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.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

"Love, and Do What You Please"

 It is a saying of St. Augustine — "Love, and do what you please." In acting from the impulse of love, we are conscious of the highest freedom. But pure love, or right love, (that to which St. Augustine refers,) is, by the very terms used, a love which is conformed to law. It is a love which is pure from selfishness, a love which is right;  a love which does not, and cannot, while it remains pure, vary from the law of moral rectitude. He, who acts from such love, while he is conscious of the highest freedom, is safe in doing what he pleases, not only because his pleasure consists in benevolent feeling and action, but because his pleasure is always conformed to what is right. He is under law without feeling its pressure; because the pressure of law, or that which makes it felt as a compulsive and constraining power, never is and never can be felt, while the subject of it entirely harmonizes in feeling as well as in action with its requisitions. The man who, in perfect health, breathes the pure air of heaven, breathes freely; — but he does it in subjection to the laws of respiration, and yet without feeling any constraint, and perhaps without knowing that there are such laws. The man who walks the earth, in the perfect exercise of his muscles, is conscious of freedom, and of acting his own pleasure, while, at the same time, every movement is in subjection to the law of gravitation, and cannot be made without it. Indeed, it is the physical law in these cases, harmonizing with the purpose of the personal volition, which sustains both breathing and movement. And so it is the eternal law of right, indicating the channels in which it should flow, but without using compulsion, when compulsion is not needed, which sustains pure or holy love in a state of purity.

Angels have a conscience. They do always what is right, and never otherwise than what is right. But they do not do it under the compulsions of conscience, but from the excellent and just impulses of a purified and loving nature. Conscience is a law to them, as it is a law to all other holy beings. But law, we are told, "is made for the lawless." (1 Tim. 1: 9.) Those who are not lawless, but whose hearts and actions, of their own accord, harmonize with the law, are under the law without feeling the pressure of the law; rendering obedience to the law, almost without knowing what the law is. If they should attempt or desire to disobey, they would at once have knowledge as distinct as it would be painful. In other words, the operations of the conscience are anticipated and lost, as it were, in the antecedent operations of holy love. And these statements, which apply to angels and other unfallen beings, will apply essentially to men.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 4, Chapter 8.

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