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.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Present Moment Has a Moral Extension

Impressions and impulses, which are not from the Holy Spirit, but from some other source, such as a disordered imagination, the world or the devil, are not of that peaceful and quiet character which has been mentioned; but are hasty and violent. In violation of the great Scriptural maxim, "HE THAT BELIEVETH SHALL NOT MAKE HASTE" the person, who is under this pernicious influence, thinks he cannot be too quick. He makes but little account of obstacles; he cannot take time for interior examination; he has no open eye to God's outward providences; he is too impetuous, too much possessed by himself or by Satanic influence, to engage in calm and humble prayer for guidance; in a word, he rushes blindly onward just as his great adversary, who is especially interested in his movements, would have him.

The great plea of these persons is, that the time is Now; that what is to be done is to be done Now; that the present moment is the true moment of action. This is essentially true; but there is a valuable remark of FĂ©nelon, which places the doctrine of present or immediate action in its correct position.  It is, that THE PRESENT MOMENT HAS A MORAL EXTENSION. In other words, we are undoubtedly bound to fulfill the duty of the present moment; but it is the present moment, not in a state of barren insulation, but considered in all its relations to God, man, and the universe. But it is perfectly obvious, that the duties of the present moment cannot be fulfilled in their moral extension without calling in the aid of a calmly reflective and sanctified judgment.

 — edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition 1844) Part 3, Chapter 4.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Impulses Inspired by the Holy Spirit

That the Holy Spirit does sometimes act directly upon the sensibilities by exciting in them a purely impulsive feeling, we may probably admit. Undoubtedly there are some facts, in the experience of pious men, which favor this view. But is it the object of the Holy Spirit in originating impulsive impressions, to excite men to immediate action without any reflection, or to excite them to action rationally, that is to say, in connection with suitable inquiry and consideration? This is the important question. And the decision of it involves great practical results.

It is certainly reasonable to suppose, that it is not the object of the Holy Spirit, when He makes a direct impulsive impression on the human mind, to lead men to act without perception and reflection; but rather to stop them in their thoughtless and unreflecting career, and to awaken within them the slumbering powers of thought and inquiry. It is reasonable to suppose this, because as a wise being, as a being acting in accordance with the laws of the human mind, as a being infinitely desirous of true holiness in men, we do not well perceive, how He can take any other course than this.

The true tendency, therefore, of those impressions or impulses, which come from the Spirit of God, is to awaken men to a sense of their thoughtlessness, and to quicken within them a state of humble and holy consideration. When such impressions and impulses are from the right source, we cannot doubt that the results will be of this character. That is to say; they will not of themselves lead men to direct action; but will lead them to that inquiry and reflection, which is preparatory to action. But when impressions or impulses come from Satan, as they sometimes do, their tendency is to lead men to action at once, without such intermediate consideration.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition 1844) Part 3, Chapter 4.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Purely Impuslive Actions Cannot be Holy

Actions, which proceed from pure impulse or a mere internal impression without attendant perception or reaction, cannot possibly be holy actions. What we mean to say is, that there is a natural impossibility of their being such. A mere impulse, unattended by perception and reflection, is of the nature of an instinct. And any action, done from mere blind impulse, no matter how strong or extraordinary that impulse may be, is both physically and morally of the nature of an instinctive action. Now, as it is universally conceded that purely instinctive actions have no moral character, it is entirely evident, that impulsive actions, which are of the same nature with instinctive actions, have no title to the denomination or character of holiness. Some persons seem to think, the more they act from impulse, especially powerful impulse, the more holy they are. But this, if we are correct in what has been said, is a great and dangerous mistake.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition 1844) Part 3, Chapter 4.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Holy Spirit Does Not Guide us Into the Irrational or Absurd

The Holy Spirit does not, either by his gentle influences or by those which are more sudden and powerful, so operate upon a person as to guide him into any course, which is truly irrational and absurd. Now we know in many cases, if we should yield to the direction of mere impressions and impulses, especially those which are of a powerful kind, we should be led to do those things, which, to whatever test or measurement they might be subjected, could not escape the denomination of irrationality or absurdity. Of such impulses the Holy Spirit can never be the author, because nothing which is really absurd and irrational, (we speak not of the mere appearance, but of the reality of absurdity,) can come from that source.

