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, September 30, 2016

The Conqueror

Wouldst thou the power possess
All evil things to slay,
And, with the arm of victory,
O'er life and death bear sway?

Wouldst thou go forth with strength,
And with a force to tread
Upon the lion's fearful path,
And crush the serpent's head?

Then gird thyself with LOVE;
Put that bright armor on;
And know thine enemies shall fail;
Thy victory is won.

Like snow-flakes on the sea,
That perish as they fall,
They fade beneath LOVE'S mighty power,
The CONQUEROR of all.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXVI.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Sennacherib

"Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred and four-score and five thousand; and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses: So Sennacherib, king of Assyria, departed." — Isa. xxxvii. 36, 37.

The trumpet pealed its joyful cry,
The coal-black war-horse neighed;
The glittering banner floated high,
With heart of steel and threatening eye,
Each warrior drew his blade.

The setting sun at close of day,
O'er Carmel's mount of dew,
Bathed with its light the proud array
Of champing steeds and plumage gay,
And flags, that glittering flew.

But lo! The morn returns from far,
And snowy plume and sword,
The haughty chief, the steed of war,
The lifted trump, the smoking car,
Have fall'n before the Lord.

God's angel, like the desert's blast,
Came flying down the sky;
He hurled his vengeance as he past,
And every warrior breathed his last,
And closed was every eye.

Oh Lord, with Thee is endless might,
To Thee be endless praise;
For thou canst curb the crimson fight,
The warrior's plume of glory blight,
And quench his armor's blaze.

The Religious Offering (1835).

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Evening Reflections

Hushed was the tumult of the day,
The evening's wonted breeze was still,
The placid moon, with silver ray,
Chequered the groves of vale and hill,
And not a cloud o'er all the sky,
Was witnessed by my wandering eye.

The light was out in each lone cot,
The farmer slept at nature's call,
And sound or action reached me not,
Save but the cricket in the wall.
The beast was on his lair; his breast
The bird had pillowed on his nest.

Then thought my soul of each dear scene,
Where childhood sported gay and boon;
The gambols on the village green,
Beneath the pale and watchful moon,
When friends and nature had a charm
The sting of sorrow to disarm.

Nor did my soul find resting here;
But prompted by this hour of bliss,
She soared above this earthly sphere,
And found a scene more calm than this;
A heaven, where there is endless joy,
No cares invade, no griefs annoy.

The Religious Offering (1835).

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Without Resistance in the Hands of God

The soul, that has reached the center of its Nothing, (that is, is absolutely and forever nothing relatively to self,)  remains without resistance in the hands of God, like clay in the hands of the potter. It has become perfectly pliable and impressible to the divine touch. Such a soul is peculiarly the subject of that ennobling form of prayer, which is called in certain writers the Receptive or Passive Prayer; that is to say, a prayer which is inspired rather than self-originated, which is given, rather than self-produced. Entirely divested of those habits of self-activity, which are so common, and which, in consequence of preceding or of perplexing the operations of the Holy Spirit, are so injurious, the soul remains quiet and childlike in the divine presence. Like the placid lake, that receives and reflects to the eye of the beholder the image of trees and flowers on its banks, returning image for image, without a stem disarranged, or a petal broken; so in all the hidden aspirations which it constantly sends forth, it passively and almost unconsciously receives and reflects the image of God; an image, which is not distorted by the mixture of self-originated acts, nor marred by the disturbing power of internal agitation. God loves to leave the impress of his blessed image on the self-annihilated soul. And the prayer which it breathes, as it is not self-moved, but moves as it is moved upon, may truly be regarded as the praying breath of the Holy Spirit, who always dwells in the soul that knows itself no more.

We may see, therefore, how strong must be the position of the Divine Mind, (the DEUS AGENS INTER, as it has been expressed in the Latin,) in the self-annihilated soul. A soul, in the language of Michael de Molinos, "desiring as if it did not desire; willing as if it did not will; understanding as if it did not understand; thinking as if it did not think, without inclining to any thing; [that is, independently of the will of God;] embracing equally contempts and honors, benefits and corrections. Oh, what a happy soul is this, which is thus dead and annihilated. It lives no longer in itself, because God lives in it. And now it may most truly be said of it, that it is a renewed Phœnix, because it is changed, spiritualized, and. transformed into the divine image."

