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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Renouncing the Pleasure of the World

All persons are willing to be justified, because all are willing to be saved. But all are not willing to be sanctified, because all are not willing to renounce the pleasures of the world.

Religious Maxims (1846) LIII.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Aiming at Sanctification in an Unsanctified Manner

Persons sometimes miss the blessing of sanctification by aiming at it, not being aware of the artifices of the adversary, in what may perhaps be called an unsanctified manner. We are not to desire sanctification, which is probably the case with some, merely because it is an elevated and honorable state of soul, and in point of rank far above any other moral condition, but because it is the only true and worthy consummation of our moral and religious existence, and especially because it is the will of our heavenly Father.

Religious Maxims (1846) LII.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Holy Heart Finds It Difficult to Turn from God

In a state of mere justification, it is often and perhaps generally the case, that it requires a great mental effort to turn our thoughts and affections from worldly objects, and to fix them, promptly and firmly, upon God. In a state of sanctification, it is the revise of this. To a holy heart the difficult and painful effort is to turn away its thoughts and affections from the supreme object of its love, and to fix them, even when duty authorizes it, upon objects of an inferior nature.

Religious Maxims (1846) LI.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Sensitiveness to Sin

The man, who is troubled at great sins, particularly such as involve a degree of notoriety, but finds himself slightly affected and troubled in the commission of small or hidden ones, has but little claim to the grace of sanctification. One of the surest marks of sanctification is  an increased sensitiveness to sin in all its degrees. The slightest sin is a source of unspeakable misery to the sanctified heart; and gives the soul no rest, till it is washed out in overflowing tears of penitence.

Religious Maxims L.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Sanctification and Conscience

It  is quite possible for a man to possess evidence of sanctification, who is temporarily destitute of joyful and rapturous emotions. But  it is not possible for a man to possess such evidence, who is destitute of a living, operative, and effective conscience. On no part of our nature does sanctification work greater effects than on the conscience.  It  may be said to give to it an intensity and multiplicity of existence; so that like the flaming sword of the cherubims, it turns every way and guards the tree of life.

Religious Maxims XLIX.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Strong Emotions or Right Emotions?

Many persons seem to be more solicitous for strong emotions than for right emotions. It would perhaps be a fair representation of their state to say the burden of their prayer is, that their souls might be like "the chariots of Amminadib," or that, like Paul, they may be caught up into the third heavens. They seem desirous, perhaps almost unconsciously to themselves, to experience or to do some great as well as some good thing. Would it not be better for them in a more chastened and humble temper of mind, to make it the burden and emphasis of their supplication, that they may be meek, forbearing, and forgiving; that they may have a willingness to wash the disciples' feet, and have great love even for their enemies; in a word, that they may bear the image of Christ, who came, not with observation, but was "meek and lowly of heart?"

Religious Maxims XLVIII.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Serving in the Wrong Spirit

It is not by the mere number of our words and actions, that we can most effectually serve the cause of God and glorify his name.  It  is the temper in which they are done, rather than the mere multiplication of them, which gives them power. It was the remark of a good man, who had much experience as a minister of the gospel, that "we mar the work of God, by doing it in our own spirit."

Religious Maxims XLVII.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Elevation in Profound Humility

If we wish to rise high in God; we must be willing to sink low in ourselves. It may seem like a contradiction in terms, but it is nevertheless true, that there is no elevation in true religion higher than that of profound humility. He that would be the the greatest must become the least. He, who was equal with God, condescended to become man. And it was the beloved Son of the Most High that washed the feet of the disciples.

Religious Maxims XLVI.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Christian Simplicity

When on a certain occasion the pious Fenelon, after having experienced much trouble and persecution from his opposers, was advised by some one to take greater precautions against the artifices and evil designs of men, he made answer in the true spirit of a Christian, MORIAMUR IN SIMPLICITATE NOSTRA, "let us die  in our simplicity."  He, that is wholly in Christ, has a oneness and purity of purpose, altogether inconsistent with those tricks and subterfuges, which are so common among men. He walks in broad day. He goes forth in the light of conscious honesty. He is willing, that men and angels should read the very bottom of his heart. He has but one rule. His language is, in the ordinary affairs of life, as well as in the duties of religion, "My Father, what wilt thou have me to do?" — This is christian simplicity; and happy, thrice happy is he, who possesses it.

Religious Maxims (1846) XLV.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Christ in the Soul

Thou sayest, it shall surely be,
That Christ, the Lord, shall come again;
And, in His scepter'd majesty,
His royal state maintain.

