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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Quietude and Inordinate Desires

The state of internal quietude implies a cessation or rest from unrestrained and inordinate desires and affections.

Such a cessation becomes comparatively easy, when God has become the ruling idea in the thoughts; and when other ideas, which are vain, wandering, and in other ways inconsistent with it, are excluded. This rest or stillness of the affections, when it exists in the highest degree, is secured by perfect faith in God, necessarily resulting in perfect love. We have already had occasion to say that perfect faith implies, in its results, perfect love. How can we possibly have perfect faith in God, perfect confidence that he will do all things right and well, when at the same time we are wanting in love to him? From perfect faith, therefore, perfect love necessarily flows out, baptizing, as it were, and purifying all the subordinate powers of the soul. In other words, under the influence of this predominating principle, the perfect love of God resting upon perfect faith in God, the harmony of the soul becomes restored; the various appetites, propensities, and affections act each in their place and all concurrently; there are no disturbing and jarring influences, and the beautiful result is that quietness of spirit, which is declared to be "in the sight of God of great price."

Those, who are privileged by divine assistance, to enjoy this interior rest and beautiful stillness of the passions, are truly lovely to the beholder. The wicked are like the troubled sea, that cannot rest, tossed about by conflicting passions, and are not more unhappy in themselves, than they are unlovely in the sight of holy beings. There is a want of interior symmetry and union; that guiding principle of divine love, which consolidates and perfects the characters of holy beings, is absent; the lower parts of their nature have gained the ascendency, and there is internal jarring and discord and general moral deformity. In such a heart God does not and cannot dwell. How different is the condition of that heart, which is pervaded by the power of a sanctifying stillness, and which, in the cessation of its own jarring noise, is prepared to listen to the "still small voice!" It is here that God not only takes up his abode, but continually instructs, guides, and consoles.

On this part of the subject, in order to prevent any misapprehension, we make two brief remarks. The first is, that the doctrine of stillness or quietude of the desires and passions, does not necessarily exclude an occasional agitation arising from the instinctive part of our nature. The INSTINCTS are so constituted, that they act, not by cool reason and reflection, but by an inexpressibly quick and agitated movement. Such is their nature. Such agitation is entirely consistent with holiness. And it is not unreasonable to suppose, that even the amazement and fears, which are ascribed to our blessed Savior at certain periods of his life, are to be attributed to the operation of this part of his nature, which is perfectly consistent with entire resignation and with perfect confidence in God. The other remark is, that the doctrine of internal quietude, pervading and characterizing the action of the sensibilities, is not inconsistent with feelings of displeasure, and even of anger. Our Savior was at times grieved, displeased, angry; as he had abundant reason to be, in view of the hardness of heart and the sins, which were exposed to his notice. Anger, (so far as it is not purely  instinctive, which at its first rise and for a mere moment of time it may be,) is, in its nature, entirely consistent with reason and reflection; is consistent with the spirit of supplication, and consistent also, even in its strong exercises, with entire agreement and relative quietude in all parts of the soul. In other words, although there is deep feeling in one part of the soul, the other parts, such as the reason, the conscience, and the will, are so entirely consentient, that the great fact of holy, internal quietude, which depends upon a perfect adjustment of the parts to each other, is secured. A strong faith in God, existing in the interior recesses of the soul, and inspiring a disposition to look with a constant eye to his will alone; keeps every thing in its right position. Hence there still remains the great and important fact of holy internal rest, even at such trying times.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 10.

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