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, November 29, 2014

Degrees of Union With God's Will

There are different degrees of union with the Divine Will, some of which it may be proper to notice and discriminate.

1. Union With God in Submission

The first degree may be described as union with the divine will in submission. Submission is a relative term, and always implies, when employed in a religious sense, a reference to a divine arrangement or order of things. It  is acquiescence in, or conformity to, such arrangement; and is, consequently, the opposite of rebellion. Accordingly, it may always be said, when there is no element of positive resistance, no actual rebellious movement against the order of things, that there is submission to it. And this can be said without impropriety and with entire truth, even if it should be the case that the submissive state borders so closely on the line of resistance as to require all our powers of thought and  of the will to keep it where it is.

Illustrations of this state of mind are very frequent. Occasion is furnished for them by events which are constantly taking place, — such as the loss of property and reputation, and the experience of physical sufferings, either by ourselves, or by those who are dear to us. If those, who are the subjects of these trials, are truly submissive, their minds are brought by divine grace into such a position, that there is actually no resistance, no rebellious movement, of the heart. And this is so much the case, that we can probably say of them, that their wills are in union with the divine will.

And still their own consciousness tells them, even if it is not obvious to the observation of others, that it is the union of simple acquiescence rather than of positive desire; the union of submission to suffering rather than of love to suffering. The fact of obedience, however sincere and true the obedience itself may be, does not prevent their saying with equal truth, that it is hard for nature to yield it. The tears flow, even when the heart does not murmur. There is submission in fact, but a submission which costs a struggle in the beginning, and watchfulness and struggles in the maintenance of it.

2. Union With God by Choice.

The second degree may be described as union with the divine will with choice. That is to say, we not only submit, but submission is our pleasure, our delight. The endurance of loss and suffering is not, and cannot ordinarily be, so great as to prevent a true and substantial joy of the heart. It is said of the early Christians, not merely that they submitted to suffering with patience, but that they rejoiced  that they were accounted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. [Luke 5:42.] It ought, perhaps, to be added, that persons in this state are not insensible to sufferings. On the contrary, they feel them; probably as much so as others. But while they submit to them by enduring them with entire patience, they also, in the exercise of a full and victorious faith, rejoice in them  as  expressions of the divine will. They have. learned to love the cross, as well as to bear it.

3. Union With God Perfected by Habit.

This last state of mind may assume a new character, and may present the union of the will in a new aspect, by becoming invigorated and perfected by habit. It may ultimately become so well established and strong that the effect of antecedent evil habits, which generally remains for a long time, and greatly perplexes the full sway of holiness in the heart, shall be done away entirely. And this is not all. In the course of time, our perceptions of the transcendent beauty and excellence of the will of God may become so increased in clearness and strength, that the pleasure of doing and suffering his will, increased in the same proportion, may entirely absorb and take away our sense of suffering. The suffering will be lost in the joy. "Death," a name which includes all temporal evil, "will be swallowed up in victory."

It was thus, in the experience of this higher degree of volitional union, that Paul and Silas sung songs in prison. It was thus that martyrs of every age have illustrated the stake and the cross with their triumphs. It was thus that Jesus Christ, though a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, "endured the cross, despised the shame, and is set down at the right hand of God." [Heb. 22:2.]

— adapted from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 5.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Temptations, or tempting objects, are those objects which are presented by the intellect to the sensibilities and the will; and are of such a nature that they have a tendency to induce or cause in the sensitive part of our nature, viz. in the appetites, propensities, and affections, and also in the will, a wrong action. Sometimes the action, to which the temptations lead, is wrong in the FACT of its existence, or in itself considered; and sometimes it is wrong only in the DEGREE of its existence. If, the temptations advance in their influence beyond the intellect and take effect in the desires and will, prompting them to action when they should not act at all, or prompting them to a prohibited and inordinate degree of action when they are permitted to act, they are always attended with sin.

