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.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Loss and Sickness and Death

Reflections on
the Life of
Madame Jeanne de la Mothe Guyon.





God, in his dispensations, mingled judgments and mercies together.

Another circumstance, worthy of notice as occurring about this time, was the loss of a part of the property of the family. The revenues, accruing to the family from the Canal of Briare, which has already been mentioned, as having been completed by her husband's father, were very great. Louis Fourteenth, whose wars and domestic expenditures required large sums of money, took from them a part of the income arising from that source. The family, besides their usual place of residence in the country; had a valuable house in the city of Paris, in connection with which also a considerable sum of money was lost at this time; but in what way, or for what reason, is not stated. If the birth of a son tended to conciliate and to make things easy, the loss of property had a contrary effect. Her step-mother, who seems to have been an avaricious woman, was inconsolable at these losses; which, in the perversity of her mind, she made the occasion of new injuries and insults to her daughter-in-law, saying with great bitterness, that the family had been free from afflictions till she came among them, and that all their troubles and losses came with her.

Another circumstance worthy of notice, a little later in time, and having some bearing upon her religious tendencies, was a severe sickness which she had. This was in the second year of her marriage. The business of her husband kept him much in Paris; and at the time to which we now refer, the situation of his affairs was such as to require his presence there constantly. After much opposition on the part of her mother-in-law, she obtained her consent to leave their residence, which was a short distance out of the city, and to go for a time and reside there with him. But it is worthy of remark, that she did not obtain this consent, which could not well be withholden without an obvious violation of her rights, until she had called in the aid of her father, who insisted upon it.

She went to the Hotel de Longueville, where her husband staid. She was received with every demonstration of kindness from Madame de Longueville, and from the inmates of the house; and there were many things, notwithstanding the generally unpleasant position of her domestic relations, which tended to render her residence in the city agreeable.

While at the Hotel de Longueville she fell sick, and was reduced to great extremity. The prospect was, that she would soon die; and so far as the world was concerned, she felt that it had lost, in a great degree, its attractions, and she was willing to go. The priest who attended her, mistaking a spirit of deadness to the world, originating in part from her inability to enjoy it, for a true spirit of acquiescence in God's dispensations, thought well of her state. She seemed to him to be truly religious. But this was not her own opinion. She had merely begun to turn her eye, as it were, in the right direction.

"My sins were too present to my mind," she says, "and too painful to my heart, to permit me to indulge in a favorable opinion as to my acceptance with God. This sickness was of great benefit to me. Besides teaching me patience under violent pains, it served to give me newer and more correct views of the emptiness of worldly things. It had the tendency to detach me in some degree from self, and gave me new courage to suffer with more resignation than I had ever done."

But this was not all. Death had begun to make inroads in her family circle. Her paternal half-sister, who resided at the Ursuline Convent in Montargis, died, she informs us, two months before her marriage. To this sister, to whom she was exceedingly attached, she makes repeated references. Perhaps we know too little of her to speak with entire confidence. But she seems to have been a woman gentle in spirit and strong in faith, who lived in the world as those who are not of the world; and who, we may naturally suppose, died in the beauty and simplicity of Christian peace.

The loss of a sister, so deservedly esteemed and loved by Madame Guyon, could not possibly be experienced without making the earth less dear, and heaven more precious. And at the time of which we are now speaking, the second year of her marriage and the eighteenth year of her age, she experienced the separation of another strong tie to earth, by the loss of her mother.

“My mother departed this life," she remarks, "in great tranquillity of spirit, having, besides other virtues, been in particular very charitable to the poor. God, who seems to have regarded with favor her benevolent disposition, was pleased to reward her, even in this life, with such a spirit of resignation, that, though she was but twenty-four hours sick, she was made perfectly easy about everything that was near and dear to her in this world."

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 6,

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Birth of Her First Child

Reflections on
the Life of
Madame Jeanne de la Mothe Guyon.





She had now been married about a year. A number of things occurred about this time, which are worthy of notice. They tend to illustrate what I have remarked, in the preceding chapter, on the operations of grace in connection
with the position in which we are placed in Providence. If it is not strictly true, that God saves us by his providences, a remark which is sometimes made,— I think we may regard it as essentially true, that he saves us by his grace, dispensed and operating in connection with his providences. Providences test the disposition of the mind; they not only test it, but alter it and control it to some extent; and may be the means of placing it in a position the most favorable for the reception of inward divine teaching.

