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.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Christlikeness: Personal Friendships

The Savior was susceptible of, and that he actually formed, to some extent, PERSONAL FRIENDSHIPS AND INTIMACIES. It would be unreasonable to doubt, that he had a sincere affection, analogous probably in its nature to the filial and fraternal affections in other cases, to his mother, his reputed father, and his brethren and sisters after the flesh. Certainly we have an evidence of this declaration in part, not only in the fact of his dwelling so long with them as he did; but in the circumstance that, when he was suspended in the agonies of the Cross, he commended his mother to the care of the disciple John. It would hardly be consistent with the doctrine of his humanity, and would certainly be at variance with the many developments of his life as the "son of man," to suppose that he did not form a strong, personal attachment to the little company of his disciples. It  is said expressly in especial reference to his disciples, "having loved his own, which were in the world, he loved them to  the end." It  is also explicitly narrated, that he loved Mary, and Martha, and Lazarus, the favored family of Bethany, whom he often visited. The disciple John, in particular, is characterized as the disciple whom Jesus loved. As he was set before us as an example, that we should follow him, this interesting trait, which resulted in the formation of friendly and affectionate intimacies, is what we should naturally expect to find in him. And furthermore, as one who came to suffer as well as to act, as a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief," had he not some need even of human sympathy? And if this suggestion be well founded, where would he be disposed to look for the consolations, which even the sympathy of men is capable of affording, except in the bosoms of those, whom he loved peculiarly and confidentially?

In connection with what has been said in relation to this interesting trait in the Savior, we may remark here, that nature teaches us, or rather the God of nature, that increased and special love, other things being equal, may properly flow in the channel of the domestic affections. And also that it is entirely consistent with holiness, and not only consistent but a duty, to exercise special love towards those, whether we are naturally related to them or not, with whom we are intimately connected in life, and whose characters are truly lovely.

As Christians, therefore, as those who have experienced or who aim at experiencing the sanctifying graces of the Spirit, we may regard ourselves as permitted, both on natural principles and in imitation of the Savior, to form such personal friendships and attachments as the Providence of God may favor and his holiness approve. Intimacies and friendships, formed on purely worldly principles, have no religious value, and are often positively evil. It is important, therefore, to remember, that all such friendships should be entirely subordinated, as they were in the case of the Savior, to the will of our heavenly Father. If, through the influence of the life of nature, they become inordinate, they are no better than any other idols.  It  is certain there is much in them that is amiable and pleasant, that they are authorized by the example of the Savior, and that they seem to be even necessary in our present situation; but like every thing else they must receive the signature of the divine approbation, and must be sustained or abandoned at the call of religious duty.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844) Part 2, Chapter 13.

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