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

Friday, February 23, 2024

Rest From Condemnation

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
" — John 14:27 (KJV)

In analyzing and explaining the elements of that pure and heavenly peace, which our Savior has left both as the inheritance and the characteristic of truly holy souls, we proceed to remark, further, that they are at rest from the reproofs of conscience.

This is a state of things very different from that which is experienced by souls that are only partially united with God. The latter, as they are going through the transition state from love commencing to love completed, have a constant conflict in themselves. Their inward good and evil are arrayed in opposition to each other. They see the right; but they continue, in some degree at least, to follow the wrong. And just so far as this is the case, they are under condemnation. And under such circumstances, they cannot fail to be uneasy and unhappy.

It is not so with the soul which is given to God without reserve, and which loves him with the whole heart. Such a soul, renovated and purified by the Holy Spirit, may be said to be clothed with innocence; or, if such expressions should be considered as too strong by some, certain it is, that conscience does not condemn it. "There is no condemnation," says the apostle Paul "to them which are in Christ Jesus; who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." In the epistles of John, also, are expressions, which distinctly recognize the state of freedom from condemnation.

And this explains a remark which we sometimes find in the lives of devoted Christians. It seems to them as they sometimes say, as if they had lost their conscience. In the writings of Madame Guyon, both in the work entitled the "Torrents," and also in her "Letters," there are repeated references to this peculiar state of experience. The expressions which such persons employ have their foundation in the contrast of the present with their past position. They think they have lost their conscience, because they are not now the subjects of a certain mode of its activity. Formerly their good was so much mixed with evil, that they were constantly the subjects, more or less, of inward admonition; so much so, that this seemed to them almost the whole office of conscience. And, accordingly, when they experienced a higher degree of love, and no longer felt the need of such admonitions and reproofs, they seemed, in the absence of its chastisements, to have lost conscience itself.

After a while they learn that conscience, operating differently in the evil and the good, has its smiles as well as its frowns; and that its action is felt in that internal approbation which constantly attends them. Angels have conscience; God has conscience; but they never feel its lash; nor is it possible for them, while they remain what they are, ever to know its existence as a part of their own nature, except by the approbation of its smiles. The cessation or rest, therefore, which the persons to whom we allude experience, is not a cessation from conscience, but only from the condemnation of conscience.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 4.

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