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.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Compassion

"JUDGE NOT," the heavenly Teacher says,
Judge not, your erring brother's ways;
It is the great, omniscient part
Of God alone, to know the heart.

'Tis God alone the trial knows
Of Him, in error's paths who goes;
The secret, hidden tempting power,
Which ruled him in the dangerous hour.

And since the wicked deed was done,
'Tis  known to God, and God alone;
What bitter sighs, what scalding tears,
Have rued that deed of other years.
 
Though Priest and Levite pass him by,
Oh, let him have Thy pitying eye;
Thy tender look, Thy heart-felt prayer,
A brother's love, a sister's care.

Christ in the Soul (1872), XXI.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cheerfulness

The bird is happy all the day,
The morning hears his early songs;
The love, that breathes the morning lay;
To evening's shade the note prolongs.
Never weary, never fearful,
Always singing, always cheerful.

Is  man less happy than a bird?
Has he less power his song to raise?
Why, then, so seldom is he heard
In the glad notes of joy and praise?
Often weary, often fearful,
Seldom singing, seldom cheerful.

Oh, be a, bird, a cheerful bird;
Thy love like his, as pure and free;
Till all the earth and air is stirred
With notes of joy and liberty.
Never weary, never fearful,
Always singing, always cheerful.

Christ in the Soul (1872) XX.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Union of Holy Souls in Love

When the soul, divested of selfishness, is born into the state of pure love, it is then regenerated into the image of God. The two existences, the human and the divine, are alike, with the exception that one is created, the other uncreated; one is the copy, the other the original. In connection with a mutual likeness of nature, there cannot fail to be a mutual tendency to union. So that God, and the child of God are drawn towards each other, and are united and absorbed, as it were,  the less in the greater, not only by the law of filiation, but by the law of attraction involved in the fact of mutual resemblance. 

There is nothing arbitrary or accidental in God's moral kingdom; nothing which violates responsibility and truth.  Everything, in being established in the truth, is established in the wisdom of permanent law or nature; and nothing exists or is done by unreasonable will or by unmeaning chance. The love of union, which draws together and makes kindred spirits into one, has its nature. It loves existences, because it desires to make them good; it both loves them and unites with them when they are made good. It has its nature; it has its triumphs also. It is triumphant, both because it conquers by the might of its attractive power, and also because it is happy. The union of souls... cannot fail to constitute the highest happiness. They do not love in order to be happy; but they are happy because they love. The union of holy souls in love is the nuptials of the spirit. Their happiness is as bright and as pure as the love from which it flows. Extracted from the exhaustless mine which constitutes God's happiness, it ls indeed the pearl of great price; the gem which illustrates the walls of the New Jerusalem.

Thus among holy beings there is one great circle of relationship. Love alone, in its mighty power, works out the problem of universal harmony. The fact of holiness, which is but another name for pure or holy love, constitutes a bond of union; reaching all, encircling all, beautifying all. Those in the same rank of being are attracted to each other; and all are attracted to that which is higher in rank; not only loving, but united in love; and united each in his place and order, on the combined principle of extent of being and perfection of character. So that the result is — God in all, and all in God; the Father in Christ, and Christ in those who are begotten of him; mutually bound together and living in each other; no more separated in fact, and no more capable of being separated from each other than the rays of the light are separated or capable of being separated from the natural sun.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 4, Chapter 5.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Living by Emotion or Faith?

There are two classes of Christians; those who live chiefly by emotion, and those who live chiefly by faith. The first class, those who live chiefly by emotion, remind one of ships, that move by the outward impulse of winds operating upon sails. They are often at a dead calm, often out of their course, and sometimes driven back. And it is only when the winds are fair and powerful that they move onward with rapidity. The other class, those who live chiefly by faith, remind one of the magnificent steamers which cross the Atlantic, which are moved by an interior and permanent principle; and which, setting at defiance all ordinary obstacles, advance steadily and swiftly to their destination, through calm and storm, through cloud and sunshine.

Religious Maxims (1846), LXXIX.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A False Estimate of Human Knowledge

When I witness the erroneous estimate which men often place on certain kinds of human knowledge, I am reminded of one of the remarkable sayings which abound in the practical writings of St. Augustine. "Unhappy is he who knows everything else, and does not know God. Happy is he who knows God, though he should be ignorant of every thing else."

