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, January 31, 2015

Once More Becoming the Children of God

"Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." — Matthew 18:3

In once more becoming the children of God, we receive and retain a filial nature, but without ceasing to possess a moral nature. Much is involved in that free and full consecration which every true Christian is supposed to have made of himself to his heavenly Father. As free and moral agents, we consent now, and forever, if we do what we ought to do, that God shall be a truth, a life, a nature in us; which he never has been and never will be without our consent. Adam before he fell, Christ in his humanity, angels in heaven, all holy beings everywhere, either have existed, or do now exist, as  holy beings, by means of the operation of God in the soul; and yet without any alienation of their moral attributes and responsibilities, because they have received this operation with their own choice, and have sanctioned it by their own approbation.

There is no true place of rest and safety, short of the reestablishment of those relations which we have endeavored to illustrate. Accordingly, we cannot regard it as safe for any one to stop in the progress of inward experience, until he feels and knows that he has become, in the Scripture sense of the terms, a LITTLE CHILD; not only having a child's name, but a child's nature. And when this relation is reestablished, not as a name merely, but as a reality, not as a mere conventional arrangement, but as a true nature, — then, and not till then, we are brought into true union with our heavenly Father.

It is on these principles, and these only, that we can make our position harmonize with our prayers. When we pray, we address God as our Father. This implies that we either are, or ought to be, his children. And our language throughout in prayer corresponds to the idea that our true position is the filial position. We pray that we may distrust and renounce ourselves, and look only to God for guidance and support. Recognizing our inability to supply our own wants, we pray for faith, for wisdom, for love, for the guidance of our wills. We go to him, in form at least, just as the little child goes to its earthly parent. If we will go in the same sincerity, our heavenly Father will recognize the relationship, and we shall thus become the true sons of God.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 8.­

Friday, January 30, 2015

Childlike Will

"Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." — Matthew 18:3

The will of the child is naturally merged in the will of the father. There is a nature in this case, as there is in the others. The filial will is not harmonized in the parental will as a matter of calculation, but as the result of a mental tendency. There are, undoubtedly, some variations from this view, in consequence of the power of choice inherent in the will, and particularly in consequence of man's fallen condition; but what has been said is correct as a general statement. Accordingly, yielding readily to the tendency of their mental position, little children do what they are commanded to do. Sometimes it will cost them trouble and suffering; but this does not alter the general direction and the general inclinations of their feelings and actions. Subjecting their own wisdom to a higher wisdom, they have an instinctive feeling that their appropriate and first business is to harmonize with the expression of a parent's will. And so strong is this tendency to a union of wills, that very frequently they act without knowing what will be the end of their action. It is natural to them to leave everything with their father, — the mode, the time, the object, and the results of action, as well as the action itself.

And this, in a remarkable manner, represents the state of things as it existed in man at his first creation. The will of Adam, before he fell, not only harmonized perfectly with the divine will, but naturally; that is to say, without effort, and by an implanted tendency. It is so with all holy beings now. It was eminently so, (as I think we may safely infer from the passages which indicate his submission and union of will,) with Christ, the second Adam; and it will be found to be so with all those who are restored again and perfected in Christ's image. What God chooses, they choose. What God wills, they will. The will becomes in relation to God what the will of the affectionate and dutiful child is to its earthly parent.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 8.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Childlike Love

"Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." — Matthew 18:3

Again, the child LOVES his father. The evidences of this are constantly exhibited. He rejoices with his father's joy, and weeps with his father's sorrow. The slightest injury to his father's honor is felt as an injury to his own. The true child would not hesitate to die for its father or mother, if the occasion presented. And this strong and permanent love is not a matter of calculation, but a nature.  It is born with him, grows with him, lives with him. Blows will not beat it down; waters will not drown it; fires will not burn it.

At  his first creation, man's love to his heavenly Father was like this, — a love implanted by a divine power and kept in operation by a divine presence. He afterwards lost it, it is true; but he could not have lost it, if he had not first possessed it. As a moral being, man allowed, and perhaps we may say, was expected and required, to sanction the principles and methods of his inward vitality, by his own voluntary concurrence. Failing to do this, in a way and under circumstances which the human mind does not now perhaps fully understand, God withdrew himself as the central element of his being; and he became from that time the subject of spiritual alienation and death. But in his restoration to God through Christ, he is necessarily restored to the possession of that divine nature from which he fell. As he is made anew in faith and knowledge, so he is made anew in love. The lost principle of holy love is not only restored, but becomes again, under the transforming operations of divine grace, what it was in the beginning, namely, a nature, —  an operative life, moved by a power of movement existing in itself. In other words, it once more becomes in relation to God what the child's love is in relation to its earthly father.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 8.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Childlike Knowledge

"Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." — Matthew 18:3.

