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.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Marks of True Humility: Seeking the Lowest Place

Deeply sensible of his entire weakness, dependence and unworthiness, it is entirely natural to him to seek and to take the lowest place. It does not occur to him, (certainly not as a matter of cherished and pleasing reflection,) that a more conspicuous position would be appropriate to him. But if the indications of the Providence of God should call him to a higher place, and impose upon him duties of a more elevated and conspicuous character, he does not refuse them. True lowliness of spirit leads him to feel that it would be very unsuitable for him to distrust the wisdom of God, and to take the direction of himself into his own hands. So that the same humility, which, in ordinary cases, leads him to decline places of responsibility and notoriety, leads him also to submit himself without hesitation to the guidance of Providence and of the Divine Will. It should always be remembered, therefore that the truly humble man, who has a profound sense of his own nothingness, and always feels at home in the lowest place, nevertheless realizes that he can do all things through the wisdom of God guiding him and the grace of God strengthening him. It does not follow, because true humility is distrustful of itself, that it is distrustful of God.

— edited from Religious Maxims (1846).

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Marks of True Humility: No Desire for Great Things

One of the surest evidences of sanctification of heart is true humility. It is this state of mind, when viewed in its true aspect, to which the Savior seems to have especial reference, when he represents to his followers the importance of becoming like little children. Without proposing, at this time, to enter very fully into this subject, we shall proceed to mention some of the marks or characteristics by which true humility is known.

The truly humble man does not desire great things for himself; nor does he desire great things in any worldly sense whatever. If God has given him distinguished talents, he is thankful for it. If God has placed him in a position of great influence in the world he is thankful for it. But he can be happy in his talents, in his influence, and any other possession which the world deems valuable, only as they are the gifts of God, and as they are employed for the promotion of his glory. If God sees flt to deprive him of knowledge, property, influence, or any other mere earthly good, he is equally thankful, equally happy. So that he does not desire worldly prosperity in itself considered; and not desiring it, the possession of it does not puff him up with sentiments of pride.

— edited from Religious Maxims (1846).

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

On Going to Heaven Alone

High in the hills the wild bird hath its nest,
And utters loud its melodies of song;
But vain its music, if no other breast
Is there to mate it, and its notes prolong.

And so in heaven, think not to dwell alone,
In cold and hopeless solitude apart;
For heaven is love; and love would leave its throne,
If at its side there were no other heart.

Then heaven-ward soar, but carry others there;
And learn, that heaven is giving and receiving;
It hath no life, which others do not share;
Its  life doth live by its great art, of giving.

Heaven is the heart, to other love-hearts beating;
'Tis open arms, to arms of fondness rushing;
'Tis songs, with other songs in concert meeting;
'Tis fountains into other fountains gushing.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LVIII.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Christian Soldier

The archer's arrow smote me sore,
Sped by a skillful foe-man's hand;
And, though I bled at every pore,
The faith within me bade me, STAND.

The MASTER plac'd me; and He knew,
His orders were my only law;
And 'twas not one, when arrows flew,
That I should cowardly withdraw.

The soldiers in the Christian war,
With much to do, and much to dare,
Proclaim, in every bleeding scar,
Their faith in Him, who placed them there.

Great Chief and Leader of the strife!
Thy death has taught us how to die;
And if with Thee we yield our life,
Then death itself is victory.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LVII.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Labor in Trust

The labor of the holy man ceases to be labor, in the ordinary sense of that term, not only for the reasons which have been mentioned, but because his humble trust in God actually supplies the place, in many cases, of positive effort. In other words, God does now reward him by actually sharing and lightening the burden which is upon him. God, whose happiness consists in the exercise of love, always delights to do the work of his people, when the circumstances are such as to allow him to do it. Man's first work, and, as compared with others, almost his only work, is to return from his sins, and to enter into union with his Maker. From that moment he not only may, but he ought to, give up all anxiety. God will never desert him. God will hold up and inspirit his weary arm. Even if the body labors, the anxieties of the spirit should cease.

