Stacks Image 905


Explanation of Terms regarding the Essential Life.

TRUE love which is known in the writings of the devout Mystics and Quietists under the denomination of Pure Love, is the love of existence. In other words it is of the nature of true or pure love, and is that which constitutes what it is, to attach itself, not to the form of things, but to the essences of things. And what is perhaps equally important in the discrimination of its nature, it loves independently of forms or modes of existence; it seeks truly and earnestly the happiness of whatever is capable of happiness, whatever may be its character or the form of its existence.

In the separation of that primary existence, which we denominate being from all its incidents and diversities of form and character, such being, in its essential nature, necessarily presents itself as a unit. And hence it is in loving the unit or oneness of being, we virtually and truly love all being.

And accordingly it can be said, when man is born not transitionally, or in part, but in the true birth, he is then a “partaker of the Divine Nature.” He is in God, and God in him. Man must necessarily retain his individuality for the reason that the
finite cannot be the Infinite. It is individualism, or finite personality living, breathing and acting in God. Let us illustrate the subject a little further in connection with a common remark, namely, that everything has its sphere of life. Trees and plants have their spheres. The lower animals have their sphere. And this remark is true of men, as it is of everything else. Man has his sphere. The will of man’s perceptions and motives is necessarily bounded, in the first instance, by the limited will of his position. In his individual capacity he acts in his individual sphere. But the truth and perfection of his action is realized, when his action as an individual and in his own sphere harmonizes with the truth, the motives and the holiness of the Universal Sphere, of which God is the centre. It is then that his sight becomes clear; he sees with God’s eye, he hears with God’s ear.

These views help us to explain certain expressions, which are found from time to time in writers. In the experience, for instance, of the state of Pure Love, the individual, who is the subject of this high and transforming experience, may be said, in a certain sense, to be merged and mingled in that which is out of himself, and even to become “extinct” and “lost” in God. Expressions of this kind, and among others the term “self-annihilation,” are found not unfrequently in the writings of some devout Catholics; nor are they wholly unknown in Protestant religious literature. But in using such terms, which are spiritually and profoundly significant, the literal meaning must be somewhat modified. It is not meant to be said of the person to whom such terms are applied, that he is extinct or lost, in the absolute sense of the expressions and in the matter of distinct personality. He is not lost, is not “annihilated,” in the fact of that actual self-consciousness, which constitutes him a distinct and responsible existence; but only in separateness of interests and hopes; in those reflex acts which turn the mind too much upon our own joys and purposes; in everything which makes us forgetful of the wants and happiness of others, by incidentally seeking ourselves. Such an one, retaining his personality but expanding it without limitation, knows enough of himself as an individual to know that he is not his own, that his soul has become a living fountain which takes its rise from God, and flows out to all the boundless variety of existences. Names, sect, rank, party, color, become indistinct, and are comparatively lost in the one idea of Universal Brotherhood.

10.— The man “born again” and fully completed in the second birth, is not only humanitarian in the highest sense of that term, but is the holy or divine man. The man humanitarian is something more than the man individual. And the man divine is something more than the man humanitarian. The difference at each gradation not only exists as a difference, but it is great. Such a man, in the wide and resistless movement of the divine Spirit within him, not only transcends the restricted bounds of individualism, not only passes beyond the limits of kindred and country, but beyond those of humanity itself; and embraces not only the brotherhood of man but all existences, both those above him and those below him. Nothing but the boundlessness of existence, which is ever developing itself, nothing but the boundlessness of benevolence, which is ever pouring happiness into existences, nothing but the Infinite of creation and the Infinite of love, nothing but God himself in the widest and noblest sense of that glorious term, can meet and satisfy his measureless sympathies.

Holy Love, in being a perpetual life, is also a perpetual development;—it never ceases its action. To cease to act, would be to cease to live. It is not to be supposed, therefore, that God will love, for some definite length of time, which shall be the completion of some marked period or epoch;—for instance, till the supposed destruction of the world by fire, or till the hypothetical day of the final Judgment,—and then having separated the wicked from the righteous will cease to love them. He loves them, and from the nature of the case, he must continue to love them. There is not a sinner in Hades or Hell, (which however is only another name for the darkness and discordancy of the lowest sphere of spiritual existences,) who is not sought after, and watched over. This is the great and glorious truth, which makes all heaven ring with joy, that God is God forever, and that He is Love forever; although it may not follow, and it does not necessarily follow, that this love, unceasing though it be, will be accepted and be made available in the case of all those towards whom it is directed. That is one of the things which is to be left; because it is one of the things which takes hold of the Eternal and the Infinite. If Love is absolute and unchangeable, freedom also, as an attribute of moral beings, is absolute and unchangeable. God himself, who in being the absolute truth, can never fail to respect the absolute truth, and will never coerce a sinner into heaven; for that would only be placing him in a deeper Hell. This would be a violation of fixed and unchangeable truths and relations. It would be an impossibility.

But in some other place, this amazing subject should be explained more fully;—with appropriate facts, arguments, and illustrations. Moral facts and relations are just as fixed and unchangeable as mathematical facts and relations. What we wish to say now is, that Love which is Life, under no contingencies whatever will ever cease to act. And although there is a great gulf between heaven and hell, it is true that “Christ, who preached to the spirits in prison,” has mighty moral power by means of moral suggestions, and that place may be changed by change of character. It is thus that Truth and goodness are reconciled; but curiosity stands rebuked. It is a mark of a godlike finite mind to leave much to the Infinite mind without inquiry.