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.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Contending With Satan

Thou hast contended with Satan, and hast been successful. Thou hast fought with him and he has fled from thee. But, O, remember his artifices. Do not indulge the belief that his nature is changed. True, indeed, he is now very complacent, and is, perhaps, singing thee some syren song; but he was never more a devil than he is now. He now assaults thee, by not assaulting thee;  and knows that he shall conquer, when THOU FALLEST ASLEEP.

Religious Maxims XXX.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

It is God We Seek, Not Happiness

Many persons think they are seeking holiness, when they are in fact seeking the "loaves and fishes." To be holy is to be like Christ, who, as the Captain of our salvation was made perfect through suffering.  We must be willing to bear the cross, if we would wear the crown. In seeking holiness, therefore, let us think little of joy, but much of purity; little of ourselves, but much of God;  little of our own wills, but much of the Divine will.  We will choose the deepest poverty and affliction with the will of God, rather than all earthly goods and prosperities without it. It is God we seek, and not happiness. If we have God, He will not fail to take care of us. If we abide in Him, even a residence in hell could not harm us. "As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God."

Religious Maxims XXIX.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Praying With the Heart

We may pray with the intellect, without praying with the heart; but we cannot pray with the heart without praying with the intellect. Such are the laws of the mind, that there can be no such thing as praying without a knowledge of the thing we pray for. Let the heart be full, wholly given up to the pursuit of the object; but let your perception of the object be distinct and clear. This will be found honorable to God and beneficial to the soul.

Religious Maxims XXVIII.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Fixed, Inflexible Will

A fixed, inflexible will is a great assistance in a holy life. Satan will suggest a thousand reasons, why we should yield a little to the temptations by which we are surrounded; but let us ever stand fast in our purpose. A good degree of decision and tenacity of purpose is of great importance in the ordinary affairs of life. How much more so in the things of religion! He, who is easily shaken, will find the way of holiness difficult; perhaps impracticable. A double-minded man, he, who has no fixedness of purpose, no energy of will, is "unstable in all his ways." Ye, who walk in the narrow way, let your resolution be unalterable. Think of the blessed Savior. "My God, my God, why hast  Thou forsaken me?"  Though he was momentarily forsaken, at least so far as to be left to anguish inconceivable and unutterable, his heart nevertheless was fixed and he could still say, "My God, my God."

Religious Maxims XVII.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Faith is Better than Intellectual Illumination

Faith is better to us, far better, than mere intellectual illumination, better than any strength of joyous emotion; better than any thing and every thing else, except holy love, of which it is the true parent. The fallen angels, in their primitive state of holiness, had illuminations, great discoveries of God and of heavenly things, and great raptures. But when their faith failed, when they ceased to have perfect confidence in God, they fell into sin and ruin. Our first parents fell in the same way; because they ceased to have confidence in God; because they ceased to believe him to be what he professed to be, and that he would do what he declared he would do. Their previous glorious experiences, their illuminations and joys, availed nothing, as soon as unbelief entered. Unbelief in them, and unbelief in their descendants, has ever been the great, the destructive sin. And faith on the other hand, an implicit confidence in God, a perfect self-abandonment into his hands, ever has been, and from the nature of the case ever must be the fountain of all other internal good, the life of all other life in the soul.

The Interior of Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844). Part 1, Chapter 5.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Value of a Personal Faith

If we possess an appropriating faith, and if our faith be operative and strong as it should be, we shall not only gain the victory over the various temptations which beset us in the present life, but shall find ourselves rapidly forming a new and wonderful acquaintance with God. It is here, in connection with this form of faith, that we find the great and effective instrument of progress and of victory in the Interior Life. In the present life a strong and operative appropriating faith is the key which unlocks the mysteries of the divine nature, and admits the soul to a present and intuitive acquaintance with its exceeding heights and depths of purity and love. No man, who has not this faith or has it not in a high degree, can be said to live in true union with the divine mind, with God and in God. Hence we consider it important to say distinctly, in endeavoring to sketch some of the traits and principles of the interior or hidden life, that those persons will have no true and experimental knowledge of the things which we affirm, who merely believe generically and not specifically; in other words, who believe for others rather than themselves; who, in the exercise of a sort of discursive faith which embraces the mass of mankind, cannot be said to possess it individually and personally, and for their own soul's good. Let us, then, begin to learn the great lesson of faith; of faith in its general nature; of faith in its various modifications; and particularly the indispensable lesson of appropriating faith. Well has Martin Luther somewhere remarked, that the marrow of the gospel is to be found in the pronouns MEUM and NOSTRUM, MY and OUR.