Religious Maxims (1846), LXXVIII.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Do Not Avenge Yourselves

Some persons seem to be able to trust God in every thing, excepting in one particular. viz: they feel that they must do their own fighting. But what is the language of Scripture? "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves. Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord." It is said of Christ himself, Matt. xii.19,  HE SHALL NOT STRIVE.

Religious Maxims (1846), LXXVII.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

In the Sight of God

Men bestow honor upon one another. Sometimes they build up, sometimes they pull down. But human opinions cannot alter the reality of things, by making it greater or less than it is. Every man is truly such and such only AS HE IS IN THE SIGHT OF GOD.

Religious Maxims (1846), LXXVI.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Thomas à Kempis on Christian Perfection

There are various views of Christian perfection, which, on being analyzed, amount to the same thing; and when properly understood, may be regarded as all equally correct. The author of the Imitation of Christ, says, it consists in man's offering up himself "with his whole heart to the will of God; never seeking his own will either in small or great respects, either in time or eternity; but with an equal mind weighing all things in the balance of the sanctuary; and receiving both prosperity and adversity with continual thanksgiving." 

Religious Maxims (1846) LXXV.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Image of Christ

The height and sum of religion is to bear the image of Christ. But can those flatter themselves that they bear the Savior's image, who are overcome and are rendered impatient by every trifling incident of an adverse nature? O, remember that the life of Christ was from beginning to end a life of trouble. He was often misunderstood and ill-treated by all classes; he was persecuted by the Pharisees; sold by the traitor whom he had chosen as one of his disciples; reviled by the thief on the cross; put to death. But he was far more desirous of the salvation and good of his enemies, than he was of personal exemption from their persecutions. "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

Religious Maxims (1846), LXXIV.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Humility

In endeavoring to estimate the genuineness of our religious experiences, we should ever keep in mind that all those experiences, which are wrought by the Spirit of God, and are genuine in their character, tend decidedly and uniformly to personal HUMILITY. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." How can it be otherwise? The tendency of all true religion is to make God every thing, and ourselves comparatively nothing; to sink the creature while it elevates and enthrones the Creator in the center of the heart. "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble."

Religious Maxims (1846), LXXIII.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Christian's Possesion of All Things

We are told in the Scriptures that all things are the Christian's. Heaven, Christ, God, things present and things to come, all are his. But the possession in the present life is of a two-fold nature — sometimes by present enjoyment, and sometimes by faith.  More commonly, and undoubtedly for wise reasons; the possession is by faith. But in the view of Him, whose life is hid with Christ, the possession is not on that account any the less sure.

Religious Maxims (1846), LXXII.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Love Rejoices in All That Exists

The doctrine of man's creation in the image of God involves, as one of its consequences, that, in his true and normal state, he loves and must love God with all his heart. And the reason is this. The law of love's movement, all other things being equal, is the amount of being, or existence in the object beloved. Accordingly, it can be said of love, that it notices and rejoices in everything which exists. It loves each insect that floats in the summer's sun; it delights in the happiness of the birds that sing in the branches; it wipes the tears and binds up the wounds of man, however degraded and fallen; but it is God, the  infinite Being, who represents in himself all other existences, that supremely attracts and absorbs it. In him all love centers, as all streams and waters center in the parent ocean. In God, uniting and consolidating all things in himself, we love the infinitude of being, the Life of the universe, the everywhere present, the silent but universal Operator, the All-in-all.

A Treatise on Divine Union, Part 4, Chapter 4.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Broken Cisterns

Original truth is aphoristic. Its declaration is its argument. It carries conviction in its simplest affirmations. It is enough, therefore, merely to affirm, that the created must flow out of the uncreated; that the temporal must flow out of the eternal. God is the uncreated; God is the eternal. God, therefore, God alone, God beyond time, beyond and above all creating power, is the " living" or perpetual fountain. He has the true life in himself, and that life is Love. — All other life is from him and by him.

Hence it is said, in the language of Scripture,— language not more simply eloquent and affecting than it is true: — "My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken ME, the fountain of living waters,  and hewn out broken cisterns that can hold no water." [Jer. 2: 13] And it is here, more than anywhere else, that we find the source of trouble with men. God, in creating men, not only gave them the principle of faith, but opened also the eternal fountain of love in their hearts; but men, in an evil hour, stopped it by ceasing to believe in the source from which it came. Satan, reminding them that God had made them moral agents, maliciously whispered that they would do well to avail themselves of their power by hewing out cisterns of their own, — in other words, that they should try to live as originators, and not as recipients; that they should try to live without living in and from God. They made the attempt; turned away from God, and, in striving to live in their own strength, found, in their sins and sorrows, that they had exchanged the living fountain for "broken cisterns, which could hold no water."

