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, December 10, 2016

The Death of the Me

In Christ's dear kingdom, 'tis not ME:
In Christ's dear kingdom, 'tis not THEE;
But  ME and THEE, and MY and THINE,
Their separate life and power resign,
And clasp'd in ONE, become Divine.

The ME claims all things as its own;
And  THEE and THINE make self their throne;
But in the soul that's born again,
The selfish MINE and THINE are slain,
And Universal Love doth reign.

Oh sacred unity of soul!
The separate parts in one made whole;
All strifes and jealousies unknown;
All partial interests overthrown;
God All in All, and God alone.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXXIII.

Friday, December 9, 2016

God's Testimony in the Bible

But God’s great testimony for himself is his Bible. It is said of the believer, that “he hath the witness in himself.” And so of the Word of God. Considering the early periods of the world, in which it was composed, the nature of the remarkable events which are recorded in it, the imposing character of the moral and religious doctrines which are proclaimed, the illustration of these doctrines in the lives and actions of a series of men such as the world never saw before, and of which the world was not worthy, looking at the subject in this point of view, the candid mind cannot fail to see and to acknowledge, that it is a Book, of which God himself, in some important sense, must have been the author. It seems to us, independently of the external evidence of miracles, that neither the Book, nor the things contained in the Book, could have come into existence without God. It is here, that God proclaims himself, in language both written and acted, in the language of the precept given and the language of the precept lived, which cannot fail to be understood. And hence it is, that Lord Bacon has remarked with so much truth and beauty: “Thy creatures have been my books, but thy scriptures much more. I have sought thee in fields and gardens; but have found thee in thy temples.”

The Bible may be regarded as a sort of proclamation on the part of God, to those who have revolted from him and have gone off in the ways of sin, that He is still the God, and will continue to be the God of those, who will return and acknowledge him to be such. If man is only willing to be saved by the surrender of himself into God’s hands, to be his always and his alone, to be out of his own keeping and subject to the divine keeping, God is willing and desirous to save him. All we have to do is to give ourselves to God; and he will give himself to us in return, in all which is necessary for us. And accordingly it is worthy of notice, that we have in this Book abundant promises, that those, who will sincerely seek to obtain knowledge, shall have assistance. God says in various forms of expression, try to know, and I will help you to know; seek me and ye shall be found of me.

We cannot admit, therefore, any pleas or excuses of the unbeliever, on the ground of a defect of evidence. “We do not believe, that he can deliberately offer such excuses, without compelling his own inward nature to cry out against him. His declaration of unbelief is neither more nor less, than a declaration, that he is too indolent to open his eyes, that he may read what is written not only in God’s Word, but stands out legibly inscribed upon the hands and feet and face of universal nature. Such excuses, which even heathenism rejects, will not stand the final test. Those, who make them, will be found wanting.

The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 4.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

God's Testimony in His Providences

But God has a testimony also or witness for himself in his providences; in other words, in all events which take place, especially when considered in their moral aspects and relations. The history of nations and individuals furnishes a series of facts, from which, if we could get it from no other source, may be deduced the general proposition, that all actions, which are not merely instinctive, have a moral character; and are attended with a moral retribution. We do not say, that the adjustment of reward and punishment to the moral merit and demerit of actions is entirely perfect in the present life; but it is so much so, as to leave no doubt of a moral government and a moral governor. It is true, that the vicious sometimes succeed in life, becoming rich and honored, while the virtuous suffer in poverty and contempt; but it does not follow from this, that the vicious are happy, or that the virtuous are miserable. The virtuous have an inward consolation, which more than compensates for outward adversities; and the vicious, with scarcely an exception, have inward sorrows, which are none the less deep and real for being concealed under the garb of outward prosperity. The history of man, therefore, including the history of nations as well as of individuals, utters its declarations loudly and impressively, in favor of God and of his government.

The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 4.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Design in Creation

More than a hundred years ago, Mr. Addison, speaking of the evidences of design in the works of creation, made a remark to this effect, that, if our inquiries should be adequately extended, it would be found, that the earth in its interior structure is as curious and well-contrived a frame, as that of a human body. “We should see,” he says, “the same concatenation and subserviency, the same necessity and usefulness, the same beauty and harmony in all and every of its parts, as what we discover in the body of every single animal.” The mineralogy and geology of modern times have already done enough to verify this suggestion.

But if the presence of God, if his wonderful wisdom and power, are seen in layers of earth, in successive strata of rocks, and in the deposition of fossil remains, how much more may they reasonably be expected to be seen in the organized and living bodies that cover the earth’s surface, in animals, and especially in man. And then the heavens above us, the sun, moon, and stars, all give their testimony. So that we may well say, if we had only the book of outward nature to look in, it would be hard to be an unbeliever; and could almost add, in the slightly altered language of a popular poet,

How canst thou disbelieve, and hope to be forgiven!

The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 4.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Mind Bears Witness to God

The evidence, which God furnishes, would compel belief, were it not for voluntary opposition. We choose to think of ourselves and of our own interests, to the neglect of all adequate thought of God, and of our religious interests. On this subject, I doubt not, that the feelings of thoughtful and serious men are strong and unalterable. To the suggestion, that God has left himself without witness, or that he has not furnished adequate witness, they can yield no assent.

Referring again to the sources of this witness, to which we have just now briefly alluded, we remark more particularly, that the nature of the human mind is such, that it bears, as it were, the idea of a Supreme Being, and other truths, closely connected with the idea of a Supreme Being, written on its very structure. It is a psychological fact, which a careful observation of the progress of human culture has fully demonstrated, that the human mind, when brought into full and unperverted action, always develops the idea of a God. It is an idea written there in letters uneffaceable; and, though sometimes obscured and deeply hidden, it will always come out and make itself evident, when it is brought to the light. And there too, essential in the structure of the same mind, are the conceptions of truth and justice, of sympathy and benevolence as due from man to his fellow-man, of immutable wrong and immutable right. There is no barbarism so low, so linked to the extreme of moral degradation, where these bright conceptions, in connection with their related emotions, do not exist in greater or less distinctness. The mind, therefore, by its very nature, by a voice which cries out unceasingly from its depths, bears witness for God. Were it not so, heathenism, still more degraded and destitute than it is at present, would have heard no announcement from its moral teachers; would have had no Socrates, no Plato.

The world, of which we are a part, and the systems of worlds with which we are connected, bear witness for God. There is not a tree nor a flower, no river, nor lake, nor cataract, no hill, nor valley, nor mountaintop, nothing on the earth nor under the earth, neither the fruits it bears on its surface nor the minerals it cherishes in its bosom, no insect, nor bird, nor quadruped, nor any other thing of the infinite varieties presented to our notice, which, on a careful examination in itself and its relations, does not bear its testimony.

The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 4.

Monday, December 5, 2016

God Has Not Left Himself Without Witness

The structure of the mind is such, that it does not allow a person to believe merely as he chooses or wills to believe; but, on the contrary, requires the belief to be conformed to the evidence appropriate to it.

We are aware, that this view of the subject, which seems to us too obvious to admit of controversy, opens the way, nevertheless, to an objection on the part of some persons, who will be disposed to excuse themselves in unbelief, on the ground that an opposite state is an involuntary one. Their language is, that they would like to believe; but that they are unable to do it without adequate evidence; intimating in the plea or excuse, which they offer, that the requisite evidence is not presented before them.

The answer to all pleas and excuses of this kind is the declaration, which our Heavenly Father himself has authorized, that God “has not left himself without witness.” Acts 14:15–17. “We preach unto you,” says the Apostle Paul, “that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein; who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless, he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”

The difficulty is not in involuntary belief, but in voluntary unbelief; in voluntarily, willfully, perseveringly shutting our eyes to those evidences of God’s existence, and of a supreme moral government, to which every object and every event bears testimony. God has not left himself without a witness in the structure of the human mind; he has not left himself without a witness in the beautiful array of nature’s works; he has not left himself without a witness in the wonderful succession of individual and national providences, which speak, trumpet-tongued, of eternal truth and eternal justice; he has not left himself without a witness in the long succession of consecrated and believing men, who, having the image of God, the divinity within them, were rightly commissioned to testify of him, whose image they bore. “The glorious company of the Apostles,” “the goodly fellowship of the Prophets,” “the noble army of the Martyrs,” “the holy Church throughout the world,” all persons in all ages of the world, of whatever country and of whatever name, who have borne the divine image, have been witnesses, eloquent witnesses for God.

