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.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Seeing God in Nature

Providence, expansive as the agency of the Divine Mind, includes things as well as events, material nature as well as human action. To be in harmony, therefore, with God's Providence, we must be in harmony with everything; — not excepting the material world. It is true, that things inanimate have no life in themselves; but they are the residence of a living mind. We might almost say, in a mitigated sense of the terms, that every thing, not excluding objects the most remote from moral intelligence, becomes God to us. There is no grass, no flower, no tree, no insect, no creeping thing, no singing bird, nothing which does not bring God with it, and in such a manner that the thing which we behold becomes a clear and bright revelation of that which is invisible.

We go, for instance, into a garden and pluck a flower; and, as we permit our eye to wander over it and to behold the various elements of its graceful beauty, we not only see the flower, but the eye of faith, making a telescope of the bodily eye, and reading the invisible in the visible, sees, also, the God of the  flower. Often has the devout Christian, in all ages of the world used expressions, which indicate the fact of this divine perception. "The God, whom I love," he says, "shines upon me from these blooming leaves." And the expressions he uses convey a great truth to him, however they may fail to convey it to others. That flower is God's development.  It  is not only God present indirectly by a material token, by a mere manifested sign, while the reality of the thing signified is absent; but it is God present as a being, living, perceptive, and operative. We  do not mean to say, that God and the flower are identical. Far from  it. But what we do mean to say is, —  that  the life of God lives and operates in the life of the flower. It is not enough to say, as we contemplate  the flower, that God created  it; implying, in the remark, that, having created it, he then cast it upon the bosom of the earth to live or die, as a thing friendless and uncared for. This is the low view which unbelief taken. The  vision of faith sees much further than this. God is still in it; — not virtually, but really; not merely by signs, but as the thing signified. God is the "God of the living." And while the flower lives, he, who made it, is still its vital principle just as much as when his unseen hand propelled it from its stalk; not only the author, but the support of its life, the present and not the absent source of its beauty and fragrance, still delighting in it as an object of his skill and care.

The  sanctified mind realizes this in a new and higher sense; —  so much so that the truly holy man enjoys especial intercourse with God, and enters into a close and  divine unity with him, when he walks amid the various works which nature, or rather the God of nature, constantly  presents to his view.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 6, Chapter 8.

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