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, October 14, 2017

Consecration and Grace

Consecration therefore, as it seems to us, consecration without reserve either as to time or object, is the indispensable condition of inward religious advancement.

But it will be inquired perhaps with some solicitude, whether this doctrine, which denies advancement in religion without consecration, and which thus implies an act of the creature, does not exclude grace? In replying to this question, we feel obliged to say, that we cannot perceive any reasonable grounds of distrust and anxiety here. It is certainly difficult to see, how an act of correspondence on the part of the creature to God’s intentions and acts of mercy, is inconsistent with what we variously denominate grace, free-ness, or gratuity on God’s part. Man, considered as a moral and responsible being, could not do less than what is implied in such correspondence, without rejecting God. There is, and can be no alternative. He must either correspond with God by a reception of what God proposes to give and by a full and harmonious cooperation, or he must reject. And it is virtually impossible, as it seems to us, for God, while the creature rejects what he offers, to give more, or to continue for any length of time that which he has already given. But the act of correspondence, which is thus rendered indispensable on man’s part, if he would experience the continuance and the increase of the divine favor, being obviously nothing more than an act accepting what God offers, or perhaps more definitely and truly an act of consent to enter into harmony with the divine operation, it does not, and cannot detract from the free and gratuitous nature of the divine gifts. It is self-evident, that the mere reception of a gift, by an intelligent approval and cooperation on the part of the recipient, can never alter its nature as a gift.

What a motive is presented by these views, to a full correspondence with God; in other words, to a consecration, immediate, unreserved, and perpetual. An act so obviously necessary, and yet which so few are ready and willing to perform; the omission of which so fully accounts for the prevalence of inward darkness and the want of inward growth. Give yourself to God in all things, if you would have God give himself to you. True, the act of consecration, in its relation to the world, and the things of the world, may be like the cutting off of the right hand or the plucking out of the right eye; it may be attended, as it undoubtedly will be, with the painful sundering of earthly ties, but it is the only condition, so far as we can perceive, on which we are able to advance from the lower to the higher degrees of faith and love, and ultimately to possess the fullness of God, as our present and everlasting portion.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 15.

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