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



CHAPTER IX.


THE HOLY SOUL HAS PEACE, BECAUSE ITS ACTION IS NATURAL AND WITHOUT EFFORT.


Natural action necessarily easy and quiet action. — Illustrations of the subject. — The natural life of the sinful man. — The natural life of the holy man. — Of the operations of a holy life when it has become a new nature. — Of the rest or peace which is connected with the state of mind. — Reference to Madame Guyon. — Remarks.

WE proceed further to say, in the consideration of the elements of true spiritual peace, that the degree of peace will correspond to the advancement of the soul in holi­ness. And, one reason of this, among others, is, that the new principle of holiness, when it has become fully engrafted and established in the soul, has all the attributes of a
new nature. It certainly is not contrary either to the facts or the reason of the case, to speak of the ruling principle, in a soul which is fully united with God, as operating naturally. And natural action, that is to say, action flowing from nature, in distinction from that which originates from forced efforts of the will made against nature, — is, of course, easy, quiet, peaceful action. But it is necessary to give some explanations of this view.

2. That which acts naturally has a natural life. A natural life is that life which develops itself in accordance with the principles of its own nature, and which, in doing so, is true and harmonious to itself. The sinner, in his unregenerated state, lives and acts naturally in sinning; because that which he does is not only his own doing, but is done voluntarily and easily, and harmonizes with its own central principle of movement. The central principle in fallen man is
self. The great law of selfishness, which requires him to place himself first, and God and humanity under him, regulates all his actions. From this principle, which operates as an internal and life-giving force, his actions flow out as constantly and as naturally as trees grow in a soil which is appropriate to them, and as waters flow from mountains to the ocean.

3. A holy life, also, when it is once fully and permanently established, is
as natural to those who are holy, as a sinful life is to those who are sinful. In the mixed, or partly sanctified life, which is intermediate between the sinful and the holy, there is a conflict of natures; and we cannot well say, for any length of time, what the true or real nature of the man is. But when a person has obtained inward victory, when selfishness has ceased to exist, and when also he is freed from the lingering and perplexing influences of former evil habits, he is then the subject of a truly natural life. Just the opposite of the unregenerated man, — with a life as true and just as that of the other is untrue and unjust,— he does right, not by an effort which has the appearance, as well as the reality, of going against nature, but because, with his present disposition, he cannot do otherwise. He not only loves God, but he does it without reflecting on his love, without any effort, which would imply a conflict with some inward, opposing principle. He does it freely, easily, and perfectly; which would not be the case if he did it with conscious effort, or if his mind were diverted from the object of his love to reflections on the love itself. Holiness has become a nature.

4. It is one of the characteristics of a holy life, when it is not merely incipient but has become a
nature, that, with the single exception of that, which, in being sin, is the opposite of itself, it easily harmonizes and sympathizes with what now is. In other words, while the inward fountain of holy love at the heart is always the same, and always full, the streams which flow from it, repelled by opposition, or attracted by sympathy, take their course variously, in the diversified channels of Providence.

Accordingly, harmonizing with the present objects of his thoughts and affections, the holy man is one in nature, but diversified in manifestation. He "weeps with those who weep, and rejoices with those who rejoice." Under the unerring impulses of the life which is from God, he becomes "all things to all men," but without losing the identity of his character as one united with God, and as being the "temple of the Holy Ghost." Instructed by the teachings of love, which is the best of all teachers, he is a man of smiles or of tears, of action or of rest. He rests when it is the time to rest, because rest in its time is better than toil out of time; but he labors when Providence calls him to labor, and love makes his labor sweet. He has a heart for humanity, and a heart for nature. More than a mere amateur of the outward world, he loves the rocks and the mountains for their own beauty and sublimity, and for the God that dwells in them. His heart warms and melts in the summer sunshine; but the thunder is his also, and the lightning. Nothing is out of place, because place is subordinated to the eternity and ubiquity of the life within. He is a citizen of his country, and serves her well, with­out losing the evidence of his citizenship in heaven; a subject of the powers that are ordained of God, without ceasing to be the subject of Him who has ordained them. He sings praises with the devoted Christian, and his heart yearns and melts over the impenitent sinner. In his simplicity, he is the companion of children; and in his wisdom, the counsellor of age. He can sit at meat with the "publican and sinner," or receive the hospitality of the unhumbled Pharisee; and, in both cases, he unites the proprieties of love with the faithfulness of duty.