And again, he says,

We seek ourselves every time we get out of our Nothing; and, therefore, we never get to quiet and perfect contemplation. Creep in, as far as ever thou canst, into the truth of thy Nothing; and then nothing will disquiet thee; nay, thou wilt be humble and ashamed, losing openly thy own reputation and esteem.
Oh, what a strong bulwark wilt thou find of that Nothing! Who can ever afflict thee, if thou dost once retire into that fortress! Because the soul, which is despised by itself, and in its own knowledge is nothing, is not capable of receiving grievance or injury from any body. The soul, which keeps within its Nothingness, is internally silent, lives resigned in any torment whatsoever, by thinking it less than it doth deserve; is free from abundance of imperfections, and becomes commander of great virtues. While the soul keeps still and quiet in its Nothingness,  THE LORD DRAWS HIS OWN  IMAGE AND LIKENESS  IN  IT, WITHOUT ANY THING TO HINDER IT.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 12.



EDITOR'S NOTE: Those who might be interested in further exploration of the teachings of Miguel de Molinos will find information and an online copy of the Spiritual Guide at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library here: Miguel de Molinos.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Crucified to Internal Joys

Another and remarkable characteristic of this state of mind [often called interior annihilation] is this. He, who is the subject of it, is dead and crucified to all internal joys also, as well as to all pleasures and joys of an external kind. He has no sympathy with those, who are always crying, "Make me happy." "Pay me well, and I will be holy." Personal happiness, as a supreme or even a separate object of desire, never enters his thought. It makes no difference what the form of that happiness is, whether pleasures of the senses or pleasures of the mind. He is willing to abandon and sacrifice even the pure and sublime pleasure, almost the only consolation left to him in this sad world, which flows from communion with those, who, like himself, are sanctified to God. His true happiness consists in hanging upon the Cross, and in being crucified to self. Whether he is tempted or not tempted, interiorly and in the bottom of his heart he can say, all is well. Whether he suffers or does not suffer, the throne of peace is erected in the centre of his soul. Wretchedness and joy are alike. He welcomes sorrow, even the deepest sorrow of the heart, with as warm a gush of gratitude as he welcomes happiness, IF THE WILL OF GOD IS ACCOMPLISHED.  In that will his soul is lost, as in a bottomless ocean.

"Lord, I will not follow Thee," says a devout person, "by the way of consolations and self-pleasures, but only by LOVE. I desire Thee only, and nothing out of Thee for myself. If I ever mention any thing as appertaining to me, if I name myself, I mean Thee only; for Thou only art me and mine. My whole essence is in Thee. I desire nothing, which comes from Thee, but Thee  thyself. I had rather suffer forever the cruel torments of Hell, than enjoy eternal happiness without Thee. If I knew I should be annihilated, yet would I serve Thee with the same zeal; for it is not for my sake, but thine, that I serve Thee. Oh, how great is my joy, that Thou art sovereignly good and perfect." [Cardinal Bona, as quoted in Fenelon's Pastoral Letter on the Love of God. See also, for similar sentiments, Bona's Principes de la Vie Chretienne, Ch. 47.]

In connection with what has been said, it will not be surprising when we say further, that the person, to whom these statements will apply, makes but little account of raptures, visions, ecstasies, special illuminations, sudden and remarkable impressions, or any thing of the kind, except so far as they tend, which, alas, is frequently not the case, to extinguish self, and to lead the soul into the abyss of the Supreme Divinity.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 12.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Freedom from Self-Reflective Acts