The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 4.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Sabbath

"Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work. But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God." — Exod. 20.8, 9, 10.

Our nation's glory is her Sabbath's light,
The day of quiet, purity, and rest.
Her children then in holy acts unite,
The world forgotten, worldly cares repressed.
This is the day, "of all the week the best,"
The source of private bliss and public power:
May praises, poured from the believing breast,
And humble supplications fill each hour.
And in our day of woe, our trying time,
The Sabbath's God shall lend a listening ear,
And coming swift upon the clouds sublime,
For our protection and defense appear.
He is the friend and helper of the cause
Of those who venerate and keep his holy laws.

The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets VI.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Distant Near

On earth we meet with friends and part;
And parting bear a sorrowed heart.
They come, they go; there's nothing sure;
All full of doubt; all insecure.

But  when on earth our heaven we find
By having God within the mind;
The sorrow, which we felt before,
At parting friends, we feel no more.

However far our footsteps rove,
We always meet in God's great love;
However wide our travels run,
Our journey and our joys are one.

God is our home, and in that state
We cannot so far separate,
As not to make the distant near,
And know the lov'd are always here.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXXII.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Keeping Time

Whate'er our thoughts or purpose be,
They cannot reach their destined end,
Unless, oh God, they go with Thee,
And with Thy thoughts and purpose blend.

KEEP TIME WITH GOD, and then the power,
Which in His mighty arm doth lie,
Shall crown the designated hour
With wisdom, strength, and victory.

Be not too fast, be not too slow;
Be not too early, not too late;
Go, where His orders bid thee go;
Wait, when His orders bid thee wait.

KEEP TIME WITH GOD. Await His call;
And step by step march boldly on;
And thus thou shalt not faint nor fall,
And thus shalt wear the victor's crown.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXXI.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Power of God in Creation

"Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel my called! I am he! I am the first; I also am the last. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned out the heavens." — Isaiah 48.12, 13.

The boundless heavens, oh Lord, are made by Thee,
And Thou hast made the stars that through them gleam,
And Thou, the silver moon with placid beam;
They all proclaim Thy power and majesty.
And Thou hast made the earth and all its fountains,
The fountains, where the wild beast slakes its throat;
The myriads of birds, with vernal note,
Cheering the forests waving on the mountains.
And thou hast made the sea and all therein,
Its cavern'd solitudes and rocky shore,
Its heaving waves and everlasting roar,
Its fishes and its huge Leviathan.
Great God! The everlasting God art Thou;
Before Thee let all hearts with humble reverence bow.

The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets V.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fear of Death

"For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart to be with Christ, which is far better," — Phil. l. 23.

The body perishes, but not the mind;
The outward man decays, but that within
Shall grow more pure and bright, like gold refined,
Rebuilt in strength, and separate from sin.
E'en now I feel the purifying flame,
A fire from heaven is kindling in my heart,
Diffusing greater joy than words can name,
And pouring light through all the mental part.
That fire shall burn long after the sad hour,
When death shall bring the body to the grave.
Increasing in its brightness and its power,
Long as eternal ages roll their wave.
Why should we tremble, then, and fear to die;
Death but unbinds the soul, and frees us for the sky.

The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets IV.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Three Classes of Christians

There are three classes of Christians, who seem to be easily distinguishable from each other.

The first class are those, who, destitute, in a considerable degree, of any marked spiritual manifestations and joys, may yet be said to possess FAITH. And in the possession of faith, they undoubtedly have the effective element of the inward life. Their faith, however, is weak. Their language is, "Lord, I believe,  help Thou mine unbelief."  They have but little strength. In general, they move feebly and slowly; and in some instances scarcely show signs of life. Some, however, exhibit a little more strength and activity than others; and God honors them by employing them in the smaller charges and duties of his Church. These cases are not without their encouragement. Such persons are often characterized by the trait of humble perseverance. They grow in grace, though not rapidly; and not unfrequently become strong in the end. As a general statement, they have not much to say in any period of their experience; but they are not wanting in sincerity, and they cling to the Cross of Christ, as the foundation of their hope. It is seldom that they make a strong impression upon the world; but their example is generally salutary. These are not those, who have been caught up to the "third heavens," and have seen wonderful things.

The second class are those, who have had striking manifestations, in the way of strong convictions and of subsequent great illuminations. From time to time, a remarkable impulse, a divine afflatus, if we may so express it, seems to come upon them, and they are borne on in a gale. Then comes a calm; and they temporarily make but little progress. Sometimes they have great darkness; but it is alternated with gleams of light. Nor is the light, which they have, always the pure and calm light, which is of a heavenly origin; but sometimes the red, meteor-like glare of an earthly fire. They may be said to have a considerable degree of faith; but they evidently have less faith than feeling. Their mental history, however, under its various changes, partakes, in no small degree, of the striking, the marvelous. These persons are generally the marked ones, the particular and bright stars in the Church. They often have great gifts; they labor for God; they attract attention. They overwhelm by their eloquence; startle by their new and sometimes heretical views; are denunciatory, argumentative, prophetic, just as the occasion may call. But their movements are not always clear of Self; and pride sometimes lurks at the bottom. They are "many men in one;" without true fixedness and simplicity of character; but exhibiting themselves in different aspects, according as the natural or the spiritual life predominates, Sometimes they are sunk deep in their own nothingness through the influence of the Spirit of God; and sometimes they are up in the "airy mind" of nature's "inflatibility." They are undoubtedly very useful; aiding themselves in the things of religion and aiding others; but it can hardly be said of them, that  their life is hid with Christ in God. They think too much of their own efforts and powers; they place too high an estimate on human instrumentality; they do not fully understand the secret of their own nothingness; nor do they know, in their own experience and to its full extent, the meaning of self-crucifixion. Hence their confusion, when, in their own view, things do not go right; hence their evident dejection, when the voice of the multitude is suddenly a little adverse to them; hence their plans, their contrivances, too much like the plans and calculations of human policy. They are not destitute of christian graces; but they need more lowliness of heart, and more faith. Nevertheless they have had much experience of the divine goodness; God owns and blesses them; and their memorial is often written in multitudes of grateful ­hearts.

A  third class are those, whose life may be said to be emphatically a LIFE OF FAITH, attended with an entire renunciation and crucifixion of Self. Faith is not perfect, until Self is crucified; and the converse is equally true, that perfect faith necessarily results in entire self-renunciation.

In the second class of persons, which has been mentioned, the spiritual life mingles more or less, and perhaps in nearly equal proportions, with the tendencies and activities of nature. The fire, which blazes up from their hearts, and which often casts a broad light upon the surrounding multitude, is a mixed fire, partly from heaven and partly from earth. The natural unholy principles are not extinct; but can only be said to be partly purified, and to be turned into a new channel. Hence they will oftentimes fight for God with the same zeal, and almost in the same manner, that worldly men fight for their temporary and worldly objects; with great earnestness, with an unquiet and turbulent indignation, and sometimes with a cruelty of attack, which vents itself in misrepresentations, and which persecutes even to prison and to death.

But the class of Christians, to whom we are now attending, having their souls fully fixed in God by FAITH, cannot consent to serve their heavenly Father with the instruments which Satan furnishes. They sow the seed; but they have faith in the God of the harvest; and they know that all will be well in the end. They are not inactive; but they move only at God's command, and in God's way; and are fully satisfied with the result, which God may see fit to give. At the command of the world or of a worldly spirit, they would not "turn upon their heel to save their life."  But  to God they hold all in subjection; and they rest calmly in the great Central Power. These are men of a grave countenance; of a retired life except when duty calls to public action; of few words, simple manners, and inflexible principle. They have renounced Self; and they naturally seek a low place, remote from public observation and unreached by human applause. When they are silent to human hearing, they are conversing with God; and when they open their lips and speak, it is the message which God gives, and is spoken with the demonstration of the Spirit. When they are apparently inactive, they are gaining strength from the Divine Fountain; drinking nourishment into the inmost soul. And when they move, although with quiet step, the heart of the multitude is shaken and troubled at their approach, because God moves with them. There is no thunder, but the "still small voice;" no smoke, but consuming fire.