One circumstance, which was calculated to have a favorable effect upon the mind of Madame Guyon, at the time of which we are now speaking, was the birth of her first child. God was pleased to give her a son, to whom she gave the name of Armand Jaques Guyon. This event, appealing so strongly to family sympathies, was naturally calculated to interest and soften the feelings of those who had afflicted her. And we learn from what she has said on the subject, that this was the case. But this was not all. It brought with it such new relations; it opened such new views of employment and happiness, and imposed such increased responsibilities, that it could hardly fail to strengthen the renewed religious tendency, which had already begun to develop itself. Under the responsibility of a new life added to her own, she began to realize that, if it were possible for her not to need God for herself, she might need him for her child.

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 6.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Turning to God Anew

Reflections on
the Life of
Madame Jeanne de la Mothe Guyon.





Her statement of some of her early trials:

"It was then I began to eat the bread of sorrow, and mingle my drink with tears."

Such are the expressions which convey to us her sense of her trials. It was in this extremity that it occurred to her, (alas, that we learn this lesson so often from sorrows alone,) that, in the deficiency of all hope in creatures, there might be hope and help in God. It is true, that she had turned away from him; and having sought for solace where she had not found it, and where she ought not to have sought it, she felt ashamed to go back.

But borne down by the burdens of a hidden providence, (a providence which she did not then love because she did not then understand it,) she yielded to the pressure that was upon her, and began to look to him, in whom alone there is true assistance.

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 6.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Fruits of Suffering

Oh LET ME SUFFER, till I know
The good that cometh from the pain,
Like seeds beneath the wintry snow.
That wake in flowers and golden grain.

Oh LET ME SUFFER, till I find
What plants of sorrow can impart,
Some gift, some triumph of the mind,
Some flower, some fruitage of the heart.

The hour of anguish passes by;
But in the spirit there remains
The outgrowth of its agony.
The compensation of its pains;

In meekness, which suspects no wrong,
In patience, which endures control.
In faith, which makes the spirit strong,
In peace and purity of soul.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXXIX.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Going Home

How pleasant 'tis, when life is run,
And never more our steps shall roam,
To say with joy, our work is done,
And we are going home.

How pleasant 'tis, our sorrows past,
With better, brighter worlds in view,
To give one parting look, the last.
And say with joy, Adieu!

The sting of death hath lost its power
To him who lives and never dies;
And death is the transition hour
Which leads him to the skies.

Oh live, oh reign, departing one!
Though gone from earth, to thee 'tis given,
With trials past, and victory won.
To gain the life of heaven.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXXVIII.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

On Religious Emotions

Religious emotions, whenever they make their appearance, should be so kept under control, as never to disturb the calmness of the perceptive and rational action of the mind. And the reason of the remark is this. True religion always has relation to the will of God. It implies conformity to the will of God; and conformity implies a knowledge of such will. But it is very obvious, that, considered as rational and accountable beings, we cannot be supposed to know, and that we cannot by any possibility know the divine will by means of mere instinct, by means of mere impulse, or of some strong and unregulated feeling. By such means merely it would be impossible for us to learn even the letters and the simple narratives of a child’s spelling book; much less the moral and religious facts and relations, upon which hang the results of an eternal existence. The will of God can be known by the human soul only in connection with the exercise of the judgment; in other words, by means of those perceptive and rational powers, which are a part of our nature. Powers, which cannot act clearly, efficiently, and satisfactorily, in connection with a violent and agitated state of the emotions. Hence, when God dwells in the soul by the proper possession and regulation of its powers, it will be peaceful.

The emotional part of religion, in distinction from that part of it, which consists in entire consecration and unwavering faith, often occasions a degree of perplexity even to very devout minds. Brainerd, the celebrated missionary among the North American Indians, was out of health at a certain time; so much so as to be very weak, and “unable to do his work.” Remarking in his Diary upon his feelings at this time, he says, “As I was able to do little or nothing, so I enjoyed not much spirituality, or lively religious affection.”

What shall we say of such an instance as this. It seems to me we should say, and we cannot very safely say either more or less, that he was afflicted, but not cast off; in sorrow, but not forgotten. In other words, that being wearied and sick in body, and overwhelmed in mind with the responsibilities of his situation, he had less of joyful emotions than at other times, emotions which vary very much with our physical and mental trials, but not that he really had less spirituality, less religion, or that he was less the subject of God’s love.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 11.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Faith — Not Emotion

There is another class of persons, whose experience is something more than intellectual; but which, just so far as it exists independently of faith as its basis, cannot safely or justly be regarded, as a true religious experience. We refer to those, whose religious life is characterized chiefly or exclusively by strong emotions. These cases are in some respects more difficult to be rightly estimated than those which have just been mentioned. It is well known, that many persons find it difficult to form an idea of religion separate from feeling; and they are very apt to consider great feeling and great religion as very much the same thing. In many minds religion and feeling are almost identical. But it will be noticed in the proposition, which we have laid down, that we do not condemn feeling, that we do not exclude feeling as a part of religious experience, but only that we condemn and exclude from religious experience all that feeling, which exists independently of faith as its basis. 

