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.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Subjection of the Will by Faith

How is this great work, the subjection of the will, to be effected? 

And the answer must be repeated, which has already been so often given, that it can be done, so far as we can perceive, only by the operations and influence of FAITH. 

And in saying this, it can hardly be necessary to add, that we do not mean to exclude personal effort, in whatever form of resolve or of action it can properly be made; although it is true, and always will remain true, that personal effort here, as elsewhere in the things of religion, will be unavailing without faith. And this is so truly and emphatically the case, that we cannot hesitate to speak of faith as the cause, and as the one great and preeminent cause of a result so desirable and glorious.It is obvious, in the first place, that the man, who has no faith in God, can see no reason, and in the actual state of his views and feelings he has no reason, so far as he himself is concerned, why he should subject his will to God’s will. To subject our wills is to subject ourselves. If God has the control of the will, he has the control of the man. And no man, no rational being whatever, could be expected to subject his will, and thus to subject himself, to another being, however exalted he might be supposed to be, without faith in such being. It would obviously be against nature. That is to say, it is something, which in our apprehension is naturally impossible.

We admit, that there may be, and that there sometimes is a subjection of the will, which is rendered on the principle of fear; the submission or subjection, which slaves render to despots, who bend their necks to the yoke, which they cannot shake off. Undoubtedly a subjection of the will of this kind may exist without faith. But this is not a subjection of the will, which is an attribute of God’s people; nor is it such an one as God either values or desires. It is obviously not the submission, of which we are now speaking, or of which we are understood to speak; and therefore it is not necessary to delay upon it. 

And accordingly we repeat, that a subjection and union of the will such as God requires, is a natural impossibility, in other words is contrary to the laws and operations of the mind, without the existence of faith as its basis. 

We observe further, it is not only a natural impossibility; but, using the expressions in the sense which is common among writers on morals, it is a moral, as well as a natural impossibility; that is to say, it is a thing, which cannot be done, without doing what is wrong. God asks no control on his part, and no subjection of the will on the part of the creature, which is not right, and which a rational being, acting in view of what is right, shall not feel bound to render. But as a rational being, as a being that is supposed to perceive clearly what is right to be done and what is duty to be done, man cannot surrender his will to another being, in whose character and in whose administration of affairs he has no confidence. It is morally impossible. And if it were otherwise, it would not be possible on the part of God, who asks only what is right and who receives only what is right, to ask or to receive a submission rendered on such terms. He asks no man’s will, and will receive no man’s will, as a thing separate from his FAITH; and for the reason which God can appreciate better than any other being, it would not be right for him to do it. There is a sense, undoubtedly, in which he may limit and control such a will, as something which may properly be guarded and ruled by a higher authority; he may restrain it in certain directions as something which without restraint would be hurtful in his universe; but to receive it into harmony with himself, which is always the result of that acquiescence and submission of the will which is attended with faith, is what he never ought to do; is what, as a just and holy being, he never can do. From the nature of the case, therefore, we may regard it as a fixed and unalterable law, that the will of the creature always will be, as it always has been under such circumstances, antagonistical to the will of God; and that there always will be, as there always has been, a contest between them, so long as the creature remains without faith.

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

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