These are the men, of whom martyrs are made. When the day of great tribulation comes, when dungeons are ready, and fires are burning, When God permits his children, who are weak in the faith, to stand aside. Then the illuminated Christians, those who live in the region of high emotion, rather than of quiet faith, who have been conspicuous in the world of christian activity, and have been as a pleasant and a loud song, and in many things have done nobly, will unfold to the right and the left, and let this little company, of whom the world is ignorant, and whom it cannot know, come up from their secret places to the great battle of the Lord. To them the prison is as acceptable as the throne; the place of degradation as the place of honor. They eat of the "hidden manna" and they have the secret name given them, "which no man knoweth." Ask them how they feel, and they will perhaps be startled, because their thoughts are thus turned from God to themselves. And they will answer by asking, What God wills. They have no feeling; separate from the will of God. All high and low, all joy and sorrow, all honor and dishonor, all friendship and enmity, are brought to a level; and are merged and lost in the great realization of God present in the heart. Hence chains and dungeons have no terrors; a bed of fire is as a bed of down.

It is here in this class of persons, that we find the great grace of sanctification; a word alas, too little understood in the Church. These are they, who, in the spirit of self crucifixion, live by faith, and faith only.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 14.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Greater Power of Religious Faith

If natural faith is powerful, as we have seen that it is, religious faith is much more so; aiming at higher objects, and producing greater results. And this is what we should naturally expect from the supports, on which they respectively rest.

Natural faith rests upon natural things: that is to say, it is faith in man; in man’s wisdom and man’s capability. Religious faith rests upon religious things; that is to say, it is faith in God’s wisdom and God’s mighty resources. The man who possesses religious faith, may be said to have the power, of adding the infinite to the finite. He relies on the divine promises, in the occasions on which they properly apply, as things in a PRESENT fulfillment; and thus incorporates with his own comparative and acknowledged weakness, the mighty energy of a present God.

And besides all this, God bestows especial honor upon those, who possess religious faith. They and they only can properly be regarded as his own, his chosen and adopted children. Their names are written upon his heart of infinite love. Every element of his nature is pledged in their behalf. And hence we should not be surprised, when we consider what power faith has in itself by its natural law, and also that it takes hold of the infinite God, and enlists in our behalf his mighty heart of love, that the Holy Scriptures are sprinkled over, as it were, with illustrations and declarations of the immense efficacy and of the wonderful triumphs of this divine principle:

"Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
"And looks to that alone;
"Laughs at impossibilities,
"And cries, IT SHALL BE DONE."

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 3.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Energy and Faith

Religious faith, in perfect analogy to that which is natural, brings personal and mighty energy to its possessor; and places in his hand, in the sharp contest with sin and Satan, the shield of victory. It does this, among other things, and on the same principle that natural faith does, by giving exceeding power to his religious volitions or determinations.

The man, who has no faith, is necessarily powerless. He is smitten by the irreversible law of nature, as well as by the present and special frown of God. He lies prostrate upon the ground, a mere imbecile, useless and impracticable alike to good and evil; but he, who has faith, acts, and acts vigorously. Faith diffuses a calm but effective energy through the whole man: especially is this true of religious faith. Natural faith gives power in the subjection of natural enemies; religious faith gives power and victory over enemies that are spiritual.

Natural faith is patient, persevering, and successful in ascertaining natural truths, and in extending the boundaries of natural knowledge. Religious faith sits patiently at the fountains of religious instruction; and holding inward intercourse, and being powerful with God, it obtains knowledge of those higher things of a moral and religious nature, which even the angels desire to look into. Natural faith passes over natural barriers, over barren wastes and tangled forests, over valleys and mountains, over rivers and oceans; but religious faith, coming in conflict with religious or spiritual obstacles, resists and conquers all hindrances, whatever they be, which stand between the soul and the possession of the true spiritual kingdom; contending against sin original and sin practical, against temptations from within and temptations from without, against Satan invisible and Satan embodied in human agency, and crying with the victorious voice of the one in the wilderness, “make straight the way of the Lord.” Natural faith unites together families, stretches abroad the connecting links of neighborhoods, constitutes corporations, and in the greatest extent of its power lays the foundation of states and nations. Religious faith, distrustful of its own power of vision, looks at things with God’s eye; and viewing them in the higher and divine light, expands the limits of social connection and identifies them with the limits of the universe. It places God at the head. It unites in the sweep of its broad view not only individuals and families, not only neighborhoods and nations, but the inhabitants of distant worlds, and all higher orders and classes of beings into one, binding all to the great center, and constituting universal harmony.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 3.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Faith and Habit

It is an important law of natural faith, that it acquires strength by repetition or habit. Of the existence of the law of habit, and of its extensive applications, probably no persons, who are acquainted with the operations of the human mind, will have any doubt: and in accordance with this law, every new exercise of confidence or faith in any one of our fellow men, tends to increase the confidence or faith already existing. Religious as well as natural faith may be increased by the same law and in the same manner.

In other words, every new exercise of faith in God and in his great precepts and promises, which is the true idea of religious faith, increases the strength of the principle of faith. This is, practically, a very important view; and especially to those who are desirous of living a truly holy life. I am aware that the increase of religious faith, as well as its origin in the first instance, is the gift of God. But God very properly requires us to observe the laws of our mental nature, and to do what it is our privilege to do.

Accordingly the blessing of God, manifested in the increase of religious faith, seems to me, as a general thing, to conform to this view; and that those and those only who, in observance of the natural law, diligently exercise the faith they already have, can reasonably expect to have more, either by natural increase or by special grace. And, indeed, the doctrine which has now been advanced will apply to all the Christian graces, since God no where gives encouragement, so far as we can perceive, that he will add to the possessions of him who misimproves even his one talent. “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.” Matthew 13:12.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 3.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Degrees of Faith

Natural faith and religious faith are analogous to each other, in the circumstance that they both exist in different degrees. There are natural men, as we have already had occasion to intimate, who are weak in natural faith; men irresolute in purpose and action; men, who do nothing comparatively, because they do not believe, that they are able to do any thing. It is just so in religion. There are men weak in religious faith, just as there are men weak in natural faith; and who in religious things exhibit the weakness which characterizes the others in natural things. And on the other hand, as there are men strong in natural faith, and strong in natural action; so in religion there are men, in whom faith is not merely a guiding light, but a principle of movement. It is so strong in them, that it constitutes a life; and they may be said to live by faith.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 3.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Faith and Present Knowledge

Religious faith, like natural faith, exists, not perhaps in opposition to, but in distinction from present knowledge. That is to say, in the exercise of faith, we do many things both in nature and religion, of the results of which we do not possess, at the present time, any certain foresight. If faith did not carry us beyond the reach of our own understanding, beyond the line of human reason, beyond what we can now perceive, it would not be faith; and those, who might walk within the circle described by that measurement, could not be said to walk by faith, but by sight.

The daughter of a celebrated physician was once attacked by a violent and dangerous fever; but she exhibited great resignation and tranquillity. She said, she was ignorant of what might effect her cure; and if it were left to herself to prescribe, she might desire remedies which would be prejudicial. Shall I not gain every thing, she added, by abandoning myself entirely to my father? He desires my recovery; he knows, much better than I do, what is adapted to the restoration of my health; and having confidence, therefore, that every thing will be done for me which can be done, I remain without solicitude either in reference to the means or the result. — This was an instance of natural faith; believing without knowing; and entirely peaceable and tranquil, while trusting itself in the hands of another. Religious faith, in like manner, trusts itself in the hands of God; knowing nothing and enduring all things, in the full confidence that it will be well in the end.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 3.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Faith's Many Occasions

Religious faith, like natural faith, while it attaches itself to a particular object, may at the same time multiply itself in connection with many occasions, and situations, which have a relation to the object. Natural faith, for instance, attaches itself to man as one of its objects; but it is not man on one occasion merely or in one situation merely, but on many occasions and in many situations. We exercise trust or belief in man as the head of the family, as a neighbor and friend, as a citizen, as a man of skill in his art or calling, as one able and willing to fulfill his personal contracts, as a magistrate; and on other occasions and in other situations, which it is unnecessary to specify.

Our faith in God, in like manner will multiply itself on its appropriate occasions. We exercise belief or faith in God, as the sustainer of the laws of nature, as a God both of rectitude and of goodness in the fulfillment of those laws, as the author of Revelation, as the fulfiller of the covenants made from time to time with his people, as present in all his providences, however dark they may appear to human sight, as unalterably true to the declarations he has made and the promises he has given.

