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, January 30, 2016

God Has an Interest in all Creation

Our heavenly Father takes an interest in all the works of his hands. He beholds the reflection of his own wisdom in every blade of grass, in every flower of the desert, in every waterfall. There is no living thing in the earth, the air, or the waters, over which God does not watch with a Father's love. Those, who bear God's image in being possessed of a holy heart, not only connect God with all his works, but sympathize with him in his deep interest for everything he has made.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLIII.

Friday, January 29, 2016

God Felt It First

When we are injured and afflicted by our fellow men, we should remember, that our heavenly Father felt the wound first.  He always feels in what his people feel, and if, for wise purposes, he is patient and bears with the infliction, whatever it may be, we should both be taught and be encouraged to do likewise.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLII.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Power of Prayer

Whenever thou hearest God's people praying, perhaps in yonder little prayer-meeting, perhaps in some solitary place in the wilderness, perhaps in the desolate and lonely room of some poor widow, then know that the day of divine manifestation is near at hand. We cannot tell, perhaps, in what direction or in what way the manifestation of God's presence is to be made; but we cannot doubt the general fact that it is approaching.

All persons whose fullness of faith has brought them into the state of union with God, know this to be the case. They know (without knowing how they  know it) that the movement of desire in their own souls, arising sometimes under remarkable circumstances and in a remarkable way, is the continuation, the distant but affiliated throbbing, of the great heart of the universe. And with such a conviction existing in their minds, it obviously becomes easy, and, perhaps we may say, necessary for them, to exercise that particular form of faith which is appropriate to their state of desire. Having, therefore, a desire for a particular thing, and believing that this desire is only the vibration from the great center, the finite repetition of the infinite desire, they cannot doubt that there will be a manifestation of God, correspondent to that form of inward feeling which exists in him as well as in themselves.

If what has been said is correct, then it may properly be added, that there is something not only impressive but sublime, and almost terrible, in a holy man's prayer; whether it take the form of supplication, or of blessing, or of praise. That praying voice which thou hearest, broken though it may be with weakness and trembling with age, is not more the voice of man than of God. Oh, do not trifle with it, if thou wouldst not trifle with God himself! Uttered in these last days, it is nevertheless true, that, in its attributes of origin and power, it is the voice of Abraham, of Moses, of Daniel; — men who had power with God, because God had power with them. It is the chain of communication between two worlds; the circumference, showing the light and heat of the center. It brings down the sunlight of God's favor, or the lightning of his displeasure. If it curses thee, then thou art cursed; if it blesses thee, then thou art blessed. If it expresses itself in pity, then the tear of compassion is falling upon thee from the omniscient eye. Listen reverently, therefore, to the good man's prayer. God is in it.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 11.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Harmonizing With God in Prayer

The soul, which is fully in the experience of divine union, will harmonize perfectly with the emotions and desires of the divine mind. If, for instance, there are soon to be especial operations of tbs Holy Spirit, and if souls are to be enlightened and restored to God, the preparations for such events will always exist first in the mind of God himself. It is not possible that such things should exist accidentally They are the developments, coming in their appropriate order and under appropriate circumstances, of the divine thought, of the divine  feeling. But if it be true that the heavings of the billows, whether gently or more powerfully, will first show themselves in the great ocean of thought and feeling, it will also be true that they will excite a correspondent movement in all smaller steams and fountains which are in alliance with them. In other words, God, in all good works, moves first; and the minds of his people, (all those who come within the particular sphere of movement,) move in harmony with him.

If God desires a particular thing to take place within their particular sphere of feeling and action, the desire of the Infinite mind sympathetically takes shape and develops itself in the finite mind; and the unspoken desire of the Father shows itself in the uttered prayer of the children. As in nature a small moaning sound of the winds often precedes a wide and powerful movement, so the sighing in the bosoms of the finite denotes an approaching movement of far greater power in the Infinite.