See the father of a numerous family.  Day after day he toils without ceasing. Their food, their clothing, their morals, their education, their health, all successively occupy his thoughts, fill him with anxiety, and give him no rest. He is burdened and borne down to the dust, because he attempts to bear the burden alone. If he were a man of perfect faith, he would labor less; and at the same time with greatly improved results. His faith would honor God, and would secure the fulfillment of the promises. It would make God present, because it would necessarily secure the cooperation of his loving nature. And this is not all. It would react upon his own character; — giving clearness to truth, submission in sorrow, strength in temptation, patience under rebuke, and love at all times. So that, under the purifying power of a higher trust, an influence would emanate from his own character. His silence would speak. And the inaction of God, if we may so express it, (that is to say, the silent and quiet operation of God in the soul,) would do more  than the activity of the creature.

Certainly, in  view of such considerations as these, we have great reason for saying, if we cannot safely say anything more, that the labor of the man of God is a very different thing from the labor of the man of the world. It is exempt, at least, from all anxiety. And hence that calmness, which is seated on his brow. No expression of impatience, no scowl of hatred, no frown of anger; but a constant cheerfulness, which shows that the principles of faith and love at the centre make all things easy. It is one of the signs, therefore, of the truly holy man, that he is happy in his work; so much so, that under the existing circumstances, he could not be equally happy without work. So that, virtually, his work is his recreation; his labor is his play.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 7.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Light Shines of Itself

True holiness acts and influences by its innate tendencies. It merely wants opportunities of action, and not appliances and instigations to action. It is not the language of Scripture, make thy light shine, but let thy light shine. In partially sanctified hearts, where the light is comparatively small, there is a disposition, which, however, in itself considered, is not to be blamed, to set the light off to the best advantage, to place it in favorable positions, to increase it by concentrating it in and reflecting it abroad on the multitude, through the instrumentality of persons of "good reputation." This is laudable under the circumstances. But if the light were full and bright at the center, there would not be need of this additional labor at the circumference. And the reason of this remark is, that it is the nature of holiness to diffuse itself, if there are no obstacles in the way. It cannot conceal itself, if it would. The first thing is its existence; the next is, to let it shine; — not to hide it, but to let it be; — stationed as it is by the wisdom of a heavenly position as well as bright by a heavenly radiance.

The light of Jesus Christ shone brightly long before he commenced his public apostolic life. It shone, because brightness was in his nature; and, therefore, it was his nature to shine. When he was very young, it was said of him, by lips which repeated it to others, that there is a lad in the town of Nazareth, living in a poor and retired family, who has God with him.  His  candle first diffused its light in a very small circle; but within the limits of that circle it shone freely and clearly in the rays of sincere and peaceable dispositions. He was not a holy man, but a holy boy; and, being such, he was known and felt to be such. As he grew older, working day by day at the trade of a carpenter, the same unobtrusive sincerity, the same forbearance and love, attended by perfect faith in his heavenly Father, attracted attention in a sphere somewhat enlarged, and drew to him some loving hearts that were affected by the innate power of holiness. Thus, though he came, as it were, silently, without effort and without observation, the light shone from him by its own nature; a light gentle but pure; penetrating quietly, but surely, in every direction; until it was whispered from the lips of the faithful, throughout Palestine, that a holy one had come. There was, indeed, a mystery resting upon him and his character, because he was a man unannounced, unknown; but still he was a real and divine presence, though indistinctly felt  and appreciated, even before he appeared publicly and authoritatively as the messenger of God. His light shone of itself.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 7.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Labor Not in Vain

Another reason that the labor of the holy man ceases to be labor, is this; he knows that he will be prospered in what he does; in other words, that his "labor is not in vain in the Lord." There are many promises to this effect. But this is not all. He knows that, when God imposes on his people something to be done, it is not merely to secure a particular outward result, but also, and sometimes chiefly, for the purpose of training and disciplining the inward dispositions. And if he fails to do the particular thing which is required to be done, still, if the effort has resulted in the trial and strengthening of his faith and obedience, he has his reward. He is sure of success in one way or the other. This imparts a joyousness of spirit, which gives a new character to his toil. Labor, which is enlivened by the joy of anticipated fruition, is rendered by that circumstance so delightful, that it virtually ceases to be labor.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 7.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Labor Inspired by Love

Another reason why the labor of the holy man, whose soul is in union with God, ceases to be labor in the ordinary sense of that term, is, that his labor is inspired by love. The labor of those who do everything from love, is a very different thing from the labor of those who act exclusively or chiefly from the impulse of conscience and the forced efforts of the will. The single circumstance of labor's being originated with or without the inspiration of the heart, makes all possible difference. The labor of the partially sanctified man, who stirs himself to action by reasonings and reflections, and by the efforts of the will, is the recreation, the happiness of the holy man. The holy man works without knowing that he works; because love converts what would otherwise be work into the spontaneous activity of a pleased and joyous nature. In doing what he loves to do, he labors just as much as the birds do when they fly in the air and sing; and just as much as the angels do, whose nature it is to fulfill the commands of their heavenly Father.

