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.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Rest from Desire

How many persons are the subjugated slaves of those inordinate appetites, which have their origin in our physical nature! How many are not merely agitated, but consumed, as it were, by the desire of accumulating property! How general and strong is the desire of reputation! Many, in whom other desires are perhaps comparatively feeble, spend anxious days and toilsome nights in seeking for power. But the truly holy person, whose great and only desire is that the will of the Lord may be done, has no desire of these things, or of any other things, except so far as God may see fit to inspire them. And all desires which harmonize with God's arrangements, and have their origin in a divine inspiration, are peaceful and happy.

"Love, pure love," says Mr. Fletcher, in some remarks addressed to Christians professing holiness, "is satisfied with the supreme good, with God. Beware, then, of desiring  anything but Him. Now you desire nothing else. Every other desire is driven out; see that none enter in again. Keep thyself pure; let your eye remain single, and your whole body shall remain full of light. Admit no desire of pleasing food, or any other pleasure of sense; no desire of pleasing the eye or the imagination; no desire of money, of praise, or esteem; of happiness in any creature. You may bring these desires back; but you need not. You may feel them no more. Oh, stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free!"

This passage, written by a man of deep religious experience, clearly involves and sanctions the doctrine that holy souls rest from all desires, except such as are from a divine source. There are, then, two classes of desires; — those which are the product of a fallen and unsanctified nature, and those which are from God. Agitation and sorrow always attend the one class. True peace, the peace of Christ and of angels, is the characteristic of the other.

And we proceed now to say, that the ground of difference between them is this: Desires which are from God are attended with faith; and those which are not from him are without faith. The man of the world is full of desires; but being constantly in doubt whether his desires will be accomplished or not, he is constantly the subject of agitation and grief. But the holy man, being the subject of those desires only which God has inspired within him, cannot doubt that God, who is never disappointed, will fulfill them in his own time and way.  Having  thus two facts in his mental experience at the same time, namely, desire and a belief in the fulfillment of desire, the element of uneasiness, which is involved in the wants of the one, is annulled by the pleasure which is involved in the supply or fullness of the other. In other words, faith stops the cravings of desire, by being itself the "substance" or fulfillment of its object; so that constant desire, supposing it to be constantly existing, is changed into constancy of fruition, constancy of peace.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 3.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Voyage

"When thou  passest through the waters, I'll be with thee; and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee."  Isaiah xliii. 2.

Fair stream, embosomed in yon pleasant vale,
That in thy quiet beauty sweep'st along!
How oft I skimmed thee with my slender sail,
How oft I poured upon thy banks my song!
'Twas then I marked the autumn's blushing leaves
Sink, wafted slowly in the quiet air;
Thy silver wave the roseate gift receives,
And hastes its treasure to the deep to bear.
So man shall pass, borne on the stream of time,
A moment seen, and seen, alas, no more.
Dark is the wave; and distant is the clime;
But lift, in strength divine, the struggling oar;
And then, thou wanderer of life's troubled sea,
Nor angry storm, nor rocks, nor wave, shall injure thee.

American Cottage Life (1850) XXX.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Light in Goshen

"And Moses stretched forth his hand towards heaven;  and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt, three days. They saw not one another, neither rose any from his ploce for three days; but all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings." Exodus x. 22, 23.

In ancient times, when God in anger came,
And troubled Egypt with his mighty hand,
The rayless sun withdrew his midday flame,
And clouds and darkness filled the sightless land,
But there was light in Goshen.  On it lay,
On  pleasant hill and vale, and flower and tree,
The moon's resplendent beam, the sunlight's ray,
The free stars, singing in their liberty.
Thus is it now. God's people walk in light,
With changeless day to cheer them and to guide;
But o'er the godless throng reigns Egypt's night,
The sun and moon and stars their radiance hide,
'Tis God, whose glorious light is never dim,
Illuminates the host, that faithful follow him.