I recollect once to have read the account of a person published by himself, in which he gives the reader to understand, that on a certain occasion he was suddenly and violently seized by the power of God as he expresses it; an expression undoubtedly synonymous in the view of the writer with the power of the Holy Ghost; that he was raised up by this divine impulse from the chest on which he was sitting, and was "whirled swiftly round, like a top for the space of two hours, without the least pain or inconvenience." We do not see on what grounds such an extraordinary result as this, so unmeaning, so unprofitable, and absurd can properly be ascribed to the power of God or the power of the Holy Ghost; especially if it be susceptible of explanation, as we think it can be in a considerable degree at least, on any natural principles. We know that the Savior was full of the Holy Ghost; but we do not read of his being subjected to any operation of this kind. We know also, that the Apostles, although they were plentifully endowed with the Divine Spirit, and under his teachings wrought various wonderful works, yet were never at any time made the subjects of such irrationalities. We have here, therefore, a mark of distinction, viz. that various irrational and absurd results may flow from natural impressions and impulses; but can never flow from the true operations of the Holy Spirit.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition 1844) Part 3, Chapter 4.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Spiritual Guidance and the Human Mind

The Holy Spirit is very various in his operations upon men; but it will be conceded, I suppose, as a correct principle, that He generally conforms himself in his operations, whatever they may be, to the structure and laws of the human mind. Accordingly in those operations, the object of which is to guide or direct men, it will be found, that He always acts in connection with the powers which are appropriate to such a result; and particularly in connection with the perceptive and judging powers.
We desire it to be kept in mind, that we are speaking here of his directing or guiding operations; in other words, those, which have a special connection with human conduct. These are the operations, which most intimately concern us; and in regard to which it is most important to establish correct principles.

We proceed to say, therefore, it is very obvious from man's mental structure, although he is sometimes the subject of a purely instinctive movement, that God designed, that the perceptive and judging powers, which He has given us, should ordinarily furnish the fundamental condition or basis of human action. And if in his spiritual providences it should be found to be his practice to guide men in any way not in accordance with this design, he would be inconsistent with himself. The first principle, therefore, which we lay down is this, that the Holy Spirit guides men, by operating in connection with the perceptive and judging powers.

And we may properly remark here, that this view, which is so important, as to be deserving of the reflection of the most judicious persons, seems to be in accordance with the sentiments of the pious and learned John Howe.

"We cannot" says this esteemed writer, "so much as apprehend clearly and with distinction the things which are needful for us to apprehend, without the light of the spirit of wisdom. It is necessary, (viz. the light which the Spirit of wisdom gives,) in order to the act of distinguishing or discerning, between things, what is to be done, and what is not to be done. There is a continual need through the whole course of our spiritual life, for the using of such a discretive judgment between things and things. And in reference hereto, there needs a continual emanation of the Holy Ghost, for otherwise we put good for evil and evil for good; light for darkness and darkness for light. We need the Spirit's help, to shine with vigorous and powerful light into our minds, so as to bring our judgments to a right determination."


— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition 1844) Part 3, Chapter 4.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Natural Impulses Are Not Spiritual Guidance

It is sometimes the case, that persons act from certain interior impressions, which may properly be termed IMPULSES. It would certainly be very injurious to the cause of holiness, if the doctrine should prevail, that mere interior impressions or impulses may of themselves become the rule of conduct to a holy person. That persons in sanctification are under a divine guidance, and that they cannot retain the grace of sanctification without such guidance, is entirely true. But it has sometimes been the case, that men have mistaken natural impulses for the secret inspirations of the Spirit; and in the flattering belief of being guided by a higher power, have experienced no other guidance than that of their own rebellious passions. On the danger of such a state, of which the church has seen too many melancholy instances, it is unnecessary to remark.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 4.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Christian Pilgrim

"These  all  died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them a far off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on  the  earth." Heb. xi.  13.

