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, April 18, 2024

The Blessedness of a Will Lost

If we truly believe in God as a being possessed of every natural excellence, if we believe in him as a God present in all his providences, and ever watchful and faithful for the good of his people, and if at the same time we fully believe that in all his actions he is right and that in all his claims upon us he is right, there remains no reason, no possible consideration, no motive, why we should either desire on natural principles, or should feel under obligation on moral principles to possess a will, an aim, a purpose adverse to his. All ground or basis of movement in such a direction entirely fails. But every thing stands firm and effective in the other direction. So that it will not only be unnatural not to give our wills to God; but it will be impossible, (that is to say, it will be psychologically or mentally impossible,) not to do it. All the motives, which can be conceived of, those which have relation to our moral duty, all combine in the same direction; so that the laws of his being must cease to be the laws of his being and man must cease to be man, if, having full faith in God, he does not fully yield his will to God.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

An Affectionate Submission to God

The subjection or submission of the will, for which we contend, is an affectionate submission, a submission which has some elements of the heart in it, a submission of love. We do not mean to say, that the submission of the will is, psychologically or mentally, the same thing, with love; but that it is a state of mind which implies love. And furthermore, the existence of love, as a necessary attendant upon it, gives to it one of its marked peculiarities, and a great share of its exceeding value. And it is this submission, therefore, the submission of the will in love, which God desires, and which he demands. But it is well understood, that the love of God, implies faith in God. To love him without having faith in his character as a good and holy being would be an impossibility. And, accordingly, looking at the subject in this point of view, we may confidently say the will is never truly subjected to God, is never subjected in that sense which alone God can accept, without faith.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Subjection of the Will by Faith

How is this great work, the subjection of the will, to be effected? 

And the answer must be repeated, which has already been so often given, that it can be done, so far as we can perceive, only by the operations and influence of FAITH. 

And in saying this, it can hardly be necessary to add, that we do not mean to exclude personal effort, in whatever form of resolve or of action it can properly be made; although it is true, and always will remain true, that personal effort here, as elsewhere in the things of religion, will be unavailing without faith. And this is so truly and emphatically the case, that we cannot hesitate to speak of faith as the cause, and as the one great and preeminent cause of a result so desirable and glorious.It is obvious, in the first place, that the man, who has no faith in God, can see no reason, and in the actual state of his views and feelings he has no reason, so far as he himself is concerned, why he should subject his will to God’s will. To subject our wills is to subject ourselves. If God has the control of the will, he has the control of the man. And no man, no rational being whatever, could be expected to subject his will, and thus to subject himself, to another being, however exalted he might be supposed to be, without faith in such being. It would obviously be against nature. That is to say, it is something, which in our apprehension is naturally impossible.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Keep The Eye Fixed on God's Order of Things

...the man, who has experienced the practical annihilation of his own will, does every thing and suffers every thing precisely in the order of God’s providence. It is the PRESENT MOMENT, considered as indicating the divine arrangement of things, which furnishes the truest and safest test of character. Holiness requires the fulfilment of our whole duty; and our duty necessarily has relation to the facts which God’s providence now presents before us. If our whole soul goes forth in obedience to what his holy providence now imposes on us, then, and not otherwise, are we acceptable in his sight. It is necessary, therefore, to keep our eye fixed upon God’s order of things. We must do this in relation to our place and situation in life, whatever it may be; not murmuring at our supposed ill lot; not giving way to any eager desires of change; but remaining quietly and humbly just where God has seen fit to place us.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Enduring Trials While Subjected in Will to God

Another mark or characteristic of the man, whose will has passed from his own unsafe keeping to the high custody of a divine direction, is this. He has no disposition to complain, when God, in the course of his providences, sees fit to send disappointments and afflictions upon him. This remark will apply not only to afflictions, which originate in the loss of health, of property, and of friends, but to all others of whatever nature, and coming from whatever source. We have sometimes thought, that the entire subjection of the will is seen particularly in the quietness and silence of spirit, with which misrepresentations and persecutions are endured. That the people of the world should be greatly agitated, and should find in themselves the movings of a rebellious and belligerent spirit, when their motives are aspersed and their characters injured, is entirely natural. And, unhappily, when persecution arises, we see too much of this unquiet and rebellious spirit, even in those whom charity requires us to recognize as Christians. Not so with those Christians of a higher grade, whose wills act in perfect harmony with the divine will. That they are afflicted, when they are subject to unjust persecutions, is true; but they are not rebellious; they are not disquieted; and although they are afflicted, it cannot be said with truth that they are destitute of happiness. Connecting with the instrument which troubles them, the hand of God, which permits the agency of that instrument, they regard the persecutions they endure as the lot which God has appointed them; and as such they rejoice in it. But this could not be, if their wills, renouncing all private and selfish modes of action, did not move harmoniously with the divine will.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Being Only God's Instrument

It would be interesting to delay here and to illustrate some of the more specific results and evidences of a will subdued. One result is, that the man, who has lost his will, in the sense which has been explained, namely, by an union of his will with God’s will, HAS NO PLANS OF HIS OWN; his own plans, if in any sense we may call them such, being merged and lost in the general conception of the plan, whatever it may be, of God’s overruling providence. He regards himself as merely an instrument; God’s instrument; and he does not, and cannot feel, that his plans are so much his, as God’s. We do not mean, in saying this, that he has no thought, no foresight; nothing “considerative” and prudential; but that in laying his plans, he asks the divine direction; and that, in the prosecution of them, he still asks the divine direction; and that, in the entire submission of his will, holding as he does the thread of his purpose as a divine gift moment by moment, his plans can be regarded as nothing more nor less than God’s plans, begun, prosecuted, and either continued or abandoned as God chooses.