The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 18.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Great Center

Every thing that exists has its converging point, its elementary principle, its great CENTER. And when separated from the central tendency, it is necessarily upon a wrong track. The soul, therefore, whose tendencies, are towards the world, can be at most only partially holy. The center of the sanctified soul is the great GOD. To that it tends. In that it rests. Neglecting all other attractions, it aims earnestly after the divine mind. It is there, and there only, than it finds a present and everlasting home.

Religious Maxims (1846) XCIX.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Keep Yourself to the Order of God's Providence

It is very desirable, that we should always keep ourselves in the order of God's providence; in other words that we should receive things as they come, and do things as they are presented to us, in the spirit of Christian acquiescence and faithfulness; for that is the only way in which we can truly recognize God as at the helm of affairs, or realize our own nothingness. Let us never forget that God is competent to the direction of his own movements; and that whatever we may think of our own capabilities, he has other agencies in other situations. And what he requires of us, is to be and do just as he would have us, in his own providential time, in his own manner, and his own place.

Religious Maxims (1846) XCVIII.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Serving God in the Present Moment

He who serves God perfectly at the PRESENT MOMENT, though it be in a very small thing, such as the hewing of wood or the drawing of water, does in reality glorify him more than another who is prospectively athirst and anxious for things of much greater consequence, but at the same time neglects or imperfectly performs his present duties.

Religious Maxims (1846) XCVII.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Living Well and Praying Well

It was a saying among the fathers of the Christian church, "NOVIT RECTE VIVERE, QUI NOVIT RECTE ORARE." In English, "he knows how to live well, who knows how to pray well." And it will always be found, that he who does not live a holy life, either prays amiss, or does not pray at all.

Religious Maxims (1846) XCVI.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Our Strength or God's Strength?

One of the blessed results of a life of entire religious consecration is, that it necessarily unites us to God. We cannot live, we cannot breathe, we cannot move, even for a moment, in the straight and narrow way, without the Divine presence and aid. A half-way Christian is living, or endeavoring to live, in his own strength; but the whole-hearted Christian lives wholly in the strength of God.

Religious Maxims (1846) XCV.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Heart Gives the Sacrifice Acceptance

We may give up all outward things to God; we may surrender houses and lands, wife and children, and whatever else has a worldly value; but unless we give the heart with them, it is after all no real gift. It is a saying of William Penn, in that remarkable book of his entitled "No Cross, No Crown," that it is not the sacrifice that recommends the heart; but the heart, that gives the sacrifice acceptance."

Religious Maxims (1846) XCIV.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Are You Willing?

Our advancement in the Christian life may be said to depend upon one thing, viz., whether we wish to direct God, or are willing to resign ourselves TO BE WHOLLY DIRECTED BY HIM.

Religious Maxims (1846) XCIII.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Meeting Our Cross Where God Has Placed It

While we admit the duty of ever bearing the cross, we are to remember that we must bear it just where God, in his providential dealings, sees fit to impose it upon us, without assuming the  responsibility of either seeking or shunning it. We shall find that God has placed it in the whole course of our life, and at precisely the right place; and all he requires of us is to bear it  with a faithful heart when we meet it.

Religious Maxims (1846) XCII.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Joy of Faith in Times of Trial

When all earthly comforts are dried up, and when faith alone remains as the sustaining principle of the soul, there is an interior consolation, deep and tranquil, flowing out from faith itself. This is a circumstance which is often overlooked. But it is a great truth contrary to the opinion of some who do not fully understand the nature of the divine operation in the soul, that there is a JOY IN FAITH. The life of faith, though it may be destitute of every outward support and comfort, is not so desolate in itself, so wanting in every thing that brings inward happiness, as some seem to suppose. It is true, sustained in the spirit of self-sacrifice, and seeking nothing but unity with the divine will, it never aims at consolation as an ultimate object. It thinks more of what God is, than of what he gives. And thus God himself, the great original of all good, becomes the fountain of the soul's joy. And the joy, which is thus experienced, is necessarily a pure joy, uncontaminated by any mixture of self. Ask those pious persons; who in the exercise of faith are endeavoring to lay all upon the altar of God, but who, nevertheless, are called in the course of his wise but mysterious dealings and providences to pass through the extremity of interior and exterior desolation, if they are sustained by anything in the nature of consolation, and they will readily answer in the affirmative. Their language is, if they have nothing else, they have the consolation which flows from believing. If the sweetness of every other fountain is closed, they still have the joy of faith.

