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, July 11, 2016

Inward Recollection

I believe it is the case, that all those, who have had much experience in the principles and methods of interior living, agree in attaching a very great importance to the state of INWARD RECOLLECTION. It is certainly difficult to meet the crosses and trials of life with composure, and to sustain the soul on other occasions, in purity and peace, without the aid of inwardly recollected habits of mind. However sincere may be our desire for entire devotedness of heart, and whatever resolutions we may form with that view, we shall often find ourselves in confusion of spirit and inadvertently failing in the fulfillment of our own resolutions, without this important aid.

INWARD RECOLLECTION is that serious and collected state of mind, in which God is realized and felt as the inward and present counselor, guide, and judge of all our actions, both internal and external. In its results, when it becomes the fixed habit of the soul, it not only restores God to the inward possession and establishes Him upon the throne of the intellect and heart; but differing from that condition, in which He comes in broken and fragmentary visits, it sustains Him there essentially without interruption, in what may be termed a continuance or perpetuity of presence. In a word, it is the devoutly and practically realized presence of God in the soul, moment by moment.

This is the state of mind, which, we cannot hesitate in saying, all Christians ought to be in. It is hardly necessary to say, that it is a scriptural state of mind. It is obviously implied and taught in those numerous passages of Scripture, which inculcate the duty of watchfulness, which speak of setting the Lord always before us, of walking with God, and of our inability to do any thing without him.

And it is not more agreeable to God's Word, than it is suited to man's condition; not more scriptural, than it is necessary. We need it in order to know what to do. We need it in order to do what is proper and necessary to be done, in a just, Christian, and holy manner. We need it in all times and places, and in small things as well as great; since there are no times and places, from which God ought to be excluded; and nothing is so small, that it may not have great and important relations.

It will be objected perhaps, that the state of Inward Recollection, considered as a state of long continuance and still more as perpetual, is an impracticable one. Whatever it may be to others, (and undoubtedly it is a state of mind, which is never experienced either in the absence of religion or in a low state of religion,) it is certainly not impracticable to a person of a truly devout spirit. But how can it be possible, says the objector, inasmuch as the religious life is made up, in a great degree, of specific religious duties, that a person can give the attention of his mind to those duties, and be occupied with the distinct idea of God at the same time? The difficulty, which is implied in this objection, whatever may be its reality or its extent, is met and obviated, at least for all practical purposes, by an acknowledged law of our mental nature. We refer to the principle or law of Habit. By means of this law the rapidity of the mental action may be increased to a degree, almost inconceivable; so much so that actions, which are distinct in time, will appear to be simultaneous; and objects, which are separately attended to, will appear to be embraced in one mental view. And so far as all practical purposes are concerned, the acts of the mind, which thus separately and successively take place, may be truly regarded as one act. And applying this law to the state of inward recollection, we may easily see, how the mind may be occupied with a specific duty and may at the same time be percipient of the divine presence, and may also connect the two together and impart to them a character of unity, so that the duty may properly be said to be done in a religiously recollected state. The movement of the mind in relation to the duty, and then in relation to God as cognizant of the duty, and the transition from one to the other, are all so exceedingly rapid, that memory does not ordinarily separate and recognize them as distinct acts; and thus in our apprehension and consciousness of them, they are blended together as one.

God, therefore, in our mental contemplation of him, may be made present to all our specific duties; and thus the essential condition is fulfilled, which enables the mind to exist in the state of inward recollection. It is our privilege, therefore, a privilege too often undervalued and neglected, to do every thing which Christian duty requires, as in the divine presence, IN God and FOR God.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd Edition 1844) Part 3, Chapter 7.

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