Again, it is natural to the child to look up to the Father, and to be guided by him in matters of KNOWLEDGE. It is an established principle, in the philosophy of the human mind, that knowledge is and must be preceded by faith.

 It is impossible for us, in the very nature of things, to accept as our teacher a being in whom we have no confidence. Faith, extending to all things which are its appropriate objects, is first given to the child as an inherent and essential part of his nature. Then, under the influence of that filial confidence which leads him to look to his parents for everything else, it is natural to him (and it would be against nature to do otherwise) to look for and to receive his intellectual guidance from the same parental source. We have evidence of this original and natural tendency of the mind in what we notice every day, every hour. By a law of nature, the mind of the father becomes the mind of the child.

It was in this manner that man, at his first creation, recognized God as his teacher. He believed in God, and received him constantly as a source of inward inspiration. God was his knowledge. Such was the state of things before he fell. And such will always be the state of things, whenever, in being united with God, he is brought back to the simplicity and purity of his estate.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 8.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Childlike Faith

"Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." — Matthew 18:3

The earthly child, in its relations to its earthly father, is the representation, the earthly development, if we may so express it, of the relations of the child of God to his Father in heaven.

And this is seen, in the first place, in the matter of FAITH. It is very obvious, in regard to the faith which the earthly child has in its earthly parent, that it is a faith given, a faith implanted.  The filial confidence which it exhibits is not something which the child makes himself; nor is it, as some seem to suppose, the result of experience; but is innate. God himself is the giver of it. Implanted by the divine hand, and operating instinctively, the faith of the child is seen in the earliest movements of its infancy. And ever afterwards, in the various situations in which the child is placed, it retains all the attributes and exhibits all the results of an implanted or connatural principle; so much so, that, to withhold confidence from a father or mother, we all feel to be doing that which is a violation of nature.

And such precisely was the character of the faith which man possessed in his heavenly Father before he fell.

 The first man was created in the possession of faith. He could not have been created in any other way. To believe in God was a nature to him; just as we find, at the present time, that it is natural for the child to place confidence in its earthly parent. And in the full restoration of man to God, (a restoration for which provision is made in the coming and atonement of Christ, and in the renewing agency of the Holy Spirit,) the principle of faith will be re-established, not merely as a variable exercise of the mind originating in the will, but as a permanent element or nature of the mind existing in harmony with the will, and with the  will's  consent. And those who are thus restored will become, in respect to their faith, "little children."

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union Part 5, Chapter 8.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Jesus' Illustration of the Little Children

One of the striking incidents in the history of our Savior is the notice which he takes of little children. "And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them; and his disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of God." Mark 10: 13, 14. And again it is said in Matthew [Matthew 18: 3], "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."

Taking all the various passages which may be found on this subject, we may properly deduce from them the following general proposition, namely: It is necessary to possess and to exhibit towards our heavenly Father such dispositions, both in kind and degree, as exist in the minds of children towards their earthly parents.

The analogy between the two cases is very striking; and it was the clear perception of its closeness, and of the beautiful and important instruction involved in it, which seems to have so much interested the Savior’s mind. As he looked upon little children, he perceived that they felt towards their earthly fathers very much as he felt towards his own Father in heaven; and, with such a striking illustration before him of what he experienced in his own bosom, he could not fail to be interested.

A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 8.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Oh Love! Thou Day-Star of My Heart!

Oh love! thou day-star of my heart!
Ascend upon thy throne!
Victor and lord, where' er thou art, 
To all within the power impart,
Of life to God alone.

Such is the magic of thy sway
Upon the holy mind;
That sin, all powerless in thy ray,
Departs, as night-shades flee the day,
And leaves no cloud behind.

My soul was dark in other years;
The stain was on my brow;
And something whispers to my fears
The loss of all but sin and tears,
If thou should'st leave me  now.

But fears are gone, and tears are bright,
Lit with the beams of love:
There is no sin, nor grief, nor night,
To him, whose inmost soul is light
With radiance from above.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Friday, January 23, 2015

How Happy Is the Peaceful Breast

How happy is the peaceful breast,
No agitating strife that knows; —
Through which the stream of holy rest
In one unbroken current flows?

To few, alas, that rest is given; —
And who can claim it as his own,
But he, who makes his heart a heaven,
And seats Jehovah on its throne.