American Cottage Life (1850) XXIX.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Walking with God in the Order of Providence

We may lay it down as a great principle in the practical doctrines of holiness, that a soul, wholly devoted to God, will always endeavor to move calmly, yet firmly and exactly, in the blessed order of the divine providences. Neither prematurely and excitedly hastening in advance, nor yet sluggishly and carelessly lagging behind.

And this truth, be it ever remembered, is one of the leading elementary conceptions, embraced in the great and glorious idea of walking with God. It is noticed by writers on philosophical subjects, that some sorts of motion are pleasant and beautiful to the beholder, while others are not so. And they assert further, that objects in motion are thus beautiful, (for instance, a winding stream or a ship under gentle sail,) partly at least, because they are in harmony with the laws of our own mental movement. But where the outward motion, which we are contemplating is accelerated beyond a certain degree of rapidity, so as to be out of correspondence with the natural movement of our own minds, it at once ceases to be pleasant and beautiful and becomes painful. And so, on the other hand, when the motion becomes unusually sluggish and tardy so as to fall in the rear of the movement of our own minds and retard it, it then also loses its character of beauty. And it is somewhat similar in relation to the providences of, God. When the inward operation of the holy soul keeps in exact correspondence with the progress of God's providences, moving in time and place just where he moves, then all is orderly and divinely beautiful. But when, through unfaithfulness to God's grace, we are jostled out of the divine order, either by going in advance through precipitancy, or falling in the rear through worldly sloth, we are no longer conscious of this divine harmony and beauty. Under such circumstances we necessarily lose, in a considerable degree, the sense of God's presence and favor; and wandering in our own position and out of the divine position, we experience but little else than darkness and sorrow.

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

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Walk in God's Order

He, who would walk with God, must walk in God's order. God not only requires us to obey and serve him; but to obey and serve him in his own time and way. In the eye of God voluntary disobedience in the manner of the thing, is the same as disobedience in the thing itself. If therefore in order to walk with God, we must walk in God's order and must operate with him in his own time and way, it will be necessary for us to subdue our natural eagerness and impetuosity of spirit.

Again, this doctrine is totally opposed to the indulgence of an inactive and sluggish spirit. He, who is seriously disposed to meet every movement of God's providence in the fulfillment of every known duty, will find no time, to be idly and uselessly thrown away. Every moment, as it comes, brings with it its appropriate instructions, and calls for its appropriate duties. It does not always call for outward action; but it calls for something to be done. It does not always, nor does it ever, call for a feverish and unreflecting excitement; but on the other hand, it never approves a listless and unprofitable inactivity. Nevertheless every moment brings its duty, although not always to be fulfilled in the same manner. That duty may be outward action: or it may be inward retirement and conversation with God. It may relate to the improvement of others; or it may have relation to the instruction and improvement of ourselves. It may call us to open and aggressive assaults upon the strong holds of sin; or to the secrecy of the closet and the sacredness of private supplication.

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

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Spiritual Mind and the Providential World

I have sometimes thought, that there is a similitude or analogy between the natural mind and the spiritual mind, in relation to the subject now under consideration. The natural mind, (that is to say, the perceptive and reflective ability, which is naturally given us,) is adapted in its operations and results to the natural world around us. The ability, which we possess of realizing in ourselves the various auditory, visual, and tactual sensations and perceptions would be of no avail, would be practically useless, without the corresponding sounds, colors, and forms of the external world. The mind, therefore, in some of its important operations, and the external world, are precisely and admirably fitted to go together. They are practically the mutual correspondences and counterparts of each other. And it seems to be essentially the same with the spiritual mind, that is to say, with the mind enlightened and guided by the influences of the Holy Spirit. The mind is divinely inspired, in the first instance, with thoughts and views, which may be considered as conditionally instructive and binding upon us; but which can be drawn out of this state of conditionality, and be made positively clear and binding, only in connection with those various outward events, which the divine providence is continually developing. As instruments of music will not give utterance to their beautiful sounds, till they are touched and swept by an outward hand, so the inward inspiration of the Holy Ghost is, to some extent latent, in the mind, and is not susceptible of being distinctly analyzed and heard in its responses to the spiritual ear, until it receives its interpretation from the outward application  of providential events. In other words, as the natural mind and the natural or outward world are mutually and reciprocally adapted, so also the spiritual mind and the  providential world are mutually correspondences  and counterparts of each other.

