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.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Elevation of the Place of Women in Society

One of the results of God's great work which is now going on in the world, will be, to raise and perfect woman's position and character. The darkest page in human history is that of the treatment of woman. Oppressed by man's depravity, injured in her most sacred affections, — the slave of man instead of his companion,— she has bedewed the earth with tears, and has had consolation only in that faith in God, which is appropriate to her confiding nature. But when, in the progress of divine truth, it is understood that man cannot fulfill his own destiny, and is not the completion of himself without her, — in other words, when, by being restored to God, he is restored to himself, — he will also be restored to that which is a part of himself; and will thus perfect, in completed unity, what would otherwise necessarily remain in the imperfection of an undeveloped and partial nature.

And, in connection with the accomplishment of this desirable end, nothing is to be considered as unimportant which in any way tends to secure it. And this leads to the remark, that female education, considered in its religious aspects, is one of the great works of God which will more and more characterize the coming ages. A general conviction on this subject is beginning to he felt; but it must be admitted that the way in which this conviction, and the hopes involved in it, are to be realized, is not well understood. And, accordingly, educational efforts for the improvement of the intellect are out of proportion to those which are designed for the improvement of the heart. What we need now, and what the designs of God upon our race require us to have, are seminaries, in which all necessary sciences and literatures shall be attended to, but in which it shall be understood and taught, at the same time, that the first and indispensable knowledge is that of repentance and salvation through Christ, and of sanctification by the constant indwelling and guidance of the Holy Ghost. In other words, we need seminaries in which the education of the female heart in holiness shall take the precedence of all other forms of education.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Marriage Should be Under the Guidance of the Spirit

The union of souls in the marriage state, like everything else, ought to be under the guidance of the Spirit of God. The first work, both of man and of woman, is the recovery of their own souls, their spiritual sanctification. Until this is done, they are not fitted, — certainly not in the full sense of the terms, — for anything else. And especially do they fail of being fitted for true mental union.

In the present state of the world, and in the imperfect condition of human things, it will often be the case, that those who are brought into the marriage state by human arrangements, and under the forms of human law, have not been united by spiritual attraction. Such marriages cannot be happy; — certainly not in the highest degree. It will be very different, in proportion as holiness advances in the world. In a purified, or millennial state of the race, the first step towards the finite marriage will be the marriage union with the Infinite. This, as we have already intimated, is the first great work of man under all circumstances; a work which cannot be superseded by any other; and without which no other can be perfectly done. When the soul is once united with God, it becomes the subject of the divine guidance; and while it loves all, and seeks the good of all, it enters into the state of perfect union only with that soul which develops most perfectly corresponding traits of character. The instinct of holiness will lead together kindred hearts; and the truth of spiritual union will take the place of the falsehood and misery of that union which merely allies the body without the union of the mind.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Everyone Has a Right to a Home

One of the results of the diffusion of holiness, and of the spirit of union with God, will be to recognize to every man and woman the right, not merely to a home, but to that best of all homes, the home of the heart. Much has been said, among social and political philanthropists, of the right of each man to a portion of land, a homestead; and, undoubtedly, there is a great religious, as well as social idea, at the bottom of this suggestion. But if man has a right to a home for his body, much more has he a right to a home for his soul. His soul's home is love. To love and to be loved, and in such a manner as to secure the highest happiness, is the sacred right of all moral beings; and the obstructions which exist in the present state of society to this desirable result, will gradually be removed. Such is obviously the design of Providence; and those who are united with God will aid in it.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Bible's Teachings on Marriage and Family

The language of the Savior is this:

"The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning, made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What, therefore, God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

"They said unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts, suffered you to put away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so." [Matt 19:3]

The form of the original institution, established in infinite wisdom, was not only that of correspondent spirits, of soul formed and mated to soul, but that of permanent as well as perfect union. Those facts of mental and providential correspondence, which led to the union in the first instance, necessarily involved and established its permanency. Various expressions in the New Testament conform to and strengthen these views. Everywhere are denunciations uttered against the violation of this bond of the heart. Everywhere are encouragements uttered to the preservation of its purity, and the increase of its strength. "Husbands," says the apostle Paul, "love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." [Eph 5:25] These are remarkable expressions. Christ's love is perfect. Christ’s love never changes. The expressions of the apostle, therefore, harmonize well with the declaration of the Savior, that in the beginning, the husband and wife were not allowed to be separated; that the union, when made in the truth, and as it ought to be, is of God, and that no human power has authority to rend it asunder.

Without quoting any further from the Scriptures, we will only notice the fact, that God very frequently illustrates the strength of the love which is due to him, by references to conjugal love. He speaks of his people as espoused to him. He repeatedly calls himself their husband. Speaking, for instance, of the rebellious Israelites, he says, in a certain place, "they brake my covenant, although I was an husband unto, them." [Jeremiah 31:32] And he compares their unholy wanderings from him to the  conduct and the crime of a wife, who violates the marriage obligation. Such illustrations and references, if they do nothing more, may properly be regarded as showing the estimation which our heavenly Father places upon conjugal love. If they do not directly assert as much, they certainly seem to imply, that in a truly holy and perfect state of things, husbands and wives would love each other with something of that sacredness and purity of affection with which God himself is loved.

In other cases, he illustrates the relation he sustains to his creatures, by referring to the constitution of the family as it is presented to our notice in other respects. "A  son," he says, in a certain place, "honoreth his father, and a servant his master. If I then be a father, where is mine honor?” And again it is said in another place, "As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." And it is thus, in a multitude of instances, that the family illustrates the relations of  God to man, and of man to God. And it is not surprising that references and illustrations of this kind should be so frequent. The family embodies the highest forms of truth, as well as of beauty.

