The life of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High may be called a Hidden Life, because the animating principle, the vital or operative element, is not so much in itself as in another. It is a life grafted into another life. It is the life of the soul, incorporated into the life of Christ; and in such a way, that, while it has a distinct vitality, it has so very much in the sense, in which the branch of a tree may be said to have a distinct vitality from the root.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Natural Dispensation

The Holy Spirit is to be regarded as the appointed and effective renovator, guide, comforter, and teacher of the children of men. In the moral and religious world all good is from Him; and beyond the reach of his influence, and irrespective of his presence and operations, there is not and cannot be any thing, which is valuable or desirable.

There are some reasons for saying, that the dispensation of the Holy Spirit is precisely opposite and antagonistical, in its principles and results, to what may be called the natural dispensation, viz. the law of the natural heart, or the reign of SELF in the soul. Man, before his fall, had a true life in God. He did not live by his own vitality, and flourish upon his own stock. The power of God possessed its habitation in the center of his soul; a living, animating, purifying principle. If he possessed, as undoubtedly he did, what might properly be denominated natural ability, it was, nevertheless, natural ability, made alive, inspired, animated by an ability out of and above nature. It was enough for him to know and rejoice in the fact that God was the continuance, as well as the beginning of his inward life; that every good thought and good feeling, that all purified activity and divine strength, all holy love and all angelic aspirations, were from God, and from God alone. And his apostasy, as it seems reasonable to suppose, consisted in the alienation and dethronement of this inward divine power, and in the substitution of SELF instead of God.

In the language of another, "man broke off from his true CENTER, his proper place in God, and therefore the life and operation of God was no more in him. He was fallen from a life in God into a life of SELF, into an animal life of self-love, self-esteem, and self-seeking in the poor perishing enjoyments of this world. This was the natural state of man by the Fall. He was an apostate from God, and his natural life was all idolatry, where SELF was the great idol, that was worshiped instead of God." [William Law's Spirit of Prayer, Part I, Chap. 2d.]

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 1.

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