In  saying, therefore, that the holy soul rests from labor, we do not mean that it rests from action; but that its action is so easy and natural, so harmonious at the same time with the desires of the soul and with the arrangements of Providence, that it is exempt from the attributes of pain and distastefulness which are commonly associated with labor.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 7.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Labor Empowered by God

One reason that the labor of the truly holy man ceases to be labor, in the ordinary sense of that term, is, that there is a divine power working in him. The Infinite Mind is necessarily the life of the created and finite mind, so long as sin does not separate them from each other. Man is the instrument, in which and through which God works.

The Savior himself said, "I can of myself do nothing." The wonderful power which was manifested in him, in his incarnate state, had its source in his Father, from whom, in the exercise of faith, he continually drew divine strength. [See Acts, Ch. 1:3, and other passages of similar import.] The language of Paul and of other holy men, who derived their strength from God through Christ, is, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philipp. 4: 13.

There is an inward conviction, a consciousness felt in the depths of the pious man's spiritual nature, that virtue has a necessary alliance with power, and that the good man never, can be deserted. God, who inspires this remarkable conviction, is pledged, both by nature and by promise, to see it realized. And thus the man of God, who feels this increased strength, finds that easy which would otherwise be hard to him.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 7.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Rest From Labor

The soul which is fully the Lord's may be said also to rest from labor.

This depends in part, however, upon the meaning which we attach to the term labor. As the term is commonly understood, it implies some degree, more or less according to the circumstances, of forethought and calculation, strivings of the will, and physical effort. But this is not all. It implies, also, not only effort, but pain. There is something unpleasant in it. In this view of the import of the term, God does not labor; angels do not labor; nor do glorified saints. There is obviously no such thing as labor of this sort in heaven. There is life; there is activity; everything is done which ought to be done; but all labor which involves pain ceases.

And, to a considerable extent, these views are true of the holy man in the present life. He does not cease to be active, and to do what the providence of God calls him to do; on the contrary, cooperating with God in the great work of redemption, he finds and knows no idle moments; but still, the work which he does, ceases so far to possess the ordinary attributes of labor, that he may be said, in a certain sense, to cease from labor.

It will be kept in mind by the reader, that this is not said of the sinful man, nor of the partially sanctified man, but of the man whose soul, freed from the separations of self, has passed into a state of entire union with God. Undoubtedly the rest, which is experienced even by such an one, is not so perfect, in consequence of the imperfections and hindrances of the body, as it will be hereafter; but still, it is so real and great, and besides, so naturally results from the principles involved in holy living, that it deserves to be noticed.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 7.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

I Would Not Always Live

"So that my soul chooseth strangling; and death rather than my life. I loath it; I would not live always; let me alone; for my days are vanity. What is man, that thou shouldest magnify  him, and that thou shouldest set thy heart upon him?"  Job vii. 15, 17.

I WOULD NOT ALWAYS LIVE. There's something here,
In this lone world of sorrow and of sin,
To which the purer heart, to virtue dear,
Finds no response, no sympathy within.
As when the rising sun dispels the cloud,
And spreads its glory o'er the dazzled sky,
So shall the mind cast off its moral shroud,
And bask in brightness, when it mounts on high.
That is its home; its high congenial place;
'Tis there, that, fitted with unearthly wings,
The spirit, running its eternal race,
And mounting ever up, triumphant sings.
I would not always live.  Hail glorious day,
Which gives us heavenly life, and takes our house of clay.

American Cottage Life (1850) XXXVI.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Parental Bereavement

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand  of God,  that He may exalt you in due time; casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you." 1 Peter, v. 6, 7.

