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 18, 2024

The Blessedness of a Will Lost

If we truly believe in God as a being possessed of every natural excellence, if we believe in him as a God present in all his providences, and ever watchful and faithful for the good of his people, and if at the same time we fully believe that in all his actions he is right and that in all his claims upon us he is right, there remains no reason, no possible consideration, no motive, why we should either desire on natural principles, or should feel under obligation on moral principles to possess a will, an aim, a purpose adverse to his. All ground or basis of movement in such a direction entirely fails. But every thing stands firm and effective in the other direction. So that it will not only be unnatural not to give our wills to God; but it will be impossible, (that is to say, it will be psychologically or mentally impossible,) not to do it. All the motives, which can be conceived of, those which have relation to our moral duty, all combine in the same direction; so that the laws of his being must cease to be the laws of his being and man must cease to be man, if, having full faith in God, he does not fully yield his will to God.

And we cannot well leave the subject without reverting a moment more to the blessedness of a WILL LOST; that is to say, of a will lost to itself by its union with God. In reading the experience of devoted Christians in former ages, I find no subject, on which they dwell with greater interest, or in regard to which they use stronger expressions. They saw clearly, if not as philosophers, yet as men taught by the Holy Ghost, that the subjection and regulation of the will imply the subjection and regulation of every thing else. And hence the profound remark ascribed to St. Augustine, that the true servants of God are not solicitous that he should order them to do what they desire to do; but that they may desire to do what he orders them to do; that is to say, that they may have no desire, no choice, no will of their own. He knew well, as other eminent Christians in all ages of the world have known and have expressed, that there is no result so desirable, and no blessedness so pure and heaven-like, as that of entire union of the human will with the divine. And hence too the saying of St. Bernard, “He, who destroys his self-will, destroys hell;”*  meaning Hell in its leading element or essence, and not in its locality. And we might add, that he not only destroys hell, but he makes heaven. He, who lives in his self-will, just so far as he does so, lives in hell; and he, who lives in the will of God, just so far as he does so, lives in heaven. As those, therefore, who have confidence in the power of faith, may we be able, not only to inquire, in the words uttered by the Apostle, “Lord what wilt thou have me to do;” but, what is still more important, may we be able also to answer the inquiry, in the words applied to the Savior, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God.”

*As quoted in the D’Ouvrages Mystiques, Tauler, Ch. 14.

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

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