A Treatise on Divine Union, Part 4, Chapter 4.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Holy Love is a Gift of God

Holy beings are created after the divine model; but it is worthy of notice, here as elsewhere, that the existence, which stands for the model, is itself the creating power. — God is their Father. Man, in not being able to make himself, is not able to make that holy love, which is the center of himself. On the contrary, holy love is a gift, as divine in its source as it is divine in its nature. It is just as impossible for men to originate, by their own action, the principle of pure or holy love within them, as it is to originate their own existence, or the power of perception and memory. Pure love cannot be created on the basis of prudential calculations; nor can it be originated by any other human device. Device, calculation, cannot raise itself to that divine height. And the reason is, it is a constituent, something inherent and organic, something without which reason itself, in its pure and unbiased forms, could not have been brought into action; something which does not and cannot by any possibility exist, except as a nature. In God it is nature eternal; in all other holy beings it is nature given.

A Treatise on Divine Union, Part 4, Chapter 4.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Image of God

All holy beings, inasmuch as they come from God, are, and must be, formed originally in the divine image. It  is thus that angels and all angelic and seraphic natures are formed. They are miniatures of God. It is thus that man himself was originally formed. And God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. So God created man in his own image. In the image of God created he him." 

The likeness of God to man is not in form, for God is without form; — not in intellect, for the intellect of God embraces all things, while man can know only a part; — but in that which constitutes, more than anything else, the element, the life, of the divine nature, namely, HOLY LOVE. Man, in the infancy of his existence, was created a love being. Love, as the center of his existence, was not a speculation, but a nature;  not an accessory of life, but the life itself. Spontaneous in its action, acting because it had a principle of movement in itself, it did not wait for the slow deductions of reason, but flowed out in all directions, like a living stream. As man, thus formed in the love spirit, looked around upon the works of nature, he saw all things in the possession of life and beauty, and he rejoiced in all things, because all things had God in them. He loved the tree and the flower, which reflected the divine wisdom and goodness. But far more did he delight in the happiness of everything which had a sentient existence. He  called all animals to him. The birds dropped their wings at the sound of his voice, and came. The beasts of the field and of the forests flocked around him from their near or distant habitations. He loved them; and he gave them their names. When the occasion was presented, when the sentient object, no matter to what scale or degree of sentient being it belonged, was before him, his simple and pure heart flowed out at once. 

It  was thus, beyond all question, that the primitive man was constituted. Such is the representation of Scripture. Love, resting upon faith, was his nature And, coming from God, he could not have been constituted otherwise. God being what he is, he could not have created man otherwise than he did. The principles of right, which apply to the fact of creation as well as to the government of things created, are not susceptible of change.  It is impossible, therefore, to conceive of more than one pattern or model, according to which holy beings were at first created. And this one pattern, which, in being the true pattern, condemns and excludes all others, is that of the Divine Mind itself. The model, in being perfect, can never be altered; in being eternal, can never be broken.

A Treatise on Divine Union, Part 4, Chapter 4.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Holiness and Knowledge

Wouldst thou the key of knowledge hold,
And with its mighty touch unfold
The secret in its breast that lies,
Of earth's and heaven's mysteries?

Hast thou the sacred, strong desire,
To truth's bright summit to aspire;
And with the aspiration glow,
Which seeks to know; as angels know?

Oh, then, that key of knowledge gain,
By pride, and self, and passion SLAIN;
Oh, then, that height of vision win,
By LIFE to God, and DEATH to sin.

It is pollution of the mind,
Which makes its power of knowledge blind;
'Tis PURITY, which pours the light
Of heavenly vision on the sight.

Christ in the Soul (1872) XIX.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Leaving All With God

Oh  God, Thou knowest what is best,
And as my weakness cannot see
What things will make my spirit blest,
Help me to leave my choice with Thee.

With flattering lips if power or fame
Should ask me, that they may be mine,
Aid me against their tempting claim
To say, I have no choice but Thine.

Weakness is better far than power,
And poverty than house or land,
If, in their dark and trying hour,
Thy love shall hold me by the hand.

O let me in Thyself abide;
In Thee is wealth and power divine.
Rend from my grasp all else beside;
But let me know, that I AM THINE.

Christ in the Soul (1872) XVIII.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Sceptre of Love

I hold the sceptre in my hand,
Which rules the universe of things;
Which rules the ocean, rules the land,
And puts to shame the power of  kings.

