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, October 6, 2023

To Love Wrongly

In the exercise of those benevolent affections, which our heavenly Father has implanted within us, we love wrongly, when we place our love on wrong objects. We love wrongly also, when we love in an inordinate degree. The love, which is inordinate in degree, arises chiefly from the fact of our regarding the objects of it, such as parents, children, and other near relatives and friends, out of their due relation to God. Faith in God, especially assured or perfect faith, reestablishes the relation; and requires us to love them in God’s will, and according to God’s law; with an affection, which is neither wrong by its weakness nor wrong by its inordinate strength. As God, in the perceptions and estimate of an assured faith, is the sum of all beings, inasmuch as all are from him and in him; so we are naturally and rightly required to love him with the sum, the wholeness or entireness, if we may so speak, of all our powers. And so long as we love God in this manner, God will help us to love all beings subordinate to him, at the right time and in the right degree. But we ought not to forget, that it is faith, which places God in the right relative position; and it is faith, which opens the strong fountain of love such as his infinite nature claims; and it is faith, therefore, indirectly at least, which distributes this fountain to all subordinate beings from God downward to the lowest insect.

— from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 7.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Inordinate Love

I recollect to have noticed a remark, made in connection with the religious experience of Francis de Sales, which is worthy of serious consideration. It is found in one of the religious works of Liguori, entitled the Practice of the Love of Jesus Christ, as follows. 

He was obliged to struggle hard to overcome his two predominant passions, anger and love. To overcome the former, he labored for twelve successive years, and to check the consequences of the latter, he changed the object of his affections, by transferring them from creatures to God.

In order to possess a mind continually and entirely right with God, which seems to have been the great object of his efforts, we are informed, that he was obliged to struggle hard, not merely to regulate and overcome his anger, but to overcome his love; a statement, which implies, and as it seems to us very correctly implies, that there is no small degree of danger in the exercise even of this benevolent and ennobling affection. We all know, that there is danger of being inordinately angry; but it does not so often occur to us, (which nevertheless is the fact,) that there is danger, if not equally great yet equally real, of being inordinately and wrongly affectionate. Against this danger, therefore, supposing it to exist, as it undoubtedly does exist, we are to guard with the same care, with which we guard against others.

from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 7.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Faith and the Natural Affections

A man may make the most decided efforts and may resort to all methods, to subdue and to bring back his fallen nature within the limits of God’s appointment and law; but it will avail nothing without faith. 

We proceed now to apply [this] to the Affections. Those natural Affections, which God has implanted within us, discover the divine wisdom and goodness. The perversion, which they often exhibit, does not destroy the evidence of their original beauty. Human nature would be far less lovely than it is, far less happy than it is, if the parent did not love the child, and the child the parent; and if there were not other domestic and benevolent ties, which bind together members of the same family, and those who are otherwise closely related.

The Affections, (we speak now of the Benevolent Affections,) beautiful as they are in the place they occupy in the mental structure, and important and interesting as they are in their outward office, have felt, like every other part of our mental being, the effects of our depraved and fallen condition. They sometimes fall below their appropriate strength; but more frequently err, either in being wrongly directed, or in being inordinately strong. It is evident, from a slight inspection of what human nature every where presents to our notice, that they require a constant regulation; in other words, they need to be sanctified.

— from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 7.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

The Sanctifying Influences of Faith

The outline of the scriptural doctrine on the subject of faith seems to be; FIRST, that men are justified by faith, and second, that, being justified, they live by faith. And accordingly it is said in one place, “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ;” and in another, “the just shall live by faith.” So much has been said on the subject of justification by faith, it having been almost from the commencement of the christian era, a leading subject of discussion, that it has not seemed to us necessary to occupy much time with it. And accordingly it will be noticed, that ... the attention of the reader is designed to be directed, not so much to the justifying, as to the sanctifying influences of faith. 

A man may make the most decided efforts and may resort to all methods, to subdue and to bring back his fallen nature within the limits of God’s appointment and law; but it will avail nothing without faith. Without faith, (not merely that faith which justifies but that which sanctifies,) the Appetites, which are not too low and degraded to become purified and holy, always exhibit an action, which is disorderly, uncontrolled, and evil. Without faith, the Propensive principles, which may be regarded higher in their position and influence than the Appetites, although lower than the affections, run into various forms and degrees of unauthorized irregularity and excess. And we may add, without going into particulars, that without faith in God, and without faith in Christ as the mediator between God and man, man’s whole moral nature will inevitably show itself, as it always has shown itself, rebellious, perverse, and evil.