Farewell, my native country! Thy bright star,
Thy sky, green woods, clear waters, no more greet
Mine eye delighted. But with pilgrim feet,
In waste and horrid lands, I wander far.
I wander far, unknown, but not dismayed;
I leave my native country; but my soul,
Unmoved, unshaken, in its purpose whole,
On higher power, than aught of earth, is stayed.
My God shall be my country! I will call,
And he will hear me in the desert place.
When troubles come, before his feet I fall,
And then he sheds the sunshine of his grace.
On Afric's arid sands, on Asia's plain,
On Greenland's ice-bound coast, no prayer to Him is vain.

American Cottage Life (1850) XXXII.

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Grave of the Beautiful

"So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power."  1 Cor. xv. 42, 43.

Where, near yon river's brink, the willows wave,
And summer's flowers to golden life have sprung;
Is dimly seen the village maiden's grave,
Forever gone, the beautiful and young.
The boatman turns to that sad spot his eye,
When o'er the wave his lingering sail is spread,
And see, when sunset gilds the pictured sky,
Her sister maids draw near with silent tread.
Alas, how oft the gems of earth grow pale,
And stars, that blessed us, dim their rising ray!
But not in vain their beauty do they veil,
And see their earthly glory pass away.
For beauty here, they snatch immortal bloom,
And light, eternal light, doth blossom on the tomb.

American Cottage Life (1850). XXXI.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Afflictions

Afflictions are from the same benevolent source from which mercies originate. They equally indicate God's goodness, and in their result will show that they are equally beneficial, and perhaps more so, to those who, in being the subjects of them, receive them in a proper temper of mind.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLXXIV.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Injury From a Neighbor

If our neighbor injures us by improper words or in any other way, it is as much an event in divine providence, considered in its relation to ourselves, as any event could be, by which we might be afflicted. God's hand is really in it, although it may require a higher faith to see it. Happy is the man who has the requisite faith, and who has those patient and acquiescent dispositions, which such a faith is calculated to produce.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLXXIII.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Human Dispositions in the Providence of God

The providence of God includes not only events but dispositions. In other words, there are moral providences as well as natural providences. God knows the tempers of men; the feelings whether good or evil, which predominate in their hearts. And whether they shall exhibit those tempers at one time rather than another, on one occasion rather than another, is a matter, which is left hidden in the divine providences alone.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLXXII.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Love Without Truth

That love, which is not according to the truth, when the truth is capable of being known, in other words, that love, which is not precisely conformed to its object, will always be found to be vitiated by some human imperfection; by unwarrantable indolence, or by interested fear, or by selfish complaisance.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLXXI.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Holiness, Love and Truth

Holiness is but another name for love.  But that love, which constitutes the essence of holiness, is a love, which by its very nature conforms itself to the truth. It loves only that which ought to be loved; and it loves, not in defect or excess, not periodically and violently, but precisely according to the truth.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLXX.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Forgiveness and God's Acceptance

"Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those that trespass against  us." If we rightly understand these and other passages of similar import, no person can regard himself as accepted of God, who has not the spirit of forgiveness towards his neighbor.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLXIX.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Rest From the Constraints of Conscience

There is a rest, in holy persons, not only from the reproofs or condemnations of conscience, (a view which naturally arrests our attention in the first instance,) but also, with proper explanations of the remark, from the compulsory or constraining power of conscience.

The constraints of conscience, (which is only another expression for those coercive feelings of obligation which require us to pursue a right course,) precede action; while the reproofs of conscience, on the other hand, follow action. The holy soul, the soul which has passed from a mixed state to a state where holy love becomes the exclusive principle of action, does not appear to experience, and certainly not to be conscious of, those compulsory influences to which we have referred. It does not feel the reproofs of conscience, because it does not do wrong. It does not feel the compulsions or constraints of conscience, because, being moved by perfect love, it fulfills the will of God, and does right without constraint.