The iron wheels of cruel war,
The swords and scimitars of strife!
They see its glories from afar,
And bow before its power of life.

Look up! Its lifted light behold;
Not fram'd by human power or art;
Not made of wood, or stone, or gold;
'Tis LOVE! the sceptre of the heart.

'Tis LOVE! All things shall love obey;
All things its high behests fulfill;
It holds the thunders in its sway;
It  says to stormy seas, "Be still."

My Father smiled, and bade me take,
My infant hand, that sceptre fair;
Beneath its power the nations shake,
For God's Omnipotence is there.

—  Christ in the Soul (1872) XVII.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Loving Our Enemies

It is right and reasonable that we should be required to love our enemies.  There are no passages of Scripture which have perplexed the unbelieving world more than those which have relation to this subject. "But I say unto you," says the Savior, "love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you."

It  will be noticed, that we are not commanded to love their enmity,— to love their detractions and ill usage, — but to love that which has enmity; the subject rather than the attribute; namely, their existence, their immortal natures. In the exercise of holy love, we may not only forgive them, but may earnestly seek their happiness; while, at the same time, we condemn their characters. Their characters may change, but not the essence of their being. Their enmity may die, but their nature is eternal.

We repeat, however. that this love cannot be  exercised  in its full extent, unless the soul has first passed into divine unity and become a partaker of the divine nature. It was this love, resting upon the principle of faith, which constituted Christ the true Son of God. And it is this love, resting upon the same principle of faith, which constitutes the sons of God in all times and all places. "Love your enemies," says the Saviour. And what is the reason which he assigns? "That  ye may be the children of your Father which it in heaven, for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?  Be ye, therefore, perfect, even as  your  Father, which is in heaven, is perfect."

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 4, Chapter 3.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Illustrations of Pure Love

Pure love, as we have already had occasion to remark, is the love of existence or being, independently of character. Undoubtedly such love is remote from the common apprehension and experience; so much so that its nature is difficult to be understood and appreciated by most persons. Some further illustrations, therefore,— illustrations drawn from the situations and acts of those around us, — will aid us in a just view of the subject.

There lives in yonder dwelling a humble and praying mother, who has two sons; one of whom is eminent for his virtues, the other is equally distinguished for his vices. The virtuous son she not only loves with the love of benevolence, which is the same as the love of existence or being, but with the love of complacency. In other words, she not only loves him, but delights in him. His character, as well as his existence, commands her affections, and brings a rich reward.

But the other son is the son of her sorrow. He is deformed in person, ferocious in mind, addicted to unholy indulgences, and to all human appearance evil and only evil. But, notwithstanding these unfavorable circumstances, the love of her child, separating as it does his existence from his character, never ceases to act,— never falters and becomes weary. She loves, by an element or law of her nature, just as God does; and can cease to love only when she ceases to live. She clothes him and feeds him, for which she receives no thanks; she bathes his throbbing brow, feverish with criminal intemperance; she returns kindness for unkindness, care for forgetfulness; never ceasing, under any circumstances, to watch, to pray, and to labor.

Deeply affected by what is thus presented to their notice, men concede at once and universally the amiableness and the attractive character of this high love; — a love above philosophy and mere human reason, and partaking of the nature of God.

Take the case of the wife. Her husband has become profane, intemperate, vicious.  His kindness is changed to suspicion and hatred.  He  is the wreck of what he was once; and yet her love, kindled by the knowledge of what he has been, and of what he may yet be, remains unchanged. If his character is gone, his existence remains. If virtue has departed, immortality never dies. She sees his former life in ruins, but still it is a living ruin and capable of reanimation. And while there is hope, however feeble, she will not cease to call upon him to return.

It is needless to say, how much we respect and honor an affection so exalted, and how constantly and strongly it impresses us with a sense of its divine origin. We can see a reason why she should love that  which is lovely; — but to love  that  which is unlovely; to separate between existence and character, and to attach our affections to the mere reality of being, simply because it is being; and, whatever may be its relations of harmony or of opposition to us or to others, to seek, to pray, and to labor for its redemption to purity and to happiness, simply because it is susceptible of such redemption, and without thought of personal reward; — this is a love, of which reason, in being unable to explain it, can only say, it is of God.