It is a further characteristic of the mental state, [often called interior annihilation], that a person in this state of mind has no disposition to exercise self-reflecting acts, originating either in undue self-love or in a want of faith. What I mean to say is, that, when he has done his duty, he no longer turns back upon himself and asks, as the half-way Christian often does, What does the world think of me? Divested of all selfish purposes and aims, and having no will of his own, he acts deliberately and supremely for God; and therefore he feels that whatever is done, so far as motives and intentions are concerned, is well done. In that respect no trouble enters his mind. There is no need of retrospection; no need of apologies to cavillers. Indeed, he can scarcely be said to exercise retrospective acts and rejections upon himself in any sense whatever. Such acts seem to be, to some extent, inconsistent with the fact, that his heart is fixed exclusively upon an object out of himself.  What is done stands written in the record of his Divine Master; and there he leaves it. His whole soul is given to the present moment. The present moment is given to God.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 12.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Extinction of the Power of Evil Habits

The state of interior nothingness is characterized, further, by the extinction of the power of antecedent evil habits. A person may be sanctified to God, his heart may be pure in the divine sight, and still there may be a constant struggle on the part of the "old man" or the "old nature," to regain possession. It is difficult to explain this, viz. that a truly holy heart may still have a struggle antagonistical to sin, and oftentimes a fearful struggle; but it is probably owing, in addition to the direct temptations of Satan, to the tremendous power of antecedent evil habits. The principle of self-love for instance, may by divine grace be redeemed from its selfish attitude, and may be brought to its true subjective position and become a holy principle; and yet in consequence of its previous habits of inordinate exercise, there may be a strong tendency, which requires constant resistance, to resume its former position of irregularity and sin. This tendency is not, properly speaking, in the principle itself; but is forced upon it exteriorly, if we may so express it, by the law of habit; and therefore although it is extremely dangerous, it does not appear to be necessarily sinful. The idea may here perhaps be illustrated in the case of the reformed inebriate. He has refrained from drinking; but the influence of the antecedent law of habit is still felt in his system. He is no longer guilty of the sin of drinking; but his liability to fall into this sin is greatly increased by his antecedent evil habit. There is, undoubtedly, something mysterious in this: but it seems, nevertheless, to be true. He feels that, in consequence of his former evil habits, the enemy is near at hand and in great power; that his danger is thereby increased, and that he must always be in the attitude of watchfulness and of resistance. Something like this is the case with those, who have just entered into that state where they can say, they "love the Lord with all their heart." The enemy is cast out; but he avails himself of the influence of the law of habit, to take a hostile attitude and to seek a re-entrance.

Now when a person has experienced the state of interior nothingness, as it is conveniently, perhaps, and yet not accurately termed, he has by divine grace, not only succeeded in conquering sin in the gigantic forms of creature-love and of self-will, but in breaking down the perplexing influence and the unfavorable tendency of former habits. And hence there is a vast accession to his power, and to his tendency to union with God, Satan himself, in the presentation of his temptations, has comparatively but little influence over such a soul. He has, comparatively speaking, no basis to operate upon, no way of secret, circuitous, and indirect attack; but must come boldly up and make his attack, face to face, as he did in his temptation of the blessed Savior. And this he would rather not do, if he can approach the object of his attack in some other way.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 12.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Extinction of Self-Will

Another mark or characteristic of that state of mind, which is described as interior annihilation, is the extinction of self-will.  He, who is annihilated and lost to himself, has no will of his own. We ought to remark here, that, when we speak of the extinction of inordinate creature love and of self will, we do not mean to imply, that the mind is rendered naturally or physically incapable of such irregular exercises,  But  merely that the work of grace on the heart has been so deep, that there  is, at the present time, a practical extinction of all such wrong internal acts. We are no longer troubled with them. Acting from supreme love to God has become the confirmed principle and habit of the mind; so that sensual pleasure, and worldly applause, and private ends of whatever kind, have lost their power.  We  have no pleasure of our own; we have no desires of our own; we have no will of our own. Under all circumstances, rejecting all wisdom and all plans originating in ourselves, our inquiry is, "What wilt thou have me to do?" "God within us," the divine image, living operatively in the soul, is the all-powerful and absorbing principle.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 12.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Extinction of the Unsanctified Love of Created Things

