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, 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.

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