Take the case of those individuals who have visited, aided, and blessed the enslaved and the prisoner, — the Clarksons and Howards of their generation; men who have traveled and labored, in the language of Mr.  Burke, when speaking of Howard, "not to survey the sumptuousness of palaces, or the stateliness of temples; not to make accurate measurements of the remains of ancient grandeur, nor to form a scale of the curiosity of modern art; nor to collect medals or collate manuscripts; — but to dive into the depths of dungeons; to plunge into the infection of hospitals; to survey the mansions of sorrow and pain; to take the gauge and the dimensions of misery, depression, and contempt; to remember the forgotten, to attend to the neglected, to visit the forsaken, to compare and collate the distresses of all men in all countries."

It is such cases, unexplainable on mere prudential considerations, which give us a glimpse of the exalted and divine nature of that love which flows out to existence. He, who has such love, has God,— God is in him; because such love cannot live unless it strikes its root and has its source of life in the Infinite.  As it casts out alike all selfish interests and all fears, nothing but divine power in the soul could support it.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 4, Chapter 3.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Heaven Within Us

"It is time to be thinking of heaven,"
So the voice of the teacher: doth say';
But the heaven to which they would lead us,
Is a heaven that is far, far away.

They tell us, that, o' er the dark river,
We will land on the heavenly shore;
But is it not wiser and better,
To find that bright Canaan before?

"The kingdom of God is within you,"
The greatest of Teachers hath said;
And the faithful and loving have found it,
And enjoy'd it, before they were dead.

The kingdom of God is within you;
Let doubtings and sorrows depart.
The kingdom of God is within you;
It  dwells in the sanctified heart.

Christ in the Soul (1872) XVI.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Love and Grief

LOVE sometimes scales the mountain height,
In  joys and ecstasies sublime;
But oftener takes the downward flight,
And sheds its tears for woe and crime.
Love and Grief go side by side;
Christ was Love; He bled and died.

Love plucks the flowers of Olivet,
And plays with daylight's fading sea;
But when that parting sun is set,
It seeks thy shades, Gethsemane!
Love and Grief go side by side,
Christ was Love; He bled and died.

Gethsemane! Divinely sent,
Though bitter be its draught of woe,
Is  mix'd with Love's dear element,
And love and tears together flow.
Love and Grief go side by side.
Christ was Love; He bled and died.

Christ in the Soul (1872) XV.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Union With God

I  pray'd, O God, that I might be,
So fashioned, and so bound to Thee,
With such dear links and bonds of heart,
That I could never stand apart
From time or place, where'er Thou art.

And wilt Thou leave me, Holy One,
When thus to Thee my soul doth run?
Oh no! When God Himself shall die,
And not till then, wilt Thou deny
My constant, struggling, heartfelt cry.

The morning sunbeams are the same
With the great sun from which they came;
And so, in unity divine,
Thou hearest, and dost make me Thine,
And all my Father hath is mine.

Christ in the Soul (1872) XIV.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Faith Can Make a New Heart

Faith can make a new heart; and nothing but faith can do it. In saying this, it will be naturally understood, that we speak of the mind and of mental sequence; in other words, of that which takes place in the mind and in the mental order, and not of any thing which takes place out of it and above it. We speak of secondary relations and agency; and not of him, who, in being the primary agent, is the life of the mind itself. We say, therefore, that, in the order of mental succession, and in the gradation of mental influence, faith stands first; first in time, and first in power; and that, in this view of the subject, we may properly speak of faith as having a creative agency, and as making a new heart. If faith be imperfect in degree, it will of course be followed by imperfect issues; it will make a heart imperfect as itself. But if it be strong, if it be assured, it will give a strong, an assured heart. If it be Abraham’s faith, it will give Abraham’s heart. If it be Paul’s faith, it will give Paul’s heart. If it be the faith which Christ had, a faith, which Satan’s arts could not shake, and man’s hostility could not perplex, and even the hiding of his Father’s countenance, could not discourage, we cannot hesitate to say with reverential gratitude, that it will give Christ’s consecrated heart; a heart which never falters in the cause of truth and duty; a heart that can be nailed to the Cross for God’s name and God’s glory.

And this takes place, as we have already intimated, not accidentally, but by an immutable law. Eternal law is at the bottom; and, therefore, eternal truth is in it. It is the law of men, the law of angels; and we might add, with the simple modification that what is faith in the human mind becomes knowledge in the divine mind, that it is the law of God. God loves, and he can love, only what he knows to be a proper object of love. In men, who are not the subjects of absolute knowledge, faith takes the place of such knowledge; and they love, and can love, only as they believe. “Believe,” says Archbishop Leighton, “and you shall love. Believe much, and you shall love much.” And carrying out the principle to its legitimate issues, I think we may add with safety, Believe with all your powers of belief, and you will love with all your powers of love. Believe with assurance of faith, and you will love with assurance of love. In other words, believe perfectly, and you will love perfectly.

