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



CHAPTER III.


THE SOUL IN UNION RESTS FROM DESIRES.


Rest from desires a different thing from the extinction of desires. — Two classes of desires; — those attended with faith, and those which are not so. — Desires attended with faith are in accordance with the will of God, and are peaceful. — God's nature, as well as his promises, pledged in behalf of the man who has faith.

THE soul that is wholly given to God, not only rests from disquieting and unprofitable reasonings, (the subject remarked upon in the last chapter,) but also from
desires. Rest from desires, however, is a different thing from the extinction of desires. It would be incorrect to suppose that desires, in their various forms and modifications, are always wrong, or always attended with anxiety. The rest from desires, which the holy soul experiences, is a rest from all such desires as do not harmonize with the will of God. All desires, which are not in unity with the divine desires and purposes, are disquieting and full of trouble.

2. How many persons are the subjugated slaves of those inordinate appetites, which have their origin in our physical nature! How many are not merely agitated, but consumed, as it were, by the desire of accumulating property! How general and strong is the desire of reputation! Many, in whom other desires are perhaps comparatively feeble, spend anxious days and toilsome nights in seeking for power. But the truly holy person, whose great and only desire is that the will of the Lord may be done, has no desire of these things, or of any other things, except so far as God may see fit to inspire them. And all desires which harmonize with God's arrangements, and have their origin in a divine inspiration, are peaceful and happy.

3. "Love,
pure love," says Mr. Fletcher, in some remarks addressed to Christians professing holiness, "is satisfied with the supreme good, with God. Beware, then, of desiring anything but Him. Now you desire nothing else. Every other desire is driven out; see that none enter in again. Keep thyself pure; let your eye remain single, and your whole body shall remain full of light. Admit no desire of pleasing food, or any other pleasure of sense; no desire of pleasing the eye or the imagination; no desire of money, of praise, or esteem; of happiness in any creature. You may bring these desires back; but you need not. You may feel them no more. Oh, stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free!"

4. This passage, written by a man of deep religious experience, clearly involves and sanctions the doctrine that holy souls rest from all desires, except such as are from a divine source. There are, then, two classes of desires; — those which are the product of a fallen and unsanctified nature, and those which are from God. Agitation and sorrow always attend the one class. True peace, the peace of Christ and of angels, is the characteristic of the other.

And we proceed now to say, that the ground of difference between them is this: Desires which are from God are attended with
faith; and those which are not from him are without faith. The man of the world is full of desires; but being constantly in doubt whether his desires will be accomplished or not, he is constantly the subject of agitation and grief. But the holy man, being the subject of those desires only which God has inspired within him, cannot doubt that God, who is never disappointed, will fulfill them in his own time and way. Having thus two facts in his mental experience at the same time, namely, desire and a belief in the fulfillment of desire, the element of uneasiness, which is involved in the wants of the one, is annulled by the pleasure which is involved in the supply or fulness of the other. In other words, faith stops the cravings of desire, by being itself the "substance" or fulfillment of its object; so that constant desire, supposing it to be constantly existing, is changed into constancy of fruition, constancy of peace.

5. In saying, therefore, that the holy man ceases from desires, we mean that he ceases from worldly desires; and in ceasing from such desires he has peace of soul. Does he desire food and clothing? Being limited in his desire by what is necessary for him, and by what God approves in him, he believes that God will see his wants supplied. And thus he is without anxiety. Does he desire a good name among men? As he desires it only that God may be glorified, and only so far as God allows him to desire it, he has faith that he will receive, and that he does now receive, so much of the world's favorable opinion as is best for him; and he asks and wants no more. God, who inspired the desire, has answered it at the moment; and he is perfectly satisfied. Does he desire power? As he desires no power but God's power, and such as God shall give him, he receives now, in the "evidence" and the "substance" of his faith, the very thing which he asks; and having nothing in possession, and everything by the omnipotence of belief; he can almost say with the Saviour, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” And then he adds, with a still higher degree of faith, "But how then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be?” He does not desire, and does not ask, any power or any assistance which is inconsistent with God's present arrangements.

6. Aided by such views, we may possess a distinct and impressive appreciation of many passages of Scripture. "Consider the lilies of the field," says the Saviour, "how they grow. They toil not; neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you,
oh, ye of little faith!" "Trust in the Lord," says the Psalmist, "and do good: — so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed." "For the Egyptians," it is said in the prophet Isaiah, "shall help in vain, and to no purpose. Therefore, have I cried concerning this, their strength is to sit still." That is to say, it is better to trust in God and to wait quietly for the manifestations of his providence, than to adopt any means or trust in any aid which he does not approve. Matt. 6:28-30. Ps. 37:3. Isa 30:7.

To the holy soul, which has no desires but God' s desires, and which does not doubt, such promises are
realities.

7. We would add here one remark more. It is well sometimes to remember, that the good which is promised to God's people is sure to them, not only because it is
promised, but because it is a necessary result of the excellences of the divine nature. There is a love, a mercy back of the promise, from which the promise originated; — not only God's word, but his nature is pledged.

In giving ourselves to God, (as all holy persons profess to do and must do,) we do not do it in part only. We not only renounce ourselves in the strict sense of the terms, but also the means of supporting ourselves; — not only our persons, but all earthly and finite dependencies. We not only give ourselves to God, to be servants to do his work, but to be
sons, whom it is his delight to provide for. The support of those whom God has adopted into his family, and who are properly called his sons, ceases to be a contingency. It is only when and so long as we are out of God, and are separate from him, that we are left to our own wretched resources. In all other situations, it is not only a truth, but a necessity, that God should provide for us. If God had never promised to clothe, and feed, and watch over, his people, it would nevertheless have been done, because the holiness, well as the benevolence of his nature necessarily requires it. In other words, it is his nature to give where there is a disposition to receive; — to fill the hand which is truly open to take what is presented to it. His promise is only the expression of his nature.

It is thus, that, in having nothing, by mingling our desires with the divine desires, we have all things. The loss of ourselves by the moral union of ourselves with God, is necessarily the possession of God. In God is the fulfillment of our desires. In God, therefore, there is rest.