I've lost my loved, my cherished little one,
Who smiling, prattling, clasped  her  Father's knee.
Alas!  Her  transient hour of life is run,
And her sweet tone and smile are nought to me.
The  grave hath claimed her. Oft I seem to hear
Her  blessed voice charming the vacant air.
I listen; but my own fond fancy's ear
Frames the sweet sound. My loved one is not there.
Onward, to where yon green tree waves its shade,
I look, when summer's sultry sun is high;
There, in her days of life and health, she played;
In  vain I thither turn my weeping eye.
God in his mercy took her; and 'tis mine
To  feel his ways  are  right, nor let my heart repine.

American Cottage Life (1850) XXXV.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

God Must Dwell in the Soul Before God Can be Manifest in the Life

Nothing exists, which does not have its principle of existence. And accordingly, that can never be manifested outwardly, which does not exist inwardly in its principle of existence. And hence, it is not unreasonable to say, that God must dwell in the soul, before God can be manifested in the life. And hence it is said of the Christian, who keeps the divine commandments, "my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him." And again it is said, "Ye are the temples of the living God." John 14:23, 2d Cor. 6:16.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLXXXII.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Kinds of Sorrow

There are different kinds of sorrow. There is  a godly sorrow, and a worldly sorrow; a sorrow which works life and a sorrow which works death. The one is the product of man's unsanctified nature; the other is inspired by the Holy Ghost. The one is the companion of self-seeking, envy, and avarice; the other is the associate of humility, of love of the truth, and of desires after holiness. The one is sorrow, because we have offended God; the other is sorrow because we have not gained the world.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLXXXI.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Faults of Christians

To the holy mind the faults and backslidings of the followers of Christ furnish occasions of humiliation and prayer; but never of secret complacency and of ungenerous triumph. While, therefore, the errors of Christians are deeply to be lamented, they are never, except when truth and holiness clearly require it, to be published abroad. "Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets." 

— Religious Maxims (1846) CLXXX.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Recognizing the Spirit's Guidance: Promoting God's Glory

It is an evidence, that a person is guided by thy Holy Spirit, whose whole conduct, whether considered in its particulars or in its general outline, has a distinctly favorable bearing on the promotion of God's glory in the world. The end of all things is the glory of God. In the promotion of this great object, God, the Holy Ghost, co-operates with God the Father, and God the Son. The Holy Ghost, therefore, recognizes and enforces the great truth, that all subordinate tendencies, that all inferior and private interests, whenever they receive a corrected and sanctified direction, will always converge to the same center, and will never reach their TERMINUS, if we may so express it, except in the bosom of the adorable Infinite. To this great result, all his interior and individual teachings infallibly tend. To know all things and to love all things in God; to annihilate self in all the various forms of creature-love and of self-will, and to make God the great center of our being; this only is true wisdom and everlasting life. He, therefore, who is led by the teachings of the Holy Ghost, will be taught that he must think for God, feel for God, will for God, act for God; and that the great reality of God, which is the true beginning and completion of all religious life, must be received into the soul as the paramount motive; and with a power to expel all subordinate motives, and to reign there forever with supreme dominion.

Such are some of the marks, by which those may be known, who are led by the Divine Spirit. These are a HIDDEN people. They have intimacy with the Highest: but they are, nevertheless, the little ones, that are almost unknown among men. Rational with the highest degree of rationality, scrupulously conscientious, ever desirous to learn the will of God as manifested in his Word and Providences, modest and sincerely courteous and becoming in their intercourse with their fellow-men, and governed under all circumstances by a supreme regard to God's glory, they pass calmly and devoutly through the world, blessed in themselves and a blessing to others. And yet the people of the world, blinded by their unbelief, but little know and little value that interior instruction, by which they are thus guided to the illuminated heights of evangelical perfection. Happy is he who is led, not by mere sights and sounds; not by strange and momentary impressions, which may come from the disordered senses, from the world, or from the devil; but by that clear light which illuminates the intellect, the conscience, and the heart; which is ever consistent with itself and with God's Word and Providences; and which has in reality for its author, the Comforter, the Holy Ghost.