— from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 7.

Monday, September 25, 2023

The Need to Believe That Holiness is Attainable

It becomes a very important inquiry, whether holiness, in any strict and proper sense of that term, is something attainable in the present life. Among other reasons it is important to be able to answer properly this question, because, unless we believe in the attainableness of holiness, we shall not be likely, such are the laws of the human mind, to attain it. Perhaps we may say, that without this belief it will be impossible to attain it. And without holiness, without a heart thoroughly purified from the stains of voluntary transgression, we may be assured that we shall not enter into the secrets of the Most High; the Hidden Life will be hidden to us: and there will be many things in the Christian’s privileges, more precious than rubies, which will never, in the present state of being, come within the range of our experience.

— from The Interior of Hidden Life (1844), Chapter 2.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Holiness in This Life

The Gospel evidently contemplates, in the case of every individual, a progress from the incipient condition of mere forgiveness and acceptance, immensely important as it is, to the higher state of interior renovation and sanctification throughout. The Apostle appears to have reference to this onward progress of the soul in the expressions he employs in the commencement of the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. “Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith towards God; of the doctrine of baptism and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit.” What direction, then, shall we take? What course shall we pursue, that we may rise above the merely initiatory principles and feelings of the gospel life, and enjoy the delightful privilege of walking in close and uninterrupted communion with God? In answer to this general inquiry we remark, that the first and indispensable prerequisite is HOLINESS OF HEART. It is generally supposed, that God may exhibit pity and pardon to those in whom there still exist some relics and stains of inward corruption; in other words, that those, may be forgiven or pardoned, who are not entirely sanctified. But those, who would walk acceptably with their Maker, who would receive from him his secret communications and enjoy the hidden embraces of his love, must see to it, first of all, that they are pure in heart; that they have a present, as well as a prospective salvation; in other words, that they are holy.

We are aware, that, in the view of some, this condition of realizing the full life of God in the soul is an impracticable one. They regard holiness in this life, as a thing unattainable; or, what seems to me to be practically the same view, as a thing never attained. The persons, to whom we now allude, seem to look upon holiness as a sort of intangible abstraction, as something placed high and remotely in the distance, as designed to be realized by angels and by the just made perfect in heaven, but situated far beyond mere human acquisition. Hence it is, that followed and scourged by an inward condemnation, they remain in the condition of servants, and do not cheerfully and boldly take that of sons. They wander about, oftentimes led captive by Satan, in the low grounds of the gospel life, amid marshes and tangled forests; and do not ascend into the pleasant hills and that emblematical land of Beulah, where are spicy breezes and perpetual sunshine.

— from The Interior or Hidden Life (1844), Chapter 2.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

At War with Providence

There are exceptions, it is true, but not enough to reverse, or to modify essentially the assertion, that man is at war with Providence.

In this state of things it is obviously impossible that there should be peace or happiness. The divine harmony is broken. Man, in being by his selfishness antagonistical to God and God's arrangements, is necessarily antagonistical to his neighbor. Place is at war with place, and feeling with feeling. Judgment is arrayed against judgment, because false and conflicting judgments necessarily grow out of the soil of perverted affections. On every side are the outcries of passion, the competitions of interest, and the crush of broken hearts.

Shall it always be so? The remedy, and the only remedy, is an adherence to the law of Providence. Renounce man's wisdom, and seek that of God. Subject the human to the divine. Harmonize the imperfect thoughts and purposes of the creature with the wisdom of the Eternal Will.

— from A Treatise on Divine Union.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Bearing with the Infirmities of Others

"Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." — Colossians 3:13 KJV.

We should bear the infirmities of others meekly and patiently, because... to meet them in any other way is only to increase, instead of diminishing our affliction. To permit ourselves to be unduly disquieted and troubled, is to add interior affliction to that which is external; and that, too, with much injury in other respects, without any compensating gain. The indulgence of a fretful and repining spirit, whether it result from the infirmities of others or from any other cause tends to weaken faith, to harden the heart, and effectually to separate us from God. On the contrary, he who manfully bears this cross, heavy as it sometimes is, experiences an internal support and blessing which is exceedingly consoling, and which truly makes the yoke of this temptation easy, and its burden light.