And all this, which seems to imply contradiction, and to require effort, is what it is, in all its ease and all its promptness, because it is not the result of worldly calculation, but the infallible working of a
divine nature.

5. It is important to understand the view which has now been presented. The want of a full understanding of it has sometimes perplexed those persons who have been led by the Holy Ghost into the higher stages of experience. They doubt their love, because they find it so easy and natural to love. The suggestion arises in their minds, because the perception of their own working is lost in the fact of God's working, that perhaps nothing is done at all. Certain it is that their present state is very different from their former state, when they were but beginners in the religious life.

Formerly, their life was a divided one. The inward struggle was almost incessant. Comparatively speaking, there was no rest, no peace. But
now, the unity of their affections in God has put an end to all interior trouble, except so far as the soul is tried by temptations originating from without. Formerly, they found the service of God, both in its inward and outward forms, obstructed and hard, requiring the greatest effort. But now they rejoice in God always, as if they had no other business, and no other desire. Formerly, they could hardly eat, or speak, or move, without great anxiety, in consequence of finding sin intermingled with everything. But now they find the grace of God sufficient for the regulation of the appetites and the social principles; and those things which were once occasions of temptation and sorrow, are now occasions of gratitude. Formerly, they conformed their actions to God, who was a God afar off'; — and this was troublesome, because the agency was in a great degree in themselves. But now God, who dwells within, conforms the soul to the action; and thus they are not conscious either of effort or trouble. In a word, "their yoke is easy, and their burden is light."

6. These remarks call to mind something which we have noticed in the writings of Madame Guyon. All nature conveyed to her a lesson of religion; — the woods, the waters, the flowers, every living and moving thing. Hence her beautiful lines to the swallow:­

"I am fond of the swallow; — I learn from her flight,
Had I skill to improve it, a lesson of love.
How seldom on earth do we see her alight!
She dwells in the skies, she is ever above."


She saw a great deal of God in the birds, and in the sheep, and in the oxen, and in all the various lower animals that live and move around us. And she repeat­edly says of herself, that she seemed to be like them;­ meaning that there was something, in the operations of her own inward life, which led her to sympathize with them. The explanation of what she says is this: The life of the lower animals is not a device, a calculation, but a nature. They move, as they are moved by that instinctive power within them, which obviously has its origin in something out of themselves. The life of animals, although it is not elevated to the rank of moral life, is yet a life from God. And it was her clear perception of this, which led her to study their habits, and to sympathize with them so much. She saw in them God's life existing as a nature. The life of God in her own soul, though greatly superior in kind, was like that of animals, in one respect, — it had become a nature to her. And it seemed to her to operate much in the same way and with the same certainty that the instincts operate in the lower animals. It was not more natural and easy for the swallow to lift its wing, and to ascend in a clear summer sky, than for her own soul to ascend and unite itself with God.

7. And how wonderful her inward peace was, all know who are acquainted with her history. She gives us expressly to understand that she did not undertake to regulate herself by the common human methods; conscious as she was that God, by a new law of life, had become her inward regulator. And she was thus freed from a thousand anxieties and dangers.

And it is obvious how greatly this state of things must contribute to the true peace and rest of the soul in all cases. Happy, thrice happy, is such a man! His countenance is cheerful, because he has joy in his heart. If he seems to do nothing, it is because God works in him. If his burden is light, it is because God bears it. Satan, envious of their happiness, sometimes says to such, "Ye are deceived. Why do ye not fast, as did John's disciples?” But Jesus replies now, as he replied in former times: — "Can the children of the bridechamber fast,
while the bridegroom is with them?”