— adapted from The Interior of Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 1, Chapter 5.

Friday, February 21, 2014

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." 

The Interior of Hidden Life (2nd edition 1844), Part 1, Chapter 5.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Appropriating Faith

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.

The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844), Part 1, Chapter 5.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Step by Step

It must be admitted that [union with God] is not reached at once. At least this is not the general method of God's operation. God works gradatim, step by step; by the gradualism of continually developed law, and not by the impromptus and ejaculations of blind effort, without any wise and permanent principles as the foundation of effort. It is a great thing to begin to return; it is a much greater to complete the return. It is a great thing even to look towards God with feelings of humility and faith.  It is a much greater to find him, encouraged as it were by these solicitations of humble faith, approaching nearer and nearer, in the mild radiance of a reconciled divinity; — melting away and removing, at every step of his approach, some envelopment of selfishness, until, the doors of every faculty being open, he enters his own purified temple, and becomes its everlasting center.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851), Part 1, Chapter 1.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Deliverance in Christ

Long did the clouds and darkness roll
Around my troubled breast;
No starlight shone upon my soul,
My footsteps found no rest.

To human help I looked around,
But vainly sought relief;
No balm of Gilead I found,
No healing for my grief.

Then to the Savior's help I cried;
He listening heard my prayer;
I saw his wounded hands and side,
And felt that hope was there.

He guides me in the better way;
He makes my footsteps strong;
The gloomy night is changed to day,
And sadness changed to song.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Light is Rising O'er the Sky.

THE light is rising o'er the sky:
The dews are fading from the hill;­
But where's the joyous light to dry
The tears, that from my heart distil?

Tears, deep and hidden in their spring;
And well may those who weep despair,
If there's no sun or star to bring
Some ray of hope and comfort there.

E'en when thou speakest, see the light,
Oh sinner, brighter than the day;
And let the beam that cheers thy sight,
Its gladness to thy heart convey.

When angels sung "good will to men,"
Its splendor shone o'er Bethlehem's plain;
And shining now as bright as then,
It cheers the mourning soul again.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Be Faithful in Little Things

Always make it a rule to do every thing, which it is proper and a duty to do, in the best manner and to the best of your ability. An imperfect execution of a thing, where we might have done better, is not only unprofitable but it is a vicious execution or in other words is morally wrong. He, who aims at perfection in great things, but is willing to be imperfect in little things, will find himself essentially an imperfect man. The perfection of the greater will be no compensation, and no excuse for the imperfection of the less. Such a person wants the essential principle of universal obedience. Consider well, therefore, what God in his Providence would have you perform; and if you feel the spirit of those directions, which require us to do all things as unto God rather than unto men, you will not do them with a false heart or a feeble hand. And thus in small things, as well as in great, in those which are unseen  as well as in those which attract notice, it shall be said of you, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Religious Maxims (1846) XXVI.

Friday, February 14, 2014

O God, We are Thine; For Ever Thine

No man ever arrived at Christian perfection, no man ever  can arrive at that ennobling state, who  walks by sight, rather than by faith, and of whom it cannot be said, as of the father of the faithful, "he went out, not knowing whither he went." Perhaps we may say, it is the highest attainment of the soul, (certainly it is the foundation of the highest or perfect state in all other Christian attainments,) that of entire and unwavering confidence in God. O God, we are thine; for ever thine. We will not let Thee go, until Thou bless us. And when Thou dost bless us, still we will not let Thee go. For without Thee, even blessing would be turned into cursing. Therefore we will ever trust in Thee.

Religious Maxims (1846) XXV.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Faith, Even Without Consolation

We may be deprived of outward consolations; and still have consolations of heart. But this is not all. We may be deprived in the sovereignty of God, and for wise purposes, of inward consolations also; and may be left for a time in a state of mental barrenness and desolation. And yet faith, precious faith, discouraging as this state of things may seem, may still remain; and not feebly merely, but in the strength and fulness of its exercise. It is still our delightful privilege to say of God, that He is our God, our Father, our Friend and portion. "Blessed is the man, that trusteth in the Lord."

Religious Maxims (1846) XXIV.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

On Censuring Others

It  is one among the pious and valuable maxims, which are ascribed to Francis de Sales: "A judicious silence is always better than truth spoken without charity." The very undertaking to instruct or censure others, implies an assumption of intellectual or moral superiority. It cannot be expected, therefore, that the attempt will be well received, unless it is tempered with a heavenly spirit. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not CHARITY, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal."