…it is obviously the will of God that we should thus be afflicted, in a greater or less degree, in the present life. “In the world,” says the Savior, “ye shall have tribulation.” Christ himself was a man of sorrows; and God sees fit, for mysterious but wise reasons, that Christ’s people should also know the bitterness of grief. And one of the forms of affliction, to which we are subject here, is the grief which we frequently and necessarily experience in connection with the imperfections of our fellow-men. God is willing that we should in this way be reminded of our fallen condition; and he sees it also, as we have already intimated, to be for our good. As there is nothing so desirable and glorious as being perfectly in the will of God, we ought to be not only resigned but happy, in experiencing an affliction which comes from the hand of Him, who doeth all things well. It will aid us in some degree, if we always remember, (which is sometimes not the case,) that afflictions which come through others, such as jealousies, misrepresentations, and various human persecutions, are as much afflictions sent upon us from our heavenly Father, as the physical trials to which we are subject. Christians have frequently experienced the practical benefit of this important truth. When, as they supposed, they had been misrepresented and injured by others, as soon as they connected with this unpleasant experience the idea that the hand of God was in it, they have found a sweet peace and resignation pervading the mind, which made even suffering delightful. And what was not the least beneficial result of this important view, it has enabled them at once to exercise the most kindly and Christian feelings towards those, who had been the wicked instruments of their suffering. Thus should the mind, in suffering as well as in joy, and in all kinds of suffering as well as all kinds of joy, soar above the creatures, and connect itself with God.

We would observe, further, that these remarks apply to the afflictions we endure from the infirmities of those who are most advanced in religion, as well as to afflictions from other sources. Truly holy persons may at times entertain peculiar views with which we cannot fully sympathize, and may occasionally exhibit, notwithstanding the purity and love of their hearts, imperfections of judgment and of outward manner which are exceedingly trying even to “those of the like precious faith.” We naturally expect much more from these persons than from others; and hence the keenness of our sorrow, if, notwithstanding their exemption from intentional sin, there is not an obvious perfection of judgment, of expression, and of manner. But we must learn to bear with trials from this source also, always remembering, although we are permitted to indulge the humble hope, that there may be, and that there are instances of holiness of heart on earth, that absolute perfection exists only in another world. Unless we adopt this view, and act upon it, we shall be apt unnecessarily to distrust the profession and hopes of others, which would be a great evil to ourselves and to them.

— edited from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 6.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Bear Patiently the Defects of Others

"Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." — Colossians 3:13 KJV.

There are but few practical directions, which are more important to those who desire to be wholly the Lord’s, than the direction that we should bear with entire meekness and patience the infirmities and defects of others. The adoption in practice of any other principle than this necessarily involves us in continual disquietudes and troubles.

We should bear patiently with the infirmities and defects of others in the first place, because the doctrine of faith requires it. The doctrine of faith... will not admit of exceptions and distinctions, We do not, and cannot, have acceptable faith in God, unless we have faith in him to the full extent of what he claims to be, and of what he is. restores God to events, and makes him present in all things that take place; and also, identifies every thing with God’s superintendence, and accordingly makes every thing, with the exception of sin, an expression of his will. The doctrine of faith, therefore, requires us to believe, that God, in his permissive will at least if not in his direct agency, sustains a connection, and sustains it for good and wise purposes, even with human infirmities.

We should bear with patience the infirmities of others, in the SECOND place, because, in their results to ourselves, they evidently tend to our own purification. And this remark tends to illustrate what has already been said, viz., that God for wise purposes has a connection even with human infirmities. It is very clearly a part of God’s spiritual economy to purify his people by means of the various crosses which he lays upon them. We are not at liberty to make crosses for ourselves, but are cheerfully and quietly to meet and endure them, when they come upon us in the divine providence. Now, the infirmities of men, the many and trying infirmities of all around us, are a cross, which the divine providence lays at our feet at every step of our progress in the path of life. To be obliged to meet and to bear these infirmities is an affliction, oftentimes a heavy affliction. But it has a purifying power. It strikes a blow at self love. It makes us better.

— from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 6.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Think Not that Nothing Can be Done

Think not that nothing can be done, because thou art little in the eyes of the world. The result does not depend upon what thou art in the world, but upon what thou art in God. It is God only, who is the source of all good. Various are the instruments he employs. He selects them, and he places them in the appropriate situations to be used by him. The power, whether it be more or less, is not in the instrument, in itself considered, but in God, who selects and locates it. In a multitude of instances has the declaration of the apostle been illustrated, that God hath chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the things which are mighty (1 Cor 1:27). A man of faith and prayer, however humble his situation in life, may yet have influence enough to affect the destiny of nations.