— edited from  The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 3.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Childlike Confidence in God

Religious faith, like natural faith, has its appropriate objects; objects, which are in some way connected with religious experience. As natural faith is known in part, by attaching itself to natural objects; so one of the marks or characteristics of religious faith is, that it attaches itself to religious objects.

The facts, which we notice in children, furnish an illustration of what has now been said. The life of children, I suppose, may in general be regarded as a life of faith. Not of religious faith, it is true; but still of faith, of natural faith. It is interesting to see, though they know that they are entirely dependent for food, raiment, and a home, what entire confidence they repose in their parents; a confidence, which, in excluding doubt, banishes anxiety. Hence it is that they live in such simplicity and quietness of spirit; and in the language of Scripture, are “careful for nothing.” When the object of this state of mind is changed, and it is transferred from the earthly parent to God, it becomes religious faith. The existence of such faith not only constitutes God our Father; but those who exercise it, become, in the language of the Savior, “like little children.” They have the same simple-hearted confidence. Freed from the anxieties of unbelief, they leave their life and their health, their food and their raiment, their joy and their sorrow, in the divine keeping. The resemblance or analogy between the two states of mind, as represented in these two cases, is essentially complete. And yet one of them is to be regarded and spoken of as an instance of natural faith merely. The other is a religious faith.

I find, in the writings of Richard Cecil, an illustration of the view of the subject just given, which seems to me to be suitable to be introduced here.—

“I imprinted on my daughter,” this devout writer remarks, “the idea of Faith, at a very early age. She was playing one day with a few beads, which seemed to delight her wonderfully. Her whole soul was absorbed in her beads. I said—‘My dear, you have some pretty beads there.’ ‘Yes, Papa!’ ‘And you seem to be vastly pleased with them.’ ‘Yes, Papa!’ ‘Well now, throw them behind the fire.’ The tears started into her eyes. She looked earnestly at me, as though she ought to have a reason for such a cruel sacrifice. ‘Well, my dear, do as you please; but you know I never told you to do any thing, which I did not think would be good for you.’ She looked at me a few moments longer, and then summoning up all her fortitude — her breast heaving with the effort — she dashed them into the fire. ‘Well,’ said I: ‘there let them lie: you shall hear more about them another time; but say no more about them now.’ Some days after, I bought her a box full of larger beads, and toys of the same kind. When I returned home, I opened the treasure and set it before her: she burst into tears with ecstasy. ‘Those, my child,’ said I, ‘are yours, because you believed me, when I told you it would be better for you to throw those two or three paltry beads behind the fire. Now that has brought you this treasure. But now, my dear, remember, as long as you live, what FAITH is. I did all this to teach you the meaning of Faith. You threw your beads away when I bade you, because you had faith in me that I never advised you but for your good. Put the same confidence in God. Believe every thing that he says in his word. Whether you understand it or not, have faith in him that he means your good.”

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 3.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Natural Faith vs. Religious Faith

Natural faith, as we have already had occasion to see, is faith arising naturally on its appropriate natural occasions, directed to its appropriate natural objects, and sustained by the operation of natural causes. Religious faith, if we have a right understanding of it, may be regarded as in some respects a state of mind the same with that of natural faith; that is to say, it may be regarded as the same state, psychologically or mentally considered; but it differs from natural faith in the particulars, that it is directed to religious objects, or those objects to which religious feelings are appropriate; that it is called into exercise on its appropriate religious occasions; and is sustained by religious influences. It is obvious, therefore, that the difference between natural faith and religious faith is a marked and a great one; and that it would tend to great perplexity and error, if they should be confounded together. At the same time it is evident, I think, that in a number of particulars there is a resemblance or analogy existing between them, which it is not only interesting to contemplate, but which may aid in the better understanding of religious faith.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 3.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Faith is the Basis of All Great, Active Enterprises

Faith is the basis of all great, active enterprises. If a man cannot think well, nor write well, without faith; so in all difficult enterprises, which imply physical as well as mental effort, he cannot act well. Without faith there would have been no Parthenon, and no Pyramids of Egypt. Without faith there would have been no Thermopylae, and no memorable Marathon. Hannibal could not have passed the Alps without faith. Cincinnatus could neither have ploughed nor have left the plough; could neither have sowed for the harvest, nor trained soldiers for victory, without faith. Columbus could not have crossed the ocean without faith. And we speak here, not of religious, but of natural faith. Cortes could not have conquered Mexico without faith. Park, and Ledyard, and Cooke, and Bruce could not have explored unknown countries without faith. The English Revolution, the French Revolution, the American Revolution, whatever faults or crimes may have accompanied any or all of them, could not have been accomplished without faith. The same may be said of all great civil and political movements. A mere sneerer, the man who sits in his easy chair, believing in nothing and laughing at every thing, could have done nothing of these things. No oceans are crossed by him; no nations are conquered; no boundless forests are subdued; no rude barbarism is tamed; no new civilization is planted and reared up, at the expense of toil and blood, in mighty triumph.

It is one of the favorable signs of the times, that the existence of this important element of our nature begins to be generally recognized. Philosophy, though lingering long, has at last come to the aid of religion. She endeavored to solve the problems of human nature, without admitting this principle; but found herself unable to do it. Men of literature, men of philosophic inquiry, unite in acknowledging, not merely the existence of faith, but its mighty influence, even when considered out of its religious relations. As men of observation and thought, they see clearly, that there are a multitude of facts in human history, both individual and national, which preclude altogether any satisfactory explanation, except on the ground of its existence and its great power. And these men, men whose testimony is weighty, and whose concurrence every good man would desire, begin to look, in consequence of the advance of their philosophy, with a more favorable eye on religion. They found the Bible filled with declarations in relation to faith, which they did not understand; declarations which they found no where else, and which they hesitated to receive. But it is now no longer a matter of surprise, that a principle should effect so much in religion, which is seen and acknowledged to be so powerful in nature.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1853) Part 1, Chapter 2.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Faith is the Wellspring of Literature

Faith is the basis, or rather is the source, the wellspring of whatever is most valuable in literature. Where there is no faith, it results unavoidably, that there is no true feeling, no genuine “emotionality,” no deep and abiding sympathy with whatever is true in morals, or beautiful in nature. In other words, a man without faith is a man, to a considerable degree at least, without true affection; one who looks upon nature and upon his fellow-men to trifle with them, and to sneer at them, and not to trust and to love them. Having no sympathy for others, he can command no sympathy for himself. The man without faith, therefore, in literature as well as in other things, is a man without abiding power; and we could almost say, that he is a man without any real power whatever, except, as in the case of Voltaire and others of his class, the power, which involves of course the faculty of a sharp external observation, of the mere artist, and the power of ridicule; neither of which either constitutes or implies the existence of those elements, which can command, for any length of time, the love and the homage of mankind. Such a man is no Homer, no Shakspeare, no Cervantes. He cannot with any justice be regarded as the possessor of that creative faculty, a faculty having its very life in belief, which can give birth to imaginary creations of men and nature, of thought and action; creations, which, in being true to life around and life within, are not the less real for being imaginary. He may understand perspective; he may be a connoisseur; he may be unexceptionable and complete in whatever is addressed to the outward eye, in whatever is comprehended under the term artistic; but his work, after all, will stand forth in the eyes of men just what it really is, a marble statue, well sculptured, well proportioned, and well in every other respect, except that the principle of life, the immortal spirit, is not there.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1853) Part 1, Chapter 2.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Faith Gives Power

To will to do a thing implies and requires, as an antecedent condition of its own existence, a belief in the possibility of doing it. In other words, we are so constituted, as is well understood I suppose, that it is not possible for us to put forth a volition, a determination, to do a thing, which at the same time we believe it impossible to do. And as a principle flowing out of this law, and making a part of it, we may add further, that, where our belief in the practicability of a thing is weak, our strength of purpose, our volition, will be proportionably weak. Such, at least, is the natural tendency; although it is possible for it to be counteracted by other mental efforts made with a view to counteract it. This, then, is the law of our mental constitution in relation to natural faith. A strong faith, other things being equal, makes a strong will. A weak faith, on the other hand, other things being equal, makes a weak will. And accordingly even among men, who have not experienced the grace and power of religion, the strong man, as compared with other men, who possess naturally the same traits of mind, is the man of strong faith.

