprocal exercise of love. In other words, nothing appears to them so exceedingly good, desirable, and lovely as holiness, whenever and wherever found. Accordingly, just as soon as we feel, that our sins are pardoned, and have an inward consciousness, that faith in Christ, who is "the way, the truth, and the life," is working by love and purifying the heart, we begin to feel also a secret union with the Savior, not only as our atoning sacrifice, but as a holy being, and as a true representative of the Divinity in the flesh. And just in proportion as we grow in grace and become free from sin, we shall find this state of union with the Savior increasing. And union with Christ, (a real union such as that of the branch, when it is united to the vine,) is followed, in the natural progress of the religious life, by union, through Christ and in Christ, with God the Father; in accordance with the remarkable prayer of the Savior, which has already been referred to, "that they all may be ONE; as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be ONE IN US." And it is in accordance with this view, that Lady Maxwell, whose religious experience, especially in the latter part of her life, is exceedingly interesting and instructive, remarks in expressions, which convey an important truth, though perhaps liable to be misunderstood,  "Jehovah teaches and enables me to pass through Jesus, as the way to himself." In a single word, union, (whether we look at the subject in the light of nature or in the light of God's word,) union, pure, strong, inseparable, and without regard to natural or physical differences, is the one great and necessary law of holy beings. Just in proportion as our sin is taken away, the element of separation is taken away; and the soul, delivered from the clogs which fastened it to that which is not God, returns instinctively and unerringly to the Infinite Center.

And it should not be forgotten also, that there is the same tendency on the part of God, a tendency which his holy nature renders necessary and invariable, to enter into this intimate union. No matter how inferior holy beings may be; they may be mere insects in capacity; still the holy heart  of  God loves them, seeks them, becomes one with them. In a very important sense, inasmuch as their holiness cannot be regarded as self-originated, they are a part of himself by their very nature. Hence the doctrine, so distinctly and strikingly laid down in the writings of Dr. Cudworth. Speaking of holiness, he says,

If it be but hearty and sincere, it can no more be cut off and discontinued from God, than a sunbeam here upon earth can be broken off from its intercourse with the sun, and be left alone amidst the mire and dirt of this lower world. Holiness is something of God, wherever it is. It is an efflux from Him, that always hangs upon him and lives in him; as the sunbeams, although they gild this lower world, and spread their golden wings over us, yet they are not so much here, where they shine, as in the sun, from whence they flow.

The necessity of this union on the part of holy beings, and on the part of God, as well as on the part of other holy beings, seems to me to be clearly implied in that beautiful passage of Scripture, "God is  LOVE,  and he, that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him."

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

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