Accordingly although a person may be fully conscious of the presence of the Holy Spirit operating upon and guiding his mind; still it remains a great truth, that it is a guidance, which in some important sense may be regarded as dependent on those prospective developments, which still remain in God's mysterious keeping. Hence as the interpretation of the inward suggestions of the Holy Spirit exists, in so great a degree, in the correspondent facts and aspects of outward providences, it becomes every one, as has already been intimated, and especially every one, who is seeking to live a truly devoted and holy life, to keep an eye humbly but conscientiously watchful, upon all providential events! As in the expressions which have already been quoted, he should "nourish himself with the daily  providences of God."

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

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Finding the Mind of God in Providence

The presence and agency of God, in his providences, is not an accidental thing; but is a result, which has reference to the divine wisdom and choice. What ever takes place, with the exception of sin, is not only a portion in the great series of events; but takes place in accordance with the well considered and divinely ordered arrangement or plan of things, Accordingly every thing, which takes place, indicates, all things considered, the mind of God in that particular thing. And hence we may be said to reach, through the divine providences, a portion of the divine mind; and to become acquainted with it. We do not mean to say, that we possess, in respect to that particular thing, the whole of the divine wisdom; but we undoubtedly possess a portion of it, which is unspeakably valuable.  To some extent certainly, it can always be said, that God reveals himself. That is to say, he reveals his mind and will.

We proceed to remark again, and in connection with what has been said, that the providences of God are, to a considerable extent, the interpreters of the mind of the Holy Spirit. The mind of God, as it is disclosed in his providences, and the mind of the Holy Spirit, as it reveals itself in the soul are one; and consequently in their different developments from time to time can never be at variance, but will always be in harmony with each other. And not only this, they have a relation to each other, which is mutually and positively illuminative. They throw light, the one upon the other. Certain it is that the mind of the Spirit, in all cases of mere practical action and duty, cannot, as a general thing, be clearly and definitely ascertained, except in connection with providential dispensations. Such dispensations are the outward light, which corresponds to and throws a reflex illumination upon the inward light. And this is so general a law of the divine operation, that persons, who are truly led by the Spirit of God, are generally and perhaps always found to keep an open eye upon the divine providences, as important and true interpreters of the inward spiritual leadings.

And accordingly we find the following expressions in the Life of Madame Guyon. "My soul could not incline itself on the one side or the other, since that another will had taken the place of its own; but only nourished itself with the daily providences of God." And again, "the order of divine providence makes the whole rule and conduct of a soul entirely devoted to God. While it faithfully gives itself up thereto, it will do all things right and well, and will have every thing it wants, without its own care; because God, in whom it confides, makes it every moment do what he requires. God loves what is of his own order."

Hardly any thing, in the conduct of the divine life in the soul, is more important than thus to keep an open and faithful eye upon the arrangements of divine providence. Until the divine intimations within are cleared up and illustrated by the subsequent openings of Providence, it seems to me to be the duty of Christians to remain in the attitude of patient expectation, and of humble and quiet faith. It is true, we may already be possessed of the inward voice, the declarations of the Spirit in the soul. But these inward intimations, taken by themselves,  may, in many cases, be very obscure. And so long as we do not satisfactorily know the information involved in them and the issues to which they lead, it is obviously a duty to keep looking upward, in a childlike simplicity and faith, for those further developments, which the openings of Divine Providence may impart.

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

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Inward Suggestions and Outward Providence

We cannot, as a general thing, arrive at the true interpretation and import of the inward suggestions of the Holy Spirit, except by connecting them with, and considering them in their relation to God's outward providences.

