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.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Enduring Trials While Subjected in Will to God

Another mark or characteristic of the man, whose will has passed from his own unsafe keeping to the high custody of a divine direction, is this. He has no disposition to complain, when God, in the course of his providences, sees fit to send disappointments and afflictions upon him. This remark will apply not only to afflictions, which originate in the loss of health, of property, and of friends, but to all others of whatever nature, and coming from whatever source. We have sometimes thought, that the entire subjection of the will is seen particularly in the quietness and silence of spirit, with which misrepresentations and persecutions are endured. That the people of the world should be greatly agitated, and should find in themselves the movings of a rebellious and belligerent spirit, when their motives are aspersed and their characters injured, is entirely natural. And, unhappily, when persecution arises, we see too much of this unquiet and rebellious spirit, even in those whom charity requires us to recognize as Christians. Not so with those Christians of a higher grade, whose wills act in perfect harmony with the divine will. That they are afflicted, when they are subject to unjust persecutions, is true; but they are not rebellious; they are not disquieted; and although they are afflicted, it cannot be said with truth that they are destitute of happiness. Connecting with the instrument which troubles them, the hand of God, which permits the agency of that instrument, they regard the persecutions they endure as the lot which God has appointed them; and as such they rejoice in it. But this could not be, if their wills, renouncing all private and selfish modes of action, did not move harmoniously with the divine will.

The subjection or loss of the will discovers itself, among other things, by entire meekness and submission under those interior dealings with the soul, which are of such a nature as is calculated to try the faith of those who endure them. There are certain gifts of the spirit, or better perhaps, certain spiritual graces, which God seems to regard himself as pledged to give to his people; gifts which it seems beyond doubt they may always have for the asking, if they will only ask in the spirit of consecration and faith. God will never withhold from his people, if they are in a temper of mind to ask and receive them, the gifts or graces of purity of heart, of humility, of gratitude, of forgiveness, and love; nor any of those pure and lovely traits of temper and disposition, whatever they may be, which characterized and perfected the nature of Jesus Christ. But there are other spiritual gifts, which belong rather to the intellect than the affections, and which may be described, therefore, if we may be allowed the expressions, as intellectual rather than “affectional,” such as the gift of knowledge, the gift or power of ready and eloquent utterance, and the state of mind, sometimes found among the facts and incidents of Christian experience, which may be described as a purely intellectual view or vision of heavenly things; such a view, whatever it may be, as may be supposed to gratify the curiosity, rather than improve the heart. These things God gives or withholds as he pleases; catching one up, like the apostle Paul, into the third heavens, where he sees and hears unutterable things; and keeping another, so far as gifts and illuminations of this kind are concerned, in a state of comparative ignorance and abjection.

Nor is this all. He oftentimes mingles bitterness in the cup of those, to whom he has given the purest and holiest affections; leaving them not only to sorrows without, to which we have already alluded, but oftentimes to heavy sorrows within. But the Christian, whose will is entirely subdued, will drink this portion also. All he asks, and what he feels he must have, is HOLINESS; and if with this cup of God and of angels, his heavenly Father sees fit to mingle some ingredient of bitterness, to remind him of his former sinful state, and to teach him more fully the way of submission, he cheerfully accepts it. God may take from him all mere intellectual manifestations of spiritual things; he may even deprive him of the ordinary intellectual powers, and reduce him almost to a state of idiocy; he may pour into his heart the deepest amazement and grief, and yet his language is, “Not my will, God, but thine be done.” He knows, notwithstanding his afflictions, that he is dear to God; and that his name is written on the heart of infinite love. He knows that he is just in that place where God has seen fit and best to place him; and that he endures just what God sees best he should endure; and he would not even now, though thick darkness is around his path, exchange his position for that of angels.

— from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 9.

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