In connection with these views we have one of the methods given us, by which we discover the particular thing or purpose which now exists in the mind of God. It is obviously the dictate of the common sense of mankind, that the fact of unity of spirit implies and involves the fact of unity of movement. All those who are "born of God," in the higher sense of the expressions, (for instance, in the sense in which the expressions are used in St. John's epistles,) are in unity with him, whose spiritual birth is within them. It is not more true that God is their Father, than it is that they are God's children. They are one; — as the planets are one with the sun, as the billow is one with the ocean, as the branch is one with the vine, as the son is one with the father. And, in the existence of such union, there cannot, as a general thing, be a feeling or purpose in one party, without the existence of a correspondent feeling and purpose in the other. There are some limitations and exceptions undoubtedly; but, as a general thing, when we know the thoughts of God's true people, we know God's thoughts; when we know what God's true people desire, we know what God desires; when we know what the people of God are determined to do, we know what God is deter­mined to do.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 11.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

God Is Not Impassive

It is sometimes said of God, that, being infinite and perfect, he is beyond the reach of emotionality; in other words, is an "impassive" existence, a being without feeling. The truth seems to us to be directly the opposite. God, so far from being the negation, is the perfection of feeling; that  is to say, he feels, and cannot help feeling, just as he ought to feel, on all possible occasions.

This remark we proceed now to illustrate in some particulars. And, accordingly, it may be said, in the first place, that God, instead of being impassive and without sensibility, is a being of desires and aversions. Can it be supposed, for instance, that any good takes place in the universe, without God's desiring it to take place? And if such a supposition is impossible, it is equally so that any evil can take place without causing in him feelings of dissatisfaction and aversion. And this is not all. He not only desires good to take place, but he rejoices in it, when it has taken place. And he cannot do otherwise. And, on the other hand, he not only disapproves of wrong-doing, and desires that it may not take place, but it cannot take place without exciting grief in him.

It is a great and affecting truth, that the infinite God, in the true sense of the terms, is grieved with sinners. To be indifferent to sin in any of its forms or degrees, which is the same thing as being "impassive" in view of sin, is not in his nature. Such a supposition, namely, the sight of sin without experiencing any emotions, would imply, at least, a great imperfection of character. And if it is impossible for him to be indifferent to sin, it is certainly impossible for him to be pleased with it.  To be grieved with sin, therefore, to be grieved with an infinite grief, is the necessary result of the infinity and perfection of his nature.

And it is the same with other feelings. It is prob­ably not necessary to go through with them in detail It is sufficient to say that God has, and necessarily must have, all those feelings which are appropriate to a perfectly wise, benevolent, and holy being. They correspond to things as they take place; and they vary exactly with the changing incidents of those things; every shade of alteration in the facts causing a shade of alteration in the corresponding feelings. So that it is true of the divine mind, that it is constantly in motion and constantly at rest at the same time; — the rest, or rather the perfect tranquility, being the result of the perfection of its movement. It is not the rest of inaction, but of perfect adjustment; not the rest of impassive stagnation, but of emotional and moral harmony.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 11.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Great Work of Prayer

The work of redemption, in all the various forms in which it is carried on, is truly and emphatically God's work. But it is worthy of grateful notice, that our heavenly Father, in doing his own work, condescends to accept of human agency. Placing the Infinite in alliance with the finite, he allows man to be a co-worker with himself. And one of man's great works, that work without which nothing else is available, is prayer.

But, in saying this, it should be added, that we use the term prayer, not in the restricted sense of particular or specific supplication, but in the more general sense in which it is sometimes employed, namely, as expressive of communion with God in all its forms.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union, (1851) Part 7, Chapter 11.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Something Left

Let want and persecution come,
And grief in all its forms of gloom;
Fear not. Thy strength is from above.
Fear not. Thou yet hast power to LOVE.

Let tribulation's evil day
Take friend, and home, and wealth away;
Fear not. Though all things else may part,
They cannot take away the heart.