What are we to understand by the providences of God? In answering this question, it does not seem to be necessary for any purposes we have at present in view, to go into the distinction which is frequently and very properly made, of the ordinary or common providence of God, viz; that which is exercised in connection with secondary causes and in the common course of things; and of the extraordinary providence of God, or that which is altogether out of the common way and has the nature of a miraculous operation. Saying nothing of extraordinary providences, we apprehend, that there is no ordinary or common providence of God of such a nature, as to exclude him from an actual presence and supervision in relation to all things whatever. It is enough for us to know that the hand of God, is either positively or permissively in every thing. In our apprehension, therefore, all events, (excepting such as involve the commission of sin, and even these are to be regarded as permissively providential,) are to be considered as providential in the positive sense of the term. In other words, whatever takes place, sin only excepted, is to be regarded as expressive, in some important and positive sense, of the will of the Lord. The controlling presence of the Almighty is there. God is in it. Certainly there is abundant foundation for this view. If God clothes the grass of the field, if not a sparrow falls to the ground without his notice, if the very hairs of our heads are numbered, how can it be otherwise? It seems to us, therefore, that every true Christian ought to see, and will see, God providentially and positively present, with the exception which has just been made, in the events of every passing moment.

The presence and agency of God, in his providences, is not an accidental thing; but is a result, which has reference to the divine wisdom and choice. What ever takes place, with the exception of sin, is not only a portion in the great series of events; but takes place in accordance with the well considered and divinely ordered arrangement or plan of things, Accordingly every thing, which takes place, indicates, all  things considered, the mind of God in that particular thing. And hence we may be said to reach, through the divine providences, a portion of the divine mind; and to become acquainted with it. We do not mean to say, that we possess, in respect to that particular thing, the whole of the divine wisdom; but we undoubtedly possess a portion of it, which is unspeakably valuable.  To some extent certainly, it can always be said, that God reveals himself. That is to say, he reveals his mind and will.

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Rest Cannot Be Found in Anything Short of God

The soul is not happy, which is not at rest. But the soul can never have true rest, which places its confidence in anything short of God. Mutability and uncertainty are characteristics of every thing which has not God in it.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLXVI.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Find Wisdom Where You Are

If we wish for practical religious wisdom, we must find it where we are, that is to say, at the present time and in the present place; because it is the present time and the present place, which furnish us with the facts of God's providence, independently of which it is impossible for us to form a correct estimate of truth and duty.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLXV.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Enduring the Evil Opinions of Others

Nature bleeds, when our reputation suffers from the evil opinions of our fellow-men; but the true and only infallible balm for this wound is the consciousness that we have done those things, for which our fellow-men blame and distrust us, with a single eye to the divine glory.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLXIV.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Dangers of Neglect and Infidelity

It  is an easy thing for the holy soul, however high the state of its advancement, to separate itself from the condition of present acceptance and communion. Nothing more is wanted to bring about this deplorable result, than the least intentional neglect, the least known and deliberate infidelity.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLXIII.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Faith is Calm Where Reason is Confounded

During some years past, there have been great changes and perplexities in nations. All the positions of society have been reversed; problems have been started which affect the basis of civilization; governments have been overturned; the low have been elevated to places of power; and the great have been driven into exile or cast into dungeons. The man of the world reasons; politicians gather up the letters of history, and try to spell something which will disclose the mysteries of the future. But God keeps his own counsels. The wheels of his vast government move on. But he who trusts in God is not troubled. His belief in the Creator harmonizes and triumphs over the confusions of the creature. And faith is calm, where reason is confounded.

Thou who seekest the truth! Having exercised thy reason, till thou findest there is no peace in it, rest at last in the God of reason. Link the weakness of finite wisdom to the strength of Infinite wisdom. What thou knowest not, believe that God knows. Blindfolded to the future, nevertheless walk on, with God's hand to guide thee. And thus accept the fulness and strength of Infinite wisdom, which is pledged to all those who have faith, as a compensation for the deficiencies and weakness of thine own. God will work out problems for the humility of faith, which he hides from the confidence of unsanctified deduction. And thus the truly humble and devout Christian, who knows nothing but his Bible, will have more true peace of spirit than the unbelieving philosopher.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 2.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Vessel of Providence

There is a multitude of things which reasoning cannot resolve. All attempts to satisfy ourselves on such subjects must be attended with disquiet and anxiety. And the mind which is fully right with God, will not be likely to make such an attempt. The true wisdom is, to wish to know all that God would have us to know; to employ our perception and reasoning under a divine guidance, and to seek nothing beyond that limit. All beyond that we may properly and safely leave, knowing that all things work together for the good of those who love God.

