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, August 8, 2016

God's Life Existing as a Nature

[There is] something which we have noticed in the writings of Madame Guyon. All nature conveyed to her a lesson of religion; — the woods, the waters, the flowers, every living and moving thing. Hence her beautiful lines to the swallow:­

"I am fond of the swallow; — I learn from her flight,
Had I skill to improve it, a lesson of love.
How seldom on earth do we see her alight!
She dwells in the skies, she is ever above."

She saw a great deal of God in the birds, and in the sheep, and in the oxen, and in all the various lower animals that live and move around us. And she repeat­edly says of herself, that she seemed to be like them;­ meaning that there was something, in the operations of her own inward life, which led her to sympathize with them. The explanation of what she says is this: The life of the lower animals is not a device, a calculation, but a  nature.  They move, as they are moved by that instinctive power within them, which obviously has its origin in something out of themselves. The life of animals, although it is not elevated to the rank of moral life, is yet a life from God. And it was her clear perception of this, which led her to study their habits, and to sympathize with them so much. She saw in them God's life existing as a nature. The life of God in her own soul, though greatly superior in kind, was like that of animals, in one respect, — it had become a nature to her. And it seemed to her to operate much in the same way and with the same certainty that the instincts operate in the lower animals. It was not more natural and easy for the swallow to lift its wing, and to ascend in a clear summer sky, than for her own soul to ascend and unite itself with God.

And how wonderful her inward peace was, all know who are acquainted with her history. She gives us expressly to understand that she did not undertake to regulate herself by the common human methods; conscious as she was that God, by a new law of life, had become her inward regulator. And she was thus freed from a thousand anxieties and dangers.

And it is obvious how greatly this state of things must contribute to the true peace and rest of the soul in all cases. Happy, thrice happy, is such a man! His countenance is cheerful, because he has joy in his heart. If he seems to do nothing, it is because God works in him. If his burden is light, it is because God bears it. Satan, envious of their happiness, sometimes says to such, "Ye are deceived. Why do ye not fast, as did John's disciples?” But Jesus replies now, as he replied in former times: — "Can the children of the bride-chamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them?”

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 9.

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