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, October 26, 2015

Redemption of the Arts and Literature

If God is man's great teacher... then, in his efforts in acquiring knowledge, he will be likely to go astray and to seek out hurtful ”inventions,” [Ecclesiastes 7: 29] so far as he does not accept a divine guidance. It is, therefore, not too much to say, that the Holy Ghost, the inward teacher sent down from heaven,  both ought to be, and that he is designed to be, the great master in art and literature. And it is worthy of notice, that heathen nations, who everywhere give evidence that they have some glimpses of the truth, agree in ascribing the early inventions in art, and the early works in poetry and music, either to a divine agency or to human agency aided by divine. According to  the mythology of the Greeks, it required the skill of Mercury to invent the lyre; — and there could neither be poetry nor music without the aid of Apollo and the muses. Accordingly, the great poets of the Greeks and Romans frequently begin their works by a distinct recognition of their dependence upon a higher power, who gave inspiration to their thoughts. And it is worthy of notice that Livy, in the commencement of his work on Roman history, (certainly in many of its attributes one of the most perfect and interesting works of that kind,) proposes to his readers, that they should imitate the custom of the poets, and commence their undertaking by supplicating the presence and aid of the gods.

But it is needless to recapitulate instances. The idea that a higher power was needed in the development of all good things, was so universal in the early periods of the human race, that it might well be called an instinct of man's nature. The ideas which men then entertained of God, were oftentimes very imperfect, and perhaps generally so; but, whatever they might conceive him to be, they had a conviction, which entitled to higher and better practical results, that he was the true source of all good. Mr. Dryden has alluded to this early conviction in some happy lines:­

"When Jubal struck the chorded shell,
His listening brethren stood around,
And wondering, on their faces fell,
To worship that celestial sound.
Less than a God they thought there could not dwell
Within the hollow of that shell,
Which spoke so sweetly and so well."

Readily, and with entire strength of conviction, do we yield our assent to the great truth, which is thus imperfectly indicated in benighted times and by the the light of nature, while it is clearly asserted and illustrated in the Scriptures. All poetry, all music, all painting, all statuary and architecture, all wisdom in legislation, all useful mechanic invention, everything whatever, which has in it the elements of living truth and beauty, implies the fact, as it seems to us, of the presence and aid of a divine power. At any rate, so far as these things, or things of a kindred nature, are done or attempted to be done without divine aid, so far they are attended with imperfection. And so far as they are imperfect, and could be carried into effect otherwise and better than they are, so far they stand in need of redemption; — a redemption, which comes to them through the mediation of Jesus Christ, as truly as redemption comes in any other form from that source.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 8.

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