"Eternal Spirit! God of truth!
Our contrite hearts inspire;
Kindle the flame of heavenly love,
And feed the pure desire.
'Tis thine to soothe the sorrowing mind,
With guilt and fear oppressed;
'Tis thine to bid the dying live,
And give the weary rest."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 6.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Recognizing the Spirit's Guidance: Harmony with Scripture

He, who is led by the Holy Spirit, will find his conduct, just so far as he is the subject of this divine guidance, in entire harmony with the teachings of the Scriptures. It has already been intimated that the voice of the Spirit can never be contradictory to itself. And accordingly having spoken in the Scriptures, it can never contradict what it has there said by any interior revelation to individual minds. If, for instance, the Scriptures, dictated by the divine Spirit, have, for wise and adequate purposes, authorized and required the specific observance of the Lord's day, and have authorized and required the setting apart of the ministry, or have recognized and established other institutions and ordinances, it would be unreasonable to suppose, that the same Spirit, in contradiction to himself, will guide individual minds to a disregard and contempt of those institutions. And in like manner, if the Bible, in any case of specific and personal action, requires a thing either to be done or to be omitted to be done, the Holy Spirit, operating on individual minds, will teach the same thing; and will always lead the subject of his operations to the performance in the one case, and to the omission in the other. And in all cases whatever, as the Holy Spirit, speaking in the heart, and the Holy Spirit speaking in the Bible, necessarily utter the same voice, they will necessarily in their ultimate tendencies lead to the same result,

And we may remark further, in connection with what has now been said, that he, who is led by the Spirit, will love to be led by the Spirit. It will be his delight. And under the influence of this divine attraction, he will earnestly strive to ascertain the mind of the Spirit. And consequently he will be led to the Bible, as one of the most valuable means of ascertaining it; he will read it much; he will read it with seriousness, candor, and prayer; that he may know the length and breadth of the divine communications, which are there made. And the pleasing and important result will be, that his life will be characterized by the same traits of submission and love, of regard for the divine institutions and precepts, of prompt and consistent action and of mighty faith, which adorn the lives of those, of whom the Scriptures gives us an account.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 6.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Recognizing the Spirit's Guidance: Union with Providence

He, who is under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, will always find himself in the position of coincidence and union with the divine Providences. He will not only be in harmony with whatever is true and beautiful in human intercourse; but there will also be no jarring and no points of discordant contact between his conduct and the unerring consecution of providential dispensations. This will be sufficiently obvious we suppose, after what has been said in some of the preceding chapters, without going into any length of remark. It is unquestionable that the will of God is made known, to a considerable extent, in his providential dealings. Consequently the language of the Holy Spirit will never, in any case, contradict the correctly interpreted language of divine Providence. On the contrary, they will always completely, and, as they have but one author, will necessarily harmonize. To illustrate the subject, the Holy Spirit will never instruct an individual to give to religious purposes a certain amount of property, when the Providence of God, by taking away his property, has rendered the donation an impossibility. Again, the Holy Spirit will never, by an interior teaching, instruct a man to go upon a distant missionary enterprise, when at the same time the Providence of God, by placing him on a bed of sickness, has rendered him incapable of the requisite physical and mental exertion. And if any impressions or convictions, which thus involve a contradiction of the voice of the Spirit and the voice of Providence, should rest upon the mind of any person, he may be assured that they come from a wrong source, and ought to be rejected. We assert, therefore, that he, who is led by the Holy Spirit, will find his conduct beautifully harmonizing with the events of divine Providence, as they daily and hourly develop themselves. In other words, while he is continually led by the inward guidance to do and to suffer the divine will, he always finds himself acting and suffering in cooperation with the manifested designs and arrangements of God.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 6.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Recognizing the Spirit's Guidance: Outward Manner of Life

The teachings of the Holy Spirit will have a tendency to beautify and perfect the outward manner, as well as the inward experience. And accordingly he, who is truly under this divine direction, will always find his conduct characterized by the utmost decency, propriety, and true courteousness. I believe it is a common remark, that a truly devout and holy person may, in general, be easily recognized by the outward manner. And this remark, which is confirmed by experience, has its foundation in nature. The natural life, which is inordinately full of self, and is often prompted in its movements by passion, pride, and prejudice, will of course develop itself in an outward manner as extravagant, inconsistent, and imperfect, as the inward source from which it springs. Hence it is that we so often see, in the intercourse of man with man, so much that shocks our notions of propriety; so much in word or in action that is characterized by violence or levity; so much that is unsuitable to the time and place. But he, on the contrary, in whom the natural life is slain, and in the center of whose heart the Holy Spirit has taken up his residence to inspire it with truth and love, will discover an outward manner as true, as simple, and as beautiful, as the inward perfection from which it has its origin. A voice inspired with gentleness and love, a countenance not only free from the distortions of passion but radiant with inward peace, a freedom from unbecoming gayety and thoughtless mirth, a propriety of expression resulting from seriousness of character, a disposition to bear meekly and affectionately with the infirmities of others, a placid self-possession, an unaffected but strict regard to the proprieties of time, place, and station, can hardly fail to impress upon the outward beholder a conviction of the purity and power which dwell within.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 6.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Recognizing the Spirit's Guidance: Tranquility