The state of inward annihilation is characterized, in the first place, by the extinction of all unregulated or unsanctified love of created things, or "love of the creatures," as it is sometimes expressed. Accordingly, we cannot say that a person is interiorly lost or annihilated, who is in any degree the slave of his appetites. The action of the appetites, when directed to their original objects, and when subjected to the regulation of a purified conscience, is undoubtedly consistent with this state: that is to say, when they are exercised, not from a view to the mere pleasure which they afford, but in accordance with their primitive constitution, and consequently in accordance with the will of God. But he, who takes delight in the pleasures of the senses, and indulges the lower appetites of our nature, that the attendant pleasures, rather than the original objects of the senses may be realized, has not so crucified and slain himself, that he can be said to be inwardly annihilated. There is still within himself the germination and the growth of that form of selfish gratification, which may properly be called a "love of the creatures."

A similar statement may be made in regard to those principles, which are understood to be higher in rank than the Appetites; and which, in order to distinguish them from the lower or appetitive part of our nature, may properly be denominated the Propensities and the Affections; such as the social propensity, the desire of knowledge, the desire of esteem, the filial affection, the parental affection, friendship, and the love of country. If  these propensive principles and affections, whatever comparative rank they may sustain, are not perfectly subordinated to the principle of supreme love to God, if they exist in such a degree as to be in conflict with what the law of God requires, then it is very clear that the state of mind does not exist, which, in the language of religious experience, is denominated "interior annihilation." There is still a vigorous portion of the life of the "old man," which has not been slain. And hence it is, that we lay down the extinction of the love of created things or "love of the creatures," with the explanation and illustration of the meaning of the terms just given, as one of the characteristics of the state of mind under consideration. Of a person, who is thus interiorly annihilated, it can be truly said, "he is crucified to the world, and the world is crucified to him."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part3, Chapter 12.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Interior Annihilation

When we use the phrase "interior annihilation," we of course use it in a mitigated or qualified sense, as meaning not an entire extinction of any principles within us, but only an extinction of certain irregularities of their action. In other words, it is not an absolute annihilation; but only the annihilation of any thing and every thing which is wrong; the annihilation of what the Scriptures call the "old man," in distinction from the "new man, created anew in Christ Jesus."

Perhaps we should not refer to this form of expression at all, nor make any remarks upon it, although it is sometimes a convenient one in the description of internal experience, were it not that it is often employed, or some phrase of equivalent import, in writers, particularly those of an ancient date, on the interior religious life. I believe, also, it is quite common among many Christians at the present time, to speak in rather a loose way of their Nothingness, of the importance of feeling that they are Nothing, and the like; which shows that this form of expression indicates the existence of some great practical truth, although it may be but indistinctly developed, which is clear to the religious mind.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 12.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

God's Glory in His Saints

I thought, O God, Thyself to see,
When I should reach the heavenly clime;
Display'd in kingly majesty,
Upon a shining throne sublime.

But Thou didst say, Behold me now,
Cloth'd in a vesture like thine own;
Mine eye illumes man's sainted brow,
My love hath made his heart its throne.

In Christ the lesson first began;
I dwelt in Him, and He in me;
And now each new-born, Christ-like man,
Proclaims the same great mystery.

The holy man is God reveal'd;
In HIM God makes His glory known;
Behold it, with thine eye unseal'd;
BELIEVE! and make it all thine own.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXV.

Friday, September 16, 2016

God's Inward Teaching

If thou wouldst have God's INWARD SPEECH
The center of thy being reach,
And utter truths, that bear the sign,
And impress of a source divine;

Take heed, that all is free within
From pride and passion's noisy din,
Which turn away, and leave unheard
The whispers of the heavenly word.