We may illustrate our position, perhaps, by comparing ourselves to persons on a voyage. Providence is the vessel, if we may so speak, in which we are embarked, and in which we are borne on over the vicissitudes of our allotment, over the waves of changing time. The vessel, in a world like this, where good and evil are convicting, may be tossed with violence; but the mariners should be calm. Let the vessel float on. The winds and the currents are not accidents; but every movement of them, every rolling wave, every breath of wind, is under a divine control. The pilot is awake when he seems to sleep. The rest of God is not the rest of weakness or of forgetfulness, but the rest of security. And his work is not the less effectual and the less certain because it is done "without observation."  It is our business, when we have done all that he has commanded us, to leave the result with him, without fear and without questions.

The vessel which bore the Saviour over the sea of Tiberias, was tossed by the storm. His disciples came to him in great agitation, and called upon him for help. In quieting the raging of the tempest, he thought it a suitable occasion to rebuke them for giving themselves up so easily to the reasonings and fears of unbelieving nature. “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith!  Then he arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 2.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Rest from Reasonings

The soul, in the highest results of spiritual experience,  rests from reasonings. The reverse of this proposition is true in respect to those who have never experienced the power and the guidance of religious sentiments. It is difficult for the soul, so long as it remains in a state of alienation from God, to suppress or avoid reasonings.  It  reasons, because it has lost the God of reason.

God is not more the center of the life of the soul, than he is the center of all truth; that is to say, he does not move the soul more to right action, than he does to right perception. When God is displaced from his center in the soul, the relations of truth, considered as the subjects of our perceptions, are entirely unsettled. It is then that man, cast as it were on an ocean without soundings and without shore, knows not where he is, nor what he is. He resorts to reasoning, therefore, from the necessity of his position. So great are his perplexities, that he is obliged to reason. He doubts, he inquires, he compares, he draws conclusions, he pronounces judgment. His whole mental nature is in action, without its being the action of rest, the quiet movement of the divine order. Perhaps it is well that it should be so, until, by making inquiries without results, and without finding the true rest of the spirit, he feels the necessity of turning to God in humility, who is the only source of truth for the understanding, and of pacification for the heart.

It is different with the truly holy soul. The soul, which is united with God in the full exercise of faith, rests from reasonings.

In order to understand this proposition, however, it is proper to say something in explanation of the terms used in it. The term REST is relative. It has relation to and implies the existence of the opposite, namely, unquietness or unrest. The term REASONING, is the name of that important intellectual power which compares and combines truth, in order to discover new truth. Under a divine direction, this power is susceptible of useful applications and results. It is then entirely calm in its action, and is consistent with the highest peace and joy of the spirit. To rest from such reasonings, from reasonings which do not disturb rest, would be an absurdity. Such rest would be cessation from action, and not rest or quietude in action. When, therefore, the remark is made by spiritual writers, that the truly renewed soul has rest from reasonings, the meaning is, that it has rest from the vicious and perplexing reasonings of nature; in other words, from reasonings which are not from God. It is certainly a great religious grace to be free from such reasonings.

He who has no rest, except what he can find in reasonings, (we mean such reasonings as have just been described,) can never enjoy the true rest, because such reasoning never can give it. It is not an instrument adequate to such a result. And it may properly be added here, that there are some mysteries in the universe which reasoning, in any of its forms, has not power to solve. To a created mind, for instance, a mind which is uncreated must always be a mystery. From the nature of the case, God is a mystery to the human mind, because, being uncreated, he is, and always must be, incomprehensible. Incomprehensible in his nature, he is incomprehensible also in many of his creative and administrative acts. The apostle, in speaking of the depths of God's wisdom, exclaims: "How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" Rom. 11: 33. Well may those judgments be called unsearchable, and those ways past finding out, which pertain to the Infinite,  It is obviously impossible that the finite should fully explore them.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 2.