When we are led by the Holy Spirit, there will be a subdued, tranquil, and well regulated state of the natural sensibilities, in distinction from the moral sensibilities or conscience; that is to say, of the various appetites, the propensive principles, and the affections. It is well understood, that when we are led by the world or by Satan, the various natural propensities and affections, which constitute what we understand by the natural sensibilities, are, in general, ill regulated, agitated, and turbulent. A really worldly man is either externally, or internally, an agitated man; generally in movement and generally discordant with himself; resembling the troubled sea, and casting up to the surface of his spirit mire and dirt. On the contrary, he, who is led by the Holy Spirit, with the exception of those occasional agitations arising from  purely instinctive impulses, which do not recognize the control of reason and the will, is always subdued, patient, quiet.  His natural propensities, which, in persons who have not experienced the same grace, are so turbulent and violent, run peaceably and appropriately in the channels, which God has assigned to them.  His  natural  affections,  which so often become the masters and tyrants of the mind, submit to the authority of conscience and the will. The inroads and shocks of the heaviest afflictions pass over him, and leave his inward submission and his peace unbroken. A divine tranquility is written, upon the emotions and desires, upon the affections that linger upon the past, and upon the hopes that move onward to the future. In this respect, being under this divine and transcendent teaching, he is like his heavenly Father. The Infinite Mind is always tranquil.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 6.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Recognizing the Spirit's Guidance: Conscience

The person, who is guided by the Holy Spirit, will possess a quickly operative and effective conscience. This is too obvious to require much remark. It seems to be impossible, that a man should be guided by the Holy Spirit, and not experience a purified and renovated activity of the moral sense. This important result is what might naturally be expected, among other things, from the result on our intellectual nature, which has already been indicated. It is well known that the conscience operates in connection with the intellect, and subsequent in time. There must necessarily be certain intellectual data or facts, as the basis of the inward conscientious movement. And in accordance with this law, in proportion as the truth under the guidance of the Holy Spirit develops itself from the intellect, with greater and greater clearness, the action of the conscience becomes increasingly distinct, sensitive, and energetic. It becomes a sort of flaming sword in the soul; and keeps it in the way of life. Accordingly, on this principle, no man, who has a dull and sleepy conscience, a rough and blunted edge of moral perceptivity, is at liberty to say, that he is guided by the Holy Ghost.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 6.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Recognizing the Spirit's Guidance: It is Perceptive and Rational

The person, who is guided by the Holy Spirit, will be eminently perceptive and rational. The operations of the Holy Spirit, in the agency which he exerts for the purpose of enlightening and guiding men, will not be found to be accidental, or arbitrary, or in any sense irrational operations.

The Holy Spirit is not an ignorant but a wise Being; not an agent that is moved by unenlightened impulse, but by perfect knowledge. And this being the case, it is a natural supposition and one which will be generally assented to, that his operations will always exist in accordance with, and not in opposition to the laws of the human mind.

And furthermore, according to the Scriptures, a primary and leading office, though not the only office, of the Holy Spirit is to TEACH men, to lead them into the TRUTH. And if so, then, ordinarily, the first operation will be upon the intellect, in distinction from the sensibilities and the will. And we do not hesitate to say in point of fact, and as a matter of personal experience, that the person who is guided by the Holy Spirit, will find that this divine Agent does, in reality, impart an increased clearness to the intellectual or cognitive part of the mind. This divine operation is, for the most part, very gentle and deeply interior; revealing itself by its results more than by the mere mode of its action; but it is not, on that account, any the less real. It seems to put a keenness of edge, if, we may so express it, upon the natural perceptivity, so as to enable it to separate idea from idea, proposition from proposition; and thus to guide it, with a remarkable niceness of discrimination, through the perplexities of error into the regions of truth.

