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Definition of the divine will. — On the necessity of an union of the human will with the divine. — A given act of the will embodies and represents all antecedent knowledge and affections.— In uniting with God's will, we unite with God in the full extent of his being.

IN considering the wide and important subject of Divine Union, we proceed now to another series of topics, involving the relations of the human and divine will.

So far as we understand the state of union in any given case, we necessarily understand, at least in some important particulars, the nature of the objects which are united together. It is reasonable to suppose that, being a part of our own nature, we know what the human will is; and in this, as in many other things, we may reason from ourselves to our Maker. And, accordingly, the idea which men entertain of the will of God, considered as a separate attribute of the Divine Mind, is derived from that which they have of their own wills. The will of God analogous to the will of man, but infinitely superior in its applications and extent, is that power in God which originates the divine volitions, purposes, or decisions.

2. Union with God implies and requires, not only union in knowledge and love, but union also, and perhaps still more emphatically, with the divine will. And the reason of this will be the more clearly seen in proportion as we more fully understand the relation of the will of God to the intellectual and affectional parts of the divine nature.

In God, in the same manner as in man, the will, or rather the act of the will, which consolidates and realizes the perceptions and affections in oneness of purpose and action, constitutes their true unity. It is true that God's knowledge may properly be regarded and contemplated as a whole; but extending to a multitude of distinct objects, it is equally true that it is fractional and in parts, so far as it exists in relation to particular cases. And besides, speaking after the manner of men, knowledge is to be compared with knowledge, and to be appropriately adjusted, in order that purpose and action may be based upon the highest or perfect knowledge. The divine affections also diversify and multiply themselves upon all the appropriate objects of affection; objects which are found everywhere, as far as knowledge itself extends. These affections are perfect in their sphere; but, being many in number, they do not represent, in particular cases, the wholeness or completeness of the divine nature. Affection is to be compared with affection in order to ascertain their comparative and just value. But the will, which never acts in a perfect being except on the comparison and adjustment of all knowledge and all affection, centralizes and unites all in one.

3. So that the act of the will, in a perfect mind, may always be regarded as indicating and representing both the highest knowledge and the highest affection. It embraces all which can be comprehended under the head of knowledge and affection, and still without being divided in itself. Being perfect, the divine will or purpose can never be otherwise than it is; and being the final decision of the mind, and excluding all decisions and acts against itself, and standing alone in its supremacy, it is necessarily one thing. God can never will anything without centralizing, in regard to that particular thing, his whole nature; consolidating, in that one act, its multiplicities of thought and feeling into unity. So that God's purpose, developed in the precise time of his purpose, is the true representation or expression of God himself, existing at the same moment as perfect fulness or completeness embodied in perfect simplicity. And it is here that union with God is especially necessary.

4. If we consider the subject on the side of man, we see also the greatness of this necessity. Man's perceptive powers are limited. They do not correspond, in extent, with those of God; and consequently we can unite with God, in the matter of knowledge, only in a limited degree. The union with him, in this respect, may be perfect as far as it goes; but it is restricted in extent. And it will be found to be the same in relation to love. We may harmonize perfectly with the divine love, in all cases where objects of love are presented to us. But the sphere of our knowledge, through which objects are presented to us, being limited, the sphere of our love also is limited. Practically, our love cannot, in its extent, be carried beyond the limit of known objects of love.

But, in the acts of the will, the Godhead, if we may be allowed the expression, so simplifies itself, that the harmony between the created and the uncreated, the human and the divine, may be perfect in extent as well as degree. God's will (we mean here, by the term, the
act of his will in any given case) is a unity, combining together, as it were, and representing the whole of his knowledge, the whole of his love, the whole of his nature. As all objects may be, and are, present to it in a single glance, and compressed as it were into the eternal NOW, a single act of the will, embracing and adjusting all previous knowledge and all previous feeling, decides upon all, enacts all, establishes all. It is this act of the will, — an act extending to and consolidating everything else,— with which we are required to be united. Based upon infinite variety, in itself it is but one thing; and we are to unite with it as one. But as it is the unity of the Godhead, embracing the infinite variety of the Godhead, we cannot unite with God in the simplicity and unity of the will, without being virtually united with him in the infinite multiplicity of his knowledge and affection.

5. If these views are correct, which, in binding us to the will of God, bind us to the whole of God, we not only see how much is involved in an union with the divine will, but how fearfully hazardous it is to indulge in the slightest deviation from that will when it is once ascertained. No direction is more important than that which requires us to labor and pray for harmony with God in this respect. The other unions which have been mentioned, important and indispensable as they are, may be regarded as preparatory to this. The union of the human and divine wills is the consummation of those which have gone before. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Saviour so frequently refers to this form of union. " My meat," he says, "is
to do the will of him that sent me." [John 4:34; 6:38.] And again he says, "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me." 'He that doeth the will of God," says the apostle John, "abideth forever." [First Epis. of John 2:17.]