— from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851).

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Living by the Moment

We see, further, that the doctrine of LIVING BY THE MOMENT, which is the doctrine generally adopted by persons who have had deep experience in holy living, has a real and permanent foundation and ought to be universally received and put in practice. No man lives well, who lives out of the will of God. No man lives in the will of God, who anticipates the divine moment or moment of actual duty, by making up a positive decision before it arrives, or by delaying a decision until after its departure. We must meet God there, and stand in his will there, or meet him no where, and stand out of his will every where. If, therefore, we would live in the will of God, we must conform to that beautiful and sacred order, in which his will is made known. In other words, if it is our sincere desire to live in the divine will, it seems to follow that we must live by the moment.

— from The Life of Faith (1852)

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

A Spirit of Watchfulness

Be not disheartened because the eye of the world is constantly and earnestly fixed upon you, to detect your errors and to rejoice in your halting. But rather regard this state of things, trying though it may be, as one of the safeguards, which a kind Father has placed around you to keep alive in your own bosom an antagonist spirit of watchfulness, and to prevent those very mistakes and transgressions, which your enemies eagerly anticipate.

— from Religious Maxims (1846), V.

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Silence When Attacked

Be silent when blamed and reproached unjustly, and under such circumstances that the reproachful and injurious person will be likely, under the influence of his own reflections, to discover his error and wrong speedily. Instead of replying, receive the injurious treatment with humility and calmness; and He, in whose name you thus suffer, will reward you with inward consolation, while He sends the sharp arrow of conviction into the heart of your adversary.

— from Religious Maxims (1846), IV.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Harmonizing With Our Maker

Man's moral agency, when he exists in full union with God, either in his original creation or in his restoration to God through Christ, is felt, not so much in guiding himself as in harmonizing with God's guidance; — not so much in originating knowledge and holy affections, as in rejecting all confidence in himself and accepting God as his teacher: — in a word, not so much in willing or purposing to do whatever he may be called to do by an independent action, as in ceasing from everything which is not God, and in desiring and willing to let God work in him.

At the same time it is true, that God, in thus taking possession of the mind and becoming its inspiration, harmonizes with the mind, not less really than the mind harmonizes with himself; namely, by originating thought, feeling, and purpose, through the medium of their appropriate mental susceptibilities and laws.

It is thus that God, acting upon the basis of man's free consent, becomes the life of the soul; and as such he establishes the principle of faith, inspires true knowledge, gives guidance to the will, and harmonizes the inward dispositions with the facts of outward providence. In a word, God becomes the Giver, and man the happy recipient. God guides, and man has no desire or love but to follow him.

From that important moment, which may well be called the crisis of his destiny, man, without ceasing to be morally responsible, harmonizes with his Maker. 

— from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851).

Friday, July 7, 2023

A Prayerful State of Mind



In whatever you are called upon to do, endeavor to maintain a calm, collected, and prayerful state of mind. Self-recollection is of great importance. "It is good for a man to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord." He, who is in what may be called a spiritual hurry, or rather who runs without having evidence of being spiritually sent, makes haste to no purpose.

— from Religious Maxims (1846), III

Thursday, July 6, 2023

The Importance of Faith

Faith is the continuance, as well as the beginning of the religious life. No man can be justified in Christ, unless he is willing to renounce all merit and hope in himself; and in the exercise of faith receive Christ alone as the propitiation for his sins. No man can experience the grace of sanctification, unless, renouncing all other means of sanctification, all wisdom and all strength of his own, he is willing to receive from God, in the exercise of faith, that wisdom and that strength, moment by moment, without which the sanctification of the heart cannot exist.

— from Religious Maxims (1846), I.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Seek Holiness, Not Consolation

Seek holiness rather than consolation. Not that consolation is to be despised, or thought lightly of; but solid and permanent consolation is the result rather than the forerunner of holiness; therefore he, who seeks consolation as a distinct and independent object, will miss it. Seek and possess holiness, and consolation, (not perhaps often in the form of ecstatic and rapturous joys, but rather of solid and delightful peace,) will follow, as assuredly as warmth follows the dispensation of the rays of the sun. He, who is holy, must be happy.