The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 6.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Faith of the Heart

This helps us to understand what is meant by the faith of the heart; a form of expression which we frequently hear.

Properly speaking, or perhaps we should say, speaking psychologically or mentally, faith seems to be an attribute of the intellect, rather than of the heart; an act or state of the understanding rather than of the sensibilities. And yet it must be admitted, that, in the order of mental sequence, it is a state of mind, which, in consequence of being subsequent to perceptions, lays nearer the heart, is in much closer proximity with it, than some other intellectual states or acts. But this is not the only or the most important particular to be considered here. The important fact, and the only one which can give a satisfactory explanation of what is denominated the faith of the heart, is the law of mental relation and action just now stated, viz.: that religious affection is consequent on religious faith, and that they correspond to each other in degree. A faith of the heart, then, is a faith, which affects the heart. A faith of the heart is a faith, which works by love. “In Jesus Christ,” says the Apostle, “neither circumcision availeth any thing nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love.” Galatians 5:6.

I suppose, that there may be, and that there probably is a sort of faith, either so general and unspecific in its nature, or so weak in its degree, that it does not produce love. A man, for instance, may believe in Jesus Christ as a mere man, as an inhabitant of Judea in the time of Pontius Pilate, and as a very remarkable and good man. But this belief, which does not seem to differ from that which we have in Confucius and Socrates, never is, and never can be the source of such feelings, as those which naturally follow our belief in Christ as one sent from God, as the beloved son of the Father, as an authorized teacher, and as an atoning sacrifice. And then, again, our faith, even if it be right in other respects, may be so weak, so vacillating, so closely allied to actual skepticism, as to fail of being followed by that love, which purifies the heart; the only love which can be acceptable to God. The faith of the heart, therefore, is that faith, which makes a new heart; in other words, which inspires new affections; such affections, as are conformable to God’s law and will.

—adapted from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 6 (emphasis added).

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Love Rises and Falls in Proportion to Faith

Love not only requires faith as its basis, but it is equally obvious and equally certain, that our love will rise and fall, just in proportion to our faith. If, for instance, our hearts are full of love to God at the present moment, and we should the next moment cease to believe in him as a God of truth, goodness, and justice, our love would necessarily terminate at once. Or if our faith should not cease entirely, but should merely become perplexed and weakened for some reasons, our love would become perplexed and weakened just in the same degree. Such is the great law of our intellectual and moral being; and such is the doctrine of the Scriptures.

The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 6.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Faith is the Source of Feeling

Faith is the source, the parent of all true feeling and affection in the natural sense, as well as in the religious sense. Certain it is, that this statement admits of an easy and a satisfactory illustration in the case of the affection of love. It requires no proof to sustain the assertion, that natural love is based upon natural faith. If we have entire confidence in another, if we believe him to be amiable and pure in feeling, and upright in principle, it is the natural result of such confidence, that we shall love him. And on the other hand, it will be very difficult, and I think we may say, it will be found naturally impossible for a person to love another, (except, perhaps, with that lower form of love, which is synonymous with pity or sympathy,) in whom he has no faith. And the same confidence, the same faith, which inspires the affection of love in the first instance, gives it permanency in time to come. The one perpetuates itself in company with the other. Suggestions may arise, and temptations may assail us, but love will live, if confidence does not perish. But how soon does our love to a person, to whom we were once devotedly attached, cease, when our faith in him ceases! No sooner is the confidence, which we reposed in his amiability, in his truth and honor, and other estimable qualities, taken away; in other words, no sooner is our faith in the existence of these traits taken away, than the love, which rested upon it, falls at once to the ground.

The law of the religious affections is the same. They always imply the antecedent existence of faith. Religious faith, sustained by the Holy Spirit, but operating in a manner entirely analogous to the operations of natural faith, is undoubtedly the true basis of religious love. Without the key of faith the foundation of divine love, which refreshes and gives beauty to the whole soul, would never be opened within us. It would be impossible; because it would obviously be a result, not only without reason, but against reason. It is because we believe or have faith in God as just, benevolent and holy, as possessed of every possible perfection calculated to attract and secure our love, that we love him.

The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 6.