And is there, in fact, any occasion for such constraint? Where love is perfect, the motive involved in the constraining power of conscience is not felt, because it is not needed. The subject of such love is re-constituted with a new element of holy affection, with a love-being or love-existence, such as it never had before. It has freely given itself to God to be moved by him; — and he moves it by making it a "partaker of the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:3-4) So that from this time such an one may be said to act by nature, and not by constraint; by a self-moved life at the center, and not by a compulsive instigation, which has no higher office than to guard and compel the center. In having a life of love, flowing first from God, and then from the center of our spirits, we have that and the whole of that which the constraining instigation of conscience requires; and, this being done, its office in this respect practically ceases. It would be a work of supererogation to drive a soul which goes without driving. Accordingly it is at once appeased in its anger, and quiet in its anxiety. It lays aside its admonitions as well as its scourge; and, as pleased with the good as it is displeased with the wicked, it strews our path with flowers.

Thus the soul has rest. From that happy hour, being re-constituted with a love-nature and made love-beings, we become also happy or joyous beings. And this is so much the case, that happiness, as well as love flowing out of the depths of the soul, may be said to be a part of our nature. What can injure us? Conscience itself becomes the companion and playmate of love, and hides itself in its bosom. Shielded by innocence, we come to God without fear. The soul expands itself as confidingly and lovingly to God's presence and favor, as the flowers open to the sun. God, who before appeared to us in his frowns and as a consuming fire, now "lays his terrors by."

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 4.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Rest From Condemnation

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." — John 14:27 (KJV)

In analyzing and explaining the elements of that pure and heavenly peace, which our Savior has left both as the inheritance and the characteristic of truly holy souls, we proceed to remark, further, that they are at rest from the reproofs of conscience.

This is a state of things very different from that which is experienced by souls that are only partially united with God. The latter, as they are going through the transition state from love commencing to love completed, have a constant conflict in themselves. Their inward good and evil are arrayed in opposition to each other. They see the right; but they continue, in some degree at least, to follow the wrong. And just so far as this is the case, they are under condemnation. And under such circumstances, they cannot fail to be uneasy and unhappy.

It is not so with the soul which is given to God without reserve, and which loves him with the whole heart. Such a soul, renovated and purified by the Holy Spirit, may be said to be clothed with innocence; or, if such expressions should be considered as too strong by some, certain it is, that conscience does not condemn it. "There is no condemnation," says the apostle Paul "to them which are in Christ Jesus; who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." In the epistles of John, also, are expressions, which distinctly recognize the state of freedom from condemnation.

And this explains a remark which we sometimes find in the lives of devoted Christians. It seems to them as they sometimes say, as if they had lost their conscience.  In the writings of Madame Guyon, both in the work entitled the "Torrents," and also in her "Letters," there are repeated references to this peculiar state of experience. The expressions which such persons employ have their foundation in the contrast of the present with their past position. They think they have lost their conscience, because they are not now the subjects of a certain mode of its activity. Formerly their good was so much mixed with evil, that they were constantly the subjects, more or less, of inward admonition; so much so, that this seemed to them almost the whole office of conscience. And, accordingly, when they experienced a higher degree of love, and no longer felt the need of such admonitions and reproofs, they seemed, in the absence of its chastisements, to have lost conscience itself.

After a while they learn that conscience, operating differently in the evil and the good, has its smiles as well as its frowns; and that its action is felt in that internal approbation which constantly attends them. Angels have conscience; God has conscience; but they never feel its lash; nor is it possible for them, while they remain what they are, ever to know its existence as a part of their own nature, except by the approbation of its smiles. The cessation or rest, therefore, which the persons to whom we allude experience, is not a cessation from conscience, but only from the condemnation of conscience.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 4.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Help in Sorrow

Fear not, poor, weary one;
But struggle bravely yet;
Toil on, until thy task is done,
Until thy sun is set.

Though many are thy cares,
And many are thy fears,
The loving Christ thy burden shares,
And wipes away thy tears.

No distant Christ is He,
And one that doth not know;
But watches close and constantly,
The path which thou dost go.

'Tis when thy heart is tried,
'Tis in thine hour of grief,
He standeth ever at thy side,
And ever brings relief.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LI.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The World's Bright Light

OH LOVE! Thou art that heavenly fire,
Which burneth up all low desire;
A holy flame, that food doth find,
In loving, blessing all mankind.

With step and majesty divine,
And knowing nought of "ME" and "MINE,"
Thy living breath, thy life's supply,
Is universal sympathy.