— from Religious Maxims (1846), II.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Resignation to Providence

There is one great principle, existing in connection with the higher forms of religious experience, which is worthy of special notice; and which may possibly throw light upon, and may help to explain some of the statements, which have now been made. It is a principle which it is hard for the natural mind to receive, and which it is hard for any mind to receive, in which the natural life remains in much degree of strength. It is this. Every thing which occurs, with the exception of sin, takes place, and yet without infringing on moral liberty, in the divinely appointed order and arrangement of things; and is an expression, within its own appropriate limits, of the divine will. And consequently, in its relations to ourselves personally and individually, it is precisely that condition of things which is best suited to try and to benefit our own state. 

On a moment’s reflection, it will be seen that this important principle raises us at once above all subordinate creatures, and places us in the most intimate connection with God himself. It makes the occurrences of every moment, to an important extent, a manifestation of God’s will, and consequently, in every such occurrence it makes God himself essentially present to us. 

Every event, coming within the range of our cognizance, necessarily brings God and our souls together. And it naturally follows from this view, that every thing which takes place, whatever it may be, inasmuch as it is a revelation, within its appropriate limits, of God’s presence and God’s will, should be met in the spirit of acquiescence, meekness, and entire resignation. 

But it is impossible, as it seems to us, to possess that humbled and acquiescent state of mind, which is requisite to meet God as he thus manifests himself, moment by moment, in his providences, without faith. 

It is the nature of unbelief to look at every thing in the light of second causes, which necessarily excludes God from any present and immediate agency. Faith restores God to events, and makes him present in all things that take place. Faith identifies every thing with God’s superintendence, and makes every thing, so far as it is capable of being so, an expression of his will, with the exception already mentioned, viz., of sin. And even in regard to this, faith proclaims the important doctrine that sin has, and ever shall have, its limits; and that Satan, and those who follow him, can go no further than they are permitted to go. 

To say, therefore, that a man is entirely acquiescent in the will of God, and is united in the will of God, is nearly the same thing as to say that he is a person of strong faith. There is a difference, it is true. Nevertheless, strong faith, or rather assured and undoubting faith, cannot fail to be followed by this state. Such faith not only makes God present in every thing, but works in us a disposition to regard him in every thing, and to submit to him in every thing.

— edited from The Life of Faith, part 2, Chapter 5.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023


Another of the Propensities, which may be regarded as implanted or connatural to us, is the principle of SELF-LOVE; in other words, the desire of our own happiness. It is natural and right to desire our own good or happiness; it is unnatural and wrong not to desire it. But in the natural man, the man who is without true faith in God, this desire is exceedingly apt to exaggerate itself and to become inordinate. 

The man of faith, subordinating all his desires of personal good to that standard which God has established, is willing and desirous to trust all his happiness, whether it relate to the present or the future, with that great and good Being, who never does otherwise than right. He may be a wanderer from his country with Abraham, he may be sold into exile with the young but believing Joseph, he may undergo all the deprivations and sorrows of Job, of Jeremiah, and of Daniel, and yet find a consolation and support in faith, which is as wonderful as on any natural principles it is inexplicable.

He, who has truly resigned or abandoned himself to God in the exercise of faith, will remain calm, peaceful, and thankful, under interior as well as exterior desolation. The common forms of Christianity will, in general, be found capable of supporting what may be called outward desolation, such as the loss of property, reputation, health, and friends. But a state of interior desolation, in which we have no sensible joys, no inward illuminations, but on the contrary are sterile alike of edifying thoughts and quickening emotions, and are beset continually with heavy temptations, (a state to which the people of God are for wise reasons sometimes subjected,) is, generally speaking, far more trying. In this state, as well as in that of exterior trials, the mind that has abandoned all into the hands of God, will wait, in humble and holy quietness, for the divine salvation. Faith remains; a firm, realizing, unchangeable faith. And the language of the heart is, under the keen anguish which it is permitted to experience, “though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.”

— edited from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 5.

Monday, May 22, 2023

The Desire to Tell the Truth

Among the Propensive tendencies may properly be reckoned the principle of Veracity; that is to say, the disposition, which is evidently natural to the human mind, to utter the truth. It would not be easy to exaggerate the importance of this principle; but it is well known, that there are influences at work, originating in selfishness and in unbelief, which frequently pervert its action. But if unbelief is the enemy of the correct action of this important principle; faith, on the other hand, is its strong friend. 