Jehovah! Sovereign of the soul!
He has no throne but that within;
And grief and strife can ne'er control,
Where God destroys the reign of sin.

'Tis sin, that agitates the mind,
While sorrow, like the clouded sky,
Illumin'd soon, leaves nought behind,
But fields of light and purity.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Thorny Diadem

Oh, breathe not to my soul the name
Of joys that bear the mark of earth;
What bond or likeness can they claim
With souls that have a heavenly birth?

Like snows, that melt beneath the sun,
Like flowers thrown heedless on the river,
They shine a moment, then are gone,
A moment here, then flown forever.

Oh no! We cannot stop for them;
Not joys, not crowns would suit us now;
We ask the thorny diadem
Which bound the Savior's bleeding brow.

American Cottage Life (1850).

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Power of Holy Love

The  soul, that loves Thee, cannot fear;
Terror is conquer'd by desire;
For Thee it leaves each object here,
And seeks Thee with its wing of fire.

Rejecting pleasure, hating rest,
It counts for loss its highest gain,
Till of its Lord once more possess'd,
With Thee it lives, with Thee doth reign.

See how the things of lower birth,
How joy and care perplex its way!
It spurns them, as it spurns the earth,
And upward seeks the realms of day.

One object occupies its gaze;
No other can it seek or see;
Till plunging in the central blaze,
It finds itself at home with Thee.

American Cottage Life (1850)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

God Present But Not Felt

God is not a God afar off. He is ever present, ever near. But how can he be near us, and not be known? How can he be present, and not be felt? It is because we have blocked up the door of our hearts with the rubbish of the world. It is because the visitant is more ready than the host. It is he, and he only, who is willing to clear the door of entrance, that will find the divine glory coming in.

Religious Maxims (1846) CV.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Learning to Pray Anywhere

Often amid the duties and distractions of the day, it is impossible for us to visit our usual place of retirement. It is important, therefore, if we would realize the benefits of closet worship when our closets are necessarily closed to us, that we should form the habit of interior retirement and of recollection in God. Can it be doubted, that it is our privilege by means of suitable religious training, accompanied with divine assistance, to remove in a moment every troublesome thought; and retiring inward, to hold communion with God in the secret chamber of the soul? Thus in everyplace, however disturbed by noise and perplexed by business, we may find a place of inward seclusion, a spiritual closet,  where God will meet us with his heavenly visitations.

Religious Maxims (1846) CIV.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


Self-contrivances, in other words, calculations made in our own wisdom and strength, and for worldly purposes, are mournful evidences of unbelief and of a heart but partially sanctified. The sanctified heart has learnt the great lesson of a holy cessation from its own plans, and of a humble and patient waiting for the manifestation and forthcoming of the plans of God, that it may have the exceeding blessedness of cooperating with him; moving as he moves; going where he goes; stopping where he stops; knowing that he careth for us; and that our bread and water are safe in his hands. "He that believeth shall not make haste."

Religious Maxims (1846) CIII.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Outward Actions May Remain the Same

It is important to remember, that the existence of holiness in the heart does not necessarily alter the manner of action, although it does the principle of action. The farmer and the mechanic plough their fields and smite their anvils as they did before; and if they are estimated by the outward action and the outward appearance merely, they are the same men in many respects as they ever were. But the difference internally, as it reveals itself to the eye of God who searcheth the heart, is as great as that between sin and holiness, between heaven and hell.

Religious Maxims (1846) CII.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Don't Listen to Gossip

He, who keeps his ear open to calumny and backbiting, may reasonably expect to have it filled. The best way, both for our own sakes and that of others, is to keep it shut; to hear but little, and to pray the more.

Religious Maxims (1846) CI.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Devil Waits For Opportunites

The devil is very skilful in availing himself of particular or especial occasions. He has the sagacity to perceive, that it is of no use to throw arrows at the man whose armor is completely on. He therefore keeps himself at a distance, hides himself as it were, says nothing, does nothing. He is waiting to see the shield displaced or the helmet taken off. And he will be found returning suddenly and powerfully, and, too often effectually, when the favorable opportunity presents itself.

Religious Maxims (1846) C.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Walking Through the Darkness

The tendency of suffering is not only to lead us to God, as the only being who can help us, but to keep us there. The general result, in the case of Christians, is, the more they suffer, the more they trust; and the more they trust, the more will the principle of trust or faith be strengthened. So that affliction, by impressing the necessity of higher aid than human, tends not only to originate faith in God, but indirectly to increase it; tends not only to unite us with God, but to strengthen that union.