It is there that we see justice, which, standing alone, would smite and destroy, tempered with mercy.  It is there that we see filial love sustained and heightened by reverence. It is there, especially, that we find illustrations of the higher truths of religious experience. Where else do we find so fully exemplified the lesson of the nature and laws of pure love, as we find it in the family? The love which exists in the family, — the love which flows between those who, in different persons, constitute the unity of its head, — the love which flows from the parents to the children, and reciprocally from the children to the parents, — is so far divested of selfishness, even in the present injured and fallen state of things, as to give some idea, faint though it may be, of the pure love of a better world. And, in the true or holy family, that is to say, in the family where hearts are first filled with the love of God and then of each other, we may be said to have the realization of heaven, as well as the idea of it.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Idea of Marriage in the Old Testament

The Bible, in the primitive records on the subject, represents that man was created in God's image.  It also represents, that man and woman were one; and that woman was made from man; — the two existing henceforth in a diversity, but correspondence of form, and with an unity of life.  If the passages to which we refer, do not expressly state it, it is obvious that they naturally imply and involve the doctrine of correspondent or mated spirits, of duality in unity, to the exclusion of all affections to others which are inconsistent with such unity. There is a passage in the prophet Malachi, in reproof of the conduct of the Israelites, which throws some light upon this subject. The Israelites had become dissolute in principles and manners; — a state of things, which showed itself in violations of conjugal fidelity, and in frequent divorces. "The Lord," says the prophet, "hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously; yet she is thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did he not make one? Yet  had he the residue of the Spirit. And wherefore one? [That is to say, wherefore did he create one only? And the answer is,] that he might seek, [that is, prepare or secure to himself,] a godly seed. Therefore, [he adds,] take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously again the wife of his youth."

The passage is a decided and just reproof of those frequent violations of the true idea of the marriage state, which had crept in among the Israelites. God was offended; and the prophet gives the reason of it. When God, in the beginning of things, had created man, he separated from him, in the moment of his "deep sleep," a part of his existence And from that which he thus separated, he made the counterpart and completion of humanity in woman. He made one. In the language of the prophet, he had "the residue of the spirit;" and therefore he might have made a greater number. But that perfect conception which he had of a moral constitution of things, and of the elements of moral happiness, did not allow of more than one.

It was necessary, being good and perfect in himself, that he should so create man, as to evolve or develop from his existence, so long as it continued an unperverted existence, the highest possible degree of happiness. But perfect happiness cannot grow on the basis of a divided affection. It is only fullness of love, or love in the highest degree, — a state of mind which seems to be inconsistent with a multitude of objects of love, — that is crowned with fullness of bliss. And besides, that form or arrangement of the domestic constitution which limits the central or highest affection to one, was foreseen to be most favorable, as we should naturally suppose it would be, and as the passage in Malachi implies, to the birth and training of a "godly' seed." Polygamy and concubinage, and still more other systems, which propose a yet wider and more vicious liberty, are obviously inconsistent with that degree of watchful care, and religious instruction, which is necessary in training up a seed or people for God. And I think it cannot be doubted that the perpetuation of a godly seed is one of the objects involved in the constitution of a moral order of beings. Holiness, like sin, has its law of origin, and its line of descent.

— edited from A treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Eternal Nature of the Family Relation

We cannot deny our own conviction, founded upon such considerations as we have been able to give to the subject, that the family relation, as it is recognized and established in the New Testament, has its  foundation in the nature of things, and is eternal. This, it will be perceived, is a very different doctrine from that which makes it a mere positive institution, founded upon arbitrary command. It will be conceded, I suppose, that God never mends his own work. His conceptions, founded upon, or rather involving, the fact of a knowledge and comparison of all possibilities of being and action, are always perfect. And, consequently, when we ascertain what his views and plans of things are, we ascertain that which is unchangeable.

The idea of the family, namely, of duality in unity, reproducing itself in a third, which combines the image of both, is entitled, if we are correct in what has been said, to be regarded as a plan or arrangement of things which God has adopted as the best possible to be carried out and realized. And if so, it bears the stamp of divine perpetuity, as well as of divine wisdom.

Every being has its two-fold center; first, its center or home in God; second, its center or home relative to its sphere of life; — the one corresponding to and harmonizing with the other. Another principle is, that the life of holy or unfallen beings is, and must be, holy love. It is this principle, which brings their powers into movement, and constitutes them active beings. A third principle is, that love, in whatever beings it may exist, must have an object. Being a principle which does not turn back and rest upon itself, but which always has a tendency to move outward, it cannot exist without having an object somewhere. A fourth is, that love, by its very nature, has an attractive as well as an emanative power. That is to say, while it goes out to others, it attracts others to itself. A  fifth is, that the highest happiness of holy beings, drawn towards each other as they are by the attractions of love, will be secured, and can only be secured, when they find objects perfectly correspondent to themselves. And it is only when they have experienced this completed happiness, that they have found the true center of their created sphere of life, and are at home.

And, accordingly, it will be found, as the laws of intelligence and feeling obviously require this state of things, that to every spiritual existence in the universe, though differently constituted and sustained in their different spheres of life, there is, and must be, a correspondent spirit. The union of these two constitutes the highest happiness; a happiness which is never experienced in this degree, antecedent to such union. And this union, which thus results in the highest happiness, is indissoluble. The moment that such beings are unveiled to each other as perfect correspondences, the mutual attraction, at once strengthened to its highest intensity, becomes irresistible; and the bond which binds them, stronger and more beautiful than clasps of gold, can never be rent asunder.