Monday, March 14, 2016

On Hating Wrong-Doing

He who hates crime, or any kind of wrong­doing because wrong-doing is hateful in itself, does well; but he who, on analyzing his feelings, finds that he hates it, through fear of its punishment rather than from aversion to its nature, cannot with any good reason be said  to hate it at all.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLXII.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Waiting and Guidance

WAIT ON THE LORD, to learn the time
And circumstance of every deed;
He loves to bow His thought sublime
To those who wait, and feel their need.

He knows the time, He knows the way,
And He alone can give the light,
Which will not lead our steps astray,
But teach and guide them in the right.

Oh, then in RECOLLECTION wait,
In calmness look, till light is given;
And thus thou shalt not miss the straight
And narrow way that leads to heaven.

Christ in the Soul (1872) XLVIII.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Submission in Sickness

"It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of  the  Lord."  Lam. iii. 26.

"Behold, we count them happy  which  endure.  Ye  have heard of the  patience of Job, and have seen  the  end of  the  Lord, that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender  mercy." James v. 11.

God gives to each his task; but what is mine?
What work doth he require of one like me?
Who, grieving, on the couch of sickness pine,
And know no hours but those of misery.
By others I am tended. Would I go
To feed the poor, or unto heathen lands,
Here am I fastened on this bed of woe,
With feet that walk not, and with moveless hands.
'Twas thus I cherished wicked discontent,
And inly blamed Jehovah's righteous ways,
When suddenly a voice, in mercy sent,
Reproves my striving heart, and gently says:
If thou indeed for nothing else art fit,
This work at least is thine, in patience to submit.

American Cottage Life (1850) XXVIII.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

A Divided Mind

"For where your treasure is, there  will  your heart be also.  The light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body  shall  be full of light.  But  if thine eye be evil, thy whole body  shall be full of darkness."  Matt. vi. 21, 22, 23.

Oh, that I had not this divided heart,
A mind, self-sundered, and at war within;
Which gives, or seems to give, to heaven a part,
But gives, alas, a greater part to sin.
Sometimes I think the victory to gain,
And plant my standard on the heavenly height;
But suddenly imperious passions reign,
And put my faithfulness and hopes to flight.
My conscience prompts me to the better way,
The Holy Spirit makes it still more clear,
But foul temptation leads my steps astray,
And Heaven is lost, because the World is dear.
'Tis he in triumph and in peace shall run,
The Christian's trying race, whose heart, whose soul, is one.

American Cottage Life (1850) XXVIL.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Nothing Is Small That Offends God

Nothing can be properly called small, which really offends God; because the offense is to be estimated not only by the occasion, however small it may be, on which it takes place but especially and chiefly by its relation to a Being of infinite wisdom, goodness, and holiness.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLXI.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

How Do We Know We are Filled With the Holy Spirit?

How shall a person know, since the modes of the Spirit's interior action are so various, when he experiences the full or completed presence and operations of this Divine Agent? A proper answer, so far as it goes, would perhaps be, that this can be known only by the results of such divine presence and agency. These results, in their entire length and breadth, we will not attempt to analyze at the present time. But will only go so far now as to say, that one of the most decisive marks of the presence of the Holy Ghost in its fullness, is a resigned and peaceful state of the spirit originating in perfect faith in God. In the precise state of mind to which we now have reference, there seems to be an entire subsidence or withdrawal of that natural excitability which is so troublesome to the christian; and instead of the eager and unsettled activity of nature, the substitution of a pure and deeply interior rest of the soul, such as was seen in our Savior, and resembling, on the small scale of man's limited spirituality, the sublime and  passionless  tranquility of God.

