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.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Illustrations of Receiving by Faith

We will suppose, for instance, that, in a particular emergency, we need and are sincerely desirous of wisdom to guide us, and that we truly and humbly ask for it. While we thus pray, it is of course implied, that we, at the same time, employ all those rational powers which God has given us, and which are appropriate to the subject under consideration. To do otherwise would be like the husbandman's asking the rains and the blessing of heaven upon lands, which he had neglected to cultivate. While we thus pray and thus act, it becomes our privilege and our duty, in accordance with the doctrines of the life of faith, to believe fully and firmly, that God does in fact answer, and that, in the sanctified exercise of the powers which are given us, we truly have that degree of wisdom which is best for us in the present case. Whether we are conscious of any new light on the subject or not, it is our privilege, and what is very important, it is our duty, as those who would be wholly the Lord's, to believe that we have just that degree of knowledge which is best for us. Even if we are left in almost entire ignorance on the topic of our inquiry, and are obliged to grope our way onward in the best manner we can, we still have the high satisfaction of knowing, that we are placed in this position because God sees that a less degree of light is better in our case than a greater, and it is certain that his perception of it involves the fact that it is so. And accordingly, if it be true that God does not give to us that precise form and degree of wisdom which in our ignorance we sought for, we nevertheless have received all that wisdom, which, in the view of faith, is either necessary or desirable. Such is God's answer. And such also is the true  answer, viz., the answer which precisely corresponds to the spirit of the petition, if the petition has been offered up in the true spirit. But it is obvious it is an answer, which could never be realized as the true answer, and as God's answer, except in the exercise of faith. It is, therefore, an answer resting upon the revealed declaration or word of God, viz., that he will give wisdom to those that sincerely ask it, and made available to us in being received by faith.  It  answers our purpose just as much and as well, and in some important points of view far better, than if it were an answer addressed direct­ly to our sight.

We will suppose, as another illustration of the subject, that we have a sincere and earnest desire for the salvation of one of our friends. Under the pressure of this desire we lay the case before our heavenly Father in supplication. What is the nature of the answer which we can reasonably expect, and which we ought to expect under such circumstances? Is it a specific answer of such a nature as to make known to us, by a direct communication, whether the thing shall be done or not, and whether it shall be done at a particular time or no? Or is it an answer, resting upon the revealed declaration of the word of God, as that answer is received and made available to us by faith? In the former case we shall pray till we know, or rather till we think we know; not merely know, that God answers us, and answers us in the best manner; but what is a very different thing, shall pray till we know or think we know what the answer is. Under the influence of a very subtle and secret distrust of God, we shall not be disposed to desist until we obtain some sign, some voice, some specific manifestation, some feeling which shall make us certain;  and certain, not merely that God hears us, and will do all he consistently can for us; but shall insist on a certain knowledge, by means of such signs and manifestations, of the precise thing which he will do. In other words, we cannot trust the answer in God's keeping; but must gratify our inordinate and sinful curiosity by having a revelation of it. — In the latter case, viz. where we expect an answer, resting upon God's word and received by faith, it is very different. While we humbly, earnestly, and perseveringly lay our request before God, we shall leave the result in his hands with entire resignation; believing, in accordance with the declarations of his holy word, that he does truly hear us; entirely confident that he will do what is right; and recognizing his blessed will, although that will may as yet be unknown to us, as the true and only desirable fulfillment of our supplication. We shall feel, although salvation is desirable both for ourselves and others, that the fulfillment of the holy will of God is still more, yea infinitely more desirable. "THY WILL BE DONE." And here is a real answer, such an answer as would completely satisfy an angel's mind; and yet it is an answer received by simple faith. "The just shall live by faith." The whole doctrine is beautifully summed up in a short passage in the first Epistle of John. "And this is the confidence [or strong faith] that we have in him, that if we ask any thing according to his Will, he heareth us. And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, We know that we have  the petitions that we desire of him."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition 1844) Part 3, Chapter 9.

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