Unlike the coursers in the race,
Thou hast no bounds of time and place;
But south and north, and east and west,
Thou seekest all, in all art blest.

OH LOVE! Bright heaven is on thy wing;
That heaven o'er all the nations fling;
Scatter its glory near and far,
THE WORLD S BRIGHT LIGHT AND MORNING STAR.

Christ in the Soul (1872) L.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Heavenly Teaching

The selfish heart for wisdom looks 
In earth's dim leaves and moldering books; 
The holy heart its light doth find 
In God's great light and living Mind.

The holy heart, of love compact, 
With love in every thought and act, 
Doth find, within, the Teacher true, 
With thoughts and lessons ever new.

The secret whispers, inly heard, 
The voice, of the "Eternal Word," 
Surpass in wisdom, far, the reach 
Of what poor earthly schoolmen teach.

Oh WISDOM, coming from above, 
The eldest born, the child of LOVE, 
Be Thou our book, our living page, 
To guide us through earth's pilgrimage.

Christ in the Soul (1872) XLIX.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Believe You Have the Guidance You Have Sought

In order to secure the continual presence of the Holy Spirit, we must not only fulfill the condition of ceasing from the self-interested activity of nature, we must not only believe in God's truth and faithfulness to his promises, attended with a sincere desire for the blessing under consideration; but when we ask under such circumstances, it is our privilege and duty to believe, that we now have the thing, which we ask for.

If, for instance, in true detachment and simplicity of spirit, and with a sincere desire for the object, we seek the divine wisdom, which is the gift of the Holy Spirit, to guide us in some difficult case of duty, we are bound, on the principles of Scripture, to believe, (provided further that we exercise all our powers of perception and reasoning applicable to the case,) that we do now have all that wisdom, which God sees to be necessary for us. Accordingly we are not at liberty, in the sprit of distrust towards God, to go about to seek some new natural light to see our spiritual wisdom with. Such wisdom, resting in its origin upon the immutable promise of God, a promise which is fulfilled in connection with the exercise of faith, is, for the most part, hidden from all forms of sight on the part of the creature, except one. That is to say; as it has its origin in connection with the operations of faith, and cannot exist, except in that connection, so it is visible, in general, only to the eye of faith. It seems very evident under the circumstances and in the fulfillment of the conditions which have been mentioned, that we should do wrong, we should sin against God, not to believe in the actual possession of the thing which had been interceded for. It would evidently be a case of UNBELIEF; and unbelief can never be accounted otherwise than a great sin. It is in accordance with this view, that we find the following expressions in the First Epistle of John,5: 14, 15. "And this is the confidence we have in him, that if we ask anything 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 desired of him."

In conclusion we would remark, that in yielding ourselves up to the divine direction ... we not only have the guidance of the Holy Spirit; but I think we are not exposed to those illusions and mistakes, which might otherwise be likely to befall us. Indeed, it is hardly too much to say, that we may be sure of being kept in the right path at such times. The state of mind which we have described is not only one of earnest desire and strong faith, but as it seems to us, of true meekness. And we are told in the Scriptures, "The meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he teach his way." Ps. xxv. 9. It is the opinion of Fenelon, who seems to have had a personal experience of the divine operation deeply interior, that in the moments of mental quietness and of recollection in God, in other words, when we look to God in a state of cessation from our natural activity, we should not hesitate to follow the interior impulses and attractions of the soul. Meaning to be understood, undoubtedly, that if we believingly ask for divine guidance in such a state of mind, the attraction or tendency of soul, which then exists, cannot be safely ascribed to any thing but the Spirit of God; and that, consequently, we may consider ourselves under a divine, and not under a mere human direction. This we believe to be true. Nevertheless, in this case, as in all others, we should never yield to the guidance of any interior attraction, however it may have the appearance of originating with the Holy Spirit, which at the same time we know to be at variance with the written Word of God. God can never contradict himself; and whatever revelation he has made of himself in his holy Word we must regard as authentic, and as entitled to our supreme confidence. But with the limitation implied in this remark, we have no doubt that God, operating upon the mind in a divine manner, will certainly teach and guide those, who, in renouncing the self-interested eagerness of nature, possess true meekness and quietness of spirit, and who believingly and earnestly look to him for such teaching and direction.