I think that it is one of the striking evidences of a man of strong faith, that he both speaks the truth, and has confidence in the truth. In his intercourse with men, he does not speak rudely and unkindly, but he tells his simple, unvarnished story in a simple and true spirit. “His yea is YEA, and his nay, NAY.” He may sometimes speak with emphasis; but never with exaggeration. He may regard, as he ought to regard, the proprieties both of language and of manner; but he cannot, as a man of true faith in God, attach to his statements any embellishments of word or any devices of action, which will alter, even slightly, the aspect of the reality of things. 

And accordingly, believing in God as a God, who has declared of himself, that he cannot lie, and deeply desirous of bearing the divine image in this respect as well as in other respects, he utters his words in humble but unchangeable sincerity and uprightness; and although he is conscious that they are unsustained by the artifices of unbelief, he knows equally well who will make them good in the end.

— edited from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 5.


Saturday, May 20, 2023

The Opinions of Others

The person, who is in the exercise of a high degree of faith, has right views and right feelings in relation to the opinions of his fellow-men. He is not likely to attach either too high or too low a value to such opinions. 

It is well understood, I suppose, that God has implanted within us a Propensive principle, which may properly be described as the DESIRE OF ESTEEM; in other words has given us a natural regard for the opinions of men. The Scriptures also, in recognition of this principle, frequently speak in such a way as to imply the high estimation, which they place upon a good name, “a good report,” or a good reputation among men. 

It is no part of Christianity, therefore, always and absolutely to disregard their opinions. But there are times in every man’s life, when, if he is faithful to truth and to duty, he may reasonably expect to be erroneously estimated, and to be the subject not only of wrong opinions, but of wrong and false accusations. 

But he, who places a calm and full trust in God, will fear no evil. He can say with the Apostle, “It is a small thing to be judged of man’s judgment.” When we are troubled at every little misapprehension of our conduct, and are in a hurry to set it right, lest, perchance, our good name should suffer; or when in solitary inactivity we repine over the cruelty and injustice of our fellow-men, we give unhappy evidence, that unbelief, the fruitful source of so many and great evils, is still lingering and nourishing in our bosoms. He, who in the exercise of belief has abandoned his heart to God, is strong in the consciousness of the divine protection, and is not afraid, when called to it in the discharge of his duty, of being either despised or persecuted.

It is a remark of the author of the Imitation of Christ, that some men will “suffer but a
certain degree of evil, and only from particular persons.” The man, who, by the annihilation of self, and in the exercise of strong faith, is truly abandoned to God, makes no distinctions of this kind. He submits himself to the blow of the smiter without any reserve; giving thanks to God that he is accounted “worthy to suffer,” by any instrument or in any degree. He has nothing to say, when the will of the Lord has once manifested itself, as to time or place, degree or agencies. He takes the cup, with all its bitter ingredients, just as his heavenly Father has mingled it. He adopts the language of the Savior, “The cup, which my Father giveth me, shall I not drink it?” 

— edited from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 5.

Friday, May 19, 2023

The Desire for Knowledge

The desire of knowledge is another principle, coming under the same general class of mental tendencies, which requires regulation; but which never can be regulated without faith. 

As those, who are desirous of making God’s law the rule of their conduct, we are at liberty to know only what God would have us know. It would certainly be absurd to suppose, that the principle of curiosity, one of the most powerful principles in our mental constitution, operating for the most part during all the moments of consciousness, and involving in its action immense consequences both to ourselves and others, is permitted to act without being responsible to law, and without incurring either guilt or merit. 

In this thing, as in other things, we must trust ourselves with God; believing that he will furnish opportunities of knowledge, and will give strength in the pursuit of knowledge, whenever his providence and his law impose duties which render knowledge desirable and necessary. 

Remain, therefore, in the attitude of waiting upon God, who gives light to the understanding, as well as renovation to the heart. Neither yield to fear on the one hand, nor to the suggestions of eager desire on the other. As christians we ought not to desire, and we certainly do not need any light, which comes from the world or from a worldly spirit; but the illumination, which comes from God’s wisdom and God’s will, is indispensable. And it is so, because it is precisely that kind and degree of light, which is adapted to the situation in which his providence has placed us. And this light he will never fail to give us, if in humility and consecration of heart we are willing to trust him for it.