But this is not all. Faith pours vigor into the affections, as well as into the will. It gives energy to the action of the heart. It is an enemy of debility; it makes those, who possess it, mighty in the power of love.

We continually see the evidence of the truth of this general position, in the efforts of men, in various situations in life. We can hardly turn to any art or calling, to any scientific, moral, or political movement, without seeing it. Every where we find it to be true, that faith gives power. The history, for instance, of mechanical inventions, and of scientific improvements generally, furnishes an illustration of the subject. The labors of many persons, labors to which we are indebted for many of the most astonishing results in the mechanic arts and in the sciences, have been perseveringly and successfully prosecuted under circumstances of want, of opposition, and of ridicule. Nothing seemed sufficient to stop their efforts. And the inquiry naturally arises here, what was the secret of this remarkable perseverance, of this great energy, under circumstances exceedingly trying? Whatever incidental influences may have existed, one thing is certain, that one great element of their energy and perseverance was FAITH. They had faith in the value of the object; they had faith in the possibility of its being ascertained and realized; they had faith also in their ability to accomplish what they had undertaken to do. This was the secret, (we do not say exclusively, but certainly in a very great degree,) of their indomitable strength. When, therefore, at distant periods, we find individuals, arising perhaps from the humblest walks of life, and accomplishing by their almost unaided efforts great results in science and the arts, the Franklins and Fultons of their generation, we may be assured, that the element of natural faith, if not of any other and higher kind of faith, has sustained and invigorated the conceptions and efforts of natural genius.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1853) Part 1, Chapter 2.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Power of Natural Faith

It is a religious maxim, that a man is according to his faith. It is not less time, though perhaps in a diminished or mitigated sense, that it is also a philosophical or natural maxim. Certain it is, that faith, in the natural sense, is the foundation, to a considerable extent, of activity and energy in the natural man. In many things, though not invariably, the natural man will be found to be, in the result of what he proposes to undertake, very nearly or precisely what he believes himself to be. The measure of his strength will be found in the measure of his faith.

It should be added, however, in order to a correct estimation of this matter, that strength or energy of character cannot be well explained without a reference to the will. And in accordance with this remark, the common idea of an energetic man is, that he is a person of a strong or energetic will. There are diversities in the constitution of the will, it is true; and as a result of this, there are diversities in personal energy; just as there are diversities in other elements and traits of character. Some men, in consequence of possessing original strength of will, are naturally more decided, more energetic than others. But other things being equal, in other words, on the supposition of there being no such constitutional differences between them as have been indicated, that person, as compared with others, will be the most energetic, who has the strongest faith. The believing man will be the strongest man.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 2.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Divine Guidance

Help me, Oh God, to run my race,
Without a purpose of my own;—
To  know no time, to know no place,
But that which comes from Thee alone.

How vain and helpless eveiy plan,
Which builds itself on human choice;
The hope, the strength of feeble man
Is found in listening to Thy voice.

Then let my roving thoughts be still,
My earthly hopes and purpose slain;
And in their stead the glorious will
Of God's great thoughts and purpose reign.
All thoughts, all hearts, oh God, control;
And most of all, be this Thy care,
To build Thy kingdom in the soul,
And wield Thy mighty scepter there.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXX.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Good Shepherd

"The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want; he maketh me to lie down in the green  pastures;  he leadeth me beside the still waters." Ps. 23.1, 2.

Blest Jesus! Thou the gentle Shepherd art,
That watchest for thy flock with sleepless care;
The lambs within thy bosom thou dost bear,
And warm the sick and fainting on thy heart.
When beats the heated sun upon their head,
And heaviness oppresses thy poor flock,
Then dost thou lead them to some shadowy rock,
Or where umbrageous trees are overspread.
To pastures thou dost guide us by thy crook,
Where tender plants and buds and flowrets grow,
"Flowers red and white," that bend o'er waves below,
The peaceful waves of many a cooling brook.
Oh, gentle Shepherd! guide us on our way,
Watch o'er thy tender lambs, nor let them go astray.

The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets III.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Divine Light

"For Thou art my lamp, oh Lord, and the Lord will enlighten my darkness." — "The Spirit  of  the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach recovery of sight to the blind." — 2 Sam. 22.29. Luke 4.18

On every side mysterious things abound,
In earth and sky and ocean's deep domain,
Which man's poor reason utterly confound,
Beyond his power to fathom or explain.
His mind is dark. In what way shall he see?
Oh, God! Form thou thine image in my heart,
Implant thy likeness in my spiritual part,
And help me to behold all things in thee.
Thou art the source of light. That light, when through
My darkened mind its radiance is streaming,
In all its shadowy, secret places beaming,
At once dispels the dimness of my view.
In thy light seeing light, my raptured eye
Doth every where behold love and infinity.

The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets II.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Palmer: An Altar Covenant Prayer

Guest blog by Phoebe W. Palmer (1807-1874):

 "And because of all this we make a sure covenant, and write it ... and seal unto it." -- Neh. ix. 38.

"Oh, happy day that seal'd my vows
To Him who merits all my love!"

In the name and in the presence of the triune Deity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I do hereby consecrate body, soul, and spirit, time, talents, influence, family, and estate — all with which I stand connected, near or remote, to be for ever, and in the most unlimited sense, THE LORD'S.

My body I lay upon Thine altar, O Lord, that it may be a temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in. From henceforth I rely upon Thy promise, that Thou wilt live and walk in me; believing, as I now surrender myself for all coming time to Thee, that Thou dost condescend to enter this Thy temple, and dost from this solemn moment hallow it with Thy indwelling presence. The union is consummated! "Hallelujah to God and the Lamb for ever!"....

My present and my future possessions, in family and estate, I here solemnly yield up in everlasting covenant to Thee. If sent forth as Thy servant Jacob, to commence the pilgrimage of life alone, and under discouraging circumstances; if, like him, homeless, with nought but a stone for my pillow; yet, with him, I will solemnly vow, "Of all that Thou shalt give me, surely the tenth will I give unto Thee." If Thou wilt, or hast already intrusted me with children, I hereby take upon myself the solemn obligation to train them for Thee. I resolve that my training shall be a view of fitting them for the self-sacrificing service of God, and laying up treasure in Heaven, rather than in view of fitting them to make a display in the world, and lay up treasures on earth. And I resolve, if Thou givest "power to get wealth," I will still continue to regard this vow, in relation to my family, as sacredly binding as at the present hour, and will of my greater abundance "lay by in store" proportionately for charities, and the evangelization of the world according as God hath prospered me.

Believing that the Scriptures are a sufficient rule for my faith and practice, because "all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness;" I resolve that I will search the Scriptures daily on my knees (unless circumstances of health altogether prevent), as in the more immediate presence of God; and that my faith and my duties shall be regulated by the unadulterated WORD OF GOD, rather than by the opinions of men in regard to that Word; and that no impressions in relation to doctrines or duties shall be regarded as coming from God, unless the said doctrine or duty be plainly taught in the Holy Scriptures.

And now, "O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love Him and to them that keep His commandments," confessing that I am utterly unable to keep one of the least of Thy commandments, unless endued with power from on high, I hereby covenant to trust in Thee for the needful aid of Thy Spirit. Thou dost now behold my entire being presented to Thee a living sacrifice. Already is the offering laid upon Thine altar. I call Heaven and earth, God the Father, Son and Spirit, the spirits of just men made perfect, and the innumerable company of angels now encamped around me, to witness this solemn act of entire, absolute, irrevocable renunciation of sin and self! Yes, my all is upon Thine altar. O God, Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, behold the offering! By the hallowing fires of burning love, let it now be consumed! Let the purifying, consuming energies of the Holy Spirit now penetrate soul and body, and cause every power of body and mind to ascend in ceaseless flames of love and praise, a living sacrifice. O Christ, Thou dost accept the sacrifice, and through Thy meritorious life and death, the infinite efficacy of the Blood of everlasting covenant, Thou dost accept me as Thine for ever, and dost present me before the throne of the Father without spot:

"No more I stagger at Thy word,
Or doubt Thy truth which cannot move."