I have somewhere seen the remark, and it seems to me that there is a foundation for it, although it is obviously liable to be misunderstood, that we are not saved by feeling, but by faith. A proposition, which implies, that the primary element, the foundation of salvation, so far as the human mind is concerned, is faith, without excluding feeling in its appropriate place, viz. as sometimes antecedent and preparatory, and more frequently as a subsequent and accessory state of mind. As a general rule, the order of sequence is, faith first, and feeling afterwards. Religious faith will not only give religious feeling on its appropriate occasions; but it will give the right form or modification of feeling; in other words, precisely that modification of feeling, which the occasion requires.

We should be sorry to have it understood, as implied in these remarks, that we object absolutely and in all respects to what may be denominated emotional religion, or rather to emotions as involved in and considered as a part of religion. Emotions, excited states of feeling, even of mere natural or animal feeling, may precede faith, and may be valuable in preparing the way for it; or they may be subsequent to it, and may oftentimes result from it. The emotions in their various kinds, both joyous and sorrowful, arise on many occasions very different from each other; and oftentimes have nothing to do with religion; and at their best estate may be regarded merely as the attendants and accessories of religion.

The true view, therefore, is, that emotional states, or mere temporary feelings of joy and sorrow in distinction from the permanent state of love, may or may not involve the fact of religion. The man, who has them, may possess religion, or he may be destitute of it. In forming a judgment, therefore, of a man’s religious character from his joys or his sorrows, however excited and raised they may be, (for it is to joys and sorrows that we have special reference when we speak of emotional states,) it is necessary to be very careful. But no man need be solicitous in respect to the reality and truth of his religion, whether his joys or his sorrows be more or less, who, having entirely renounced himself, has that faith in God, which works by love and purifies the heart.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 11.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

False Prophets

The statements of ecclesiastical history furnish evidence, conclusive as it is melancholy, that, in almost every age since the time of the Apostles, there have been individuals, who have professed to be the subjects of revelations; persons, to whom God, according to their own ideas of things, has made special communications, and who, accordingly, have assumed, in a greater or less degree, the prophetic character. The age, in which we live, distinguished as it is, by philosophic advancement and by enlightened views on the subject of religion, has been, as it seems to us, distinguished also by the multiplication of instances of this kind. On every side, and in almost all Christian denominations, persons have made their appearance, who have regarded themselves as the subjects of special divine communications. Not the mere subjects of things religiously experienced in the heart; that is not what we mean; but of things supernaturally communicated to the intellect; not the mere subjects of holiness in exercise, but of revelations exteriorly imparted. We do not mean to imply, that these persons were not Christians; we have no doubt that in some cases they were; but we do mean to imply and to say, that their Christianity, their religion, existed, and must have existed independently of their gift or supposed gift of revelations.

It is a matter of notoriety, that the persons, to whom we now refer, have been in the habit not only of uttering predictions of future events; but have also undertaken to pronounce authoritatively upon some things in present existence, which are ordinarily withdrawn from notice; such as the present state of the inward moral and religious character of individuals, and their acceptance with God or their rejection. In many instances the results of their confident anticipations and predictions have shown, that the remarkable visitations and revelations, which they professed to have, and which it is possible that they very sincerely professed to have, were not from God. But if it had been otherwise, in other words if their statements and predictions had been fulfilled, it would not alter the general truth of our proposition. God if he chooses may select those, who are his enemies, to be the depository of his revelations; but their designation to this office, although it is perhaps out of the ordinary course of his proceedings, does not necessarily make them his friends. Saul was at one time numbered among the prophets. And Balaam, the son of Beor, “fell into a trance, having his eyes open;” and the declarations, which he then heard, he seems to have been authorized to utter as the predictions of the Most High.