— edited from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 5.

Thursday, May 18, 2023

The Social Tendency

 The social tendency, another strong Propensive principle, requires to be sanctified. Man does not and cannot regulate, as he ought to regulate, his intercourse with his fellow-men, without faith in God. 

He must have faith in something. And, so far as we can judge in the case, it is obviously a law of his nature, that he will attach to men all that faith, which he withdraws from God. Without faith in God, he will be likely in many cases to make his fellow-men the object of his idolatry; and will bestow upon them, unwisely and wickedly, that confidence and affection, which ought to be given somewhere else. 

Or it may be that without faith in God, he may make himself the object of his idolatry, and may thus in some cases not only withhold from God what is due to him, but may also withhold a proper degree of social interest in those around him. 

Whether we seek the society of others too much, or avoid it too much, we shall find in either case, that the evil influences of selfishness are at the bottom, and that we are violating a moral and religious duty. Faith, which in its applications and results makes us do what God would have us do, furnishes, in this case as in others, the only safe regulating principle.

— edited from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 5.


Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Faith and The Desire for Life

The Appetites, which always attract especial attention as having usurped a dominion over man to which they are not entitled, are tendencies or desires, which are closely connected with the necessities of our physical system. We have seen in what manner they may be regulated and purified. 

The propensive principles, which are more closely connected with the necessities of the mental nature, and are generally regarded as sustaining a higher rank, are liable to be perverted, as well as the appetites; and need continually the purifying influences and the restraints of sanctifying grace. And if faith, by its action either direct or indirect, can purify and subordinate the lower principles, which are so often perverted and are known to be so violent in their perversion, there is no reason to suppose that it has less of regulating and sanctifying efficacy in its application to other and higher parts of our nature.

The desire of life, that is to say, the desire of the preservation and of the continuance of life, is not, in the proper sense of the terms, an Appetite; but it is obviously an implanted principle of our nature, which may properly be denominated a PROPENSITY. 

He, who has faith, may be said, just in proportion as he has it, to take his “life in his hands,” as the Scriptures express it, and to hold it at the divine pleasure. The anxieties, which afflict others, and which often render their lives a burden, do not, in a great degree, trouble those, who believe. Admitting, as they cannot well do otherwise, the correctness of the common remark, that in life we are in the midst of death, and admitting all that can be justly said of our constant exposure to various sufferings, they leave the issues of their earthly being in his hands, who gave it, without disquieting solicitude. The season of danger, even when the natural instincts take the alarm, is not a season of distrust and unholy fear; and when in the course of divine providence, the hour of dissolution comes, it comes rightly and well. “Is not the life,” says the Savior, “more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”

— edited from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 5

Monday, April 24, 2023

Faith is the Foundation of the Love of God

Love, which in being supreme makes God its centre, never exists, and it is not possible that it should ever exist except in connection with and as the consequent of a faith, which has the same centre, and exists in the same degree. 

Faith is the foundation. Faith is the deeper principle; although it must be admitted, that love is a state of mind, which, generally speaking, is more distinct in our consciousness, and is more obvious to common apprehension and remark. When, therefore, we have faith, we have all that is necessary for us, provided we have all the faith, which God requires us to have.

The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 4.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

God Alone is the Proper Center of Human Love

 God alone is the proper centre of love. God alone, in consequence of the exalted nature of his perfections, is the object, to which our highest affections can properly attach themselves. If God is not loved supremely, something else is, because the nature of love is such as to require some highest object. And if God is the centre, (an expression, which implies, that our love is essentially, if not absolutely proportioned to its object,) then he is so in such a degree and manner, that all other beings are regarded and loved in their relation to him. Being not only the highest or supreme object, but being so beyond any and all comparison with other objects, he is properly the centre of centres. Consequently, receiving all our springs of action from him, as the great object of our affections, we shall regard objects, so far as we are capable of understanding their nature, just as he regards them; we shall love what he loves; hate what he hates; rejoice in what he rejoices in.

The moment we get into this great and true Centre, every thing else falls into the right position. We love ourselves, and we love other beings just as God would have us; for we can neither approve nor disapprove, neither love nor hate, except as we receive the spring of movement from the great source. In any other position of mind, the influence of self will be felt. But in this, as the mind operates in perfect coincidence with the will of God, a will which never deviates from perfect rectitude, it can give no countenance to selfishness, which is always at variance with rectitude. 

