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.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Christlikeness: Sympathy

We propose to mention briefly some of the traits of character, which are conspicuous in the life of our Savior; and which present themselves particularly to our notice and observation; beginning with those, which, in consequence of their close alliance with the constitution of human nature, seem to have a natural as well as a religious character.

And accordingly we proceed to remark, in the first place, that the Savior, considered in his human nature, was a man of SYMPATHY. And in making this remark, we mean to imply, that he was a man of sympathy on natural as well as on religious principles; sympathetic as a man, as well as  sympathetic as a religious man. And as such, it is very obvious from the Scriptures, that he felt a deep interest in all those, who are the proper objects both of natural and religious sympathy; for the sick, for the poor, the ignorant, the tempted, the suffering of all classes and conditions. Although he loved religious retirement, and knew more than any one else the inestimable privilege of being alone with God, he felt deeply the claims of a common humanity; and in obedience to those claims came forth, and lived, and suffered among men; weeping with those who wept and rejoicing with those who rejoiced. He gave no countenance to an exclusively solitary religion; a religion, which under the name of meditation and prayer, shuts itself up in barren insulation, and has no deep and operative sympathy with men. Where there were wounds to be healed, whether mentally or bodily; where there were tears to be dried up; whenever and wherever he could add to the amount of human happiness or detract from the sum of human misery, he was present.

He deeply sympathized with those, who are the subjects of religious trials and duties, especially with the beginners in the divine life, with the weak ones and lambs of his flock. Accordingly he adapted his instructions to their capacity of understanding; and also to their present degree of advancement and strength of purpose. And hence it is, that on a certain occasion after having made some communications to his disciples, he added, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now."  It  is expressly said, in allusion to this interesting trait of his character; "a bruised reed he shall not break and smoking flax he shall not quench."

It is hardly necessary to add, that those, who, in experiencing the inward restoration; have been raised anew in the image of Christ's likeness, will exhibit this interesting trait in a marked degree. There can be no such thing as a truly holy heart, which is destitute of a pure and deep sympathy.

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

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