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.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Cooperation With God: Receptivity

In accordance with the commonly received doctrine of "preventing" or prevenient grace, we remark further, that, in cooperating with God, it seems to be necessary, that we should be in a state of recipiency, rather than of communication. In other words, it being admitted that we have nothing of our own which we can communicate or give to God, it would seem to follow, that our cooperation, so far as it has an existence at all, must depend upon the fact of our receiving from him. Accordingly it seems to be our great duty, by meekness and simplicity of heart, by freedom from worldly vanities and entire self-renunciation, to put ourselves in the true receptive attitude. We must remember, especially as unbelief is apt to find its way in at this entrance, that God is always ready to communicate himself; we need not fear that our divine associate in this great co-partnership will be found wanting. On the contrary, it is his desire, his delight, his highest happiness to communicate himself. And the reason why he does not communicate himself to all men at once, is the existence in their bosoms of obstacles, which they themselves have voluntarily placed there. So that the highest honor and the highest power of man is, having put away these obstacles, to wait upon God, in the exercise of simple faith, for the reception of the divine sufficiency.

But some will perhaps inquire, in connection with the views now presented, Shall we remain inactive? I reply, that man is justly and efficiently active, when he is active in communication with God; and yet remaining deeply in his own sphere of nothingness. Man never acts to higher and nobler purpose, than when, in the realization of his own comparative nihility, he places himself in the receptive position, and lets God work in him. He, who is receptive, is neither idle nor unprofitable. In the intercourse between man and his Maker, it is the receptive and not the communicative activity, which is the source of truth, riches, and power. The religious man, in his receptive activity, is like the earth, (so far as we can compare things mental with material,) which receives into its ploughed and expanded bosom the morning dew and the summer shower and the daily sunshine; that thus, by being prepared to receive them and by being endowed with abundant communications from without and above, it may subsequently become rich in itself; and in its own vitality, as it were, be crowned with fruit and flower. Or perhaps we may say more appropriately, that he is like those scholars, who are impressed with a sense of their own inferiority and ignorance, and are willing to sit patiently and humbly at the feet of their distinguished teachers, that they may grow in knowledge. Their minds are receptive, but not inert; are in the attitude of listening, but are not idle. They ultimately, in the way of cooperation with what they have received, become fruitful in themselves; but it is only because they are humble and attentive recipients in the first instance.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 5.

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