'Tis well. Already hath He come;
Already in the holy soul,
He makes His high and scepter'd home,
And wields supreme control.

Christ in the heart is holy LOVE;
Nor doth He make a higher claim;
In earth below, in heaven above,
LOVE is His "hidden name."

He comes; but not to outward view;
He comes and makes the spirit whole:
He comes, the Beautiful, the True,
The Love-life of the soul.

Christ in the Soul (1872) VIII.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Give All and Take All

The kingdoms of the world are thine,
If  thou hast faith thyself to lose;
But they who seek the ME and MINE,
The universal good refuse.

The master of his own desire,
The victor over selfish claims,
Doth by that DEATH OF SELF aspire
To  universal ends and aims.

He  breaks his bars and prison bound;
And in his free, imperial soul,
Hath boldly reached, and nobly found
The wide, the bright, the kingly whole.

The gems, in hidden mines that glow,
The stars, that shine beyond the skies,
The heavens above, the earth below,
ALL, ALL, are his, to SELF, who dies.

Christ in the Soul (1872) VII.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Pray Earnestly for Sanctification

Pray earnestly for sanctification. Let this be the desire of your heart from morning till evening, and from evening till morning.  On this subject keep the soul resolutely fixed. Take no denial. Refuse to be comforted, till you are blessed. But nevertheless, be careful, that you impose no conditions upon God. Say not, thou must do it in this way or in that. Remember, He  is a sovereign; and that you are nothing. Sometimes  He  comes and turns out the evil legions of the heart with observation and with a triumphant shout. But not unfrequently He is mighty in his silence, and smites and destroys his enemies by an agency so mysterious and secret, that it seems to be alike unseen and unheard.

Religious Maxims (1846) XLIV.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Spiritual Blindness

In vain does the man attempt to see, whose sight is obscured by the cataract, or by some other equally ruinous disease. Nor is he less blind, over whose spiritual eye sin has drawn its opaque scales and films. Hence it is said in Scripture, "The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not." But break off and purge away the spiritual cataract, and the power of vision will return. In proportion as the eye of the soul is purified from the perplexity of earthly corruptions, does Christ become the true light of the mind; and the beauty of the divine character begins from that moment to unveil itself in all its wonderful perfection. BLESSED  ARE  THE  PURE  IN HEART, FOR  THEY  SHALL SEE  GOD.

Religious Maxims (1846) XLIII.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

"Cease, And I Will Do All"

Antonia Bourignon... speaking of some forms of prayer which she had been accustomed to go through, says, at a certain time, that they became burdensome to her, and difficult to be repeated. Her mind, fixing upon no particular object of want or desire, was greatly drawn to inward silence.

In her alarm she hardly knew what to think; but was inclined to adopt the trying conclusion, either that she had become indifferent to religion, or that God had abandoned her. She laid the case before God. The answer, which she speaks of having received, or perhaps more properly the conclusion to which her spirit was promptly led by a divine operation, was embodied in the concise but significant inward expression, "Cease, and I will do all."

The import of this divine response was this: Cease from the useless multitude of petitions with which you now weary me; leave, in the exercise of faith, all your cares and sorrows and wants in my hands, and I will take care of you.

In other words, it was the transition point from a life of desire to a life of faith;  and, instead of being a state of indifference or declension in religion, was really one of great advancement.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 2, Chapter 4.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Life of Desire Contrasted With the Life of Faith

In order satisfactorily to understand the nature of the life of faith, it is necessary to distinguish it in some particulars from the life of desire. It is by these last expressions that the state of Christians, in the more common forms of experience, may well be described. Undoubtedly the description will apply with still more truth and emphasis to those whose hearts have never been brought in any degree under a truly religious influence. Of Christians, however, as well as of those who are not so, it can be said, with too much reason, that their life, which ought to be more fully sustained by a higher principle, is a life of desire. If they will examine carefully, they will be surprised to find the great disproportion which there is between their desires and their faith.

They desire, for instance, those temporal things which are convenient for them, without exercising a correspondent degree of faith, and without looking, as they ought to do, to the great and only Giver of all good. They desire, with feelings partly natural and partly, the progress of God's work in the world; but they have but little faith, certainly far less than they ought to have, that his work will be carried on. They have desires, perhaps earnest desires, that individuals, with whom they are acquainted, should become the devout followers of God; — but they have not faith in proportion to their desires. It is oftentimes the case that their desires are various, multiplied, and perhaps violent, when they are scarcely conscious of any degree of faith. Indeed, it seems sometimes to be the case that desires are strong and impetuous in proportion to want of faith.