Religious Maxims (1846) XXIII.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Renunciation of the World or of the Self?

It  may sometimes be practically important  to make a distinction between a renunciation of the world and a renunciation of ourselves. A man may, in a certain sense and to a certain extent, renounce the world, and. yet may find himself greatly disappointed in his anticipations of spiritual improvement and benefit. He has indeed renounced the world as it presents itself to us in its externalities; he has renounced its outward attractions; its perverted and idle shows. He may have carried his renouncement so far as to seclude himself entirely from society, and to spend his days in some solitary desert. But it avails nothing or almost nothing, because there is not at the same time an internal renunciation; a crucifixion and renunciation of self. A mere crucifixion of the outward world may still leave a vitality and luxuriance of the selfish principle; but a crucifixion of self necessarily involves the crucifixion, in the Scripture sense, of everything else.

Religious Maxims (1846) XXII.

Monday, February 10, 2014

God's Life in Humanity

From God all things come. To God, as the universal originator and governor, all things are in subjection. In ascertaining what God is, we necessarily ascertain the position and responsibilities of those beings that come from God, and are dependent on him. The life of his moral creatures, so far as it is a right and true life, is a reproduction, in a finite form, of the elements of his own life. "God created man in his own image. In the image of God created he him." Gen. 1:27. The Saviour, in speaking of himself, in his incarnate state, says, "I am in the Father, and the Father in me." John 13:11. God, in carrying out and perfecting the great idea of a moral creation, subjects the infinity of his being to the limitations of humanity, and reproduces himself in the human soul. So that man's life may truly be described, as God's life in humanity.

Nor, in the strict sense of the terms, can any­ thing but the DIVINE LIFE, or the life of God in the soul, be called life. Those who have gone astray from God, just so far as they have lost the divine life, and have sunk into the natural life, are dead. Hence, the expressions of the apostle: — "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." Ephes. 2:1. The eternal vitality, the breath from the Infinite, the life of God in the soul, ceases to be in them. And being dead, by the absence of God as an indwelling principle, they must be recreated, or born again, by his restoration. It is not enough, that provision has been made, in the death of Christ, for man's forgiveness. Forgiveness, it is true, has its appropriate work. It cancels the iniquity of the past; but this is not all that is necessary. It is not without reason, that the learned Schlegel commences his profound work on the philosophy of history by saying, that "the most important subject, and the first problem of philosophy, is the restoration in man of the lost image of God." The immortal nature must be made anew, must be re-constituted, if we may so express it, on the principle of life linked with life, of the created sustained in the uncreated, in the bonds of divine union.

A Treatise on Divine Union Part 1, Chapter 1.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Death to Self

Look not for a, true living strength,
In the life of the ME and the I,
With nothing to love but its self-hood,
And fearing to suffer and die.
As thou seekest the fruit
From the seed-planted grain,
Seek life that is living,
From life that is slain.

Then hasten to give it its death-blow,
By nailing the I to the Cross;
And thou shalt find infinite treasure,
In what seemeth nothing but loss;
For where, if the seed
Is not laid in the ground,
Shall the germ of the new
Resurrection be found.

The soul is the Lord's little garden,
The I is the seed that is there;
And He watches it, While it is dying,
And hath joy in the fruits it doth bear.
In the seed that is buried,
Is hidden the power
Of the life-birth immortal,
Of fruit and of flower.

'Tis hidden, and yet it is true;
'Tis  mystic, and yet it is plain;
A lesson, which none ever knew,
But souls that are inwardly slain;
That God, from thy death,
By His Spirit shall call
The life ever-living,
The life, ALL IN ALL.

Christ in the Soul (1872)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Consecration is Necessary to Faith

It is a great complaint in the Christian church at the present day, that there is a want of faith. If we may take the statements of Christians themselves, they do not believe; certainly not as they should do. And why is it? It is because they have not fully consecrated themselves to God; in other words, they continue to indulge in some known sins. Such are the laws of the mind, that they cannot have full faith in God as a friend and father to them, so long as they are conscious of voluntarily sinning against him.

The Saviour himself has distinctly recognized the principle, that faith under such circumstances is an impossibility. “How can ye believe, who receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?” If we seek the honor that cometh from God, in other words, if in the fixed purpose of our minds we consecrate ourselves to him, to do, as far as in us lies, his whole will, then, and not otherwise, we can believe that he will be to us, and do for us, all that he has promised in his Holy Word.

