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 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.

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