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.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How Can We Experience the Guidance of God's Spirit?

One of the most important questions, which can occupy the minds of those, who wish to experience the reality of the interior spiritual life, is: In what manner can we most certainly secure the ever present and guiding influences of the Holy Spirit?

We learn from the Scriptures, that those, who are the sons of God, are led by the spirit of God. And a woe is expressly denounced against those "foolish prophets, that follow their OWN SPIRIT. [Exek. 13:3] The facts of individual experience, in relation to the subject of a divine guidance, abundantly confirm the truth of the scriptural declarations. "Though this secret direction of the Almighty," says Sir Matthew Hale, who was distinguished as a christian as well as a scholar and a judge, "is principally seen in matters relating to the good of the soul, yet even in the concerns of this life, a good man, fearing God, and begging his direction, will very often, if not at all times, find it. I can call my own experience to witness, that even in the temporal affairs of my whole life, I have never been disappointed of the best direction when I have, in humility and sincerity, implored it." And I think we may undoubtedly regard it as a great truth, ever to be kept in remembrance, that the true children of God, so far as they live acceptably to him, are guided by the Spirit of God. This great truth, that, as followers of God, it is our privilege and duty to be led by the Spirit of God, may be realized continually in our personal experience, as it seems to us, in connection with a few simple but fundamental conditions.

In the first place, we cannot reasonably expect to be guided by the Spirit, unless we desire it. And if we expect a continuance of this guidance, the desire must be permanent and strong. It would be extremely absurd to suppose that the Holy Spirit will condescend to dwell with us, if we have no desire for it; or if we have not a permanent and strong desire. But we cannot suppose that those, who aim after holiness of heart, are without this desire. And therefore we do not consider it necessary to dwell upon this point.

In order to realize this great blessing, we must have faith in God, that he will do for us the thing which we ask. To desire of God without having faith in the giver, is nearly as effectual a way to defeat the object of our request, as to be without desire. But on this point, also, we will not delay. Who can be ignorant that one of the first elements in the life of holiness is the doctrine of faith? "Without faith it is impossible to please God." How can it be possible, then, without faith to receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit?

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

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