The power to LOVE doth still remain,
With goods bereft, and prospects slain;
The power to LOVE, which cannot die,
When all things else in ruin lie.

If this is left, not all is gone;
If this is left, march boldly on;
If this is left, thou still art whole;
LOVE is the Heaven of the soul.

Christ in the Soul (1872) XLIV.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Food of the Soul

The hungry, starving soul doth cry,
Feed me, or I must cease to be;
And let the bread of love supply
My spirit's great necessity.

Nor think it strange. All things of life
Require their food, their vital air;
And perish on their field of strife,
If life's supplies are wanting there.

The dews descend on thirsty flower;
The heavens send radiance from above;
And so these hungry souls of ours
Live in the dews and rays of love.

Jesus is Love; the living Bread;
His own dear life He doth bestow;
And souls who on that life are fed,
The pangs of hunger shall not know.

Christ in the Soul (1872) XLIII.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

How to Grow in Holiness

Some persons may admit the fact of growth in holiness after the experience of full sanctification, and still be in some degree of perplexity as to the manner of it. We proceed, therefore, ...without promising to remove this perplexity altogether, to enter into some explanations upon this topic.

Evangelical holiness, it will be recollected, is nothing more nor less than perfect love. Love is based, in part, upon knowledge, and is necessarily based upon it.  It is entirely evident, that we can never love an object of which we have no knowledge; and it is equally so, that, in proportion as our knowledge extends, we have a wider intellectual basis for the action of this principle. And accordingly every new manifestation of God's character, every new exhibition of his attributes, every additional development of his providences, will furnish new occasions for accessions of love. It is the privilege, therefore, of a person perfected in love, and consequently a holy person, to increase in holiness in exact proportion with his increase in knowledge.

Again, it is well known that there is a great law of our mental nature, termed the law of HABIT. The law is, that increased facility and strength of mental action results from repetition or practice. There does not appear to be a power of the mind, either intellectual or sensitive, which may not feel the influence of this law. And according to this law, every exercise of love, when the exercises are continuously successive, will give place to another, which is increased in strength. And hence a holy being, (not one who is holy to day and sinning tomorrow, and so on alternately,) but a holy being, who continues to be so, will necessarily go on from one degree of strength to another. And we may add, by way of illustration, that it seems to be the same here, as it is in regard to depravity. Our theologians assure us, that man is by nature entirely depraved. But they also agree in asserting, that entireness of depravity does not preclude the idea of growth in depravity. They admit that the law of habit strengthens the intensity of the depraved element. A depraved man is more depraved than a depraved child; and a depraved devil is more depraved than a depraved man. If theologians generally propound as sound doctrine the idea of growth in the matter of depravity, when the depravity is entire, it would be difficult to show its unsoundness in the matter of holiness.

And there is another important consideration. There are grounds for the remark, that we may indirectly increase the strength of holy emotions and desires, by a removal of the various obstacles which oppose and obstruct their exercise. The speed of a vessel or of a railroad car depends not only upon the amount of the propelling power, whatever that power may be, but also, in part, upon the number and greatness of the obstacles to be overcome. If the obstacles are many and great, the speed will be less. Now the sanctified person is continually acquiring knowledge, not only in relation to the great and adorable object of his perfected love, but also in relation to his own physical and intellectual infirmities, the nature of temptations, and the subtle arts of the adversary of souls. In these infirmities, temptations, and evil arts, he finds very serious obstacles to his progress in holiness. But every day's experience, under the instructions and guidance of the Holy Spirit, teaches their nature and diminishes their power. He learns where his weakness is, and understands better than he did at first how to counteract it. He knows the artifices of the adversary, the insidious manner of his approaches, and the way in which he can be resisted and defeated. And the result of this knowledge is, that many serious obstacles, which existed before and which perplexed his progress, are removed. His increased knowledge of the character of God, the influence of the law of habit, the imparted influences of the Holy Spirit, have their natural and unobstructed effect, and accelerate, as they would not do under other circumstances, the ascendant flight of the soul.