It is precisely here as it is in common life. It is impossible for us, in our intercourse of man with man, to believe that a man whom we deliberately sin against and injure, has confidence in us and loves us, provided we are certain that he has knowledge of the fact. The principle will be found to hold good in regard to God as well as man. Before Adam and Eve sinned, they had faith in God as their father and friend. But their faith failed as soon as they had sinned; and they immediately hid themselves from his presence.

If we would have faith, therefore, we must endeavor by consecration to cease from all known voluntary sin. In entire accordance with these views are the remarkable expressions in the first epistle of John. “Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.”

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

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Consecration to God

Consecration is simply putting forth the volition, (a foundation for which is now laid in the belief of the duty and the attainableness of holiness,) the fixed unalterable determination, with divine assistance, to be wholly the Lord’s.

In other words, it is a fixed purpose, not to be altered during the whole period of our existence, to break off from every known sin; and to walk, to the full extent of our ability, in the way of the divine requirements. God recognizes the moral agency of man, fallen as he is; and very properly calls upon him and requires him to make this consecration, however unavailable it may ultimately be without his own accessory aid. Now it does not necessarily follow, because we put forth a determination to do a thing, that the thing is done; although it is certain that the thing will never be done without the previous determination.

Such a consecration, therefore, extending to all that we are and all that we have, is necessary. And let it not be said, that we have no power to make it. We are not speaking now of persons, who are in the deadness of original un-conversion. We are speaking of Christians, of persons in a justified state, whose dead wills have been partially quickened by the Holy Ghost, and who certainly can do something in this way. Such a consecration, therefore, made with the whole soul and for all coming time, is necessary.

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

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Need for Patience

One of the most important requisites of a holy life is PATIENCE. And by this, we do not mean merely a meek and quiet temper, when one is personally assaulted and injured; but a like meekness and quietness of temper in relation to the moral and religious progress of the world. We may be deeply afflicted in view of the desolations of Zion; but let us ever remember and rejoice, that the cause of truth and holiness is lodged safely in the hands of God. With Him a thousand years are as one day. And in the darkest moments when Satan seems to be let loose with ten-fold fury, let us thank God and take courage, because the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.

Religious Maxims (1846) XXI.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Bucket of the Soul

Prayer without faith is vain. A pious English writer, one who lived as far back as the days of the Puritans, and who uses various homely but instructive illustrations after the manner of those times, calls prayer "the BUCKET of the soul by which it draws water out of the wells of salvation. But without Faith, you may let down this bucket again and again and never bring up one drop of solid comfort." [Symond's Sight and Faith, printed in 1651.] It is faith which fills the bucket. And accordingly, if our faith be weak, we shall find but poor and famishing returns. A full bucket depends on the condition of a strong faith.

Religious Maxims (1846) XX.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Only Imperfection Complains of the Imperfect

It is an excellent saying of the celebrated Fenelon, "It is only imperfection that complains of what is imperfect." It would be well for those who aim at Christian perfection to remember this. Surrounded by those, who constantly exhibit defects of character and conduct, if we yield to a complaining and impatient spirit, we shall mar our own peace, without having the satisfaction of benefitting others. When the mind is in a right position, absorbed in God and truly dead to the world, it will not be troubled by these things. Or if it be otherwise, and we are in fact afflicted, it will be for others and not for ourselves; and we shall be more disposed to pity than to complain.

Religious Maxims (1846) XIX.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Faith Makes the Future Present

A strong faith has the power to make a virtual and present reality of those things which are in fact future. Be it so that we have not the thing itself in the literal sense of the term;  that we have not heaven; that we have not the visible presence of Christ; that we have not those things, whatsoever they may be, which constitute the glory and blessedness of the future world.  But it is certain that in the Bible we have the promise of them,— we have the title deed, the bond, the mortgage, most solemnly made out and delivered to us. All these things are, therefore, ours, if we fully believe in the promise; and they can all be made, in the exercise of entire faith, a virtual and present reality. A man reckons his notes, bonds, and bills, which are the certificates and confirmations of absent possessions, as so much property, as actual money, although it is only virtually and by faith realized to be such. He counts himself as truly and really owning the property, in amount and kind, which the face of his papers, of his notes and bonds, represents. And yet he has nothing in hand but his papers and his faith in the individuals who have signed them. How  much more then should we have faith in our  title-deeds, in  our bonds and testaments, which are written in the blood of the Son of God, are confirmed by the oath of the Father, and are witnessed by the Holy Ghost! And how much more should we, having such deeds and bonds, and, such immutable confirmations of them, count God ours, and Christ and the Holy Spirit ours, and eternal glory ours!

Religious Maxims (1846) XVIII.