The life of desire has its center in the creature. The life of faith has its center in God. The life of desire has its origin in the wants of man's fallen condition. It is the natural expression, the voice of those wants. The life of faith has its origin in the fulness of God. It is the expression, the voice of that fulness. The life of desire, originating in the creature, is bounded in its horizon. It selects particular objects, such as it can see, and appreciate, and cling to. The life of faith seeks nothing in its own will; but expanding its view to all objects and all relations of objects, it chooses, without knowing what is best for itself or others, only what God chooses.

The life of desire is variable. It takes a new appearance, and operates in a new direction, with every new object to which it attaches itself. The life of faith is invariable, always exhibiting the same aspect and looking in the same direction, because the object which inspired it never changes and never can change. The life of desire is a multiplied one, because it seizes successively upon the multiplied objects of desire by which it is surrounded. The life of faith is simple, because, tracing effects to causes and losing sight of the littleness of the creature in the infinity of the Creator, it rests upon God alone.

The life of desire asks; the life of faith satisfied. Desire is the voice, the petition of the creature; faith is the expression of God's answer. Desire, restless by its very nature, seeks to accomplish its object by positive and aggressive efforts. Faith, in the consciousness of its strength, conquers by being in harmony with the divine movement, and by the attractions and power of its innate purity and repose.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 2, Chapter 4.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Casting Off the Broken Shield of Earth

It is, perhaps, a common idea, that humility implies weakness; and that lowliness of spirit is the same thing with spiritual imbecility. But this certainly is not a correct view. Christian humility, it is true, has nothing in itself; but it has much in God. In a word, it is the renunciation of our own wisdom, that we may receive wisdom from above; the negation and banishment of our own strength, that we may possess divine strength; the rejection of our own righteousness, that we may receive the righteousness of Christ. How, then, can it possibly be weak and imbecile, while it merely casts off the broken shield of earth, that it may put on the bright panoply of heaven?

Religious Maxims (1846) XLII.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Walking in Humility

Where there is true Christian perfection, there is always great humility; a Christian grace which it is difficult to define, but which implies at least a quiet and subdued, a meek and forbearing spirit. Whatever may be our supposed gifts and graces, whatever may be our internal pleasures and raptures, they are far from furnishing evidence of completeness of Christian character without humility. It is this grace, which, perhaps more than any other, imparts a beauty and attractiveness to the religious life; and which, while  it  is blessed with the favor and approbation of God, has the additional efficacy of disarming, in a considerable degree, even the hostility of unholy men.  It has the appearance of a contradiction in terms, but is nevertheless true, that he who walks in humility walks in power.

Religious Maxims (1846) XLI.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Importance of Mental Tranquility

The divine life, which in every stage of its existence depends upon the presence of the Spirit of God, places a high estimate on mental tranquility. It is no new thing to remark that the Holy Spirit has no congeniality with, and no pleasure in the soul, where strife and clamor have taken possession. If, therefore, we would have the Holy Spirit with us always, we must avoid and flee, with all the intensity of our being, all inordinate coveting, all envying, malice, and evil speaking, all impatience, jealousy, and anger. Of such a heart, and such only, which is calm as well as pure, partaking something of the self-collected and sublime tranquility of the divine mind, can it be said, in the truest and highest sense that it is  a TEMPLE FITTED FOR THE INDWELLING  OF  THE HOLY GHOST.

Religious Maxims (1846) XL.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Man's Spirit Hath an Upward Look

Man's spirit hath an upward look,
And robes itself with heavenly wings;
E'en when 'tis here compelled to brook
Confinement to terrestrial things.

Its eye is fastened on the skies;
Its wings for flight are opened wide;
Why doth it hesitate to rise?
And still upon the earth abide?

And would'st thou seek the cause to know,
And never more its course repress;
Then from those wings their burden throw,
And set them free from worldliness.

Shake off the earthly cares that stay
Their energy and upward flight;
And thou shalt see them make their way
To joy, and liberty, and light.

— American Cottage Life (1850).

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Oh, Could I Rule My Erring Thought

Oh,  could I rule my erring thought,
Each wrong desire subdue;
And serve my maker as I ought,
And Thou would'st have me do.

Oh, could I discipline my mind,
To seek the heavenly goal;
Nor strive, in earthly things, to find
A treasure for the soul.

