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PART EIGHTH.
OF THE PEACE OR REST OF A SOUL IN A STATE OF UNION.



CHAPTER I.


ON THE TRUE IDEA OF A SOUL AT REST.


Rest, the result of the soul's advancement in religious experience. — Of counterfeits of the true rest. — Circumstances under which true rest exists. — Illustrations of the subject from the natural world. — also from moral beings. — Application of the principles laid down to men.

HAVING thus completed the series of topics, which most naturally presented themselves to notice in connection with the subject of Divine Union, it remains only to consider the general aspect or appearance of the soul, which has once more united itself with its true source of life. And this may be done in a few words by saying, it is
a soul in rest or peace.

2. Even in the beginning of its renovated life, when it first finds the blessedness of forgiveness, the soul experiences a degree of peace. But, compared with what it is subsequently, it is limited both in degree and permanency. At the early period to which we now refer, the soul finds rest from the condemnation of past sins, without finding rest from the sharpness of inward conflicts, from doubts, uncertainties, and heavy temptations. As it advances in religious experience, the elements of rest develop themselves. When, by the crucifixion of self and the full resurrection of a new and purified spirit, it has become one with its heavenly Father, it then has a peace or rest approaching that of the heavenly world. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace," says the prophet Isaiah, "whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee.”

3. It is important to understand correctly in what true rest or peace of the soul consists. There is a rest which is more so in appearance than reality; just as there is a semblance, a counterfeit of humility, of benevolence, and of other Christian graces. There are some persons whose apparent rest is to be ascribed to natural inertness or stupidity, and not to the sanctified adjustment of their powers. The true rest, however, is not to be regarded as identical with inaction.

The rest of the soul, in the highest spiritual sense of the terms, is that state of the soul, whether it be in repose or in action, which is in harmony with God. There is only one right position of the soul. All others must necessarily be wrong. And that position is one where the creature is brought into perfect adjustment with the Creator, by deriving its perceptions from God, by merging its affections in God's affections, and by harmonizing its will with God's will. In such a state of the soul there must necessarily be rest, if God has rest.

4. Of rest, as thus explained, — the rest, not of inaction but of harmony of position, — we have illustrations everywhere. In this view of it, physical nature is at rest. It is impossible to look on the mingled expanse of land and water, of field and forest, without a deep sense of harmony and repose. The various objects which nature thus presents to us, "from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that springeth out of the wall," are arranged in their appropriate place, and are clothed in strength and beauty, but without the turmoil of labor. As their rest is the rest of harmony, a rest appropriate to their nature and involved in the fulfillment of their own laws of life, it is necessarily incidental to their growth and perfection. They grow in rest; — they shine in rest. Their rest, therefore, is at the same time their work. But their work, great as it is in extent, and wonderful in its variety, is always accomplished without effort and without the sense of fatigue. "Behold the lilies of the field. They toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you, that Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these."

Again, we may find an illustration of the subject in the aspect of repose, the beautiful stillness which characterizes the heavenly bodies, when seen in a cloudless sky at night. The beautiful orbs which then spangle and adorn the heavenly vault, are always in motion; always fulfilling the ends for which they were made; but, at the same time, they are never in a state of discordance and unrest, because their movement always harmonizes with law. Their constant motion, as in the language of an English poet, they "wheel unshaken through the void immense," does not cost them more labor than that constant proclamation of God's greatness, which the Scriptures ascribe to them. And it is not more wonderful that they should move in rest, and fulfill their destiny without labor, than that they should thus proclaim the glory of God by the mere perfection of their being, "without speech or language." [Psalm 19:1-3.] Both are the developments, the unconstrained but necessary results, of their own nature, and of their perfect adjustment to the facts and relations of things.

5. But if material existences may be described as being in a state of rest while fulfilling the laws and purposes for which they exist, we may be certain that this may be said, with equal or greater truth, of all sentient and moral beings. All such beings, in conformity with that eternal wisdom which assigns to everything its place and its laws, have their sphere of action, their orbit of movement. By their capabilities of perception, feeling, and action, they are as precisely fitted to their sphere of movement as the material bodies which move and shine in the heavens, or as any classes of animated existences below them, all of which have their place, their sphere their laws, their destination. And in the sphere which is thus allotted them, in their appropriate place and under their appropriate laws, they fulfill the ends of their existence by action carried on without any care or labor, which is inconsistent with true peace.

In making these remarks, we speak, of course, of their original constitution; of what they were designed to be; and of what they are, so long as they do not deviate from the principles and designs, in view of which they were formed. So long as this is the case, there will always be found to be a harmony of position, a truth and harmony of movement, which will always be characterized by peace. And on no other condition can it be said of them that they are either right in morals or happy in experience. Angels, for instance, have their sphere of life. To that sphere they are undoubtedly limited. And so long as they do not deviate from it, they exist in and have the experience of true spiritual rest; — not stupid, not inactive, not without thought, feeling, and purpose; but always in the perfection of repose, because always in the perfect harmony of physical and moral position. If they were otherwise than they are, if there were the least variation of adjustment in place or in action, their rest would be disquieted, their joyous repose be broken.

6. But the truth and perfect emblem of all rest is God himself; — the infinite rest, the eternal peace, the just and unalterable tranquillity. He is in peace, because he is in the truth. The truth is in him; it encircles him, and proceeds forth from him. All things, which are made, are formed in accordance with those true and eternal ideas, which are inherent in the divine mind. Every action which proceeds from God is in harmony with the truth; every thought, also, which comes from the same source, is in harmony with the same truth. God could not possibly act, or think, or feel, otherwise than he does, without an infringement of the truth and right of things, and without placing himself in a false and wrong attitude. And this is the foundation of his rest. Like the sun in the midst of the solar system, while he is the source of movement and power to all things that exist, he acts without labor, controls without effort, occupying a centre which is unchangeable, because perfection can never have more than one centre, and resting there with perfect rest and peace of spirit, because his mighty thoughts and purposes all harmonize with his position.

7. If God rests by having his centre in himself, man may rest by having his centre in God; and the rest of man, having its supports in the Infinite Mind, may possess the same attributes as the rest of the Divinity. So that man derives his rest or peace of spirit from God, as he derives everything else from the same source. And just in proportion as we approach to quietness of spirit, founded on just principles, we approach in similitude to God. It is the quietist,— the man who moves unshaken in the sphere and path which God has marked out for him, unelated by joy, undepressed by sorrow, unallured by temptations, unterrified by adversities, — it is this man, bearing about always the divine calmness of his crucified Elder Brother, who is truly
godlike. And, just so far as he is like God in character, he is like him in inward tranquillity.

And it is such views as these which furnish the true explanation of the words of the Saviour, which conveyed to his followers his parting legacy: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you."


’TIS NOT IN VAIN THE MIND.

'Tis not in vain the mind,
By many a tempest driven,
Shall seek a resting-place to find,
A calm like that of heaven.

The weak one and dismayed,
Scarce knowing where to flee,
How happy, when he finds the aid
That comes alone from Thee!

In Thee, oh God, is REST! —
Rest from the world's desires,
From pride that agitates the breast,
From passion's angry fires.

In Thee is rest from fear,
That brings its strange alarm;
And sorrow, with its rising tear,
Thou hast the power to calm.