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, October 11, 2017

Consecration and Our Initial Faith

I think we may regard it as one of the established principles, having relation to the origin and the operations of faith, and which may properly be included under the denomination of the doctrines of faith, that our faith in God will be in proportion, or nearly in proportion, to our consecration to God. In other words, just in proportion as we give ourselves to God to do and to suffer his will without reserve, just in that proportion or degree we shall be likely to have confidence in him; a confidence, which will receive him not only in his more general character as God, but as the God of providence and the God of the promises. It is especially obvious, I think, and beyond all question, that the highest results of faith, Assurance of Faith for instance, cannot be experienced, without a personal and specific consecration; a consecration which is entire and without reserve. The Savior himself may be regarded as fully implying all that has now been said in the instructive and interesting passage, where he says, addressing himself to the Jews, “How can ye believe, who receive honor one from another, and seek not that honor, which cometh from God only?” John 5:44.

It will perhaps be objected here, that consecration to God necessarily implies the antecedent existence of faith in God to some extent; in other words that we cannot give ourselves to God in the act of consecration, without previously believing that God is. This difficulty seems to be fully met by the important fact, that we are obviously created with a belief, or perhaps we should rather say with tendencies to belief, in the God of nature; or in other words are created with such elements and tendencies of mind as necessarily result in the belief of God as the God of nature. There is much reason for thinking with bishop Butler, that natural religion and revealed religion are not in their nature different, but are parts of one and the same great system of truth; although it is true that revealed religion embraces things, which natural religion of itself could never have reached. And one of the most obvious and certain truths of natural religion is, that there is a God. He, who carefully notices the wonderful works of God either within him or without him, and who by his very mental constitution judges and cannot help judging between right and wrong, and who feels either the pangs of remorse in doing evil or the joys of doing and sustaining the right, has an amount of knowledge and experience, which lays the foundation for the additional and deep conviction, that there is a God, that there must be a God.

God, therefore, himself, in the exercise of that kindness which marks all his dealings with men, has given the preliminary, which the doctrine of faith demands. The divinity stands unveiled before the human mind; revealed both within and without; both in what it knows, and in what it feels. The Bible itself recognizes this view. It does not profess to reveal God, as a being absolutely unknown before. It takes for granted the existence of God, just as it takes for granted the existence of the human soul, and the fact of a conscience in man. And those, who say that they do not believe in God, be they Christian or heathen, if they will only analyze their own thoughts and heart, and will speak truly and candidly, can hardly fail to alter their mode of expression. They will be much more likely to say, that they believe in God’s existence, and at the same time knowingly and deliberately reject him. They believe, and they reject. It would not be possible for men to reject God, a crime which is alleged against all natural men, without first believing that God is. The Apostle has expressed it precisely when he says, in connection with his general doctrine, that the heathen have a knowledge of God independently of Revelation, “they knew God, but glorified him not as God.” They had faith enough to bring them under condemnation; but not faith enough to renew their hearts in love.

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

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