Then should my lips no more complain,
('Tis sin that makes my grief;)
But Thou, that givest ease for pain,
Would'st quickly bring relief.

Ascendant over time and sense,
My feet would upward move,
Protected by thy Providence,
Rejoicing in thy love.

American Cottage Life (1850)

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Need of Atonement

Sin, under a perfectly just administration, can never be forgiven without an atonement. Mercy fails to be truly and beneficially exercised, when it fails, at the time of its exercise, to yield its homage to what is right. Hence the necessity of a mediator. We are taught, in many passages of Scripture, that Christ came into the world, that he was born, and died, in order that man's sins might be forgiven, and that God, in connection with forgiveness, might recreate the principle of faith, and restore him to sonship. "Behold the Lamb of God," said John the Baptist, "which taketh away the sin of the world." "Christ," says the apostle Paul, in the Epistle to the Galatians, "hath redeemed us from the curse of the law." And again he says, in the same Epistle: —"When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them  that  were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." "Christ," says the apostle Peter, "also suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow his steps, who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live to righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed." Isaiah, in one of the many prophecies which are understood to have relation to the Saviour, says, "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows." And again, "The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." The word of God, whether we consult its history or its poetry, its prophecies or its precepts, is full of this great truth. So that the apostle Peter, when "filled with the Holy Ghost," had good reason to say to the rulers of the people and the elders of Israel, — "This is the stone, which is set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved."

The doctrine of the atonement seems to have a philosophical, as well as a religious foundation; that is to say, it will be found to be sustained not only by many passages of Scripture, but by sound philosophical inquiry. The conceptions of right and wrong, of merit and demerit, of reward and punishment, and of the necessary and fixed relations among them, are elementary in the human mind; — not so much the results of reasoning as connatural and necessary; and are common to all men. The human mind has never separated, and never can separate, the relations of merit and reward, of demerit and punishment.  It is not more true that there is an universal conviction, than it is that there is an universal law represented in that conviction, that virtue is and must be followed by happiness, and that crime is and must be followed by misery. And it is a conviction not less universal, that God, as the administrator of the universe, and as the administrator and sustainer of the truth and the right, cannot and does not allow these important relations to be violated. It is not possible, under a perfectly holy administration, for the wrong-doer to escape punishment, and to be forgiven, except by means of an atonement.

Such, at least, on a thorough inquiry, will be found to be the general feeling of mankind. Feelings represent principles. And they do so because they spring from them.  If man feels his need of some mediatorial agency in order to become reconciled to God, it is because he is secretly convinced, although he may be unable to analyze that conviction, of its moral necessity. It would be well for men who are given to philosophical inquiries, to turn their attention to this point. They cannot do it with any care, without seeing how widely spread is the sense of sin, and how deeply men, in all ages, have felt, not only the need of reconciliation, but the need of some mediatorial power.

It is for this reason, that, in all nations, and in all ages of the world, offerings have been made, and burning altars have been kindled. It was necessary, as it seemed to men, that the offended Deity, under whatever form or name he might be believed in, should be propitiated. They did not then know, that the benevolence of God could be exhibited in connection with his justice; that God himself, in the person of his Son, would be the sinner's offering; and that the fires of human altars would be quenched in the blood of the incarnate Immanuel.

The atonement being made, God appeared once more as the restorer and new creator of the violated and lost sonship. Angels proclaimed the message. To all the world it was announced, "Peace on earth; good will to men." As many as were of a broken heart returned, and God gave them power to believe. Beaten by the world's tempests, disappointed and ruined in all their worldly expectations, they ceased to have hope in the finite, and turned their weeping eye to the Infinite. They found God by having faith in God, when they lost themselves by ceasing to have faith in themselves. Their necessity became the mother of their faith. In their sorrows they turned to him, who alone could give hope. The golden link, which had united the Father and his children in the garden of Eden, was readjusted, and they became one.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 2, Chapter 3.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Prayer is the Measure of Love

It is a striking remark, ascribed to St. Augustine, that prayer is the measure of love. A remark, which implies that those who love much will pray much; and that those who pray much will love much. This remark is not more scripturally than philosophically true. It is the nature of love to lead the person who exercises this passion, as if were, out of himself. His heart is continually attracted toward the beloved object. He naturally and necessarily exercises, in connection with the object of love, the communion of the affections. And this, it will be readily seen, viz.: the communion of the affections, is the essential characteristic; and perhaps it may be said, the essence and sum of prayer. In acceptable prayer the soul goes forth to God in various acts of adoration, supplication, and thanksgiving; all of which imply feelings of trust and confidence, and particularly love to him who is the object of prayer. Accordingly he, who loves much, cannot help praying much. And on the other hand, when the streams of holy communion with God fail in any considerable degree, it is a sure sign that there is a shallowness and drought in that fountain of love, from which they have their source.