We repeat, therefore, that one evidence, of being guided by the Holy Spirit, is, that such guidance contributes to the highest rationality. In other words, the person, who is guided by the Holy Spirit, other things being equal, will be the most keenly perceptive, judicious, and rational. Not flighty and precipitate; not prejudiced, one-sided, and dogmatical, but like his great inward teacher, calmly and divinely cognitive. The experience of holy men, particularly of those who have made it a practice to ask the guidance of the Holy Spirit on their studies, agrees with this statement.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 6.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Prayer for a Fellow Sinner

Pity, O Lord, the wandering one,
The outcast of the sons of men;
Against Thyself his deeds were done;
Wilt Thou not take him back again?

Bend down, and catch his weary sigh,
And let him in his anguish hear
The footsteps of his Father nigh,
To break his chain, to wipe his tear.

I too have been a, sinner, Lord;
I  too like him have gone astray,
Forgetful of Thy holy Word,
And walking in the devious way.

Pity my brother in his wrong;
Pity, as Thou hast pitied me;
And, with Thy tender arm and strong,
Set the poor bleeding captive free.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LVI.

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Inward Light

There was a man; and he was blind;
And yet he said, the Lord is kind;
For, while he takes the outward sight,
He gives me more of inward light;
The inward light, the inward light,
He gives me more of inward light.

The outward sight is very dear,
With power to know, and power to cheer;
It visits field and fruit and flower,
And running stream and sunny bower;
But know, that not till that is seal'd,
Is all of inward light reveal'd.

The soul, to outward objects blind,
Opens the eyelids of the mind;
And to the sun-beams from the sky,
That light its deep, interior eye,
The truths, unseen before, are given,
Which shine like stars, and guide to heaven.

Oh God, the Universal Whole,
Visit the Temple of the soul;
Oh God, the living light within,
Dispel the shades and clouds of sin;
Take, if Thou wilt, the outward sight,
And quench its rays in sunless night,
But give, oh  give the inward light.

— Christ in the Soul (1872) LV.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Rest in God's Providences

Rest, or pacification in God's providences, implies and secures the fact of rest or peace in other things, which have an indirect relation to his providences.

For instance, he who is at peace with Providence, has rest from vain and meandering imaginations. He is unlike other persons in this respect, who constantly recur in their imaginations to other scenes and other situations. and people them with a felicity which is the creation of their own minds. If his imagination ever goes beyond the sphere which Providence has assigned him, it does so under a divine guidance, and not at the instigation of unholy discontent.

Again, he who is at peace with Providence experiences, as one of the incidental results of his position in this respect, a peace or rest from feelings of envy. The occasion of envy is the existence, or supposed existence, of superiority in others. It is impossible, therefore, for him to envy others, because, viewing all things as he does in the light of God, he does not and cannot believe that the situation of others is better than his own. Accordingly, he is at rest from the agitations of this baneful passion.

He has rest also from easily offended and vengeful feelings. If he has been injured by another, he knows that his heavenly Father, without originating the unholy impulse, has seen  fit, for wise reasons, to direct its application against himself. He receives the blow with a quiet spirit, as one which is calculated to strengthen his own piety, while he has pity for him who inflicts it. Considered in relation to himself, he accepts all, approves all, rejoices in all. In the remarkable language of the apostle Paul, which precisely describes his situation, he "suffers long and is kind; he envies not; is not easily provoked; thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” 1st Corinthians, ch. 13.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 6.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Internal Providence

God's providence is internal as well as external. God is the inspirer of the feelings of the heart as well as the director and controller of outward events. Our thoughts and feelings are from God, so far as they are right thoughts and right feelings. Accordingly, the man who is fully united with God, rests from all anxiety in relation to the particular form or mode of his inward experience. Among the various thoughts and feelings which are right and good, he has no choice. For instance, he does not desire inward joys, nor great illuminations of mind, nor freedom and gifts of utterance; but desires and accepts only that degree of light and joy, whether more or less, which God sees fit to send. It is true we are directed to covet "the best gifts," [1 Cor. 12:31.] but it is equally true that those gifts are the best which God selects and gives. In everything, in gifts and the exercise of gifts, for time and for eternity, the wise man chooses for himself what God chooses for him: which is the same as to say that he rests from choice, or that he is without choice. God's providence is his guide.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 6.