Undoubtedly there are other important marks, characteristic of the inward fullness of the divine power. But this, if it be rightly understood, may be regarded as the highest result of the divine operation upon the human mind. It is not, therefore, merely the christian, whose mental exercises are characterized by traits, that are calculated to excite outward observation that is filled with the Holy Ghost, to the exclusion of others. Still more frequently is this fullness experienced in the hearts of those who sit in solitary places, unknown to the world; who live in the secrecy of their spirits with God alone; and of whom the multitude around them, ignorant of the interior Power which dwells in their souls, know only this, that they perform the religious and temporal duties of life with fidelity and gratitude, and endure its trials and sorrows with silence and submission. We would not have it understood, however, as these remarks might seem to imply, that persons in this calmly peaceful and triumphant state of mind, are destitute of feeling. Far from it. They have feeling; but it is regulated feeling. Perfect in degree, but symmetrical in all its relations; and therefore resulting in that angelic aspect of religious experience, which has been indicated. And the explanation is this. Every emotion is so perfectly adapted to its appropriate object; every desire and affection is kept so perfectly in its position; every volition moves so surely and strongly towards the goal of perfect rectitude; all worldly tendencies and attachments, all hopes and fears, all joys and sorrows are so completely merged in the overruling principle of supreme love to God, a principle which makes all of God and nothing of the creature, that the result is, and of necessity must be, inward quietude;

"The peaceful calm within the breast,
"The dearest pledge of glorious rest."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd Edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 1.

Monday, March 7, 2016

How Does the Spirit Work?

In what manner does the Holy Spirit operate in individual hearts?

It does not appear, that any specific and certain rule can be laid down. The methods of the divine operation appear to be one of the secret things, which are hidden with God. Accordingly the Holy Spirit, so far as his method or manner of his influences is concerned, operates differently in different cases. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell, whence it cometh, and whither it goeth. So is every one that is born of the Spirit."  He sometimes comes with sudden and almost visible efficacy, and produces his results with "observation." But still more frequently, as it seems to us, he comes as a "still small voice," and operates in a secret and silent manner; but with no diminution of effective power and of inward purification.

Says Mr. Fletcher:

If the Lord be pleased to come softly to thy help; if he make an end of thy corruption by helping thee gently to sink to unknown depths of meekness; if he drown the indwelling man of sin, by baptizing, by plunging him into an abyss of humility; do not find fault with the simplicity of his method, the plainness of his appearing, and the commonness of his prescription. Nature, like Naaman, is full of prejudices. She expects that Christ will come to make her clean with as much ado, pomp, and bustle, as the Syrian general looked for when he was wroth and said, 'Behold, I thought he will surely come out to me and stand and call on his God and strike his hand over the place and recover the leper.' Christ frequently goes a much plainer way to work and by this means he disconcerts all our preconceived notions and schemes of deliverance. 'Learn of me to be meek and lowly of heart, and thou shalt find rest to thy soul.' Instead therefore of going away from a plain Jesus in a rage, welcome him in his lowest appearance, and be persuaded that he can as easily make an end of thy sin, by gently coming in 'a still small voice,' as by rushing in upon thee in a 'storm, a fire, or an earthquake.' [John Fletcher's Works, Vol. II, p. 650.] 

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd Edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 1.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

All Christians Should Be Filled with the Holy Spirit

In the times of the Apostles, miraculous powers were connected with the descent and the fullness of the Spirit's operations. The gift of these powers seems to have had special reference to the circumstances of the times, and to have been temporary. But the infinitely greater blessing, the crowning work of the Holy Spirit, that of imparting to the soul the grace of assured or perfect faith and the attendant grace of perfect love, still remains.

Now; if the Holy Ghost came into the world to dwell with men, to take up his abode with them and to teach them, if he came to inspire within them the highest possible faith and love, and to procure to them the highest possible purity and peace, then it seems to me, that the object of the dispensation of the Holy Ghost is not, and cannot be completely realized, till it can be said of all Christians, as it was said anciently, that they are men full of the Holy Ghost. Till this is done, there is a resistance in the heart proceeding from the remaining life of self and from the inspiration and artifices of Satan, which ought not to be.