The life of God in the soul and the life of self in the soul are entirely inconsistent with each other. Where God exists, as the supreme object, self is, and must be cast out. Sensuality ceases. All our appetites, and all our propensities and affections of whatever degree will, in that case, be properly regulated. And the grace of sanctification or holiness will pervade the whole inner man.

The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 4.


Friday, April 21, 2023

A Selfish Being

 If a man’s love centres in himself as the highest or supreme object of his affections, which it must do, if it does not centre in some other being, he is of course a selfish being; and as such he cannot be regarded as a truly holy being. If he thinks for himself, acts for himself, lives for himself, as he must do if he himself be the highest object of love, it must be sufficiently obvious without any comment upon it, that he cannot be otherwise than selfish, and cannot be otherwise than unholy. 

All such love, which thus centres in ourselves, is wrong, and is not acceptable in the sight of God; because it is not proportioned to its object, and is inordinate.

It may be proper to add this remark here, that pure love or holy love is that
love which is precisely appropriate to the object; being such, neither more nor less, as the object is precisely entitled to, so far as we are capable of understanding what the object is.

If our love centres in creatures inferior to God, and becomes supreme in them, it is necessarily selfish; as really so, though not so obviously so at first sight, as if it centered in ourselves. It is entirely obvious, that the motive for loving inferior beings in the highest degree, for loving them supremely, cannot be founded in their own characters. It is not a love, to which they are justly entitled. It is not right to love them in this manner. 

And if the motive of this love is not founded in their characters, and is, therefore, not based upon moral rectitude, it is founded, and must necessarily be so, in some selfish modification of our own feelings. The only active principle in man, which is antagonistical to rectitude, is selfishness in some of its modifications. Whenever a moral being deviates from the right, in any and all cases where he has a perception of what the right is, it will be found to be through the influence of self. In all such cases, if a being is loved otherwise than it ought to be, and is therefore loved wrongly, selfishness will always be found at the bottom. It will sometimes be very secret and almost hidden; but it will always be there.

The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 4.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

In What Does Human Love Center?

"No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." —  Matthew 6:2.

Of the various objects, to which love is directed, it will always be found, that those objects will not all be loved alike; but some will be loved more, and some less. Of two objects or of many objects which essentially differ in their attractions, in other words, in their power of exciting love, it can never be said that the soul loves them both, or that it loves them all in an equal degree. The love of the object will be in proportion to the attracting power of the object, considered in relation to the soul.

Among these various objects there will be some one, on which the love of the soul will rest and satisfy itself in the highest degree; in a degree which may be expressed by the term
supremely. The soul, in the exercise of its affections, must necessarily have a centre of love somewhere: viz., in the object which is most beloved. And that object will be the most beloved, and will constitute the centre of love, which possesses for the soul the highest attractions. The love of other things, which have less attractions for the soul, cannot fail to be subordinate. It is true, that the soul may take a degree of satisfaction in those objects, which are inferior or subordinate in its love. But it is in the supreme object of its affections, and in that central and supreme object alone, that it will rest and delight itself with supreme satisfaction. It is there, emphatically, that the heart is. There is the centre, and it is infinitely important that every man should know what that centre is in his own case. 

The centre of man’s love, (we do not say his love, but the centre of his love,) must be either in himself, or in other creatures, or in God. He may love all in different degrees; and he may love all in that manner at the same time; but he cannot have a centre or supremacy of love in all at the same time. He either loves God supremely, or he loves other beings, which are inferior to God, supremely; or he loves himself supremely. There does not seem to be any other supposition to be made in the case.

The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 4.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Love Rests on Faith

 Love is not a passion, which can properly be called accidental. In any and every being, that has the capacity of loving, this benevolent affection will arise, and increase, and decline according to its own laws of origin and progress. And if we have a right view of the subject, it is one of the laws of its origin, that love always rests upon faith as its basis. If we have faith in the creature, exclusive of faith in God, then our affections will centre in the creature. If we have faith in God, then our affections, either in whole or in part, will take a different direction; attaching themselves to God as their object, and being more or less strong, according to the degree of our faith.

Faith subdues that selfishness, which is the great evil of man’s nature, in part at least, by an indirect action; viz.,
by giving origin to love.  

The natural tendency of love to God is to regulate and restrain all unregulated and unrestrained love of that, which is not God. 

 — The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 4.