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.