This is one of the unalterable conditions of faith, especially when it exists in a high degree, viz. that it is attended with a pure and tranquil consolation; consolation so sure and permanent, that we can never be deprived of it, whatever else may be taken away. The soul is led up, as it were, into the mountain of God's protection. In the attitude of calm repose, it remains established on that sublime height with the sunlight of heavenly peace for its companion, while there is nothing but darkness and the roaring of tempests in the valleys below. Such was the pure and sublime consolation, which our Savior experienced, when his heavenly Father had withdrawn from him the manifestations of his love, and left him in extreme and inexpressible desolation of spirit He still possessed, though apparently and terribly forsaken, the consolation and the joy of faith. He could still recognize the bond of union, and still appropriate, as it were, his Heavenly Father to himself, and say, "My God" "My God."

— from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 18.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Tribulation and Faith

"In the world ye shall have tribulation" is a declaration of the Savior, confirmed by individual and general experience. Even the most devoted Christians are not exempt.

The tribulations, to which the people of God are subject, are internal, as well as external; sorrows of the mind as well as sufferings of the body. Sometimes they are very great. There are some occasions, on which all those subordinate consolations, of which God generally permits his people in a greater or less degree to partake, are taken away. There is left to them neither the vivacity of health nor the consolation of friends; no pleasures of social intercourse; no prosperity in worldly business; no rest from outward persecutions; no cessations from the bitter temptations of the adversary. This, it will be said, is an extreme case; but it is only extreme cases, of which, in the present chapter, we propose to speak. There is reason to suppose, that many souls, whom God designs to bring to the highest degree of purity in this life, especially if they are disposed to resist and do not render themselves up easily to his great purpose, will be called upon to pass through some heavy and perhaps extreme trials. Such trials seem oftentimes to be rendered necessary. Necessary not in the nature of things, but on account of the corruption of the natural heart. The possession of internal purity implies the entire crucifixion of self; and this is an operation which the natural heart finds it hard to submit to. Hence it is, that earthly joys are temporarily dried up; that human consolations are taken away; and "the axe is laid at the root" of all the sources of self-seeking and self-enjoyment; in order that the soul may experience the truth and the severity of inward crucifixion.

It is at such a time, and amid these various and unmitigated trials, that the soul sustains itself by FAITH; by what is variously called in different writers, but generally as I suppose with the same meaning, "simple faith", "pure faith", or "naked faith." And there seems to be a marked propriety in these forms of expression; because faith, as the sustaining principle, stands at such times alone. All human supports are removed. On every side there appears discouragement and darkness; and it is by faith and faith only, that the soul is enabled to retain its religious integrity. It is under such circumstances, that faith becomes, as it were, a superior and guiding faculty of the soul; upon which the others, especially the various inferior principles, seem to rest. While the subordinate principles of our nature, the natural desires, and the various forms of natural affection, are assailed by their appropriate temptations, and sometimes in a very severe and terrible manner, they derive from the sublime principle of faith, which stands in its central position of strength and grandeur, a defensive and repulsive power, which makes them more than conquerors.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 18.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Recalling Sensual Pleasures

We are at liberty to take to ourselves the pleasure which naturally results from the use or gratification of the senses, such as eating and drinking, when such use or gratification occurs in the providence of God and with the  divine permission; but if in our thoughts we unnecessarily anticipate such pleasures, or, when they are past, recall them to recollection in a sensual manner, it is a melancholy evidence that God is  not the full and satisfying portion of our souls, and that our heart is not wholly right with him.

Religious Maxims (1846) XCI.