'Tis when no angry billows roll,
And toss and agitate the soul;
'Tis in the calmness of the mind,
With pride subdued, and will resign'd;

That God's interior voice is near,
And faith bends low the listening ear,
And lessons high and pure are given,
Which breathe of peace, and truth, and heaven.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXIV.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Quietness and Right Action

Quietness of spirit, originating in the operations of divine grace, is the sign of truth or rectitude of spirit, and also of a right course of action. And, on the other hand, a spirit disturbed, a spirit in a state of agitation, is the sign of a wrong done, or of a wrong proposed to be done. Accordingly, in any proposed course of action, if it cannot be entered upon with entire quietness of spirit, with a soul so entirely calm, that, in its measure, it may be said to reflect unbrokenly the image of God, then the probability is that the course proposed to be taken is wrong, or, at least, of a doubtful character; and our true and safe course is to delay, until we can obtain further light in regard to it.

This view is founded upon the relation existing between quietness of spirit and faith. And it seems to us to harmonize with the remark of the apostle, that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin."  Rom. 14:23.

WHEN  FROM THE HEART ITS ILLS ARE DRIVEN.

When from the heart its ills are driven,
And God, restored, resumes control,
The outward life becomes a heaven,
As bright as that within the soul.

Where once was pride and stern disdain,
And acts expressing fierce desire,
The eye, that closest looks, in vain
Shall seek the trace of nature's file.

No flame of earth, no passion now,
Has left its scorching mark behind;
But lip, and cheek, and radiant brow,
Reflect the brightness of the mind.

For where should be the signs of sin,
When sin itself has left the breast;
When God alone is Lord within,
And perfect faith gives perfect rest?

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 11.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Spirit Which Belongs to the World

The man who rests in God, by having the principles of his nature brought into harmony with the divine nature, cannot be restricted by the limitations of name or country; but has a spirit which belongs to the world.  It is true his speculative beliefs may harmonize in certain directions more than in others; but, bearing Christ's image at the center, he belongs to Christ rather than a party, and all mankind are his brethren. The turbulence of nature has given place to the pacifications of grace, in order that he may extend the right hand of fellowship to those of every name and every clime.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 11.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Spiritual Quiet and Happiness

Happy, then, is the man, of whom it can be said, in the scriptural sense of the terms, he is quiet  in spirit; — a state of mind which can exhibit itself in the most trying situations, and with more effect and beauty perhaps than on other occasions. Smite the quietist on one cheek, and he turns the other. Drive him from his home, and the smile of his cheerful heart lights the walls of a cavern or a dungeon. He returns love for hatred, blessing for cursing. When dying by the hand of his enemies, his language is, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

"In quietness," says Isaiah, "shall be strength." The quiet man is necessarily victor, — conquering by the force of sentiments which are eternal, and not by the incidents of situation which are perpetually changing. It  is not the body which constitutes the man, but the divine principle at the center. A man is, according to his faith.  And the man, who treads the dungeon or the scaffold, with the acquiescent belief that it is the allotment of Providence, is no prisoner, because he has all the freedom which he asks, and can lose nothing by the death which he himself cheerfully welcomes. He conquers by that power to suffer which is given him through faith. And the power, which renders him victorious, gives him divine peace and happiness.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 11.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Quiet Person of Faith

The religiously quiet man, like other men less  advanced in grace, has experienced the sharpness of the inward contest; but God has helped him. Having striven with his corrupt nature, having passed through, as it were, the storms of regeneration, he has at last entered into the haven of inward rest.

Inwardly instructed in the limitations of the human understanding, he rests from reasonings in all cases where reasoning owes homage to faith. God is his reason. Taught by the great Teacher of the soul, that the true end of desires is to be found in the wisdom of the Infinite, he quietly ceases from all those desires which have their origin in a corrupted nature, and finds all his aims and purposes harmonized and fulfilled in the fulfillment of God's purposes. God is his desire. While he condemns sin, he is not impatient with it; but bears with it in the same spirit of calmness that God does; never doubting that, in the great issue of things which is rapidly approaching, the unity and love of God will over­come the divisions and hatreds of Satan. Devoted to the will of God to the extent of his power, and resting firmly upon the promises in unshaken faith, he is exempt alike from the reproofs of conscience and the agitations of fear.