In support of these views we might refer to other sources of argument, which are frequently adduced in discussions of this nature. An argument in support of the  permanency of the family, as it is constituted among Christian nations, is frequently drawn from the fact, that the sexes are equal, or nearly equal, in number. The subject has been frequently argued, also, in connection with the instinctive tendencies of our nature, both mental and physical, which so universally impel men to domestic associations. Such considerations go to confirm the views which have been taken; but they are so generally known, and so often referred to, that it is not necessary to dwell upon them here.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Godhead is the Antetype of the Family

The Godhead itself, mysterious and unsearchable as it is, is the fore-shadowing, the antetype of the family. Man is said to be created in the divine image;  but the combined man, which constitutes the family, far more than the solitary man or woman, is the true image of God. And the reason is, "God is love.” And if he is so, then there must have been an eternal Beloved. Otherwise, he would have been the most miserable of beings. Absolute solitude is inconsistent with happiness. What could be more miserable than a being, the very essence of whose nature is love, without an object to meet and to satisfy its unalienable and mighty tendencies? And that object, to meet the ends for which it exists, must be as infinite as the love of which it is the subject.  And if it must be infinite, because nothing short of infinite would be an appropriate object of the divine affections, it must also have been eternal, because otherwise the divine affection, through countless ages, would have had no object at all. And hence, there is, and must be, innate in the Godhead, the infinitely beloved, the Chosen and Anointed of the Father, the Eternal Word, the Immanuel. But this duality of existence, which is constituted into unity by the unchangeable bond of the affections, cannot be perfectly happy except in some object possessing a like infinity of character, which may be regarded, speaking after the manner of men, as "a procession or emanation" from the two. And this re-production of itself, infinite in its nature, perfect in its love and by "an everlasting generation," constitutes and completes the adorable family of the Trinity.

Man, created in the divine image, is male and female; and these two are one. And their united existence, deriving a new power from their union, multiplies and images itself in a third, which is also a part of itself. It is man, therefore, in his threefold nature, — the father, the mother, and the child,— the beautiful trinity of the family, and yet so constituted that in man's unfallen state it would never have suggested the idea of a weakened or discordant unity, — which may be regarded as the earthly representation, the visible, though dim,  shadowing  forth of the divine personalities existing in the unity of the Godhead. The original type is in the infinite; but it is reproduced and reflected with greater or less degrees of distinctness in all orders of moral beings. 

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mutual Love as the Basis of Marriage and Family

Happiness must be the result of a divinely ordered and perfect constitution of things. It is true, as we have had frequent occasion to say, that love is, and must be, the life;  that is to say, the central and moving principle of such a divine constitution. But love is not necessarily free from sorrow; — although it must be admitted, that true happiness cannot exist without love. The love, which good men have to erring and fallen sinners, is necessarily more or less mixed with grief. This being the case, the question naturally arises, — When can a truly holy or love being be said to be a happy being; — not only happy, but enjoying happiness in the highest degree?  This is a question, which it is obviously necessary to solve, in ascertaining the true constitution of an order of moral beings. That is to say, it is necessary to answer the question, — Under what circumstances can the highest happiness be secured to such an order of beings? And the answer, as it seems to us, is this. A moral being is happy in the highest degree, when it meets with another being, constituted on the same principles of holy love; and meets with it under such circumstances as to behold the unspeakable beauty of its own benevolent nature reflected back upon itself in the mirror of the other's loving heart. Seeing itself in another, and therefore, feeling another in itself, it not only recognizes but realizes, by the necessities of its nature, the eternal law of unity.

A love being, that is to say, a being, whose central principle of movement is holy love, cannot see its own love, because it is the nature of holy love to turn its eyes from itself, and to see the wants, and to seek the good, of another. But being unable to see itself in itself, when it sees and recognizes itself imaged forth in the bright heart and countenance of another, it seeks the company of such a being by a natural impulse, and rejoices in it "with joy unspeakable." In other words, the issues of perfect happiness are from the meetings and unions of true or pure love. It is not merely soul meeting soul; but the divine rushing into the arms of the divine. Stated in still other terms, the happiness of love consists, more than in anything else, in seeing the face of love. This is the philosophy, not more of the true joy of earth, than it is of the true joy of heaven.

If these views are correct, they are applicable to all moral beings They are applicable to man; — and with appropriate modifications which do not vitiate the principle at the bottom of them, they are applicable to angels, and to all other classes and orders of moral existences. There seems, then, to be a just and adequate foundation for the doctrine, of which we find some intimations and glimpses from time to time in experimental writers, that all holy beings have their correspondences. That is to say, they have other beings in the same rank of existence, who, in their physical, though purified and perfected, nature, in intellect and affections, and also in providential position, correspond to their own necessities, and which constitute, therefore, the completion or complement of their physical part, and of their perceptions and loves. In these different personalities, which are destined in their appropriate time to form a completed unity, there is the same central principle of movement or action, namely, holy love. Under the inspiration of this central power, they continually move from object to object, among the various objects and beings which are presented to them in their appropriate sphere of life; dispensing love to others, and receiving love in return; but, still, feeling that the wants of their inward being are not fully satisfied until their equal and mated spirit, the correspondence and complement of themselves, is revealed to them. Then, under the attractions of mutual love, which is wiser and stronger than mere arbitrary and positive law, they unite together; — and they do it under such circumstances that it is not possible to separate them. They thus fulfill the purposes of their Maker; and realize in time a marriage, which, in spirit and essence, is eternal. Made and mated to each other, their thoughts flow in the same channel; the pulsation of one heart is the pulsation of the other; in the fulfillment of the divine will they become acquainted with and enjoy the various works of God within the limits of their sphere of being; they have a common purpose, a common happiness, a common life.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Everlasting Basis of the Family

We proceed now, in the natural order of these inquires, from the individual to the family.