"'Tis thine to cleanse the heart,
To sanctify the soul,
To pour fresh life in every part,
And new create the whole.
Dwell, Spirit, in our hearts;
Our minds from bondage free;
Then shall we know, and praise, and love,
The Father, Son, and Thee."

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


Thursday, April 7, 2016

Ceasing from Natural Activity to Find the Guidance of the Spirit

There is another condition necessary to be realized, in order to have the guiding influences of the Holy Spirit always with us. Namely, we must cease from our natural activity. We do not mean to say that we must be inactive; that we must be wholly and absolutely without mental movement; but merely and precisely that we must cease from the activity of nature. In other words, ceasing from self and from its turbulent and deceitful elements, and as a consequence of this, ceasing to place ourselves and our personal interests foremost, we must keep our own plans, purposes, and aims in entire subjection. For instance, when we ask God to guide us, we must not at the same time cherish in our hearts a secret determination and hope to guide ourselves; just as some persons foolishly and almost wickedly ask the advice of their neighbors, when they have already fully decided in their own minds upon their future course of action. If we would have our desires of being continually guided by the Holy Spirit fully realized, we must not only give up our personal and self-interested plans and purposes, submitting every thing into God's hands with entire childlike simplicity, but it is important also not to give way to uneasy, agitated, and excited feelings. The  existence  of undue eagerness and excitement of  spirit, is an evidence that we are, in some degree, afraid to  trust God; and that we are still too much under the influence of the life of nature. So that to cease from the activity of nature, when properly understood, seems to be nothing more nor less, than to cease from the spirit of self wisdom, self seeking, and self guidance, and thus to remain in submissive and peaceful simplicity and disengagement of spirit, in order that God may enter in and may guide us by the wisdom of his own divine inspiration.

It may be proper to add here, that, the view, which has now been expressed, is entirely consistent with the exercise of our powers of perception and reflection. A cessation from our natural activity, in the sense which has been explained, is not only consistent with, but it is evidently favorable to a just exercise of these powers. They will be found at such times to be free from erroneous and disturbing influences, and to possess a clearer insight into the truth.

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


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

How Can We Experience the Guidance of God's Spirit?

One of the most important questions, which can occupy the minds of those, who wish to experience the reality of the interior spiritual life, is: In what manner can we most certainly secure the ever present and guiding influences of the Holy Spirit?

We learn from the Scriptures, that those, who are the sons of God, are led by the spirit of God. And a woe is expressly denounced against those "foolish prophets, that follow their OWN SPIRIT. [Exek. 13:3] The facts of individual experience, in relation to the subject of a divine guidance, abundantly confirm the truth of the scriptural declarations. "Though this secret direction of the Almighty," says Sir Matthew Hale, who was distinguished as a christian as well as a scholar and a judge, "is principally seen in matters relating to the good of the soul, yet even in the concerns of this life, a good man, fearing God, and begging his direction, will very often, if not at all times, find it. I can call my own experience to witness, that even in the temporal affairs of my whole life, I have never been disappointed of the best direction when I have, in humility and sincerity, implored it." And I think we may undoubtedly regard it as a great truth, ever to be kept in remembrance, that the true children of God, so far as they live acceptably to him, are guided by the Spirit of God. This great truth, that, as followers of God, it is our privilege and duty to be led by the Spirit of God, may be realized continually in our personal experience, as it seems to us, in connection with a few simple but fundamental conditions.

In the first place, we cannot reasonably expect to be guided by the Spirit, unless we desire it. And if we expect a continuance of this guidance, the desire must be permanent and strong. It would be extremely absurd to suppose that the Holy Spirit will condescend to dwell with us, if we have no desire for it; or if we have not a permanent and strong desire. But we cannot suppose that those, who aim after holiness of heart, are without this desire. And therefore we do not consider it necessary to dwell upon this point.

In order to realize this great blessing, we must have faith in God, that he will do for us the thing which we ask. To desire of God without having faith in the giver, is nearly as effectual a way to defeat the object of our request, as to be without desire. But on this point, also, we will not delay. Who can be ignorant that one of the first elements in the life of holiness is the doctrine of faith? "Without faith it is impossible to please God." How can it be possible, then, without faith to receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit?