These considerations evidently show, that the idea of growth in holiness, when the heart is already sanctified to God, is not an unreasonable one. On the contrary, it would seem on any principles of reason applicable to the case, that the growth of a sanctified soul in holiness would be much more rapid than that of a soul but partially sanctified. The testimony of those, who have arrived at the state of assurance of faith and perfected love, confirms these views. Their testimony is, that, after having reached this state, their growth in grace is much more rapid and sure than it was before. They are conscious of increased power against temptation, and of an increase of union with the divine will, to an extent unknown in their previous experience. What growth, then, must there be in angel minds, which are neither obstructed by inward nor by outward evils in their progress! What expansion with each revolving day! What increased intensity of desire! What higher and more triumphant energies of love!

In  conclusion, we exhort those, who are sanctified to the Lord, to grow abundantly in holiness. Of two persons, both of whom are truly, holy persons, one may grow in holiness more rapidly and surely than another. This is an important fact, and one that is often overlooked. The difference of growth in holiness, after the experience of sanctification, seems to us to depend, next to believing and earnest application for divine assistance, upon growth in KNOWLEDGE. Little claim has any one to the character of a holy person, who is willing to be ignorant. We have not reference in this remark to the mere knowledge of natural things, which oftentimes perplexes rather than promotes the inward life, but to religious knowledge; to any thing and every thing which throws light upon the character, providences, and the will of God; and to whatever illustrates the character, relations, and moral and religious duties of man. Holiness, considered in its full extent, is a great study; and he only, who is willing to be a diligent and faith-full student, will understand it. Hence we are told in the second epistle of Peter, that God hath given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, " through the KNOWLEDGE of him that has called us to glory and virtue; " and are directed. in the same chapter to add "to our faith virtue, and to virtue KNOWLEDGE.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 15.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Examples of Growth in Holiness from Scripture

We learn in relation to John the Baptist, that he was filled with the Holy Ghost from his birth, and that consequently he was sanctified from that early period. But when we contemplate him in after life, in the temptations and labors he underwent, in his faithful preaching, in his stern rebukes of wickedness in high places as well as low, in his imprisonment, and in the general growth and expansion of his matured and consecrated powers, can there possibly be any difficulty in ascribing to him a growth in holiness? Does not the opposite idea, viz., that in the degree of holiness he was not more advanced than at the period of his birth, carry an absurdity upon the very face of it? And we may remark further, that it is expressly said of him, "And the child grew, and waxed STRONG IN SPIRIT."

The Savior also was holy from the very beginning of his existence. There was no one power, either of body or mind, that was not fully sanctified. But it was said of him, in terms similar to those applied to John the Baptist, Luke 9: 40: "And the child grew, and WAXED STRONG IN SPIRIT, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him." And again it is said of him, in the same chapter, "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." What is the meaning of this increase of strength in spirit? And how could be increase in the favor of his heavenly Father, if, with the increase of his expanding powers, there was not also a corresponding growth in holy love?

The Scriptures every where speak of growth. They do not recognize the idea of standing still; and all those passages, which require growth in grace and religious knowledge, are as applicable after the experience of sanctification as before. "Let us, therefore, as many as be PERFECT be thus minded." Philip. 3: 15. Be thus minded in what respect? The answer is found in the preceding verse, viz., to "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

"Be ye, therefore, perfect," says the Savior, "as your Father in heaven is perfect." This remarkable and most impressive command evidently implies two things. The first is, that we should be perfect in our sphere; that is to say, in our perceptions, our feelings, and our purposes, to the full extent of our capability. And the second is, that we should continually expand, in accordance with that law of increase which is a part of the nature of every rational being, our capacity of feeling and of knowledge, whatever it may be. And in doing this, (that is to say, on the supposition of its being done,) we fulfill the command absolutely, so far as the nature of our mental exercises is concerned; and fulfill it by approximation, or continual expansion and growth, so far as relates to their degree.

