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, August 25, 2016

Holiness and the Contemplative State

The contemplative state, like that of meditation, is, for the time being, a fixed state. That is to say, the mind unites itself firmly and fixedly with its appropriate object for a length of time. In the highest degrees of sanctification, it becomes almost a permanent state. It may be broken temporarily by the pressure of care and worldly business. But it is the natural tendency of the truly holy mind, when left to itself, to fall into this state. That is to say, in every object the contemplative man, who cannot be truly contemplative without being truly holy, catches a new glimpse of the Divinity; and has no heart to leave it, until the vicissitudes of Providence call him to other objects where he has new revelations of the divine nature, and new exercises and intimacies of love.

To him who has this deeper insight and this higher unity, God breathes in the vernal zephyr, and shines brightly in the summer's sun; he sees him molding and painting the fruits of autumn, and sending the hoar-frosts and piling up the snows of winter; all inanimate nature is full of him. He sees God, also, in what is ordinarily called the work of men's hands. It is God that spreads his pillow; — it is God that builds his house; — it is God that ploughs his fields; — it is God that sells for him and buys for him; — God gives him pain, and sends him joy, — smites him when he is sick, and heals him when he gets well.

And what God does for himself, he does also for others, and for communities. He sees God in all the changes which take place around him. It is God that builds up and puts down,— that makes kings and makes subjects, — that builds up one nation and destroys another, — that binds the chains of the captive and gives liberty to the free, — that makes war and makes peace. All men, and princes, and nations, are in his hands like clay in the hands of the potter. His eternal will, which, in being established on the basis of eternal wisdom and justice, never has changed and never can change, dashes them to pieces, or fashions them to ever­lasting life. All things are his, sin only excepted, and sin is sin, because it is not of God.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 10.

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