We might enter into the question of the origin of these rather remarkable states of mind, and institute the inquiry, whether we are to regard them, in the present age of the world, as having their origin in the inspirations of God, or in the suggestions of Satan, or in the movements of a strongly disordered physical system operating upon, or in connection with, a highly excited state of the intellect and the feelings. But without entering into this inquiry, which, interesting and important as it undoubtedly is, would occupy too much time, what we have to remark here is, that the decisive circumstance, unfavorable to this form of Christian experience, if by courtesy we may call it such, is this: that, in itself considered, it is wholly intellectual. Visions, trances, revelations, and all other things, which are exteriorly imparted without being inwardly and operatively experienced, communicating new and perhaps remarkable views without changing the dispositions of the heart, are just what they are and just what their names indicate; but they are not religion. They may be regarded, if any one chooses so to regard them, as constituting an intellectual experience, or still more definitely as constituting an “apparitional” experience  but we repeat, that, in themselves considered, they do not and cannot constitute religion. If a man has a trance, a vision, and especially if he has a revelation, and can sustain it by such miracles as sustained the divine messages of Christ and the Apostles, we readily admit, that he is entitled to a hearing. But, in the first place, we know of no such cases. And in the second place, if we did, it would furnish no decisive grounds of inference in favor of the piety of such persons. It leaves the case just where it found it. And simply for the reason already indicated, viz. that these things are “apparitional” and intellectual, are addressed to the senses and the external perceptions, and do not penetrate the region of the heart.

Isaiah, and Ezekiel, and Daniel, and Peter, and John, and Paul, experienced God’s favor and were his beloved and adopted children, not exclusively or chiefly because they had visions and proclaimed God’s revealed messages and wrought God’s miracles; (missions and attributes, which, so far as we can perceive, might have been assigned to other less holy persons or even to unholy persons,) but because, they had given themselves to God in consecration and in faith, because their hearts were sanctified and their wills were subdued.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 11.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Faith — Not Visions

If the life of faith is the true life, if in its results it develops and explains every thing that is true, good, and lovely in the characters and actions of holy men, it would seem to be a matter of course, that every thing else, which claims to be religion independently of faith as its basis, must be regarded as setting up claims or pretensions, that are false or unfounded.

Those things, whether experienced in a greater or less degree, which are of the nature of visions, trances, revelations of the heavenly world or of the world of woe, revelations of future things, and the like, do not, and cannot, in themselves considered, constitute religion.

About the year 1688, a religious sect appeared in Dauphiny and Vivarais in France, and afterwards, about the year 1700, the same sect made its appearance in England, whose religious experience, in addition to, or perhaps we should rather say, in distinction from the common traits of religious experience, was characterized by trances, as they were called, in which they alleged that they saw the heavens open, and saw the angels of heaven, and saw paradise, and hell, and other things equally wonderful. Nor was this all. Their experience, in the case of a considerable number of persons, was distinguished also by prophetic views or foresights of future things. The state of trance, which can easily be explained, to a considerable degree at least, on purely natural principles, and also other states which were characterized by great physical agitation, were frequently followed by prophetic paroxysms, which when they came to the utterance, resulted either in strong and terrible denunciations, or in predictions of future events. Some interesting specimens of these prophecies are found in the Work, entitled the Prophecies of Sir John Lacy, a worthy man of some education and of irreproachable character, who was subject, in a remarkable degree, to all these forms of experience.

A similar sect sprang up in certain parts of Germany about the year 1730, called the Church or Congregation of the Inspired. It is related of Count Zinzendorf, the founder of the Church of the United Brethren or the Moravian Church, as it is more usually called, that he made a visit to the Church of the Inspired in the principality of Isenberg, and obviously for the purpose of ascertaining the nature of their doctrines and exercises.

The Count, speaking of what he himself witnessed in one of their leading men, whose character and exercises he had an opportunity of studying, both at Isenberg and elsewhere, says, that “he fell into one of his inspired fits in Budingen, which I thought dreadful. The manner was this. He suddenly became violently convulsed, and at the same time he moved his head backwards and forwards with incredible rapidity. In this state he spoke certain words in a prophetic style, which were termed inspirations. They were written down, and sent to the people to whom they referred.” The Count, after having examined the doctrine in connection with the commentary of its practical exhibitions and results, says, “I had no occasion to hesitate any longer, in entirely rejecting the inspiration.”

 — edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 11.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

God Angry with the Rebellious Nations

"Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hail-stones in my fury to consume it." — Ezek. 13.13.

Oh, God! when nations rise against thy power,
And stand with haughty and rebellious eye;
Then do the angry, muttering thunders lower,
And stormy lightnings cleave the trembling sky.
Oh, who, unscath'd, thy vengeance shall defy,
Thy day of desolation, blood, and flame?
Jehovah is not man, that he should lie,
And see dishonor put upon his name.
He buried haughty Babylon in dust,
E'en his beloved Zion felt the rod;
There is no hope, no confidence, no trust,
But in the favor and the arm of God.
His friends are safe, secure from every foe,
His enemies shall bow, and fall beneath his blow.

The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets XVIII.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Meekness of Spirit

"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the peace-makers: for they shall be called the children of God." Mat. 5.5, 9.