A divine peace, of which God alone could be the author, is written upon his heart, his countenance, his actions, his whole life. The outward man is the calm mirror of the man within. He sees the commotions of the world; he beholds the surges and hears the noise of its contentions; but it does not move him from his position; it does not alter the fixedness of his purpose;  it does not disturb the peace of his spirit. His countenance, written over with signatures which have their source in the centre of his spirit, shows neither the scowl of anger, nor the distortions of fear. Not that he is indifferent to the strife; but he believes and knows that the God in whom he trusts has power to control it. He sees the calm beyond.

Such men, more than any others, bear the image of God; whose mighty power is established and operates in peace and in silence. A perfect being is, by the very fact of his perfection, unalterably tranquil. Jesus Christ, who was God revealed in humanity, and who, therefore, was the model of the perfect man, was a quiet man; he did not attract the world's notice by his noise. On the contrary, the world, disappointed that he came without observation, was attracted to him, contrary to what is usual with it, by the calm but mighty influence of his purity and gentleness. Meek, quiet, loving, doing what the divine order of things called him to do, he gave no occasion for reconsiderations and repentance, but left the evidence of his divinity in the perfection of everything he said and did. And in all cases will it be found, in the history of all good men of all ages, that the harmony of thought with truth, of feeling with thought, and of conscience with feeling; in other words, the perfect adjustment of character, will find its result and its testimony in inward and outward peace.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 11.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Divine Life

Oh, sacred union with the Perfect Mind!
Transcendent bliss, which Thou alone canst give!
How blest are they, this pearl of price who find,
And dead to earth have learnt in Thee to live.

Thus, in thine arms of love, Oh God, I lie,
Lost, and forever lost, to all but Thee.
My happy soul, since it hath learnt to die,
Hath found new life in thine Infinity.

Oh, go and learn this lesson of the Cross;
And tread the way which saints and prophets trod,
Who, counting life, and self, and all things loss,
Have found in inward death the life of God.

Religious Maxims (1846).

Friday, September 9, 2016

If Clouds Arise and Storms Appear

If clouds arise and storms appear,
If fortune, friends, and all forsake me,
There's one to shed with mine the tear,
And to His bleeding bosom take me.

Blest Savior! Let it be my lot,
To tread with Thee this round of being;
Thy love and mercy alter not,
When every sunbeam friend is fleeing.

Oh, be it thine to guide my soul
Along the wave of life's dark ocean;
And nought I'll fear, when billows roll,
Nor dread the whirlwind's rude commotion.

Thy love shall be my polar light,
And whether weal or woe betide me,
Through raging storm and shadowy night,
Its blaze shall shine to cheer and guide me.

Religious Maxims (1846).

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Although Affliction Smites My Heart

Although affliction smites my heart,
And earthly pleasures flee,
There is one bliss that ne'er shall part,
My joy, Oh God, in Thee.

That joy is like the orb of day,
When clouds its track pursue;
The shades and darkness throng its way,
But sunlight struggles through.

Oh Thou, my everlasting light,
On whom my hopes rely;
With Thee the darkest path is bright,
And fears and sorrows die.

Religious Maxims (1846).

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Christ the Way

Just as I am, I take my stand,
With gates and bars on every hand;
And, with one act of faith and love,
Behold! the gates and bars remove,
And heaven comes brightly from above.

It was not done by books and creeds,
By tears, and prayers, and outward deeds;
I tried; but these could not control
The storms and tempests of the soul;
'Twas Christ, that came, and made me whole.

In Christ, who rules the stormy wave,
I found the arm with power to save;
He rent the gates and bars of sin;
He let celestial glory in,
And taught me God and heaven to win.

Oh sinning one! No more delay;
Christ is the true, the living way;
BELIEVE, and Christ's celestial art
Shall bid thy sins and fears depart,
And heal and save thy bleeding heart.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXIII.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Drop and the Ocean

Behold the vast, the sounding sea;
And tell me, can its boundless flow,
Great emblem of eternity,
A separation ever know,
From the small drops that with it go.

Oh no! The drops and sea are one;
And each from each existence take,
As to each other's arms they run;
And all their thirst of being slake,
In the great, unity they make.

