Stacks Image 905


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



CHAPTER VIII.


THE HOLY SOUL HAS PEACE BECAUSE WHAT IT WANTS IN ITSELF IT FINDS IN GOD.


The holy man is dead, but has life in God. — He ceases to act, but God acts in him. — He always suffers, but is always happy. — He is ignorant, but has divine wisdom. — He is poor, but has riches in God — Is weak, but has strength in God. — Experience of Paul.

AS the Christian is one who has passed from a state of nature to a state of grace, there are expressions applicable to him which are directly opposite to each other in their import. Such expressions, used antithetically, are frequently employed in the Scriptures. To some of these expressions, which will apply appropriately only to the eminently devoted Christian, we propose to give a little attention; and, in doing this, we shall obtain another view of the subject under consideration, and see other sources or elements of that divine peace, which characterizes the holy soul.

2. It is said, for instance, that the Christian who has experienced in himself the highest results of religion,
is dead, and is alive again. That is to say, he is dead to private aims and private interests; dead to selfish passions, prejudices and pleasures; dead to worldly reputation and honor. But, being dead to himself and whatever concerns himself, he is alive to God; alive to the aims and interests for which Christ came down from heaven, alive to the honor which comes from God, and from God only.

3. Again, it is sometimes said by experimental writers, in relation to such a Christian, that he is
without action, and yet always acting. That is to say, he has no action which comes from himself, — no action originated on worldly principles, none which he can call his own, — but he is always acting in harmony with Providence; moving as he is moved upon; instructed and actuated by the outward occasions as they are laid hold of and interpreted by the inward principle; retreating, going forward, or standing still, just as the voice of God in the soul directs: so that it is not more true that he never acts than it is that he always acts. Action is as essential to him as life; but still it is action in God and for God.

4. Again, it may properly be said of the man who is truly regenerated, and is fashioned anew into the image of Christ, that he is
always suffering, and yet always happy. The natural and necessary opposition between the state of his own soul and the condition of things around him causes affliction. The inhabitant of a dying body, and surrounded by a sinning world, pierced by the thorns of the flesh and by the arrows of Satan, the law of his outward position and the still lingering trials of his fallen nature necessarily constitute him, till his last footstep on this stricken and bleeding earth, "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." But if, in some departments of his mental being, he is always suffering, in others he is always happy. And he is so, because, being born of God and made a partaker of the divine nature, he cannot be otherwise. In the inmost recesses of the soul, in that part which is central and controlling to all the rest, faith stands unshaken; faith which gives sight to the blind and strength to the weak; faith which proclaims sunshine after the storm, victory after the contest, a present God and everlasting rest.

5. He is
ignorant, and feels himself to be so, and yet is full of divine wisdom. He is ignorant, comparatively speaking, because there are many things, the knowledge of which is not profitable, and which, therefore, he does not seek. He cannot seek knowledge in his own will any more than he can seek anything else. He can say with the utmost sincerity, "I know nothing;" because all human knowledge, as compared with divine, is, and must be, utter ignorance. And yet, being a "son of God," and being "led by the Holy Spirit," he feels that he may and will possess all that knowledge which will be necessary for him. If he knows but little, he knows enough; and if he has no knowledge from himself, he still has God for a teacher.

6. Of the truly holy man it can be said, also, he is poor, and yet he has
all riches; he is poor, because he sits loosely to the world, because he cannot set his affections upon it, and because he has nothing which he can call his own. That, which the world calls his, he calls God’s. He has nothing but what God gives him, and if, in the arrangements of divine providence, God does not see fit to give him anything, he is still rich in the possession of Him, who makes him poor. He may be said to be desolate; but he can never be deserted. He is a poor son; but he has a rich Father; so that, although he has nothing in possession, he can never come to want. God is his banker, who both keeps the funds, and tells him when and how to draw for them; so that he is free from care as the birds of heaven and the lilies of the field.

7. He is
weak, and yet he has all power. He has renounced his own strength, as well as his own wisdom. But having no power in himself, he may be said to have all power in God. 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 He, who gives him strength, gives him also honor; so that he, who is despised among men, has all honor with God. His name is cast out as evil among men; but it is written and registered in bright letters on the heart of the Infinite.

8. It is in such views that we find an explanation of the contrasted but triumphant expressions of the Apostle Paul, in his second Epistle to the Corinthians: "We are troubled on every side, yet
not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.”

"For which cause," he adds, "we faint not; but, though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light addiction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are unseen are eternal."