When there are clouds and tempests in the mind,
And peace and mercy are by wrath displaced,
It  breaks the plan of love which heaven designed,
And turns the blooming garden to a waste.
Then keep thy soul in peace and quietness,
And strive each evil passion to restrain,
And God will smile upon thee, and will bless,
And his bright image in thy breast maintain,
He, who did bow his blessed head in woe,
The Savior of the meek and lowly heart,
Did he not pray for those who struck the blow,
And bless the ruffian hand that aim'd the dart?
Oh, be like Him, calm, patient, self-controll'd,
He, who can rule himself, has richer wealth than gold.


The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets XVII.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

God Deals With Us as Individuals

God deals with us, (certainly for the most part,) as individuals, and not in masses. When he requires men to repent of sin, to exercise gratitude, to love, and the like, the requisition is obviously made upon them as individuals, as separate from and as independent of others. It is not possible to conceive of any other way, in which obedience to the requisition can be rendered. Nor is it conceivable that the remedial effect of the atonement should be realized in any other way than this. How is it possible, if I, in my own person, have suffered the wound of sin, that a remedy, which is general and does not admit of any specific and personal appropriation, should answer my purpose? Furthermore, in dying for all, in other words, in furnishing a common salvation, available to all on their acceptance of the same, Christ necessarily died for me as an individual, since the common mass or race of men is made up of individuals, and since I am one of that common mass or race. And indeed we can have no idea of a community or mass of men, except as a congregation or collection of separate persons. In dying for the whole on certain conditions, he necessarily, therefore, on the same conditions, died for the individuals composing that whole.

It would seem to follow, then, from what has been said, that the faith, which we especially need, is a personal or appropriating faith; a faith which will disintegrate us from the mass, and will enable us to take Christ home in all his offices to our own business and our own bosoms. We must be enabled to say, if we would realize the astonishing cleansing and healing efficacy there is in the gospel, of God that he is MY God, of the Savior that he is MY Savior. We must be enabled to lay hold of the blessed promises, and exclaim, these are the gift of MY Father, these are the purchase of MY Savior, these are meant for me.

It was thus, that patriarchs, prophets, and apostles believed. This was the faith of those consecrated ones, of whom the world was not worthy, recorded in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Hear the language of the Psalmist as an illustration of what is to be found frequently in the Scriptures. How precise, how personal, how remote from unmeaning generalities. “I will love thee, O Lord, MY strength. The Lord is MY rock, and MY fortress, and MY deliverer; MY God, MY strength, in whom I will trust; MY buckler and the horn of MY salvation, and MY high tower.” And it is worthy of notice, that the first word of the Lord’s prayer has this appropriating character: “OUR Father, who art in heaven.”

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 10.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Necessity of Appropriating Faith

A third form or modification of the great principle of faith, is what may be called APPROPRIATING FAITH. The necessity of this form of faith is evident from even a slight consideration of the subject. The usual understanding is, with the exception of those who hold strictly to a limited atonement, that our Savior has provided a common salvation, adequate to the wants of all; but available only in the case of those who exercise faith. How far this salvation will practically extend; how many individuals will avail themselves of it; why some are taken and others are left, we cannot tell; nor is it very obvious, that it is important for us to know. But certain it is, that no one will accept of the provision which is made, without faith. But what sort of faith? The answer is, It is that which can speak in the first person; that which has an appropriating power; that which can say I have sinned; I have need of this salvation; I take it home to myself. It is not enough for me to say, I believe that Christ died for others; I must also believe that he died for me individually, and accept of him as my Savior. It is not meant by this, that previous to the exercise of appropriating faith, and independently of such exercise, we have a special or particular interest in Christ, separate from and above that of others; and that appropriating faith consists in believing in this special or particular interest. An appropriating faith of this kind, and operating in this manner, might be very dangerous. It is merely meant, that out of the common interest, which is broad as the human race, we may, by means of faith, take individually that which the gospel permits us to receive and regard as our own; and that we can avail ourselves of this common interest, so as to make it personally our own, in no other way.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 10.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

General Religious Faith

There is also a general religious faith. “A person may not only believe,” repeating here the brief exposition of this subject which we have found it necessary to give in another Work, “with those, who possess an historical faith, that there was such a man as Jesus Christ; but may also believe, that he died for the salvation of men in general. This form of faith, it is true, is important; but it does not and cannot secure all those objects which are ascribed to faith in the Bible. I suppose it may be said with truth, that the devils believe and know, not only that there was such a being as Jesus Christ, but that he died upon the cross for sinners. It obviously does not commend itself to human reason, and still less to the Word of God, to say that a man has saving faith, who merely believes in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, so far as the world receives him in that capacity; but without receiving and believing in him as a Savior in his own case.