And thus with thee, oh feeble man!
There is no reach, no power of art,
Which, variant from the heavenly plan,
Can give thee strength or life, apart
From life that flows in God's great heart.

Whate'er we call our own is Thine,
Oh, life of God! oh living sea!
We live, and with a life divine,
When our small drop flows into Thee,
Made one in heavenly unity.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXII.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Balance, Harmony and Stillness

The religious state of Madam Guyon, in the latter part of her life, illustrates the state of interior stillness. "In these last times" she says, "I can hardly speak at all of my dispositions. It is because my state has become simple and without variations. It is a profound annihilation. I find nothing in myself to which I can give a name; [that is, no feelings so specific and remarkable, separate from this simplicity and this loss of self in God, as to enable me to describe them.] All that I know, is, that God is infinitely holy, righteous, good, and happy." — All good is in him. As to myself, I am a mere NOTHING. To me every condition seems equal. All is lost in his immensity, like a drop of water in the sea. In this divine immensity, the soul sees itself no more."

In that state of internal experience, which is described by Madam Guyon, there seems to be a perfect balance and harmony of the different parts of the mind. There may be deep feeling, (and there is in reality very deep feeling,) but it is so perfectly controlled by a sense of union with the will of God, that the result is complete simplicity and rest of soul. Just as it is in a piece of complicated machinery. If the wheels and other parts are out of order, or if there is much friction, the action of the machinery is perplexed and is really weak, although there is exceedingly great jarring and discordant noise. But when the wheels are all in position, and there is no friction, the action may be one of tremendous power, and yet so easy and quiet as to be hardly perceptible. And such is the true kingdom of God in the soul. It comes and exists with power, but with great simplicity. There is nothing in it, in itself considered, which is calculated to attract and secure worldly observation. It is mighty; but like God himself, it is inwardly silent, "a still, small voice."

The religiously quiet man, that is to say, the man who is inwardly and truly subdued and quiet in consequence of religion, is really the man of great religious strength; and yet this strength, in consequence of that harmonious silence of movement, which is the result of its own perfection, is so hidden from his view, that he seems to be hardly conscious of its existence. But it is very different with the natural man; and also with the Christian, who still retains a large infusion of the natural element. While the operations of the sanctified man are harmonious and quiet, and, therefore, are withdrawn, in a great measure, from distinct inward notice; those of the natural mind are not only self-interested, but are restless, impetuous, and contradictory; and, therefore, as a matter of course are mentally prominent and perceptible. The true controlling principle of the mind, in the case of the natural man, is gone; and its parts in action strike and jar upon each other with an inward concussion, like the hinges of the gates of Hell, that grate "harsh thunder."

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 11.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Harmony and Internal Rest

Fenelon has somewhere remarked to this effect that in our inward feelings, "it is often more easy to perceive what is the result of nature than of grace." This remark may perhaps be of doubtful correctness in the view of some persons; but it is certainly worthy of serious examination.

If it be true, it is a remark, which involves important principles. We are aware, that the common opinion is the opposite of this. It is generally supposed that the emotions and affections of the religious life are more marked and perceptible, than those of the natural life. It seems to be a prevalent idea, that a person, who is not internally perceptive of strong emotions and affections, has but little claims to depth and power of religious experience. It is implied in this idea, that there must be a salient or projective aspect to these feelings so that to the subjects of them they shall appear in comparison with other feelings, to stand out distinctly and prominently perceptible. It is to this particular emphasis of the common doctrine, that the remark of Fenelon, viz., that, in our inward experience, it is more easy to perceive what is the result of nature, than of grace, is particularly opposed. He would not by any means deny the strength of religious emotions and feelings in those, who are truly and eminently pious. This would be a great error. His idea is, that, when the soul is wholly given to God, there is such an entire harmony and internal rest, that no one of the religious affections, however strong they may be, is comparatively so much in advance of what might reasonably be expected of other religious feelings, as necessarily to claim and secure a distinct and particular notice. All are the subjects of a perfect relative adjustment; all are kept in their place by the superintendence of the principle of perfect love; all are sprinkled over and bright with the celestial dew; so that one part or exercise is as beautiful in its place as another, and as much calculated to arrest particular attention as another. The result is the harmony, the internal stillness, and the beauty, which must ever characterize true holiness.

