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It does not follow, that those who possess the graces of a truly sanctified heart, are at liberty to reject the ordinary methods and rules of perception and judgment. They exercise and value wisdom, while they reject the selfishness of wisdom. The rules of holy living would require them every moment to make a faithful use of all the natural light of reason, as well as the higher and spiritual light of grace.
A holy soul values and seeks wisdom, but does not seek it in anunholy and worldly spirit. Nor, when it is made wise by the Spirit of wisdom, who dwells in all hearts that are wholly devoted to God, does it turn back from the giver to the gift, and rejoice in its wisdom as its own.
The wisdom of the truly holy soul is a wisdom which estimates things in the present moment. It judges of duty from the facts which now are; including, however, those things which have a relation to the present. It is an important remark, that the present moment necessarily possesses a moral extension; so that, in judging of it, we are to include all those things which have a natural and near relation to the thing actually in hand. It is inthis manner that the holy soul lives in the present, committing the past to God, and leaving the future with that approaching hour which shall convert it into the present. "Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof." To-morrow will take care of itself; it will bring, at its coming, its appropriate grace and light. When we live thus, God will not fail to give us our daily bread.
Such souls draw on themselves the special protection of Providence, under whose care they live, without a far extended and unquiet forecast, like little children resting in the bosom of their mother. Conscious of their own limited views, and keeping in000mind the direction of the Saviour, Judge not that you be not judged, they are slow to pass judgment upon others. They are willing to receive reproof and correction; and, separate from the will of God, they have no choice or will of their own in anything.
These are the children whom Christ permits to come near Him. They combine the prudence of the serpent with the simplicity of the dove. But they do not appropriate their prudence to themselves as their own prudence, any more than they appropriate to themselves the beams of the natural sun, when they walk in its light.
These are the poor in spirit, whom Christ Jesus hath declared blessed; and who are as much taken off from any complacency in what others might call their merits, as all Christians ought to be from their temporal possessions. They are the "little ones," to whom God is well pleased to reveal His mysteries, while He hides them from the wise and prudent.
The children, in distinction from the mere servants of God, have the liberty of children. They have a peace and joy, full of innocency. They take with simplicity and without hesitation the refreshments both of mind and body. They do not speak of themselves, except when called to do it in providence, and in order to do good. And such is their simplicity and truth of spirit, they speak of things just as they appear to them at the moment; and when the conversation turns upon their own works, or characters, they express themselves favorably or unfavorably, much as they would if they were speaking of others. If; however, they have occasion to speak of any good of which they have been the instrument, they always acknowledge, with humble joy, that it comes from God alone.
There is a liberty, which might more properly be called license. There are persons who maintain that purity of heart renders pure, in the subjects of this purity, whatever they are prompted to do, however irregular it may be in others. This is a great error.
It is the doctrine of Augustine, as also of Thomas Aquinas, that the principle of holy love existing in the heart, necessarily includes in itself; or implies the existence, of all other Christian virtues. He who loves God with all his heart, will not violate the laws of purity, because it would be a disregard of the will of God, which he loves above all things. His love, under such circumstances, becomes the virtue of chastity. He has too much love and reverence for the will of God to murmur or repine under the dispensations of His providence. His love, under such circumstances, becomes the virtue of patience. And thus this love becomes by turns, on their appropriate occasions, all the virtues. As his love is perfect, so the virtues which flow out of it, and are modified from it, will not be less so.
It is a maxim in the doctrines of holiness, that the holy soul is crucified to its own virtues, although it possesses them in the highest degree. The meaning of this saying is this: The holy soul is so crucified to self in all its forms, that it practices the virtues without taking complacency in its virtues as it, own, and even without thinking how virtuous it is.
The Apostle Paul speaks of Christians as dead. " You are dead,” he says, "and your life is hid with Christ in God." (Col. iii. 3. These expressions will apply, in their full import, only to those Christians who are in the state of unselfish or pure love. Their death is a death to selfishness. They are dead to pride and jealousy, self-seeking and envy, to malice, inordinate love of their own reputation, anything and every-thing which constitutes the fallen and vitiated life of nature. They have a new life, which is "hid with Christ in God."
Some persons of great piety, in describing the highest religious state, have denominated it the state of transformation. But this can be regarded as only a synonymous expression for the state of pure love.
In the transformed state of the soul, as in the state of pure love, love is its life. In this principle of love all the affections ofthe soul, of whatever character, have their constituting or their controlling element. There can be no love without an object of love. As the principle of love, therefore, allies the soul with another, so from that other which is God, all its power of movement proceeds. In itself it remains without preference for anything; and consequently is accessible and pliant to all the touches and guidances of grace, however slight they may be. It is like a spherical body, placed upon a level and even surface, which is moved with equal ease in any direction. The soul in this state, having no preferences of itself, has but one principle of movement, namely, that which God gives it. In this state the soul can say with the Apostle Paul, "I live; Yet not I, but Christ lives in me."
Souls which have experienced the grace of sanctification in its higher degrees, have not so much need of set times arid places for worship as others. Such is the purity and the strength of their love, that it is very easy for them to unite with God in acts of inward worship, at all times and places. They have an interior closet. The soul is their temple, and God dwells in it.
This, however, does not exempt them from those outward methods and observances which God has prescribed. Besides, they owe something to others; and a disregard to the ordinances and ministrations of the Church could not fail to be injurious to beginners in the religions life.
The practice of confession is not inconsistent with the state of pure love. The truly renovated soul can still say, Forgive us our trespasses. If it does not sin now, deliberately and knowingly, still its former state of sin can never be forgotten.
In the transformed state, or state of pure love, there should be not only the confession of sins, properly so called, but also the confession of those more venial transgressions, termed faults. We should sincerely disapprove such faults in our confession; should condemn them and desire their remission; and not merely with a view to our own cleansing and deliverance, but also because God wills it, and because He would have us to do it for His glory.
It is sometimes the case, that persons misjudge of the holiness of individuals, by estimating it from the incidents of the outward appearance. Holiness is consistent with the existence, in the same person, of various infirmities; (such as an unprepossessing form, physical weakness, a debilitated judgment, an imperfect mode of expression, defective manners, a want of knowledge, and the like.)
The holy soul may be said to be united with God, without anything intervening or producing a separation, in three particulars.
First. -It is thus united intellectually ;-that is to say, not by any idea which is based upon the senses, and which of course could give only a material image of God, but by an idea which is internal and spiritual in its origin, and makes God known to us as a Being without form.
Second. -The soul is thus united to God, if we may so express it, affectionately. That is to say, when its affections are given to God, not indirectly through a self-interested motive, but simply because He is what He is. The soul is united to God in love without anything intervening, when it loves Him for His own sake.
Third. -The soul is thus united to God practically;-and this is the case when it does the will of God, not by simply following a prescribed form, but from the constantly operative impulse of holy love.
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