A faith of this kind, and which goes no further than this, is practically DEAD. And perhaps it may be said here, that the great sin of the people of our own age is, not that they have merely an historical faith and stop in that, as in some former corrupt periods; but that they too often rest satisfied with a general and abstract faith, which is theoretically applicable to the world at large, without bringing it home to themselves. They believe in the general truth, without making a specific and personal application; and thus serve Satan as effectually, as far as they are personally concerned, as if they had only an historical faith.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 10.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Historical Faith

Historical faith, as that phrase is usually employed by theologians, is faith in the facts, persons, and events, which are mentioned in the Bible, considered merely as matters or subjects of history. The Bible has a historical, as well as a religious value. No reason can be given, so far as we can perceive, why the Bible, in its purely historical parts, should not be placed upon the same footing with the other historical narrations of antiquity. Statements, for instance, which are made in the Bible, and which are as well authenticated as other historical statements, furnish us with an account of Jesus Christ, gravely and specifically, much as is done in other historical narrations. And the person, who has faith in the historical narrations of profane antiquity, who believes in the existence of such men as Hannibal and the Scipios and in other historical personages, cannot well doubt, certainly not with any obvious consistency, the truth and facts of the evangelical statements.

An historical faith in the Savior, in accordance with the view just given, is a faith or belief, that such a man as Jesus Christ, possessing many of the virtuous traits, which his biographers have ascribed to him, appeared in Palestine at the commencement of the Christian era. It is the same species of faith, with which we believe in the existence of the Tituses, Vespasians, and other distinguished historical personages of the same period. This sort of faith, however, which has reference merely to the fact of his existence and to his general character, does not necessarily involve the existence of religion, or even of good morals. A man may be vicious in his character, or without being an immoral man, he may entirely reject Christ in his more important religious aspects and relations, and at the same time believe in him historically. And this was the case, as is well known, with Voltaire, with Diderot, and other distinguished opponents of the Christian system, who readily yielded their assent to the historical matter of fact, that Jesus Christ lived at a certain period of the world, that he was a wise and virtuous man, and that he was put to death by the Jews under the procurate of Pontius Pilate. But a faith, which stops at the historical facts, without recognizing the moral and religious relations and issues involved in them, (and this is always the case with the mere historical faith,) is obviously of no religious value.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 10.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Appropriating Faith

There is a form or modification of faith, which may properly be termed appropriating faith. In giving an account of the principles and doctrines of faith, we could not well omit saying something of this form of its action.

The phrase, appropriating faith, does not indicate a faith, which is different in its kind or nature from any other faith. Faith, in its nature, is always the same. It indicates a form or modification of faith, however, which should not be confounded with other forms.

Appropriating faith is a faith, which considers the object of faith, the thing believed in, whatever it may be, in its relation to ourselves.

But in order more fully to understand this statement, perhaps we should say here, that there are three distinct modifications of faith, which may properly be noticed, in connection with each other, viz.: historical faith, a general religious faith, and that more specific or appropriating faith, which we have at present under consideration.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 10.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Light of Faith

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." — Heb. 11.13.
 

The light of FAITH doth guide us kindly on,
Like Israel's cloud by day and fire by night.
High o'er our heads, its splendor waxes bright,
When every other blaze is dark and gone.
By FAITH did Noah sail upon the flood,
By FAITH did Abraham offer up his son;
By FAITH the prophets and apostles won
A crown in heaven, on earth a crown of blood.
Their journey here was through a sea of flame;
They trode it fearless, for before their eye
The star of faith shone brightly in the sky,
And showed upon each beam Christ's blessed name.
Oh, let it shine for us, till we, as they,
Shall climb these rugged cliffs, and reach the hills of day.


The Religious Offering XVI.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Confidence in God in Bereavements

"A  voice was beard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping  for  her children, refused to be comforted for her children because they were not." — Jer. 31.15.

Why has my child, my darling child departed?
Why has my God in wrath that lov'd one taken?
Leaving me desolate and broken-hearted,
0'erwhelmed and prostrate, hopeless and forsaken.
And is it all in wrath that I am smitten,
And pressed with burdens heavy to be borne?
Hope yet, my soul, in God, for he hath written
With his own finger,  bless'd are they who mourn.
Perhaps I loved my child more than my God,
Neglecting and forgetting every other,
And He in mercy sent the chastening rod,
And took away the child to save the mother.
Farewell, then, earth! Why should I look below?
I too will take my staff; and weeping heavenward go.