It is thus with the angels in heaven. They are holy; but are always growing in holiness. In the nature of their exercises they are like their heavenly Father, and perfect as he is perfect; but in relation to the degree of their exercises, they can be said to be perfect only in availing themselves of every possible means of approximation and growth.

Growth, therefore, continual advancement, is the unalterable law of all created, holy beings. And hence it is further said in the Scriptures, in expressions that are full of weighty import, "For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath." Matt. 13: 19.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 15.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

How Can the Holy Become More Holy?

If a person is holy, how can he be more holy? If he is perfectly holy, how can he increase in holiness? These are questions, which are frequently asked, and which it is desirable satisfactorily to answer.

That a thing may be perfect in its nature, and yet be susceptible of growth or advancement in degree, is, I suppose, a matter of common observation. An oak, when it first rises above the surface of the ground, is so small and weak, that it may be easily trodden under foot; and yet it is as really and truly an oak, as when it subsequently stands forth in the strength and stature of an hundred years. A human being is in his nature as much a human being in the period of infancy, as in the subsequent expansion and growth of manhood. And so consider a man in relation to any intellectual power of the mind, or in relation to any appetite or affection of the mind, and the same view may very properly be taken. A person is a reasoner, for instance; he understands perfectly the principles and process of reasoning, and he may be able to apply the principles and process perfectly in a given case, and yet under the favorable influence of the law of Habit, he may much increase the promptness and facility, and consequent perfection, in the operations of this mental faculty. Again, an intemperate man may become perfectly temperate, and yet we all  know the general fact, that one, who is thus entirely reformed from intemperance, is more likely to be overcome by temptation in the earlier periods of his reformation, than when subsequently the temperate principle has acquired growth and strength.

And we may not only say in general terms, that there may be a growth in perfection, but may assert further, that the thing which is most perfect, if it be susceptible of growth at all, will have the most sure and rapid growth. Which grows most and in the best manner, the flower which is whole and perfect in its incipient state, or that which has a canker in it, or is otherwise injured and defective in some of its parts? Which will grow the most rapidly and symmetrically, the child which is perfect in its infancy, or one which is afflicted with some malformation? Illustrations and facts of this kind seem to make it clear that the spiritually renovated state of mind, which is variously called holiness, assurance of faith, perfect love, and sanctification, may be susceptible of growth or increase. It is not only evident that there is no natural or physical impossibility in it, but, as has been intimated, we may go farther, and lay it down as a general truth, that perfection in the nature of a thing is requisite to perfection in degree. And accordingly, although it is possible for a person who is partially holy to grow in holiness, a person who is entirely holy, although he may be assailed by unfavorable influences outwardly, will grow much more. The obstacles to growth in holiness will not only be much less in the latter case than in the former; but that inward vitality, which is necessary to the greatest expansion and progress, will possess a positive and effective power, unknown under other circumstances.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 15.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Christ's Yoke Easy

"Come  unto  me  all ye that  labor, and are heavy  laden, and  I will give you  rest. Take  my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls."
Matt. xi. 28, 29.

Where  love is strong, 'tis easy to obey;
'Tis thus the grateful and devoted child,
Who tends his aged parents night and day,
Finds all his labors by his heart beguiled.
The light of love can make deep darkness bright,
And change a bed of thorns to beds of roses;
'Tis love, celestial love, that makes so light
The yoke, which Jesus on his friends imposes.
Prompted by this, with ready will and hand,
They follow in the path, which He hath trod;
Revere alike his life and his command,
And bow with gratitude beneath his rod.
Nothing is grievous which he bids to do;
Where love inspires the heart, life, hope, and strength are new.

American Cottage Life (1850) XXV.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sorrow for Sin

"And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger. I  will  arise and go to my father, and  will  say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son."
Luke xv. 17, 18, 19.