Indeed, it is difficult to see how faith can be much strengthened in any other way. When we walk by faith, we walk, in a certain sense, in darkness. If it were perfectly light around us, we should not walk by faith, but by open vision. Faith is a light to the soul; but it is the very condition of its existence, that it shall have a dark place to shine in. It is faith which conducts us, but our journey is through shadows. And this illustrates the meaning of certain expressions fre­quently found in the experimental writings of Dionysius the Areopagite, and found also in other writers who hold similar views, such as the "night of faith," "the divine darkness," "the obscure night of faith,"  and the like.

It  is hardly necessary to say, that darkness or night, in its application to the mind, is a figurative expression, and means trial or suffering, attended with ignorance of the issues and objects of that suffering. And, accordingly, these writers teach, in harmony with other experimental writers, that seasons of trial, leading to the exercise of faith, are exceedingly profitable. The biblical writers, whom they profess to follow, obviously teach the same. "Persecuted," says the apostle, "but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed. Always bearing about in the body  the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." And again, "Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." 2  Cor.  4:9, 10, 17.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 7.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Suffering as an Evidence of Love

When suffering is attended with right affections, it becomes one of the strongest, and perhaps the only satisfactory evidence of true love. If God should bestow upon us mercies alone, without trials, it might be difficult to say, whether we loved him for himself, or only for the blessings he gave. But if our affection remains unshaken under the trials he sees fit to send, we have good reason to regard it as true. The love which exists and flourishes at such times is not a mere accessory, dependent for its continuance upon circumstances, but is a permanent principle.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 7.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Suffering as a Spiritual Priviledge

Suffering, considered as a nurse of holiness, may justly be regarded as a spiritual privilege. Certain it is, that the only true pleasure, the only true privilege, which heaven or earth affords, is that of doing and suffering the will of God. All pleasure which is separate from God, is only evil and wretchedness in disguise.

It is well for us to suffer, among other things, that we may have a better understanding of the situation of others who suffer, and may have more sympathy with them.  A fallen world, where evil is continually striving with good, is not the garden where true and unalloyed happiness may be expected to grow. Suffering, whatever distinctions grace may make among men, places us on a level with the common lot of humanity, and leads us continually to think of the situation of sinners, and to feel for them.

Another of the benefits connected with the endurance of suffering, is, that, when endured in the fulness of Christ's dispositions, it imparts true liberty of spirit. It Is hardly necessary to say, that there can be no bondage to the mind that cheerfully lays all the world's gifts upon God's altar. It finds its riches in having nothing, and realizes the feeling of its freedom in the fact that it has no choice separate from God's choice.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 7.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Loss of Ourselves is the Possession of God

There is truth in the saying which is found in experimental writers, that the loss of ourselves is the possession of God. The sad experience in our state of sin, that faith in the created and the finite has no adequate foundation, leads us back, or rather is the occasion, through the grace of God, of our being led back to him, who is the only proper object of faith. When the vessel of our own making sinks, when the frail plank to which we had clung passes from under us, it is then, and not till then, that we seize the strong hand of him who walks upon the winds and waves. We sink that we may rise; we suffer that we may be healed again; we die that we may live.

— from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 7.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

False Confidence

The faith and desires of the man who is disunited from God, are necessarily placed upon himself; including in himself those things which he claims and rests in as his own.

A man, for instance, has faith in his riches, in the lands he has purchased, and the houses he has built. His affections naturally follow in the channel of his faith; and he loves what he believes in. His possessions become his God. In what way can this bond of unholy union be sundered? It is by destroying, in whole or in part, the objects to which this wrong confidence and these wrong affections attach themselves. If the objects remain in their strength and beauty, and fulfill all the purposes which are expected of them, how is it possible to destroy confidence and attachment? "I spake unto thee," says God, " in thy  prosperity,  and thou saidst I will not hear." [Jeremiah 2l: 21.] And accordingly, he is compelled, as it were, to send his flood and fire, his pestilence and famine. Smitten and blasted in the work of his hands, man's faith in human toil and acquisition at last fails; and he exclaims, with the wise preacher of the Scriptures, "All is vanity and vexation of spirit." It is then, and not till then, that he is ready to hear and obey the voice of his Maker.