The Religious Offering Scripture Sonnets XV.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Consenting to Receive What God Bestows

The regenerated soul does not, by any physical union with God, cease to exist as a soul; nor do its acts cease to exist as the soul’s acts; but it differs from the unregenerated and the unsanctified soul in this respect, that it exists and acts in harmonious cooperation with divine grace imparted; consenting to receive what God chooses to bestow; consenting to be nothing, that God may be all. But we ought to add, (a circumstance which will perhaps meet a difficulty existing in the minds of some,) that this consent is not very explicit, not very formal. It is an act of the soul, so quiet, so remote from general notice, so comparatively indistinct in our consciousness, that it might almost be said to exist by implication merely. In truth, however, the act is something more than implied; it has a positive existence, whether we have a distinct perception of it or not. And it is comparatively lost to our notice, and ceases in a great degree to occupy our attention, only because our attention is taken up with the divine visitant who has entered.

The doctrine, which is proposed in these remarks, is not a new one. It is hardly necessary to say, that it is the ancient, and to the holy soul the cherished doctrine of antecedent or “preventing” grace. A doctrine, there is some reason to fear, better understood formerly than at present; and always, it is to be lamented, more distinctly recognized in theological speculation, than thoroughly applied in Christian practice. It cannot be too often brought to notice, that the great business of man, as it is of all moral beings, is, not a cessation of action; and still less is it an independent action; but is an action in cooperation with God. And this may be said, (so great is the condescension of our heavenly Father,) to make the work of man with God a sort of partnership. But still it should ever be remembered, that it is a species of partnership, existing on the condition, (the only condition which God can ever recognize,) that it shall be God’s part to give, and man’s part to receive.

— edited from The Life of Faith Part 1, Chapter 9.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

We Live by Faith, We Continue in Faith

As we begin to live by faith, so we must continue to live by faith. Of the truth of this general view, established as it is by the experience of holy men in all ages of the church, there can be no reasonable doubt. If we need wisdom, for instance, (as every person, who strives to live the divine life, does need it,) we can obtain it in no other way, than by asking for it in the exercise of FAITH; that is to say, believing that God, in accordance with his promise, a promise which has its foundation in the atoning merits of Christ, will give all that wisdom which is necessary for us. If we need support in temptation, (as every person in the present state of existence does need it,) we must ask for such support in the same spirit of filial confidence, without any of those misgivings and doubts, which are the opposites of faith, and we shall have it. If we need a will resigned to God in the endurance of trial or a will conformed to God’s will in the discharge of duty, and will only look to God for it, fully believing in him as true to his own character and declarations, he cannot, and will not disappoint us. There is no mistake, no uncertainty. It is not a result which is accidental or contingent, which may be or may not be; it is just as certain as it is, that God is infinite; and that being what he is, he exists in order to communicate the blessedness of his own nature to others, and that all subordinate beings exist, and can exist, so far as they exist in the divine image, only by receiving from him.

— edited from The Life of Faith Part 1, Chapter 8.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Human Moral Freedom

But what is to be said of human freedom and human responsibility?

If our dependence upon God is to be so strict, and our self-renunciation is to be so entire, is there good reason for regarding man as a being, either possessed of the elements, or responsible for the fact of moral accountability?

The simple truth is, that God never has violated; he never will violate; and while he remains what he is, he never can violate the moral freedom of his creatures. He gave them moral freedom; and the gift itself is the pledge of its protection. This freedom he is bound by the very elements of his nature to respect sacredly and to respect always. Being what he is, he is not so weak in principle as to violate his own implied promise; nor, considered as the superior, and man as the dependent, is he so poor in character as to be satisfied with a homage, which is not voluntarily rendered.

To be saved from sin and to be brought into moral harmony with the Divine Mind, without a recognition of moral freedom, would in our apprehension, be in the nature of a contradiction in terms; and would, in reality, be neither salvation to men nor honor to God. It is, therefore, left to men, and left to all moral beings throughout the universe, to decide, (and it is a question which is always and necessarily decided one way or the other,) whether they will be saved by the divine operation alone, or will attempt to save themselves by their own efforts. If they consent to be thus saved, in other words if they give themselves up to God to be saved in his own way and manner, then they live by the presence and the agency of the divine operation; or in the expression of the Scriptures by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost; but if they do not consent, they live, as Satan and all other rebellious spirits do, by the operation of unavailing and destructive efforts generated out of self. But where consent is given, so that the divine operation may be in harmony with the mental laws, moral freedom is unimpaired.