Religious Maxims (1846) XXXIX.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Value of Affliction

The remark is somewhere made, and very correctly, that  "it is a great loss to lose an affliction."  Certain it is, that afflictions have great power in purifying the mind. And if it be true that mental purification, in other words, holiness, is a result of all others the most desirable, we may properly attach a great value to whatever tends to this result. Prosperities flatter us with the hope that our rest is here; but afflictions lead our thoughts to another and better land. "Whom the  Lord  loveth he chasteneth; and scourgeth every son that he  receiveth."

Religious Maxims (1846) XXXVIII.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

True Holiness is Not a Thing to be Worn for Occasions

It  is a melancholy fact, that the religion of many persons is not constantly operative, but is manifested periodically, or at some particular times. It is assumed, for instance, on the Sabbath, but is laid aside on the shelf during the week days. But true holiness, be it remembered, is not a thing to be worn for occasions; to be put off or put on, with an easy accommodation to circumstances or to one's private convenience. It takes too deep root in the heart to be so easily disposed of as such a course would imply. It is meat, with which we are fed; clothing, with which we are clothed; the interior and permanent principle of life, which animates and sustains the whole man.

Religious Maxims (1846) XXXVII.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Worldly Expectations for the Sancified Life

It is sometimes the case, that those, who are seeking sanctification, anticipate results which are more accordant with human wisdom, than with the ways of divine Providence. They say, "make me clean, and I shall have UNDERSTANDING. Sanctify me, and I shall be made STRONG." Such anticipations, which show that the heart is not yet delivered from its worldliness, are not confirmed, in the sense in which they now exist in the mind, by their subsequent experience. When sanctified, as they are thoroughly emptied of self, they have neither wisdom nor strength of their own. They know not what to do, nor how to do it. They abhor the idea of placing confidence in themselves, and find they must apply to the Savior for every thing. They derive all from him. In the language of  Scripture, he is made to them "wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; that, according as it is written, HE THAT GLORIETH, LET HIM GLORY IN THE  LORD."

Religious Maxims (1846) XXVI.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Madam Guyon: Glory to God Alone

Glory to God Alone 
by Madame de la Mothe Guyon, 
translated from the French by William Cowper

Oh loved! but not enough—though dearer far 
Than self and its most loved enjoyments are; 
None duly loves thee, but who, nobly free 
From sensual objects, finds his all in thee. 
Glory of God! thou stranger here below, 
Whom man nor knows, nor feels a wish to know; 
Our faith and reason are both shocked to find 
Man in the post of honour—Thee behind. 
Reason exclaims—“Let every creature fall, 
Ashamed, abased, before the Lord of all;” 
And faith, o'erwhelmed with such a dazzling blaze, 
Feebly describes the beauty she surveys. 
Yet man, dim–sighted man, and rash as blind, 
Deaf to the dictates of his better mind, 
In frantic competition dares the skies, 
And claims precedence of the Only wise. 
Oh, lost in vanity, till once self–known! 
Nothing is great, or good, but God alone; 
When thou shalt stand before his awful face, 
Then, at the last, thy pride shall know his place. 
Glorious, Almighty, First, and without end! 
When wilt thou melt the mountains and descend? 
When wilt thou shoot abroad thy conquering rays, 
And teach these atoms, thou hast made, thy praise? 
Thy glory is the sweetest heaven I feel; 
And, if I seek it with too fierce a zeal, 
Thy love, triumphant o'er a selfish will, 
Taught me the passion, and inspires it still. 
My reason, all my faculties, unite, 
To make thy glory their supreme delight: 
Forbid it, fountain of my brightest days, 
That I should rob thee, and usurp thy praise! 
My soul! rest happy in thy low estate, 
Nor hope, nor wish, to be esteemed or great, 
To take the impression of a will divine, 
Be that thy glory, and those riches thine. 
Confess him righteous in his just decrees, 
Love what he loves, and let his pleasure please; 
Die daily; from the touch of sin recede; 
Then thou hast crowned him, and he reigns indeed.
 [This poem is quoted (in part) by Upham at the close of The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition 1844) Part 1, Chapter 4.]