Thou dost condescend to espouse me to Thyself in the bonds of an everlasting covenant in all things well ordered and sure, and from henceforth all my interests in time and eternity are blended in everlasting oneness with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, my fellowship is with the triune Deity, my citizenship in Heaven! And now, O Lord, I will hold fast the profession of this my faith before Thee, before angels, and before men. The exceeding great and precious promises upon which I have here laid hold, have been given me on condition of my complying with the terms thereunto annexed. Through the power of Thy Spirit alone I have complied with the conditions laid down in Thy Word upon which Thou dost promise to enter into these covenant engagements with me; and now, before angels and men, I will declare my faith in Thee as my covenant-keeping God. And as I solemnly purpose that I would sooner die than break my covenant engagements with Thee, so will I, in obedience to the command of God, hold fast the profession of my faith unwaveringly, in face of an accusing enemy and an accusing world. And this I will through Thy grace do, irrespective of my emotions, resolved that my faith in God shall not depend on my uncertain emotions. Now, O God, my covenant engagements are before Thee. Thou hast registered them on the pages of eternity. Already they have been ratified before the throne in the name of the Triune Deity, Father, Son, and Spirit. Trusting in Thee to keep me that I may never break from Thee by violating this my solemn covenant, I hereunto set my hand and seal, on this ______ day of _____, 18___.

— Edited from A Present to My Christian Friend on Entire Devotion to God (14th edition, 1857) Chapter 15.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Entering Into Rest

It is very obvious, that this state of mind — union with God — cannot be fully understood, except in connection with inward experience. In the language of the author of the Life of Sir Henry Vane, "Divine life must have divine words; words which the Holy Ghost teacheth, to give its own character." [Life of Sir Henry Vane, anonymous, printed in 1662.] Therefore we will not attempt to pursue the topic any further than to say, that the state of union with God, when it is the subject of distinct consciousness, constitutes, without being necessarily characterized by revelations or raptures, the soul's spiritual festival, a season of special interior blessedness, a foretaste of heaven. The mind, unaffected by worldly vicissitudes and the strifes and oppositions of men, reposes deeply in a state of happy submission and quietude, in accordance with the expressions in the Epistle to the Hebrews, that those who believe, ENTER INTO REST.

So true it is, in the language of Thomas à Kempis, that "he, who comprehendeth all things in His will, and beholdeth all things in His light, hath his heart fixed,  and abideth in the peace of God." And in the language of Blosius, another devout writer of early times, such holy souls "enjoy the most calm and peaceable liberty, being lifted up above all fear and agitation of mind concerning death or hell, or any other things which might happen to the soul, either in time or in eternity."

How can there be otherwise than the peace of God, pure, beautiful, sublime, when consecration is without  reserve  and faith is without limit; and especially, when self-will, the great evil of our fallen nature, is eradicated and subdued. What higher idea can we have of the most advanced Christian experience, than that of entire union with the divine will, by a subjection of the human will, When the will of man, ceasing from its divergencies and its disorderly vibrations, becomes fixed to one point, henceforward immovable, always harmonizing, moment by moment, with God's central and absorbing purposes, then we may certainly say, that the soul, in the language which is sometimes applied to it, and in a modified sense of the terms, has become not only perfected in faith and love, but "united and one with God," and "transformed into the divine nature." —  "He, that is joined to the Lord, is one  spirit." And from that moment, in its higher nature, and so far as it is not linked to earth by sympathies; which its God has implanted, and which were smitten and bled even in the case of the Savior, the soul knows sorrow no more; the pain of its inward anguish is changed into rejoicing; it has passed into the mount of stillness, the Tabor of inward transfiguration, the Temple of unchanging tranquility.

Oh, sacred union with the Perfect Mind!
Transcendent bliss which Thou alone canst give!
How blest are they, this pearl of price who find,
And dead to earth, have learnt in Thee to live.

Thus, in thine arms of love, Oh God, I lie.
Lost, and forever lost, to all but Thee!
My happy soul, since it hath learnt to die,
Hath found new life in thine Infinity.

Oh, go, and learn this lesson of the Cross;
And tread the way; which saints and prophets trod,
Who, counting life, and self, and all things loss,
Have found, in inward death, the life of God.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 13.

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Hidden Language of Silence

The state of divine union may exist under two modifications; the one characterized by our being distinctly conscious of its existence, the other without such consciousness. The union of the human with the divine mind, when it is once originated, is not easily broken. The fact, for instance, of our being taken up at times with indispensable worldly cares, does not necessarily destroy the state of union, although we may not be distinctly percipient or conscious of it at such times.

But what we wish to remark here is, that the state in question, whenever it is the subject of distinct inward notice or consciousness, seems  to be characterized, among other marks, by a tendency, not only to inward contemplation, but to outward silence. At such times the soul appears to know but one object, and that is God; and to have but one feeling, and that is love. It is drawn inwardly; and outward objects seem to have but little influence. Hence words are few. It has but little disposition to express even what itself feels. In fact, the conversation, which is carried on at such times between the soul and God is too high for human language; and what is more, it is carried on with a Being, who can understand the soul's meaning without the medium of human speech. The conversation is with God, and not with men; and is in God's manner and not after the manner of men; and, therefore, it would be difficult to repeat it, even if there were a disposition to do it. The soul, in its attitude of serene and fixed contemplation, continually but silently repeats to itself sentiments of trust and adoration, of gratitude and love. God recognizes the import of this hidden language and returns it, by condescendingly unveiling himself in his amiableness and benevolence. There is a constant flowing and re-flowing of affection; love ascending to God and love returning; so that there is not only a consciousness of love to God on the part of the person; but what is yet more striking, there is a consciousness, or rather a deeply wrought conviction, that God loves him in return. He can say in the beautiful expressions of the Canticles, "Thou dost place thy left hand under my head and with thy right hand Thou dost embrace me; and thy banner over me is love."

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Contemplative State

The mind, in the state of union with God, is disposed to indulge in subdued and affectionate acts of contemplation, rather than in examinative and discursive or reasoning acts. It is undoubtedly the case, that the mind may remain fixed upon God and and may be in a certain sense united to him, in what may variously be called a perceptive, reflective, or discursive manner; that is to say, engaged in a perceptive or speculative view of him, occupied in the critical examination of his various attributes, his justice, wisdom, and goodness, or something of the kind. But something more than this kind of union is implied in the state of mind, which we are now speaking of. The examinative or discursive state of the mind implies the presence of God to the intellect merely; the contemplative state, although not altogether excluding an intellectual view, implies his presence to the heart. And it is on this ground that we make the remark, that the mind in the state of divine union, is rather contemplative, than perceptive and examinative.

I have sometimes supposed, that something like the unitive state of mind, which it is so difficult to describe, might perhaps exist in the case of a blind child, who has an attentive and affectionate father. The child, being blind from birth, has visually and perceptively no distinct knowledge of his father. But he knows there is an object present to him though unseen; and that this outward and unseen being is ever beneficent and ever active in securing his happiness. He has but an indefinite and obscure notion of his form; and is not capable of any accurate analysis of his character; but his mind rests in the general complex idea of an ever present being; who, although he is unseen, and in many of his attributes is essentially unknown, is nevertheless the precise object, which of all others is the most fitted to secure, and is the most worthy of his love. It is thus, contemplatively rather than discursively, that his father is ever present to his thoughts, and is ever the object of his almost adoring affections.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 13.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Consecration and Faith

The existence of the unitive state does not necessarily imply inward manifestations and raptures of an extraordinary kind. On the contrary, such manifestations, and joys and raptures of a remarkable character, which would be likely to attract attention to themselves as distinct objects of notice, and thus nourish the life of Self, would be unfavorable, rather than otherwise, to the existence of the state of mind under consideration. This state of mind implies, however, the existence, in the highest degree, of those two great elements of the religious life, to which the reader's attention has been repeatedly called, viz. Consecration, which separates us from every known sin and lays all upon the altar of God as a perpetual sacrifice; and Faith, which leaves all in God's hands, and which receives and accepts no wisdom, no goodness, no strength, but what comes from God as the true source of inward and everlasting life. Consecration renounces the ALL of the creature; faith recognizes and accepts the ALL of God. Consecration implies the rejection and hatred of all evil; faith implies the reception and love of all good. The one alienates, abhors, and tramples under foot all unsanctified natural desires, aims, and purposes; the other approves, receives, and makes a part of its own self, all the desires, aims and purposes of God; and both are implied and involved, and are carried to their highest possible exercise, in the state of divine union.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 13.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Moral and Religious Union