This doctrine is in accordance with the facts, which from time to time present themselves to notice in the annals of personal Christian experience. The interesting form of the religious life, of which this doctrine may be regarded as the theological or philosophical expression, seems, indirectly at least, to be indicated in those beautiful expressions in 2d Corinthians, where the Apostle, speaking of himself and others, says; "as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things." He, who is known and yet unknown, dying and yet living, sorrowful yet rejoicing, poor yet communicating riches, having nothing, and yet possessing all things, is the subject of feelings, the result of whose various action, strange as it may seem, is perfect harmony and internal calm. His fame is counterbalanced and harmonized by his obscurity; his sorrow by his joy; his poverty by his riches; his absolute possession of nothing by his possession of all things; so that the soul, pressed as it were by equal forces in opposite directions, necessarily maintains the central position of interior rest.

The state of mind, of which we are speaking, appears to be disclosed in one of the short prayers, that are found in Fenelon's Pious Reflections; a part of which is as follows.

Oh Lord, I know not what I should ask of Thee. Thou only knowest what I want; and Thou lovest me, if I am thy friend, better than I can love myself. Oh Lord, give to me, thy child, what is proper, whatsoever it may be. I dare not ask either crosses or comforts. I only present myself before Thee. I open my heart to Thee. Behold my wants, which I am ignorant of; but do Thou behold and do according to thy mercy. Smite, or heal! Depress me, or raise me up! I adore all thy purposes, without knowing them. I am silent; I offer myself in sacrifice.

Such supplications give evidence of a mind, that is at rest in itself; a mind, that reposes with entire confidence, whatever may be its temptations and sorrows, upon the Divine Mind.

— edited from The Interior or Hidden Life (2nd edition, 1844) Part 3, Chapter 11.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Quietude and Submission

The true state of internal quietude implies a cessation not only from unnecessarily wandering and discursive thoughts and imaginations, not only a rest from irregular desires and affections, but implies, in the third place, a perfect submission of the will, in other words, a perfect renunciation of our own purposes and plans, and a cheerful and perfect acquiescence in the holy will of God.

Such a renunciation of the will is indispensably requisite. It is not to be understood that we are to have no will of our own, in the  literal sense. This would be inconsistent with moral agency. But that in its action, under all circumstances, however adverse and trying, our will is cheerfully and wholly accordant with God's will. A mind, in such a state, must necessarily be at rest.  It realizes that God is at the helm of affairs and that necessarily all the plans of his wise and great administration shall come to pass. Why then should it be troubled? "What a blessed thing it is," says Dr. Payson, "to lose one's will. Since I have lost my will, I have found happiness. There can be no such thing as disappointments; for I have no desire but that God's will may be accomplished." The blessedness of such a soul is indeed indescribable. It is an inward death out of which springs inward and eternal life; a self annihilation, out of which rises immortal power. The man, who has the true quietude, is like a large ship firmly at anchor in a storm. The clouds gather around, the winds blow, the heavy waves dash against her, but she rides safe in her position, in conscious dignity and power. Or perhaps his situation is more nearly expressed by the memorable and sublime simile of Goldsmith,

"As some tall cliff; that rears its awful form,
Swells from the vale and mid-way leaves the storm,
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread.
Eternal sunshine settles on its head."

But some will say. is there to be no action; and are we to do nothing? A person in this state of mind, being at rest in the will of God, and never out of that divine will, is operative precisely as God would have him so; moving as God moves, stopping where God stops. He is at rest, but never idle. His God forbids idleness. Therefore he keeps in the line of divine cooperation, and works with God. There may be less of vain and noisy pretension, and sometimes less of outward and visible activity, but there is far more wisdom, and far more actual efficiency, for God is with him.

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