Again, man has confidence in his reputation. With care and labor he has established a good name, which seems to him a tower of strength. His love corresponds to his faith; and he loves his honor, as he terms it, still more than his wealth. But since the fall of man, selfishness, instead of holy love, has become the basis of humanity; and envy, base, malignant, and insidious, always follows in the track of fame. God, who knows his idol, has allowed the destroyer to cast it down. Before he is aware of it, his good name, which had been secured by years of toil and care, which shone high and bright as the sunbeam, is prostrated in the dust. His tears show how great and bitter is his disappointment. From that hour, ceasing to place confidence in himself, he can say, what he never said before: "I called upon the Lord in distress. The Lord answered me, and set me in a large place. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man." [Ps. 118:5, 8.]

And it is thus in other things. Looking everywhere except to God, man is everywhere doomed to disappointment. And God, in the exercise of his mercy, means that he shall be. It is in mercy that the divine hand is heavily upon him. In his wealth, in his health, in his good name, in his worldly wisdom in everything which separates him from God, the storms from heaven sweep away the sandy foundation on which his frail house is built. Ceasing, under such circumstances, to have faith in himself, and in anything which depends upon himself, he has nothing left him but hopelessness and despair. And it is in this necessity that he begins to think of the true source of help. Despair of himself leads him to seek God.

— from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 7.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sanctification and the Path of Trial

The way of those who truly and deeply believe, like that trodden by the divine Master in whom they have trusted, is a path of trial. "Whosoever," says the Saviour, "doth not bear his cross and come after me, cannot  be my disciple." [Luke 14:27.] The most eminent Christians have, as a general thing, been called to pass through the greatest sufferings. Infinite wisdom, which explains the means it uses by the results that follow, has seen fit to connect their sufferings with their sanctification. God has seen it to be necessary that they should suffer, not only for the good of others, which they could easily understand, but also for their own good, the reasons of which it was the more difficult to see. A few remarks will explain, in part, the nature of this necessity.

A heart unsanctified, which is the same thing as a heart not united with God, is a heart which has become disordered both in its faith and in its attachments. Its desires, in consequence of its faith being wrongly placed, are separated from their true center; and, consequently, are either given to wrong objects, or, by being inordinate, exist in a wrong degree. The sanctification of the heart is its restoration from this wrong state. And this is done by a course the reverse of that which sin has previously prompted it to take, namely, by the substitution of a right faith for a wrong one; by taking the desires from wrong objects, and by suppressing all their inordinate action. But this is a process which is not ordinarily gone through without much suffering.

— from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 5, Chapter 7.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Grace for New Trials

The grace which may meet and subdue the temptations of the present moment, may not be appropriate and adequate to the temptations of any future time. Every day and every moment bring their duties and trials, and need their appropriate grace. There must, therefore, be constantly repeated acts of faith; and by means of faith a constant application of the atoning efficacy of the blood of the Cross; both to preserve against the power of existing temptation, and also to wash the mind from the impurity of its stains, when we have already yielded to it. We would observe, finally, that temptations are profitable trials of the religious life, and are particularly calculated to purify and strengthen our faith. They are grievous for a time, it is true; but they are calculated to secure, in the end, the peaceable fruits of righteousness. Very few have become strong in faith, who have not passed through great trials. It is said of the Savior himself, that he "learned obedience by the things which he suffered."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844)  Part 1, Chapter 19.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Power of Faith in Times of Temptation

In cases of especial temptation, we are protected and saved in an especial manner, by the exercise of FAITH. Here, as elsewhere, faith is the great secret of our power; so much so as apparently to be the only method of quenching the fiery darts of the adversary. The tempted person, if he is in the exercise of grace adequate to the occasion, instantaneously offers up the prayer of faith. He exclaims, in spirit at least, if not in language, "Preserve me, O God, in this hour of need." "Spare me and help me in this time of trial;" "Leave me not to fall into the hands of my great enemy." He not only desires this assistance, which is one element of the prayer of faith; but what is equally important, he believes that God hears; and that in accordance with many promises, such as "his grace is sufficient for us," and that he "will not suffer us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear," he is, in fact present with him to aid, protect, and bless. This is especially true of the person, who has experienced the eminent grace of interior sanctification. Having learned to live by faith, which to many is a new and hidden way of living, his prayer ascends to the throne of God, with great rapidity, so that it meets and confronts the temptation almost as soon as it is presented to his thoughts. And not only this, being the prayer of living faith, it is a mighty prayer. It is true, it is exceedingly simple in object and in words; being, in this respect, modeled upon the Lord's prayer; but it has power with God; it touches the heart of everlasting Love; and if we may be allowed the expression, it draws down upon his soul the shield and covering of a Savior's blood. It is in that fountain, in that precious blood, and not in the mere deadness and coldness of his affections, that the fiery darts of the adversary are quenched.

— from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 1, Chapter 19.