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

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Doing Good Only in Dependance on God

It is the part of a Christian, especially of a soul truly devoted and holy, to do good to others. But we should always remember, that we shall lose the grace which God has imparted, and shall bring barrenness and darkness into our own hearts, when we seek to do good to others without a suitable sense of our personal dependence, and without a humble and watchful regard to the order of the divine providences.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLXVIII.

Monday, April 4, 2016

God Will Find Us Our Appropriate Work

When God has fully prepared the heart for religious action, we need not fear that he will fail to find for us our appropriate work.  He knows the work, which is to be done, and the time of its being done, as well as the dispositions, which are fitted for doing it. Be watchful, therefore, but wait also. A good soldier, in the spirit of watchfulness, is always ready for action; but he never anticipates, by a restless and unwise hurry of spirits, the orders of his commander.

Religious Maxims (1846) CLXVII.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

In God There is Rest

It is well sometimes to remember, that the good which is promised to God's people is sure to them, not only because it is promised, but because it is a necessary result of the excellences of the divine nature. There is a love, a mercy back of the promise, from which the promise originated; — not only God's word, but his nature is pledged.

In giving ourselves to God, (as all holy persons profess to do and must do,) we do not do it in part only. We not only renounce ourselves in the strict sense of the terms, but also the means of supporting ourselves; — not only our persons, but all earthly and finite dependencies. We not only give ourselves to God, to be servants to do his work, but to be sons, whom it is his delight to provide for. The support of those whom God has adopted into his family, and who are properly called his sons, ceases to be a contingency. It is only when and so long as we are out of God, and are separate from him, that we are left to our own wretched resources. In all other situations, it is not only a truth, but a necessity, that God should provide for us. If God had never promised to clothe, and feed, and watch over, his people, it would nevertheless have been done, because the holiness, well as the benevolence of his nature necessarily requires it. In other words, it is his nature to give where there is a disposition to receive; — to fill the hand which is truly open to take what is presented to it. His promise is only the expression of his nature.

It is thus, that, in having nothing, by mingling our desires with the divine desires, we have all things. The loss of ourselves by the moral union of ourselves with God, is necessarily the possession of God. In God is the fulfillment of our desires. In God, therefore, there is rest.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 3.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Ceasing from Worldly Desire

In saying, therefore, that the holy man ceases from desires, we mean that he ceases from worldly desires; and in ceasing from such desires he has peace of soul.

Does he desire food and clothing? Being limited in his desire by what is necessary for him, and by what God approves in him, he believes that God will see his wants supplied. And thus he is without anxiety. Does he desire a good name among men? As he desires it only that God may be glorified, and only so far as God allows him to desire it, he has faith that he will receive, and that he does now receive, so much of the world's favorable opinion as is best for him; and he asks and wants no more. God, who inspired the desire, has answered it at the moment; and he is perfectly satisfied. Does he desire power? As he desires no power but God's power, and such as God shall give him, he receives now, in the "evidence" and the "substance" of his faith, the very thing which he asks; and having nothing in possession, and everything by the omnipotence of belief; he can almost say with the Saviour, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me  more than twelve legions of angels?” And then he adds,  with a still higher degree of faith, "But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be?” He does not desire, and does not ask, any power or any assistance which is inconsistent with God's present arrangements.

Aided by such views, we may possess a distinct and impressive appreciation of many passages of Scripture. "Consider the lilies of the field," says the  Savior, "how they grow. They toil not; neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, oh, ye of little faith!" "Trust in the Lord," says the Psalmist, "and do good: — so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." "For the Egyptians," it is said in the prophet Isaiah, "shall help in vain, and to no purpose. Therefore, have I cried concerning this, their strength is to sit still." That is to say,  it is better to trust in God and to wait quietly for the manifestations of his providence, than to adopt any means or trust in any aid which he does not approve. Matt. 6:28-30. Ps. 37:3. Isa 30:7.

To the holy soul, which has no desires but God's desires, and which does not doubt, such promises are realities.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 3.