The Holy Spirit is ready, not only to advance, but entirely to accomplish the inward work, whenever the people of God are prepared, with childlike simplicity of spirit and without any reservation, to undergo his sharply searching and purifying agency. It is the spirit of SELF, showing itself in the forms of distrust and resistance, which obstructs this faithful, but friendly operation; which grieves the Spirit; and prevents his purifying the heart with the waters of the interior baptism.— Let the followers of Christ ponder well these important truths. Let them strive to keep in mind, that they can do nothing well, in the moral and religious sense of the terms, which is not prompted by the presence and suggestions of the Holy Spirit. And certainly that they cannot do ALL things well, bringing every emotion and passion into subjection, and walking always in the commandment of faith and love, without being "filled," as the Scriptures express it, with his efficacious agency.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 1.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Filled With the Holy Spirit

The object of the dispensation of the Holy Ghost, will not be completely realized, till all Christians are filled with the presence and the operations of this Divine Agent.

And why should not Christians of the present day experience this great inward result, as well as those of the primitive ages?  It was said of John the Baptist, even before his birth, "and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost." It is related both of his mother Elizabeth and of his father Zachariah, that they were filled with the Holy Ghost." The apostle Peter and the martyr Stephen are described as being in like manner "full of the Holy Ghost." The disciples on the day of Pentecost are said to have been "filled with the Holy Ghost." Similar language is applied to the Savior. And Jesus, "being full of the Holy Ghost," returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. The Baptism of the Holy Ghost, which is repeatedly spoken of, probably means, in some places if not in all, the same thing with being filled with the Holy Ghost.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd Edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 1.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Necessity of the Dispensation of the Spirit

The object, therefore, of Christ's coming into the world, was to place men essentially in the condition in which they were before the Fall. Not only to secure their forgiveness, but to make them holy; not only to make them holy, but to make them so, in the only way in which Adam or any other being was ever made holy, viz. by means of the living and constant operation of God in the soul.

Hence the necessity of the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. Hence the various directions, which are given in the Scriptures not to grieve, and not to quench the Holy Spirit. Hence the declaration, that Christians are the temple of the Holy Ghost. And accordingly it is a great truth, though but imperfectly understood and estimated, that he, who, moves and acts in religious things without the attendant operation and grace of the Holy Ghost, cannot be spiritually wise, and is not in the way to be spiritually benefited.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd Edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 1.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Natural Dispensation

The Holy Spirit is to be regarded as the appointed and effective renovator, guide, comforter, and teacher of the children of men. In the moral and religious world all good is from Him; and beyond the reach of his influence, and irrespective of his presence and operations, there is not and cannot be any thing, which is valuable or desirable.

There are some reasons for saying, that the dispensation of the Holy Spirit is precisely opposite and antagonistical, in its principles and results, to what may be called the natural dispensation, viz. the law of the natural heart, or the reign of SELF in the soul. Man, before his fall, had a true life in God. He did not live by his own vitality, and flourish upon his own stock. The power of God possessed its habitation in the center of his soul; a living, animating, purifying principle. If he possessed, as undoubtedly he did, what might properly be denominated natural ability, it was, nevertheless, natural ability, made alive, inspired, animated by an ability out of and above nature. It was enough for him to know and rejoice in the fact that God was the continuance, as well as the beginning of his inward life; that every good thought and good feeling, that all purified activity and divine strength, all holy love and all angelic aspirations, were from God, and from God alone. And his apostasy, as it seems reasonable to suppose, consisted in the alienation and dethronement of this inward divine power, and in the substitution of SELF instead of God.

In the language of another, "man broke off from his true CENTER, his proper place in God, and therefore the life and operation of God was no more in him. He was fallen from a life in God into a life of SELF, into an animal life of self-love, self-esteem, and self-seeking in the poor perishing enjoyments of this world. This was the natural state of man by the Fall. He was an apostate from God, and his natural life was all idolatry, where SELF was the great idol, that was worshiped instead of God." [William Law's Spirit of Prayer, Part I, Chap. 2d.]

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 1.