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.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

God's Role in all Arts and Labors

Believing, therefore, that the work of redemption and restoration extends to all things, and that no art or work of man can be carried to its highest and most beneficial results without God's presence, we proceed now to illustrate the union of God with man in the redemption and perfection of the arts and literature.

And, in doing this, we shall first refer briefly to those arts which, though very useful and necessary, are generally regarded as comparatively low in rank. Our view is, that the divine presence and aid are necessary in the development and application of all such arts, however humble they may be thought to be. The art of agriculture, the mechanic arts, the arts connected with domestic life, all of them not only admit, but require, the union of the divine with the human, in order to secure their perfection and their proper use. We do not hesitate to say, that the man who holds the plough, the man who lifts his arm of toil in the workshop, can do it usefully and happily, only so far as he does it in connection with God. The true doctrine is, — God in all things.  God made the earth; —  God sends the rains, that fertilize it. But this is not all. It is equally true, whenever and wherever the original harmony of things is readjusted, that God guides the hand that guides the plough, and smites in the hand that smites the anvil. And the laborer and the artisan are not in true union with God, until they have dispositions which will lead them to pray and to believe that this may be the case.

And especially may this be said, because all arts and labors have relationships and influences beyond what is first presented to our notice. It is obvious, for instance, that God designs that the Gospel shall be preached in all lands. And this great and benevolent design as obviously involves the fact, that missionaries must be sent just as far and as widely  as  the Gospel is to be preached. And every one perceives that they cannot thus go from land to land, and over intermediate seas,  without the aid of ships and other conveyances. Those, therefore, who build ships, and those who navigate them, and those who develop and perfect the principles and methods of navigation, are all in the natural line of divine cooperation; that is to say, — they  are doing a sort of work which God designs and wishes them to do. And if they will only add the spirit of union to the form of union, then they are actually in the state of union, so far as this particular thing is concerned and will do just what they ought to do. And without the spirit of union, which leads them to look to God in everything, they will fail to do what they ought to do. God, dwelling in the soul, is just as necessary to make good sailor as to make a good preacher.

God not only needs missionaries, who are to be met abroad in ships; but he needs Bibles to be distributed by those missionaries. But Bibles must be printed; and they cannot be printed without printers to do the work. Printers, therefore, are as necessary in their sphere as missionaries. And the remark which has just been made, may be repeated here, namely, that the presence of God in the soul is as necessary for printers, in order to help them do their work properly, as it is for others. And this is true of every art and calling whatever. No art ever comes to its ultimate and highest good, and never can come to such good, except so far as it has God in it, both to approve the thing done, and to direct and aid in doing it.

And this we understand to be the doctrine of the Bible everywhere. When Moses was required to build the tabernacle in the wilderness, it was necessary that he should employ mechanics. But the fact of their being mechanics did not exclude the idea of their being taught of God. On the contrary God seemed to be unwilling that any should be employed except those in whom his own spirit of wisdom dwelt. He did not propose to do the work miraculously; — but, in using human instrumentality, he was desirous of finding men of such dispositions that he could enter into them; and working unitively, if we may so express it, perfect the human thought by harmonizing it with the divine. The passage in relation to this matter is one of great and beautiful interest.

“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, — See, I have called by name Bezaleel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah

“And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship; — to devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in cutting of stones to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.

“And I, behold, I have given with him Aheliab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; — and in the hearts of all that are wise-hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee.” [Exodus 31:1-5; also, 36:1-4.]
— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 8.

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