Holiness does not annul, or even alter, the laws of nature, but only restores and perfects their action. And, accordingly, we shall be united with our heavenly Father in the great work of restoring and perfecting the family, when we endeavor to ascertain and to aid in the fulfillment of the intentions of nature.

Every being must have its home. By home, we do not mean simply a locality, a place of residence. The man, who is banished from his native land, and is confined to some rocky isle in the ocean, has his locality, but it is not his home. If it is so, why does he so often cast his streaming eye over the broad ocean, as if to catch the glance of some other land? Home, therefore, in being something more than simple locality, is that locality where the affections find their center and are at rest.

And we may add further, that the home of every class of beings, excluding all idea of uncertainty and vagrancy, is ascertained and fixed by a law of nature. It would be unreasonable to suppose that the origin, or the position, or the physical habits, or the enjoyments, of any beings, especially in their regular or normal state, are accidental. On the contrary, all beings have their sphere or circle of life; — a sphere definite, wisely adjusted, and perfect. And this is not all. Every sphere, embracing as it does various and multiplied capacities and opportunities of action, has its center.  And that center, in being constituted by a divine arrangement, and with the divine approbation, may be said to harmonize with the divine and infinite center. And, accordingly, harmonizing as it does both with God and with the facts and incidents of its own sphere of life, it is the place, and the only place, where the highest happiness of created beings is realized. It is the place, therefore, in distinction from all others, and above all others, which constitutes their HOME.

That home or center, of which we now speak, will always be found to be, — certainly in the case of all moral beings, — the harmony or union of two in one. The permanent coming together, the consolidation, if we may so speak, of two natures existing in the same sphere of life, constitutes not merely the place of meeting, but the place of affectional rest and happiness. The true domicile of all sentient and moral beings, therefore, is the domicile, the home of the heart, whenever and wherever the heart is at rest. And that place of rest is ascertained and verified by that union of two in one which has just been mentioned. And, accordingly, it may be said of all moral and accountable beings that they are at home and are happy in being united, first with the divine or infinite center, which is God; and then, in being perfectly united, under the divine direction, with other correspondent or mated beings in the same sphere of life; — a union, which may be described as the local or finite center, namely, the center in relation to the species or class of beings to which they belong. And until they attain this central position in their own sphere of life, a center which corresponds to and harmonizes with the divine or infinite center; in other words, until they reach this home of the heart’s rest in love, there is always a desire which is not satisfied, always a yearning of the spirit which is not met, a deep and painful want of completed bliss.

Such is the truth of nature in this matter. Such is the truth of God, who in the book of nature has everywhere written truths which are eternal. And, accordingly, the family institution, which has so close a connection with the interests and hopes of humanity, has an everlasting basis.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 6.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Source of Happiness in the Soul

"Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are  the issues of life."  Prov. iv. 23.
"Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord." Ps. cv. 3.

The soul hath power, through God's mysterious plan,
To mold anew and to assimilate
The outward incidents that wait on man,
And make them like his hidden, inward state.
If there's a storm within, then all things round
The inward storm to clouds and darkness changes;
But inward light makes outward light abound,
And o'er external things in beauty ranges.
If but the soul be right, submissive, pure,
It stamps whate'er takes place with peace and bliss;
If fierce, revengeful, and unjust, 'tis sure
From outward things to draw unhappiness.
Then watch, and chiefly watch, the inward part,
For all is right and well, if there's a holy heart.

American Cottage Life (1850) XVIII.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Book of Judgement

"And I saw the  dead, small  and great, stand before God; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the  books, according to their works."  Rev. xx. 12.

Where is the JUDGMENT BOOK, which God doth keep?
Where is the record he hath made of sin?
So that at last it shall awake from sleep,
And legibly appear? It is within,
The Judgment Book is every man's own breast.
This is the tablet God hath graved upon;
More lasting is the stamp that's there impressed,
Than if it were inscribed on wood or stone.
The wood may change to dust, the stone may break,
And what is written there at last decay;
But the inscription, which the soul doth take,
Will never, through all ages, waste away.
Men may, on earth, turn from this book their sight,
But not, when made to gleam in the great Judgment light.

American Cottage Life (1850) XVII.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

We Must Sacrifice Even the Gifts of God

All the Christian gifts and graces should be possessed in purity of spirit, uncontaminated by any unholy mixtures of an earthly nature. The mere suggestion, that they have merit of themselves and separate from the God who gives them, if it be received with the least complacency, necessarily inflicts a deep wound. They are, accordingly, held in purity of spirit and with the divine approbation, only when their tendency is to separate the soul from every thing inward and outward, considered as objects of complacency and of spiritual rest, and to unite it more and more closely to God.

In the language of Fenelon, "we must sacrifice even the gifts of God;" that is to say, we must cease to regard them and to take complacency in them, in themselves considered, that we may have God himself. We do not find the parent, who has that degree of affection for his child, which may be called entire or perfect love, making his love a distinct object of his thoughts, and rejoicing in it, as such a distinct object; that would not be the genuine operation of perfect love. If his love is perfect, he has no time and no disposition to think of any thing but the beloved object, towards which his affections are directed. His love is so deep, so pure, so fixed and centered upon one point, that the sight of self and of his own personal exercises, is lost.  It ought to be thus in the feelings, which we exercise towards God; and undoubtedly such will be the result, when the religious feeling has reached a certain degree of intensity. That is to say, when the feeling is perfect, the mind is not occupied with the feeling itself, but with the object of the feeling. The heart, if we may so express it, seems to recede from us; it certainly does so as an object of distinct contemplation; and the object of its affections comes in and takes its place. Oh the blessedness of the heart, that, free from self and its secret and pernicious influences, sees nothing but God; that recognizes, even in its highest gifts and graces, nothing but God; that would rather be infinitely miserable with God, if it were possible, than infinitely happy without him.

In connection with these remarks we are enabled to understand and appreciate the state of mind, which is described in some primitive writers on interior experience, as a state of cessation from "reflex acts." By REFLEX ACTS as we employ the phrase here..., we mean those acts of the mind, in which the soul turns inward upon itself, and ceasing for a time to regard the mere will of God as the only good, takes a self-conscious satisfaction in its own exercises. Such acts, when they are indulged in, stand directly in the way of the highest results of the religious life. On the other hand, he, who has entirely ceased to put forth acts of this kind, and loves God to the entire forgetfulness of self, losing sight even of his own exercises, in consequence of being fully occupied with an infinitely higher object, has reached the broad and calm position of spiritual rest, the region of inward and abiding peace. A region, where there is no noisy clamor; no outcries and contests of the passions; no contrivances of prejudice, interest, and ambition; no rebellious sighing and tears of the natural spirit; but all is hushed and lost in the one deep conviction, that there is nothing good, nothing permanently true, nothing desirable, no, not in heaven itself, but pure and everlasting union with the will of God. Of such a soul it may be said eminently, that it holds the gifts of God in purity; since it loses the distinct perception and knowledge of the gifts, in the consciousness of union with the Giver.

"Lord! Thou hast won, at length I yield.
My heart, by mighty grace compelled,
Surrenders all to Thee.
against thy terrors long I strove,
But who can stand against thy love!
Love conquers even me."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (Second Edition 1844) Part 2, Chapter 11.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

How Selfishness Corrupts Even the Gifts of God

It is difficult to express and even to conceive of the subtleties and insinuations of selfishness.  It enters every path. It lurks in every secret place. And wherever it finds its way, it pollutes, poisons, and destroys. It sometimes attaches itself, by a process almost imperceptible, to God's most valuable gifts and graces; those which are spiritual, as well as those which are natural. An individual, for instance, is possessed of great natural ability. This ability is a gift of God. But how often it is, that the possessor, thinking but little of the great Author of the gift, regards it as something peculiarly his own, and instead of seeing God in it, sees only himself. Almost unconsciously to himself, and greatly to his spiritual injury, he is experiencing a secret elevation of spirit, and is taking a hidden complacency in an intellectual possession, which, when properly considered, should have increasingly detached him from self, and led him nearer to his Maker.

But what is surprising and almost inexplicable, there is danger of the same insinuating and infectious influence, attaching itself even to the spiritual gifts of God. It is an important fact, on whatever principles it may be explained, that the possession of holiness does not exclude the liability to an opposite state. Satan, when expelled from the heart, will endeavor to find the means of returning; and nothing can prevent it but the closest and most constant circumspection, aided by the grace of God. "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation."

A man, for instance, is endowed, through the operations of the Holy Spirit, with the invaluable grace of  HUMILITY. He  ascribes nothing to himself. He  takes a low place; and he feels that he ought to take a low place before God. But before he is aware of it, unless he is constantly on his watch, self-love is secretly winding itself about this ennobling Christian affection, and endeavoring to extract some personal merit out of it. There is a secret and almost imperceptible feeling, (for in this matter Satan is careful not to show himself too prominently,) not only that his humility is some evidence in his favor, but that his humility itself is worth something.

Again, how often it is that the man, who possesses true Christian benevolence, is assailed in the same insidious way! There is no question that he is truly benevolent, and benevolent too on the highest christian principles; but after a time he begins, almost unconsciously to himself, to poison this eminent Christian grace by an infusion of self-congratulation. Even the missionary of the Cross, as he toils beneath the frozen skies of Greenland or amid the burning sands of Africa, finds the secret but deceptive suggestion springing up, he hardly knows whence or how, that his life of toil and suffering has some little merit, which he can call his own.

The soul, charmed by some soothing and insidious whispers, begins to lull itself to rest and to repose upon the couch of its own virtues, its humility, its gratitude, its inviolable veracity, its benevolence, or some other moral and christian grace, instead of resting exclusively upon the merits of Christ, and ascribing its gifts and graces to the mere mercy of God.

These views will apply essentially, among other things, to joyous states of mind. The Scriptures abundantly assure us, that there is such a state of mind as holy joy. But true joy, "the joy of the Holy Ghost," flows up and refreshes the inward heart as a pure fountain, only so long as the soul is fixed upon God, as the center of its thought and of its undivided affection. As soon as we begin to think how happy we are, and to dwell upon and to please ourselves with the thought, the joy itself becomes an offense, and diffuses a secret, but destructive influence through the inward life. To be happy in our own happiness, instead of being happy in God, is to drink from a cistern of our own construction, "a broken cistern which can hold no water."

And it is in connection with such views and facts, that Fenelon has very correctly said, that "the most eminent graces are the most deadly poisons, if we rest in them and regard them with complacency." "It is the sin" he adds "of the fallen angels; they only turned to themselves, and regarded with complacency their state; at that instant they fell from heaven and became the enemies of God."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (Second Edition 1844) Part 2, Chapter 11.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Sabbath as the Day of Rest and Hope

The Sabbath or Lord's day is the day for man to rest in, and that, in the cessation from his ordinary labors, he may receive and be nourished by the truth, it is the day also for God to work in, in order that the truth may be communicated. God has a great message for his rebellious people; the message of life through his Son. But on the other days of the week, when their hands and their hearts are occupied with other things, it is difficult to obtain a hearing.  It is on the Sabbath day, especially and emphatically, that this great message is communicated; — a message which involves in its results, not only the salvation of the soul, but equal rights among men, the emancipation of the enslaved, the, cessation of war, the progress of humanity and civilization, and universal brotherhood. All other forms of legitimate emancipation are necessarily involved in the emancipation of the soul from guilt and sin. Destroy the Lord's day, and you necessarily close the communications of God, which have relation to these great objects. You close the communications, because you take away the necessary opportunities for hearing them. He, therefore, who does anything on the Sabbath, which tends to interrupt the communication between God and men, by perplexing the operations of him who speaks or by diverting the attention of those who listen, does that which is inappropriate to the day.

The Sabbath is, in some respects, the great, the cheering hope of the human race. It is emphatically the day of the poor, the suffering, the enslaved, the prisoner. Without it, the poor man would scarcely have hope; laboring, as he would then be obliged to do, without cessation, and yet without additional emolument; — the slave, who experiences rest, and receives instruction on this day, would find his state of bondage more trying and distressing than ever; — the ignorant man, who greatly needs knowledge, would find many important avenues of knowledge closed to him; and the evils and sufferings which afflict our race would be, in various ways, greatly increased.

We may, perhaps, admit that the Sabbath, considered in its relations to the human race, was made for the unholy rather than for the holy. That is to say, the holy man, who has a perpetual Sabbath in his soul, could, perhaps, do without it, while the unholy man could not. But then it is to be remembered, that no man can properly be regarded as a truly religious or holy  person, who has not a disposition to cooperate with God. Our great business is, to stand in union with him, who here and everywhere unfolds our destiny. If, therefore, it  is the design of God to benefit men, especially the degraded and the sinful, through the medium of the Sabbath, it is justly expected of all who regard God's will and are like him, that they will observe and honor the  Sabbath day. They cannot be united with him in spirit, without being united with him in the observance of this important institution; sympathizing in its objects, fulfilling its duties, and rejoicing in the hopes it inspires.

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

Monday, September 14, 2015

Why the Sabbath Should Be Kept

Those designs of mercy, which God entertains towards our fallen race, will be carried on, in part at least, in connection with the Christian Sabbath. And those, who cooperate and are united with God, will cheerfully recognize the day, and harmonize in its great purposes.

It is something worthy of notice, amongst the remarkable things of the present time, that the Christian Sabbath, contrary to what would be the natural expectation in the case, is attempted to be set aside by persons who have a respect for religion, and appear to be persons of true benevolence and piety. Some of them make high claims to holiness of heart. The holiness of their hearts, as they understand it, has made all things holy. Their work is holy; their rest is holy; their recreations are holy, — everything they do, while the heart is holy, partakes of the character of the source or motive from which it proceeds. No one day, therefore, can be more holy to them than another. The Sabbath is on a footing with other days. All days are alike.

This is the general train of their thought and reasoning. And it cannot be doubted, I think, that there is not only a degree of plausibility, but a portion of real truth in these views.

It  is true, in a certain sense undoubtedly, that all days, considered in reference to the subject of holiness, are alike. It would be absurd to suppose, that, while we are required to conform to holiness on one day, we are at liberty to deviate from it, in some degree, on another.  It is true, therefore, that all days should be kept as holy as the Sabbath. And in this respect, and so far as this, all days are and ought to be alike. But it ought to be particularly remembered, while we admit that the requisition of holiness attaches itself to all days alike, and that one day is not and cannot be more holy than another; that they are alike by sameness of dispositions, and not by similarity of outward acts. They are alike to us, and are made alike in God's view, not by doing the same thing every day, but by doing that which is appropriate to the day. Time, in itself considered, is not holiness, nor can it be the subject of holiness. It is not possible that one day, in itself considered, should be more holy than another; but holiness consists in being and doing in time just that thing which is appropriate to the time. The law of God  requires us to do everything with a holy heart every day, on other days of the week as well as on the Sabbath, and not more on the Sabbath than on other days. But this is a very different thing from doing or allowing the same thing to be done every day. The only true expression, therefore, the only true law, is, Do that which is appropriate to the time. Any known and deliberate violation of this law is sin; and cannot be otherwise than sin.

We are to do on the Sabbath day that which is appropriate to it. But it must be very obvious that the appropriateness of our acts can never be ascertained, independently of a regard to what takes place around us. The recurrence of the Sabbath, in consequence of what are understood to be the laws of God in the case, and of the general consent of all Christian nations, has the effect to stop the ordinary operations of life, and to hush the world to comparative peace; — so that there is a rest from physical labor, an opportunity to recover from undue exhaustion, and a season for moral and religious reflection and worship. It is a season, especially in the present condition of the human race, of immense, of incalculable importance. If, therefore, my recreation or my labor on the Sabbath day breaks in upon the general harmony, and disturbs the rest, the contemplations, and the worship of my neighbor, and thus does a serious injury to himself and his family, it is clearly inappropriate to the day. It is a violation of what is due from man to man, and is a sin.

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

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Regulating Our Love

It is as necessary, in the progress and support of a holy life, to regulate our friendships and our love, (we mean here our love of creatures,) as it is to regulate our displeasure and anger. We may as really love too much and sin, as we may be displeased too much and sin. The holy mind may be said, with a degree of propriety, to stand in a state of indifference, relatively to  itself.  That is to say, it seeks nothing, desires nothing, loves nothing, is averse from nothing, and is angry with nothing, except in God's time and way, IN God and FOR God.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXXXIX.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Goods of This World

The goods of this world, those things which are suited to our convenience and comfort, are not necessarily unholy. Unholiness attaches to the manner; that is to say, to the spirit or temper, considered in relation to God, in which we receive and hold and employ them. If we receive and hold them as God's gifts, and in subordination to his will, they are good. But if we hold and employ them as our own possessions, and irrespective of God's will, they are evil.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXXXVIII.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Adversity and Prosperity

Adversity, in the state of things in the present life, has far less danger for us than prosperity. Both, when received in the proper spirit, may tend to our spiritual advancement. But the tendency of adversity, in itself considered, is to show us our weakness, and to lead us to God; while the natural tendency of prosperity, separate from the correctives and the directions of divine grace, is to inspire us with self-confidence, and to turn us away from God.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXXXVII.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Seperating From the Temporal

The more we are disunited from the unnecessary and tangling alliances of this life, the more fully and freely will our minds be directed to the life which is to come. The more we are separated from that which is temporal, the more closely shall we be allied to that which is eternal; the more we are disunited from the creatures, the more we shall be united to the Creator.

Religious Maxims (1846) CXXXVI.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Christian Benevolence

"Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto  him  that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do  thou  likewise."  Luke  x.  36, 37.

Who is my NEIGHBOR? 'Tis not merely he,
Who hung upon the same loved mother's breast;
But every one, whoever he may be,
On whom the image of a man's imprest.
True Christian sympathy was ne'er designed
To be shut up within a narrow bound;
But sweeps abroad, and in its search to find
Objects of mercy, goes the whole world round.
'Tis like the sun, rejoicing east and west,
Or beautiful rainbow, bright from south to north;
It has an angel's pinion, mounting forth
O'er rocks, and hills, and seas, to make men blest.
No matter what their color, name, or place,
It blesses all alike, the universal race.

American Cottage Life (1850) XVI.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Good Planting

TEAR from thy heart the poisonous weed
Of self and sin, that's growing there;
And PLANT, instead, celestial seed;
And thus eternal fruitage bear.

Not by "the way side" shall it grow;
Not in a hard and rocky soil;
But where it shall not fail to know
The cultivator's tears and toil.

Plant in the good and honest heart;
Not tares, but heaven's celestial grain;
And pray the heavenly Father's art,
To give the sunshine and the rain.

And from that seed and sacred root,
The bud and flower thou soon shalt see;
The fragrant bloom, the golden fruit
Of Eden's bright, immortal tree.

Christ in the Soul (1872) XXXIX.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Endued With Power From on High

Among the devotedly pious men, who came to this country from England about two hundred years since, was Richard Mather, a preacher of the Gospel. With his wife and children, and many other praying people he sailed from Bristol, in England, on the twenty-third of May, 1635. With him was another preacher by the name of Maud. Mather kept a journal. “The twenty-fourth," he says in his journal, "being the Lord's day, the wind was strong in the morning, and the ship danced, and many of our women and some children were not well, but sea-sick, and mazy or light in their heads, and could scarce stand or go without falling, unless they took hold of something to uphold them. This day Mr. Maud was exercised in the forenoon, and I in the afternoon." The language is passive; — implying that while they preached outward  to others, they themselves were preached to inwardly by the Holy Ghost; and that they could not safely give the word to others, unless it was first given to themselves.

This form of language is used throughout the book. In reference to the second Sabbath on shipboard, he says, " It being the Lord's day, there could be no going out that day. I was exercised in the forenoon, and Mr. Maud in the afternoon." And so everywhere, when he had occasion to speak of his preaching. He had been inwardly taught in such a manner, that he could have no idea of good and effectual preaching, except so far as the preacher was himself first inwardly exercised;  that is to say, taught by an inward and divine inspiration. And I find this sentiment everywhere embodied in the language and the history of other holy men, who, at the same period, took their lives in their hands, and settled in the wilderness. Their strength was not in themselves. Their lives, their works, are an evidence. What but a God, indwelling in the soul, and  “exercising them," as they expressed it, in the center of their being, could have inspired the adventurous thoughts in the minds of those praying pilgrims, and have given strength to their mighty purpose?

The most successful and favored periods in the history of all denominations of Christians, will illustrate and confirm these views.

It is such preaching, we doubt not, which is destined more and more to characterize the latter days. As men are gradually brought into a closer alliance with God, as with their own consent they yield themselves to be watered from the everlasting fountain, the issues from their souls will be life to others, because they will have life in themselves. As the life which they have in themselves is life from God, it is light as well as life; that is to say, it is enlightenment, or truth. The true life always expresses the truth. The truth is written upon it, just as a falsehood is written upon a false life; — and, being written there, it is read and known of all men. The man who has the true life in him, harmonizes with providence, with God, and with all true and good things. Not only his words but his actions, are truths. Not only his daily talking of God and of divine things is a sermon, but his daily walking with God is equally a sermon. He is a preacher by divine right; "teaching like one having authority, and not as the Scribes," — not going before he is sent but tarrying at Jerusalem, like the primitive disciples, until he is “endued with power from on high." [Luke 24:49]

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 4.

Friday, September 4, 2015

The Message is From God and God Only

Preach, therefore, by word. Preach also by action. Preach the Gospel at home, and preach it every where.  But always remember, in connection with a deep sense of human infirmity and liability to error, to preach it under the guidance, and by the power, of the Holy Spirit. The message is from God, and God only. To be united with God in proclaiming his messages, we must speak as God gives us utterance. It is important, in this age of the world, when we hope the millennial period is rapidly approaching, to revive and to act upon the great primitive truth, that holy men speak as they are moved by the Holy Ghost; and that, so far as they are holy, they have no power of speaking otherwise.

So far as we are in union with God, while it is true that we ourselves may be said to speak, it is equally true that God speaks in us. There is but one true voice. The voice which speaks at the centre, if it embodies the truth, is the same voice which speaks at the circumference, and which speaks everywhere else. It  is incapable of change. It speaks in the star, the flower, the falling leaf, the ocean's wave, in the winds, in the thunder, in the sound of the falling water, in the true philosopher, in the true poet, in the true preacher, in the Bible, everywhere the same in import, though various and differing in manifestation. When, therefore, we are in God by a true unity of spirit, we speak as God would have us speak, and by the inspiration of the Almighty.

And truly holy men, in all ages of the world, have known, by their inward experience, the truth of what has now been said; and they have not hesitated to proclaim what they have known. What was the language of the ancient prophets? What was the language of Paul? Everywhere does he discard the idea that his teaching is from himself. Everywhere does he discard all confidence in human wisdom. Prophets and apostles, by their own acknowledgment, were only instruments, which gave form and locality to the divine utterance. Holy men, in all subsequent ages, have felt and spoken in the same way. The records of the interior or experimental history of the church show this to be the case. In all periods of great religious attention, and in all cases of deep religious experience, language is used by those who are the subjects of such experience, which corresponds to the fact of the divine origination of all that is true and right in the soul. The human in men may be said at such times to be kept, as it is sometimes expressed, in abeyance;  or, what is better, to be placed under a divine and holy direction. While they are conscious of personal responsibility, it is still true that they utter what is given them. It is worthy of notice, that language, which, in religion as well as in philosophy, is an index of the mind's operations, often takes at such times the passive instead of the active form; — implying, while it does not exclude the idea of activity, especially of cooperative action, that we are also the subjects of action.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 4.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

God's Heart is Set on Speading the Gospel of Christ

This great work, — namely, the bringing home the Gospel to every human soul, — is God's work; — his heart is set upon it. For this he has raised up patriarchs and prophets of other days; — for this he has employed the ministration of angels; — for this, in the fulness of time, he has sent his beloved Son. It is his purpose, by means of the Gospel, which was completed in the example and death of Christ, to raise up a people set apart for himself; — a peculiar people, — a people possessing the Christian spirit, and zealous of good works. Unchangeable in his purpose, unchangeable in his plan of operation, he can unite with those only, who are ready to unite with him. The man who is not disposed to do all that the providence of God allows him to do, in aid of this great work, is not a co-worker with God, and is not in harmony with him.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 4.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Preaching the Gospel Abroad

"Preaching the Gospel," which we have spoken of as man's great duty after his own restoration to God, is a form of expression which may be understood in various ways. The first idea attached to it, as we find it employed in the New Testament, is announcement abroad.  It is said of the Savior, on a certain occasion, that he sent his disciples to preach the kingdom of God, "and they departed, and went through the towns, Preaching the Gospel and healing everywhere." His last command was: — "Go, therefore, and teach all nations. And we know that the early Christians, after having labored a short time at Jerusalem, went abroad, as preachers of Christ's coming and kingdom, into various and distant parts of the world.

Preaching the Gospel abroad, however, does not exclude the idea of preaching it at home. The labor of those who are united with God, is not limited to the transmission of the news of salvation to distant lands. This, undoubtedly, is a great and indispensable work; but it is not the whole. He is truly a missionary of God, who communicates God's truth, and discharges God's mission of benevolence, whenever and wherever an opportunity is presented. Harlan Page, who labored at home, was as truly a preacher of the Gospel, and as truly a missionary, as the Brainerds and Martyns and other devoted men, who have preached and toiled in distant climes and among savage tribes. Always do we have the poor, the sick, the suffering, the ignorant with us. Constantly are we so situated, that a just and kind word, and even a kind look, will have its effect as a messenger of the spirit and truth of the Gospel. The ignorant are to be instructed, the suffering to be relieved, the impenitent to be awakened, the wandering to be reclaimed, the weak in faith and hope to be strengthened. There is a sense, in which every man, whatever his position in society, either is, or ought to be, a preacher of righteousness. Nor will these views be considered as unreasonable, or as destitute of foundation, when we remember that the man always preaches effectually, and cannot help doing so, who stands in the position which God's providence has assigned him; who lives the life of prayer and faith, and exhibits in speech and action that meek and benevolent spirit, which the Gospel is calculated to inspire.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 4.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Preach the Gospel!

Man's first great work is personal; and has reference to his own restoration. To renounce his separation, and to unite himself with God, is a work which cannot be postponed or made subservient to any other. Being, by God's grace, personally restored to a better state, hIs next business is to aid in the restoration of others. And, in doing this, the first thing is to extend the announcement of Christ's coming, and of the blessed influences connected with it; — in other words, to preach the Gospel.

The last words of our blessed Saviour, as they are recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, were these: "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."

The command of the Savior is explicit. The apostle Paul inculcates the same great duty, and assigns an obvious and urgent reason for it. "Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How, then, shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!"

In the early periods of the Christian era, the command of the Savior met with a prompt and believing response. The primitive Christians, filled with the spirit of their Divine Master, went abroad in all directions and spread everywhere the news of a Savior crucified, a Savior risen. Laborious, and full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, they not only endured all things but suffered all things; not hesitating to lay down their lives in support of the great truths they declared. At no time since have these efforts of the church altogether ceased; although in some periods they have not been made with the same degree of wisdom and earnestness. But while we remember the delinquencies of Christians, it is pleasing to reflect, that the followers of Christ, at the present time, under different names but animated by the same spirit, seem to be preparing for a final and victorious conflict. It appears to be their design and hope, with the divine favor resting upon their labors to rouse themselves at last as one man, and to carry the Gospel of the Son of God to every heathen dwelling. In this great work let every Christian cooperate, with some proper sense of the greatness of the undertaking, and of the obligations which rest upon him. At the present eventful period, no man, who has had a fair opportunity to develop Christian principle, and to learn the weight of Christian responsibility, ought to look upon himself as a follower of Christ, unless he feels beating in his bosom something of the spirit which animated the Johns and Pauls of primitive times.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 4.