And this is especially true, when it is considered, that the act of consent is not the same thing as a cessation or annihilation of action; it is not a mere absence or negation of mental movement; but is a real or positive act on the part of the creature; one which may be specifically described as an act of harmonious concurrence and cooperation, with the divine act. And what is worthy of notice, and is especially important here, this consentient and concurrent act is repeated in all time to come; existing always in immediate consecution with the divine influence, moment by moment. It is in this position of the two minds, the Divine Mind, and created minds, (a position which reconciles the two otherwise antagonistical ideas of God’s gift and man’s free reception,) that grace is communicated. The idea of grace imparted or infused in any other manner, the idea of grace enforced, the idea of saving men against their own consent, involves an absurdity. Salvation is nothing else, and can be nothing else, than harmony with God. But harmony without consent would be an adjustment of conceptions not more free from absurdity, than that of love without affection.

— edited from The Life of Faith Part 1, Chapter 9.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Common Mental Elements Of Justification and Sanctification

The states of justification and sanctification agree with each other not only in being sustained by faith, but by being characterized by the same mental elements in other respects. If, for instance, it is true, as it undoubtedly is, that, in experiencing the state of justification, we are brought to feel, that we cannot obtain forgiveness without self-renunciation, it is equally true, that in sanctification we must have the same feeling in reference to every thing that is necessary for us; in other words, we must feel, that we cannot seek any thing and cannot obtain any thing from God, so long as we cherish the secret expectation of aid from some other source; and that reliance upon God necessarily implies the renouncement of ourselves.

Another mental element, which is involved in sanctification, as well as in justification, is a willingness to receive. We may suppose a person, although perhaps it is not likely to be the case, willing to renounce himself and his own efforts as a ground of hope; and still not willing to receive all from God. It is impossible, that such a soul should exercise that faith, which results in forgiveness and reconciliation. It is necessary that he should not only renounce himself as a ground of hope, but every thing else besides God and out of God; and be willing to be saved, both from the guilt of the past and from present sin, by God’s grace and in God’s way. To renounce ourselves, therefore, in every thing, our merit, our wisdom, our strength, and whatever else we had called and valued as our own, to renounce all other created and subordinate grounds of hope, and humbly, and willingly to receive every thing, our salvation, our Christian graces, our temporal and spiritual guidance, and whatever else may be necessary for us, from God alone in the exercise of simple faith; it is this, as it seems to us, and nothing different from this, and nothing short of this, which constitutes, both in its commencement and progress, the life of the children of God.

— edited from The Life of Faith Part 1, Chapter 9.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Justification and Sanctification — Both by Faith!

Justification and sanctification, although they have some things in common, are, nevertheless, to be regarded, as different from each other. Justification, while it does not exclude the present, has special reference to the past. Sanctification, on the contrary, taking up the work, which justification has begun, has a more distinct reference to the present and the future. And accordingly, the one may be supposed to inquire, how the sins, which have been committed in times past, shall be forgiven; while it is the office of the other to inquire, how we shall be kept from sin at the present moment and in time to come. Or, stating the distinction between them in a little different manner, we may perhaps say, that justification removes the condemnatory power or guilt of sin, while sanctification removes the power of sin itself. The one pardons; the other purifies. The one takes away guilt; the other takes away transgression. The one commences the union with God by forgiveness; the other continues it by securing conformity to the divine will. The one is incipient, and terminates in a particular result; the other may be said to be progressive without end.

There can be no doubt, therefore, that justification and sanctification differ from each other. At the same time, it seems to be equally true that in some respects they are closely allied, and sustain a near resemblance. And in particular, they both come into existence, and are both sustained, in connection with the same mighty principle, viz.: by faith. The doctrine of justification by faith may be regarded as a doctrine generally conceded and settled. And when the subject has been fully examined, we cannot well doubt, that the doctrine of sanctification in the same manner, viz.  by faith, will be conceded and established with equal weight of evidence, and with equal unanimity of opinion. We begin to live by faith; and we continue to live in the same methods, which made the beginning. We received forgiveness in the first instance by faith; and in the reception of any and every spiritual favor, which may be necessary in our further progress, and which may properly be included under the general grace of sanctification, we need the same faith.

“Christ has truly loved me,” says Hermann Francke, “and washed me in his blood, so that my salvation is rendered sure, through grace. My beginning, progress, and ending, is by FAITH in Jesus Christ. When I feel my utter inability, and acknowledge that I can do nothing of myself, and cast myself upon his mercy alone, I feel a new power of communication to my soul. I do not seek to be justified in one way, and sanctified in another.” [Memoirs of Augustus Hermann Francke, Chap. 2d.]

— edited from The Life of Faith Part 1, Chapter 9.