Union with God, considered as a form of Christian experience, is not a physical union, an union of essence with essence physically, but a moral and religious union. It would hardly be necessary to make this remark, were it not, that some pious writers on this subject make use of strong expressions, which may be easily misunderstood and misapplied, but which obviously were not designed to be and ought not to be taken in their physical or literal import. The passages of Scripture, which recognize and which require the union of the regenerated mind of man with the mind of his Maker, or with the mind of Christ, are in some instances exceedingly strong, and seem to require a modified interpretation. All that is necessary is, that we should exhibit in other cases the discrimination and candor, which generally characterize our interpretations of the Scriptures. But, although we are not to understand from the language of the writers on this subject, that there is a physical union, or a union which would imply in any sense the loss of our own personality and accountability, they undoubtedly mean to teach the existence and the reality of a moral and religious union, as close and intimate as such an union possibly can be; an union entirely analogous, in all probability, to that pure and blessed union, which existed between Christ Jesus considered in his human nature, and his heavenly Father.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 13.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Tendency Toward Union With God

The following principle appears to lay at the foundation of the doctrine of DIVINE UNION, as we find it represented in various writers, viz. That all moral and accountable beings, just in proportion as they are freed from the dominion of sin, have a natural and inherent tendency to unite with God. Of the correctness of this principle, when properly understood, there does not appear to be any reasonable doubt. It is nothing more nor less than this, that holy beings recognize in each other a mutual relationship of character, and are led, by the very necessities of their nature, to seek each other in the reciprocal exercise of love. In other words, nothing appears to them so exceedingly good, desirable, and lovely as holiness, whenever and wherever found. Accordingly, just as soon as we feel, that our sins are pardoned, and have an inward consciousness, that faith in Christ, who is "the way, the truth, and the life," is working by love and purifying the heart, we begin to feel also a secret union with the Savior, not only as our atoning sacrifice, but as a holy being, and as a true representative of the Divinity in the flesh. And just in proportion as we grow in grace and become free from sin, we shall find this state of union with the Savior increasing. And union with Christ, (a real union such as that of the branch, when it is united to the vine,) is followed, in the natural progress of the religious life, by union, through Christ and in Christ, with God the Father; in accordance with the remarkable prayer of the Savior, which has already been referred to, "that they all may be ONE; as Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be ONE IN US." And it is in accordance with this view, that Lady Maxwell, whose religious experience, especially in the latter part of her life, is exceedingly interesting and instructive, remarks in expressions, which convey an important truth, though perhaps liable to be misunderstood,  "Jehovah teaches and enables me to pass through Jesus, as the way to himself." In a single word, union, (whether we look at the subject in the light of nature or in the light of God's word,) union, pure, strong, inseparable, and without regard to natural or physical differences, is the one great and necessary law of holy beings. Just in proportion as our sin is taken away, the element of separation is taken away; and the soul, delivered from the clogs which fastened it to that which is not God, returns instinctively and unerringly to the Infinite Center.

And it should not be forgotten also, that there is the same tendency on the part of God, a tendency which his holy nature renders necessary and invariable, to enter into this intimate union. No matter how inferior holy beings may be; they may be mere insects in capacity; still the holy heart  of  God loves them, seeks them, becomes one with them. In a very important sense, inasmuch as their holiness cannot be regarded as self-originated, they are a part of himself by their very nature. Hence the doctrine, so distinctly and strikingly laid down in the writings of Dr. Cudworth. Speaking of holiness, he says,

If it be but hearty and sincere, it can no more be cut off and discontinued from God, than a sunbeam here upon earth can be broken off from its intercourse with the sun, and be left alone amidst the mire and dirt of this lower world. Holiness is something of God, wherever it is. It is an efflux from Him, that always hangs upon him and lives in him; as the sunbeams, although they gild this lower world, and spread their golden wings over us, yet they are not so much here, where they shine, as in the sun, from whence they flow.

The necessity of this union on the part of holy beings, and on the part of God, as well as on the part of other holy beings, seems to me to be clearly implied in that beautiful passage of Scripture, "God is  LOVE,  and he, that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 13.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A Scriptural State of Mind

We observe, in the first place, that the name, unitive state or state of divine union, is derived from the peculiar state of mind which exists. The precise state of the soul, stated in general terms, seems to be one of close and ineffable conformity with the Divine Mind. It is called the state of union, therefore, simply because it is such.

We cannot help regarding this state of mind, if it be rightly understood, as a scriptural one. Is it too much to say, that there is a recognition of it, in those remarkable and to some persons inexplicable passages, which are found in the latter part of John's Gospel? Passages which, however mysterious they may appear to many at the present time, have nevertheless a real meaning; and as the church advances in holiness, will undoubtedly be made clear and full of import in connection with the personal experience of multitudes.

"Neither pray I for these alone; but for them also, which shall believe on me through their word. That they may all be ONE;  as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be ONE  IN  US, that the world may believe, that thou hast sent me. And the glory, which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be ONE, EVEN AS  WE ARE  ONE. I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in ONE; and that the world may know, that thou hast sent me; and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me." John 17:20, 23.
— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 13.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Union With God

Among the higher forms of Christian experience, as we find them described, by writers on experimental religion, there is a state of mind, which we find denominated the state of UNION. It is also frequently called, by a phrase which intimates the same thing, the UNITIVE state of mind.— This state of mind is not unfrequently implied and even described by devout writers, without a formal mention of it by name.

Archbishop Leighton, for instance, speaks of the Christian, who perceives himself "knit to God, and his soul more fast and joined nearer to him than to his own body."

The following prayer is ascribed to John Climacus, many centuries since a devout and learned recluse of Mount Sinai.

"My God, I pretend to nothing upon this earth, except to be so firmly UNITED to Thee by prayer, that to be separated from Thee may be impossible. Let others desire riches and glory; for my part I desire but one thing, and that is to be inseparably UNITED to Thee, and to place in Thee alone all my hopes of happiness and repose."

These expressions indicate a full belief, on the part of this devout person, of the existence of the state of present mental union with God, as well as earnest desire for it. There are repeated allusions to this state of mind in the works of Thomas à Kempis and Tauler; writers, who, although Catholics, are favorably mentioned by Luther; and have always been much esteemed by Protestant Christians.

Sir Henry Vane, one of the English Puritans, a man religiously as well as politically memorable, wrote a religious treatise, which in part had express relation to this subject, entitled, ON THE LOVE OF GOD AND UNION WITH GOD. 

Many pious persons in more modern times, and in different denominations of Christians have spoken very emphatically of their union with the Divine Mind; and in such way as to leave the impression, that they considered the state of union as a distinct and peculiar, as well as a very desirable and eminent modification of Christian experience.

"Time would fail me," says Lady Maxwell, "to tell of the numberless manifestations of divine love and power. I have, though deeply unworthy, been favored with such wonderful lettings into Deity, as no language can describe or explain; but the whole soul dilates itself in the exquisite enjoyment; so refined, so pure, so tempered with sacred awe, so guarded by heavenly solemnity, as effectually to prevent all irregularity of desires. These, with every power of the mind, bow in holy subjection before Jehovah. Surely the feelings of the soul, on these memorable occasions, are nearly similar to those enjoyed by the heavenly inhabitants. I have it  still to remark, that all my intercourse with God the Father is strongly marked with that superior solemnity and awe which lay and keep the soul in the dust, yet raised to that holy dignity, which flows from a consciousness of union with the Deity."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 13.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Liberty of the Gospel

"Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. If the Son, therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." — John 8. 34, 36.

If thou, oh God, will make my spirit free,
Then will that darkened soul be free indeed;
I cannot break my bonds, apart from thee,
Without thy help I bow and serve and bleed.
Arise, oh Lord, and in thy matchless strength,
Asunder rend the links my heart that bind,
And liberate and raise and save, at length,
My long enthralled and subjugated mind.
And then with strength and beauty in her wings,
My quickened soul shall take an upward flight,
And in thy blissful presence, King of kings,
Rejoice in liberty and life and light,
In renovated power and conscious truth,
In faith and cheerful hope, in love and endless youth.