In dust and ashes let me humbled lie,
For I have sinned against my God and friend;
Nor ever upward lift my troubled eye,
But only tears let fall and groanings send.
And wilt Thou hear, who, merciful as just,
Dost pity on the bleeding bosom take?
Yes, Thou wilt mark the suppliant in the dust,
The bowed and bruised reed Thou wilt not break!
Here is my hope, and it is only here;
For I have sinned — how much God only knows;
Thy law have broken, put away thy fear,
And caused the sneer and scoffings of thy foes.
Low in the dust my worthless head I lay,
Till God shall hear my prayer, and take my guilt away.

American Cottage Life (1850) XXIV.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Holy Deliberation

What is done hastily, is not likely to be done well. There is need, therefore, of HOLY DELIBERATION; especially when we consider, that the results of an eternity may depend on the movements of a single moment.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLI.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Solitude and Society

It implies great grace to remain, for any considerable length of time, in religious solitude, and in the performance of private religious duties. But it implies equally great and perhaps greater grace, to enter into society and to mingle in human conversations in a proper religious spirit. If it were otherwise, why is it so common for religious men to prepare for the special hazards of society, by first seeking religious strength in retirement?

Religious Maxims (1846) CL.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Degrees of Faith

There are various relations running through the diferent kinds and degrees of faith, which are worthy of notice. For instance, we must have a belief, that God IS, and that he is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him, before we can believe in him as accepting us. And again, we must believe in him as granting forgiveness and acceptance to ourselves, and consequently as sustaining to us the relation of a Father and a friend, before we can have faith to make known to him our requests to him in the behalf of others.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXLIX.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Happiness and the Divine Order

Happiness can be found only in being resigned and contented in the Divine Order. That is to say, in being resigned and contented in that situation, whatever it may be, in which God's providential order has evidently placed us. If the angels in heaven, like men under the influence of the natural life, were constantly desiring to change their position, and to assume the place of archangels or other higher beings, they would exhibit a spirit, which would be displeasing to God, and which could not fail to render them unhappy.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXLVIII.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Peck: Being Shut Up to the Present

Guest blog by Methodist Bishop Jesse T. Peck (1811-1883).

"The just shall live by faith."

You will be shut up to the present. The past will have no power to annoy you, for it is all atoned in the blood of Christ, which is your salvation. The future is to give you no concern, for it is not yours. You may never meet the cares and trials which your mind would naturally suggest. You may be in heaven before the day of tribulation comes; and, if not, your safety is with him to whom you have committed your all. He will cover you with his hand "until the indignation be overpast." For all the future, you are to trust in God without wavering. And how is life thus simplified? Am I now wholly the Lord's? Not, was I at some former time? Not, shall I be next year, next week, next moment, but now is it all right? Would that all Christians could obtain the power to live by the moment. It reduces indefinitely the concern of the soul, makes every thing a present passing reality, and secures the practicability of perfect contentment. It is easy to examine the present, — to settle the question of gracious acceptance now; but impossible to decide the future, only by the faith that determines the present. Am I now glorifying God in my body and spirit which are his? Am I now doing his will? Does the blood of Jesus now cleanse me from all sin? Then it is all well. I have no other concern. As each succeeding moment of the future comes, it will be a present moment, and disposable in the same way. Here at least the wholly sanctified must rest; and this is the method of adjusting the question of responsibility. To ask what it will be, and shrink from its future demands, will be to involve the soul in doubt, and it may be inextricable difficulty. It is true the purest Christian has a future; but it is the future of faith, of hope, of divine revelation, and not of anxiety. The plans of a sound discretion in the light of the present and the past must extend into the future. A prudent foresight belongs eminently to faith, but it is the exercise of confidence and submission. "Thy will be done," is the clearest expression of choice and purpose. Surely this is not a responsibility to be dreaded. There is much more that is fearful and perilous in the responsibility of living without holiness.

— edited from The Central Idea of Christianity (1876) Chapter 5.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Oh, Sacred Union with the Perfect Mind

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, O 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.

