The life of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High may be called a Hidden Life, because the animating principle, the vital or operative element, is not so much in itself as in another. It is a life grafted into another life. It is the life of the soul, incorporated into the life of Christ; and in such a way, that, while it has a distinct vitality, it has so very much in the sense, in which the branch of a tree may be said to have a distinct vitality from the root.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Like a Beggar...

A beggar at a certain time, hungry and destitute of clothing, went and asked aid from another person. He asked in faith; that is to say, he asked in the exercise of entire confidence both in the ability and in the benevolent disposition of the person, to whom the application was made. And his faith being rightly placed, he received in accordance with his faith. But in thus placing himself in harmonious relation with the donor, viz.: in corresponding, in his sense of need, in his willingness to receive, and in the exercise of faith, with the donor’s generous disposition, no one can suppose that he ceased to exercise his own agency or to possess moral responsibility; and at the same time, being a mere recipient, no one can suppose, that he had any merit, which could detract from the fullness and freeness of the gift, or which could entitle him to reward. And so in the relations existing between man and God. If our own minds, in the sense of want and in the exercise of faith, are put into harmony and union with the Divine Mind, we shall receive what we need; but, being recipients and not the donor, we shall feel, as the beggar did, that the merit of all our mercies is in the giver of them; and at the same time it will be true, that we shall receive them without any infringement or loss of personal agency and accountability.

It is desirable, that these views and principles should be remembered. They aid in justifying the representations of Scripture, which every where and most emphatically ascribe man’s spiritual restoration to faith. Nor can any other principle, considered as standing first and standing alone, take its place. Even the principle of love, noble and divine as it is, could not unite the soul to God, and could not even be pleasing to God, without faith as its antecedent and basis. In the full possession of faith, we at once enter into harmony with God, and we necessarily exercise, on their appropriate occasions, all those affections which are desirable. By a law of its own nature it propagates every thing else from its own bosom. Having once come into existence under the divine inspiration, it may be said instrumentally and in the natural filiation of the mental exercises, to make all, to secure all. But without faith, whatever else he may have, man is left of God and left of happiness.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 7.

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