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PART SIXTH.
ON UNION WITH GOD IN HIS PROVIDENCES.



CHAPTER VII.


ON THE LAW OF PROVIDENCE IN RELATION TO SIMPLICITY OF SPIRIT.


Explanations of simplicity of spirit. — Exists in connection with a disposition to harmonize with Providence. Illustrations of the subject.The man who is simple in spirit is a child.

THERE is a state of mind which is properly expressed by the phrase SIMPLICITY OF SPIRIT. It is a state of mind
simplified; — that is to say, a state which is prompted in its views and actions by the simple or single motive of God's will, instead of being led in various directions and multiplied, as it were, by worldly motives, such as pride, pleasure, anger, honor, riches and the like. Being one in its controlling element, having its thought, its feeling, and its action subjected to the domination of a single principle, it cannot be multiplied. Like the law of gravitation in the natural world, it is not only one and undivided in itself, but always tends to one and the same centre.

2. Such simplicity is aided, in being carried into action, by the providential law. The
multiplied man is full of worldly schemes. The simple man, being in harmony with God's will, forms no plans and enters upon no schemes, except such as are suggested by God's providences. And the consequence is, that he ceases from all those anxious forecastings and calculations, which result from a worldly spirit. As he receives what God now gives, and does not wish to receive anything else; so he does what God now requires him to do, without wishing to do otherwise. Everyday, made up of its various incidents and events, constitutes a map, on which Providence has drawn the path which he is to pursue. As each coming hour unrolls this map before his eye of faith, and before his heart of love, he promptly takes his position, step by step, without knowing at each moment where he shall be, and what he shall do, in the next moment.

3. It is obvious, therefore, that it is not possible for him to lay down future plans, or to make any such calculations, to be carried into effect at a future time, as have a fixed and absolute character. So far as he exercises what may be termed a prudent foresight, and forms plans of future action, it is always done in subjection to the developments of Providence.

The worldly man, in the independence of a worldly spirit, says he will do this or that, whatever it may be, which is most pleasing to him. He will go to some distant city, to Jerusalem, to Athens, to Rome, to London, and bring many things to pass. But the man who is possessed of a holy simplicity of spirit, true to the inscrutable law of Providence, is like a little child. Without excluding a prudential foresight, which is always conditional in its applications, he says, I will go to the designated place,
if the Lord wills; or I will do this or that, if the Lord wills. And it cannot be doubted, if this condition of action is not always expressed, it is at least always implied.

4. Whatever general plans he forms, (and it ought to be added, in passing, that he is always deliberate and cautious in making such plans,) they are all subordinate to the suggestions and orders of the great providential Power. He may be said, therefore, to be a man
moved as he is moved upon; — not so much a man without motion, as one whose motion or action evolves itself in connection with a higher motion. His action, spontaneous and morally responsible, is nevertheless consentingly and harmoniously regulated by a higher arrangement, antecedently made. Providence is not a thing accidental, but eternal. The events which are involved in it are letters, which describe the Everlasting Will. The holy man's will, therefore, operating by its own law of action, and secured in the possession of a just moral freedom, moves in the superintendence and harmony of a higher, better, and unchangeable will.

To him the world, in all its movements, is full of God. It is a great ocean, never at rest, flowing in different directions, though always at unity with itself. And as each drop of the natural ocean, without ceasing to be a drop, flows on as a part of and in harmony with the great billows, so is he, freely leaving his will to the Impulse of a higher will, moved on in harmony with the great sea of Providence.

5. Such an union with Providence not only requires simplicity of spirit, but it may be said to
make a man simple. He thinks, as some ancient writer expresses it, “without thinking;" that is to say, his thoughts, taken out of the order of his once selfish nature, are suggested by and fall in with the providential order; and they do it so easily and so beautifully, like the thoughts of angel natures, that another power seems to think in them and to give them life. He thinks without the labor of thinking, because his thoughts are given to him.

He feels, as the same writer expresses it, “
without feeling." That is to say, he feels without making a special effort to feel, and without having his thoughts particularly directed to his feelings. They arise spontaneously in connection with actions and events.

If his spirit has become one with God's spirit, then all he has to do is to feel as God feels; — which he does by a natural sympathy rather than by a constrained voluntary effort. And so true is this, that God, operating by the gentle attractions, and by the ebbing and flowing of divine love, almost seems to take his place, and to feel for him.

He wills, it is further remarked by the writer just now referred to, “
without willing.” That is to say, his will, freed from selfish impulses, and from the power of antecedent habits, operates so harmoniously with the Universal Will, that the two wills, not physically, but morally, are made one. And he wills as if another willed in his stead.

6. And is not a man who thus thinks without thinking, feels without feeling, and wills without willing, by the loss of his own thoughts, feelings, and volitions, in the thoughts, affections, and purposes of God, — is not such a man truly characterized by simplicity of spirit? It is sometimes said of the truly renovated and sanctified man, that he has become a
child. And it may well be asked, who is or can be more a child than the man we have just described? The child thinks as his father thinks, feels as his father feels, wills as his father wills. And it is this, much more than his physical likeness, which makes him the true child. He is sometimes taunted with that which constitutes his true honor, namely, that he dares not think for himself, nor feel nor will for himself, but that he is just as his father is. The child of God, also, is just as his Father is. It is this, more than anything else, which makes him the true child. And as the Father establishes, or makes Providence, the child harmonizes with Providence; and it is much the same thing to say, that he is the child of Providence, and to say that he is the child of God. In either case, he is a child, and a child is SIMPLE; that is to say, he has that simplicity of spirit, which makes him think, feel, and will, as another thinks, feels, and wills. In his simplicity, not knowing which way to direct his steps, he goes as he is led. God leads him. From the hand of God's providence he receives his daily food. The same Providence which leads him, feeds him. All things and all events are his teachers, because God is in them. He BELIEVES, and God takes care of him.