O, 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.

quoted in A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 10.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This poem has sometimes been sung as a hymn: for the music, check out here: "Oh, sacred union with the Perfect Mind."


Friday, January 8, 2016

Holiness and Living by the Moment

As soon as God, by his in-dwelling presence, becomes the inspiration and life of the soul, he inspires in it those thoughts and feelings, and those only, which are appropriate to the present time. To every moment of time there is but one mental state which is suited. Between the circumstances of the time and the correspondent attributes of the mental state there is, and necessarily must be, a relationship as wise as infinite wisdom, and as perfect as infinite adjustment. God himself cannot alter it, because he cannot deviate from the perfect to the imperfect. God, therefore, as the infinite giver, (that is to say, when he is allowed to be and is accepted as the infinite giver,) can give only what he does give; and can give it only at the present time. The life, therefore, which we live in God, is and can be only life by the moment. The stream flows forever, but it strikes upon the soul only at the given time.

The man who thus consecrates himself to God, and, in the exercise of faith, puts himself in the line of divine communication, so that he receives from God his knowledge, his feeling, and his purpose, is the truly holy man, because he is the whole man.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 10.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Consecration, Faith, and Living by the Moment

No man can experience the highest results of religion, and become a truly holy man, unless he has thus consecrated himself to God.

We do not suppose, however, that this, although it is indispensable in the growth of religion in the soul, is ordinarily the first thing that takes place. Before a man can consecrate himself to God, he must be led to see that he is alienated from God. Conviction of sin, therefore, would naturally be the first thing. He could hardly be expected to return, until he had first been made sensible of his departure. But when this has been done, when he has been made in some degree to see and feel his situation, and to apply to Christ for relief, he may reasonably be expected, in his new position and in the exercise of a new faith, to lay himself, as it is sometimes expressed, upon the "altar of sacrifice." And in doing this, he alters his whole position. Dissatisfied with his past experience, he now ceases to look to himself, and to repose confidence in himself. In his blindness, of which he now for the first time has a proper conception, although he knew something of it before, he looks to another and higher source for light. In his weakness, which he finds after a greater or less experience to be universal and total, he looks somewhere else for strength. And this disposition to renounce himself, and to place himself entirely in the hands of God for strength and wisdom and whatever else is necessary for him, is what is generally understood to be meant by consecration.

But consecration, even when realized in the highest sense, is not enough. And, indeed, standing alone, and without the aid of other principles and feelings, it seems to be wholly unavailable.

And, accordingly, another principle, involved in the full or perfect return of the soul to God, is the necessity of appropriating faith; —  that is to say, faith, that he who exercises it, is himself received of God, and that God will do in him and for him all that he has promised to do. To give ourselves to God, in order that we may receive him as our life, and at the same time not to believe in him as actually becoming our life in accordance with his promise, is virtually to annul our consecration, because it is impossible for us sincerely to consecrate ourselves to a being, in whom we have not perfect confidence that he will do what he has promised to do. So that faith, as we have now explained the term, is as necessary as consecration.

When we have thus fully consecrated ourselves to God, and have faith in him, that he does now receive us, then the true life, which before was greatly obstructed in consequence of the consecration being imperfect or partial, flows from God into the soul with greatly increased freeness. The divine fountain is not only opened, but the obstructions, which had previously existed in the recipient, are removed; so that the elements of life are not only offered but received; and they gradually extend, and perhaps very soon, to every part of the soul. We now live with a true life; but it remains to be said, that we live and can live only by the moment

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 10.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Life of God in the Soul Makes a Person Holy

Man is restored from death just in proportion as he begins to live in and from God. And when, by exercising that consent which God allows him, he lives wholly from God by choosing to live wholly from him, and by exercising faith to that effect, then he is a whole or holy man. Taking the common definition, that holiness is entire conformity to God's law, still it is not the definition which makes a man holy, but the life of God in the soul. It is God within, that makes the definition available. Who properly understands God's law, and knows what it is, unless he is first taught of God? Who loves God's law, unless love is first inspired within him by the breath of God himself? Who obeys God's law by bringing his will into conformity with it, except by the constant aids of divine grace?

