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.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Univeral Conception of God

There is a period, however, in the process of sanctification, when God is gradually withdrawn from [His former] position [in our minds], and ceases to be either limited or local. At this period, the well-defined and impressive image, which had been present to our thoughts for many years, becomes more and more indistinct,  more and more remote from us, until it entirely disappears. But this withdrawment of God from a particular locality, which at first is perplexing and trying, is followed by his substitution and re-appearance to the eye of faith, not exclusively in any one place or thing, but in all things and all places;— in every tree, and plant and rock, and flower; in every star, in the wandering moon, in the floating cloud, in the wide and deep sea,— in insects and birds, and the wild beasts of the mountain,— in men, who more than any thing else, bear the image of God; — and in all events, as well as in all things.

The idea which we have of God under these circumstances, may be described as a general one,  and perhaps as an indistinct or indefinite one. It is necessarily wanting in that clear and definite outline, which characterizes that restricted and inadequate idea of God, which represents Him to the mind’s eye as having a particular form and a particular place. The true idea, that which reveals Him without the limitations of form and place, is indistinct in the sense of being without definite bounds, but not in the sense of its being unreal, and is general without being weakened by its unlimited extent. Without, assigning God to any one thing or place, it recognizes Him, rejoices in Him, and receives Him in all. Happy is the man, whose heart is so purified that it is thus brought into unity with a God universal.

To him who has this deeper insight and this higher unity, God breathes in the vernal zephyr, and shines brightly in the summer's sun; he sees Him molding and painting the fruits of autumn, and sending the hoar-frosts and piling up the snows of winter; all inanimate nature is full of Him. He sees God also in what is ordinarily called the work of men's hands. It is God that spreads his pillow — it is God that builds his house — it is God that plows his fields — it is God that sells for him and buys for him; God gives him pain and sends him joy — smites him when he is sick, and heals him when be gets well. And what God does for Himself, He does also for  others,  and for communities. It is God that builds up and puts down — that makes kings and makes subjects — that builds up one nation and destroys another — that binds the chains of the captive and gives liberty to the free — that makes war and makes peace. All men, and princes and nations are in his hands like clay in the hands of the potter. His eternal will, which  never has changed, and never can change, dashes them to pieces, or fashions them to everlasting life. All things are his sin only excepted, and sin is sin, because it is not of God. Whatever is not of God is of the devil — and  whatever  is of the devil is sin.

What blessed results would follow, if all men had that faith which deprives God of form, and displaces Him from a particular locality, in order that being without form, He may attach Himself to all forms, and that being without place, He may be found present in all places. Such a faith, if it would not at once carry us up to the New Jerusalem, would do that which amounts to much the same thing — it would bring the New Jerusalem down to earth, and would expand its golden walls and gates to the limits of the world and of the universe.

Guide to Holiness, Vol. iii.  pp. 121-123. Quoted by Asa Mahan in The Oberlin Quarterly Review, Vol. 4, Jan. 1849, pp. 117, 118.

No comments:

Post a Comment