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, October 10, 2015

External Crosses

God sometimes sees fit to impose upon his beloved children, internal, as well as external crosses. There seems to be almost a necessity for this. "The life, which they now live, they live by faith on the Son of God." The Christian life is truly and emphatically a life of faith. A life of faith is necessarily the opposite of a life of direct vision. And how can the principle of faith operate, much more how can it acquire strength, unless God shall at times withdraw himself from the direct vision, and leave the soul to its own obscurity? If a man, wishing to test the spirit of obedience in his son, commands the son to follow him in a certain direction, does he not render his own test unavailable, by taking him by the hand and dragging him along? And so our heavenly Father, if he wishes to test and to strengthen our faith, must he not sometimes take us out of the region of openness and clearness of sight, and place us in the midst of entanglements, uncertainties, and shadows? What we need, what we must have, what is absolutely indispensable to our interior salvation, is faith; faith which gives the victory; faith strong, unwavering, adamantine. It was by want of faith that we fell; it is by want of faith that we are kept in continual bondage; and it is only by the restoration of faith that we can sunder the chains that shackle us, and walk forth in spiritual freedom. But faith can never arise to that degree of invigoration, which our necessities so imperiously demand, while we are permitted to walk continually in the field of open vision and under the sunlight of present manifestations. Hence there seems to be a necessity, that he who has made us and who loves us with an infinity of love, should, nevertheless, sometimes wrap himself in the majesty of uncreated darkness, in order that we may learn the great lesson of following God without seeing Him, and of appreciating his uttered word, his simple declaration, at the same value with his manifested realities and acts.

It  is here, then, that we find the secret reason, that God sees fit to leave to interior desolations and sorrows those, who are truly his sanctified people. Hence it is, that he not only shows us the vanities of the world, and the desolations of the church, the present and prospective wretchedness of impenitent sinners, a burden without any thing else to enhance it which is heavy to be borne; but he also withdraws at times the light of present manifestations; he withholds the comfort of inward sensible joys; he leaves the understanding, and even at times the affections in a painful state of comparative inertness and aridity; he permits Satan, in addition to these fearful evils, to assail us with his fiery darts, injecting into the intellect a multitude of unholy thoughts, and besieging us continually with sharp and varied temptations. But there still remains the blessed privilege of believing. We can still say, our expectation is from the Lord. We still have the privilege of declaring, even in the deep dejection and brokenness of our hearts, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him."

Happy are they, who endure these grievous trials without shrinking. Thrice happy, who, like soldiers in a severe contest that have lost all but honor, can still assert, the enemy has not taken the standard with which they went into battle; and that in the loss of all things else, they still retain their confidence in God. Such souls are not only redeemed, but purified. They have passed the decisive test, the object of which is to ascertain whether they love God for himself or for his favors, and have not been found wanting. If there were dross upon them before, it has been burnt off in this fiery trial. In the purification and strengthening of our faith, (that glorious principle which unites us to God, and which opens in the heart the full fountains of submission, gratitude, and love,) we are recompensed, and more than recompensed, for the temporary loss of all outward goods and all interior consolations. Henceforth there is union between the soul and its Beloved. It has no more occasion to say, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" He returns with assurances, that wipe away present tears, and give the presage of future victories. God, in his condescension, permits himself to be conquered. Infinite love is led captive.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 12.

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