Let it ever be remembered that there is only one that is holy in the higher and original sense. And that is God. All other beings, whatever position they may sustain in the universe, are holy only as they are holy in and by him. If there is anything at variance with the Scriptures, unsound in philosophy, and pernicious in practice, it is the idea of right or holy living from one's self; that is to say, by means of the elements of strength and of guidance which he has in himself. It is no more philosophical than the doctrine of effect without a cause. Sooner shall the flower grow without the earth and rains to nourish it, or the mighty oak spring from the surface of the barren rock, than the soul of man live without having its roots struck, if we may so express it, in the bosom of the Infinite; and deriving, not a partnership of nourishment, but the whole of its nourishment from God.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 10.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Holiness and Consent

We are not to forget, (and we are the more solicitous that we should not forget it, because great truths sometimes lie in the close vicinity of great errors,) that man is a moral being endued with the power of free choice; and that the divine presence cannot exist in him, as a principle of life, except with his own consent.

Moral life is a different thing from mere physical or instinctive life. There is a sense in which God is the life of everything. He is the life of the earth, the sky, the waters. He is the living principle of whatever the earth produces, — of the leaf, the flower, the plant, the tree. He is the life also, by means of  their various and wonderful instincts, of all lower animals. But he is their life, in some cases, without their knowing it at all, because they are not percipient existences; and in other cases, without their exhibiting any distinct recognition and knowledge, if it is possible that they have It. But it is not so with moral beings. God is and can be the life of such beings, only so far as he is so with their own consent. In the words of a modern English poet,

"Our wills are ours; we know not how;
Our  wills are ours, to make them  thine."

So that it is not more necessary that God should be our life, than it is that we should choose him to be so. If it be true that we cannot live without the life of God in the soul, it is also true that we cannot have that life without our own choice. And the reason is, that the principles of moral government, as it exists among beings who are subject to the supremacy of a divine government, require, without the exclusion of either, that there should be an harmonious action and union of the two in one. When God works within us with our own consent and in answer to our own prayer, then the human and divine may be said to be reconciled, because the work of God, by the harmonious adjustment of the two, becomes both the work of God and the work of the creature. So that it is true, in all cases of holiness actually experienced that the man lives and has a true life; while it is also true, and in a still higher sense, that God lives in him.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 10.

Monday, January 4, 2016

What is Holiness?

Holiness is often defined (and, perhaps, more generally than in any other way) to be conformity to God's law; — including conformity of the heart or feelings, as well as of the outward action. To this definition, or to others stated with the same import, though, perhaps, with some variation of terms, we do not propose to object. Perhaps it would not be easy to give a better one.

There is a great difference, however, between holiness defined and holiness practiced; — between holiness, abstractly considered, and holiness in realization.  If, therefore, it may be important to know in what holiness consists by definition, it is certainly not less so to know who is the actual possessor of it. The Hebrew word, which is translated holiness, involves, as one of its ele­ments, the idea of being set apart to a sacred or religious purpose. The English term holiness, in its original import, means whole-ness, completeness. And this idea, when the subject is contemplated in a practical point of view, ought not to be lost sight of.

Accordingly, presenting the matter in a little different light from that in which it is usually presented, it would not be improper to say, that the holy man is one who is  whole or complete in God. If every part of the life of the creature is filled up and completed with the life of God, then he is a whole or holy man, and not otherwise. A holy man, therefore, is one who freely surrenders himself to God, that he may receive everything from God in return; — so that, by means of a divine life, operating as a central principle at the seat or heart of his own nature, he is brought into entire harmony with God, and fully represents the divine conception or idea in faith, in knowledge, in love, in will, in harmonizing with providence, in everything. Holiness, therefore, considered practically, is the perfect restoration of the divine life in the soul.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 10.