— from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 9.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Ralph Cudworth (1618-1688): Obedience to the Divine Will

The learned and pious Dr. Cudworth says:

 “The highest mystery of a divine life here and of perfect happiness hereafter, consisteth in nothing but mere obedience to the divine will. Happiness is nothing but that inward sweet delight that will arise from the harmonious agreement between our wills and God’s will. There is nothing contrary to God in the whole world, nothing that fights against him, but SELF-WILL. This is the strong castle that we all keep garrisoned against heaven in every one of our hearts, which God continually layeth siege unto; and it must be conquered and demolished before we can conquer heaven. It was by reason of this self-will that Adam fell in Paradise; that those glorious angels, those morning stars, kept not their first station, but dropped down from heaven like falling stars, and sunk into this condition of bitterness, anxiety, and wretchedness, in which they now are. They all entangled themselves with the length of their own wings; they would needs will more and otherwise, than God would will in them. And going about to make their wills wider, and to enlarge them into greater amplitude, the more they struggled they found themselves the faster pinioned, and crowded up into narrowness and servility, insomuch that now they are not able to use any wings at all; but inheriting the serpent’s curse, can only creep with their bellies on the earth. Now our only way to recover God and happiness again, is, not to soar up with our understandings, but to destroy this self-will of ours. And then we shall find our wings to grow again, our plumes fairly spread, and ourselves raised aloft into the free air of perfect liberty, which is perfect happiness.”

— From Cudworth’s Criterion of the true knowledge of Christ; a sermon preached before the English House of Commons, March 31, 1647 quoted in The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 9.

Monday, April 8, 2024

The Loss of Our Own Will

It is not sufficient, that the lower principles of our nature are brought into subjection; it is not sufficient to possess affections purified and sanctified; God requires, in addition to these results and evidences of the rectification of our inward nature, the subjection of the will; an equally important and perhaps still more difficult work. One of the results of the highest Christianity, a Christianity far different from and far above that which is merely nominal, or which is but little better than nominal, is the LOSS OF OUR OWN WILLS. It is not meant by this, that we may not have a will different from that of our fellow-men, nor is it meant, that we may not have a strong, energetic will; but that we ought not to have, and that as Christians, who aim at the highest results of the divine life, we cannot have a will of our own, in distinction from and at variance with the divine will.

In this last sense, he, who approaches nearest to an annihilation of his own will, approaches nearest to the state of entire sympathy and harmony with the Divine Mind. The prostration of our own will, in such a sense that it shall not in any respect oppose itself to the will of God, seems to be the completion or consummation of those various processes, by which the inward spirit is purified. When the will in its personal or self-interested operation is entirely prostrated, so that we can say with the Savior, “Lo, I come to do thy will,” then the wall of spiritual separation is taken away, and the soul may be said, through the open entrance, to find a passage, as it were, into God himself, and to become one with Him, in a mysterious but holy and glorious union. Then and not till then, can it be truly said that the warfare against God has ceased, and a perfect reconciliation taken place, enabling those who have arrived at this blessed state to exclaim with the Savior, (perhaps in a modified but still in a true and most important sense,) “I AND MY FATHER ARE ONE.”

— from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 9.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

The Inward Christ

The outward word is good and true,
But inward power alone makes new;
Not even Christ can cleanse from sin,
Until He comes and works within.

It was for this HE could not stay,
But hasten'd up the starry way;
And keeps from outward sight apart,
That men may seek him in the heart.

CHRIST IN THE HEART! If absent there,
Thou canst not find Him anywhere;
CHRIST IN THE HEART! Oh friends, begin,
And build the throne of Christ within.

And know from this, that He is thine,
And that thy life is made divine,
When Holy Love shall have control,
And rule supremely in the soul.

Christ in the Soul (1872)  LXXXIII.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Poetry: Divine Justice Amiable

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

Her poetical writings. Justice of God amiable.

It is about this time that we find the first mention of her attempts at poetry. Poetry is the natural expression of strong feeling. She felt, and she wrote. It is possible that she had made attempts of this kind before; but I find nothing said of it. Voltaire, who goes out of his appropriate sphere of judgment in discrediting her religious pretensions, speaks lightly also of her effusions in verse. It would require a more intimate knowledge of French poetical diction than I profess to have, to give an opinion of her poetry, so far as the expression is concerned. But I do not hesitate to say, with great confidence, that this portion of her writings, with some variations; undoubtedly, exhibits in a high degree the spirit of poetry. There is thought in it; there is feeling. The highest kind of thought, the deepest feeling. The following poem, translated by Mr. Cowper, whom some critics, I think, would not place below Voltaire, either as a writer or judge of poetry, may be regarded as expressive, in some particulars, of her religious experience at this time ; and is probably to be referred, in its origin, to this period of her life. It indicates a deep sense of her unworthiness, and a humble and approving resignation to God's will, under the heaviest inflictions of His providence.