The Religious Offering (1836) Scripture Sonnets I.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Importance of Faith

Such is faith considered psychologically or mentally; a principle, or rather a mental state, essential to the human mind; naturally and necessarily arising on its appropriate occasions; of which every one has the experience in the ordinary conditions and transactions of life, and of which consequently every one has a knowledge in his own consciousness; a principle, not always the same in strength, but existing in a variety of degrees, proportioned to the evidence presented before it.

And perhaps we may appropriately add in this connection, that there is no one of the natural principles of the human mind, which is more constantly operative and more important in its results, than natural faith is. I am aware, that this is not generally understood, and perhaps not generally admitted. And probably the reason of its not being so is, because faith is a principle which, in itself considered, attracts but little notice. We cannot doubt, nevertheless, that the statement is essentially true. We grant, that the state of mind, which we call belief or faith, is not, in general, so distinct in our consciousness, as some other states of mind. That is to say, it does not stand out quite so prominently, quite so distinctly, to inward observation. And we think we can see a reason for it. It is this. It seems to be the intention of nature, or rather of the wise and benevolent Author of nature, that we should give less attention to the act of belief, than to the object believed in. The fact, in the case under consideration, seems to be the same with what is known and acknowledged to exist in the case of those sensations, which connect us with the outward world. It is well known, in the case of these sensations, that the mind passes with rapidity from the inward state, which scarcely attracts any notice to itself, to the outward object, whatever it may be, which the inward sensation or state makes known to us. And in the same manner, the state of mind, which we denominate belief, fulfills the purpose, for which it is given us, not by turning the mind’s notice upon itself, but by passing on, if one may so express it, and by directing it towards the object believed in. With this remark in view, we repeat what has before been said, that there is no one of the natural principles of the human mind, which is more constantly operative, and more important in its results, than natural faith.

It is this remarkable principle, exceedingly simple in its nature but almost infinite in its applications, which, not only connects the soul with its own acts, but with almost every thing around it; with woods and waters and sun and moon and stars, which would be nothing to us, if they were not believed in; with men, whose existence is made available and desirable to us only by belief in their existence and by confidence in their character; with God himself, whom it is impossible to realize as God, except by means of faith. Annul this principle, so simple in its appearance and yet so wonderful in its results, and man becomes, by the law of his own nature, an isolated being; he is like a person thrown into the midst of the ocean without even a plank to rest upon; not only desolate and hopeless in himself; but with nothing to console him in nature or help him in humanity, or be his support and his “bread of life” in the Infinite Mind.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 1.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Degrees of Natural Faith

Natural faith, which is always the same in its nature or essence, exists in different degrees. And this is so truly and distinctly the case, that we frequently employ different names as expressive of the different degrees of credence, which we yield. Differences in the degree of belief depend chiefly upon differences in the evidence, which is presented before the mind. And as the evidence in its different kinds is greater or less, we are in the habit of designating the resulting belief by names appropriate to its strength, such as presumption, slight or strong presumption, probability, low or high probability, and certainty. The same inward consciousness, which teaches us the nature of faith, indicates also the degree of it. And in accordance with this general view, which is scripturally as well as philosophically correct, we very frequently and very properly speak of a person’s faith in reference to its degree; describing one person as a man of strong faith and another as a man of weak or small faith, or by some other epithets intermediate in signification.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 1.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Illustrations of Natural Faith

Taking it for granted, in view of what has been said, that every person has exercised more or less of belief, and that consequently every person, as a matter of inward consciousness, knows something of its nature, we will proceed to give a few simple illustrations.

The child, that sets out with his parents upon a long and untried journey, without a doubt that his parents will supply his wants and guide him in the right way and will bring him home again in safety, (if, indeed, he feels that he can have a home but in the arms and presence of those parents,) knows what it is to believe. The young man, who for the first time enters upon business for himself, and in the prosecution of the plans and labors which now devolve upon him, finds it necessary to implicate himself with his fellow-men, and to enter into arrangements and contracts, which imply the discharge of duties and the fulfillment of promises on the part of others, knows what it is to believe. The man of more mature years, who is called by his countrymen to the high office of sustaining and administering the laws, but who is obviously unable to do it, without confidence in himself, without confidence in his subordinate agents and in the community at large, knows what it is to believe. So complicated are the relations of society, and so dependent is man on his fellow-man, that it is difficult to see, if man had not faith in others, how he could exist in the world for any length of time. But it seems to us unnecessary to dwell upon this point.

It is sufficient to add here, that this state of mind, of which it is so difficult to give a definition, but which may be supposed to be so well known and understood in each one’s consciousness, arises on a multitude of occasions; on the testimony of our senses in relation to the outward world; on the declarations of consciousness in relation to the facts and modifications of inward feeling; on the statements which are made by our fellow-men in the ordinary affairs of life; in view of that sort of circumstantial evidence, which is furnished by a continuous course of conduct in others; and in connection with the suggestions of the simplest forms of judgment and with the numerous and complicated deductions of reasoning.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 1.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Human Knowledge of Belief

Belief not only exists in man, as an essential part of his nature; but we may add as a separate proposition, that man knows what it is. There is belief in man, and a knowledge of that belief. It is no more possible for man to be without the knowledge of belief, than it is to be without belief itself. If a man believes, for instance, in his own existence, if he exercises any degree of faith in the physical and mental power he possesses, if in the affairs of life he relies more or less on the statements and promises of his fellow-men, if he believes in the fact of the revolution of the heavenly bodies, in the vicissitudes of the seasons, or in many other things which might be mentioned as things likely to control his belief, it is obvious that he knows, and that he cannot help knowing what natural belief or faith is, by his own inward experience. The knowledge of the thing, as well as the fact or existence of the thing, is involved necessarily in the constitution of the mind itself. And it is in that constitution, therefore, that we must seek for a knowledge of it. In other words, we obtain a knowledge of belief by a reference to our own inward consciousness; and we cannot obtain an adequate knowledge of it in any other way.

It should be added, however, that, while, by turning the mind inward upon itself, we know what it is, we are, nevertheless, not able to define it. It is admitted, that it is not possible to give a definition of belief or faith, which, independently of inward experience, will render it easy to be understood. But this difficulty, whether it be regarded as greater or less, and which on a close examination will be found to be more formidable in appearance than in reality, is not limited to belief. All other states of mind, which are truly simple and undefinable, are better known by a reference to our own consciousness, than by any statements in words.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 1.

Monday, October 24, 2016

What Is Natural Faith?

All men have faith; but it cannot be said with truth, that all men have religious faith. All men have faith in something; but it is not true, that all men have faith in God. It is proper, therefore, to make a distinction, and to discriminate between religious faith and natural faith.

In order, however, to understand religious faith, it is desirable, as it seems to me, to understand something of the nature or character of natural faith. Our attention, therefore, is properly directed, in the first place, to the inquiry, What is natural faith?

And in the prosecution of this inquiry, an obvious remark here is, that faith, or belief, which is only another name for the same thing, arises within us naturally and necessarily, on its appropriate occasions. In other words, it does not depend for its origin on our volition; but it comes of itself. It does not depend, for instance, upon a man’s volition or his mere arbitrary choice, whether he shall believe in his own existence or not; whether he shall believe in his personal identity or not; whether he shall believe in the existence of an outward material world or not. In these cases, and in others like them, it is conceded, that he cannot help believing. The state of mind, therefore, which we denominate faith or belief, using the terms in the natural and not in the religious sense, exists in us by our very nature. It is not only there; but by the very constitution of our nature, it must continue to remain there, while man is what he is.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 1.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Editor's Note: Hiatus & Ebooks

Having finished blogging through A Treatise on Divine Union, I am taking a very brief break from posting here.

I imagine I will be back at it pretty soon.

Life threw me off my rhythm.

In the mean time here are links to two ebooks (in ePub format) — which were drawn together from the material on my web site — by a reader in Switzerland:

Now you can read these books on your e-reader.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Faith in God

My faith, oh God, unshaken stands
In the great doings of Thy hands;
Thou hast the power, and Thou the will,
And what Thou sayest wilt fulfill.

I know the threatening, hostile host,
With many a proud, insulting boast,
Stands fiercely, in their banner'd wrath,
Across thy weeping children's path.

But faith looks up with tearful eye,
And prayer ascends with heart-felt cry;
And Thou, who see'st the mourner's tear,
And bending low, his prayer dost hear;

Thou, in the great appointed hour,
Thou, in the moment of Thy power,
Their banner'd host shall smite and slay,
And sweep their impious strength away.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXIX.