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Difference between union of the will and extinction of the will. — Evils of a separation of wills. — The will always acts. — Methods by which we determine the union of wills. — Of prayer and faith in connection with union of moral and affectional union. True idea of the death of the will.

UNION of the human will with the divine is a different thing from an extinction of the human will. A will, a proper and effective will, is essential to humanity. Man, without a will, ceases to be man. The perfection of man's nature does not consist in the extinction of his will, but in its union with God's will.

2. The truly holy person, therefore, ought to be able to say specifically, at all times,
that he wills as God wills. It is due both to his happiness and his safety to be able to know, and on proper occasions to assert, the union of the two wills. If there is a separation of wills, even if it be a slight one, there will be likely to be something out of position somewhere else. A separation of wills is a separation of natures. As the will is, so is the man, either for God or against him. It is as true in philosophy as religion, that it is impossible to serve God and Mammon at the same time.

3. It may be asked, perhaps, what view are we to take of ourselves
when we do not will at all. The answer to such a question is not difficult, because we can hardly ever be said to be in that state. Our whole life, with the exception of purely involuntary states, may be represented by two terms, action and inaction. Neither of these states can exist without volition as its basis. If we act, we will to act; if we are in a state of inaction, we will not to act. Whatever state we are in as moral agents, and not as mere involuntary agents, whether it be characterized as action or inaction, we will to be in it. So that we may, without impropriety, speak of the action of the will as perpetual. Perpetual action implies the obligation of perpetual harmony.

4. In order to determine whether our wills are in harmony with the divine will, it is not necessary nor best, as a general thing, to look at the will itself and to examine its action as it comes under our notice independently of the influences which surround it. When certain conditions are fulfilled, certain results may be expected to follow.

And, accordingly, we may anticipate that our wills will be in harmony with the divine will when we are in the habit of asking God for a divine direction of our wills. There can be no union with God without prayer. We do not mean to say that the prayer, which, if it be a true prayer, always implies a state of sincere and entire consecration, must always be formal; but there must always be an inward disposition, which constantly recognizes the soul's dependence upon God, and which as constantly looks for his aid. To such a soul, if it has faith corresponding to its desires, God will not fail to grant his assistance. When we feel that we have strength from God, by feeling that we have an accepted communion with him. then we may have hope that we shall and do will only what God wills.

5. But, in order to understand the subject fully, it should be added, that there are two forms of union of the will; — namely, moral union, and affectional union. It is the combination of the two, uniting the outward act, or the thing done, with the motive of doing it, which constitutes perfect or holy union.

Moral union of the will exists when the will is united with God by means of moral enforcement merely, that is to say, under the constraints of moral obligation, without the consenting and affectionate concurrence of the heart. Such an union, which can exist only in respect to outward acts, makes what the world calls a moral man, but not a religious one. When a man does what God commands,— in other words. does what is right in action, but does it in opposition to his own selfish desires, — he is in union with God, if we may so express it,
morally, or in the outward manner, but not affectionally, or in the inward disposition. He is a man divided; partly for God, and partly against him. His conscience is right, but his heart is wrong. In the language of the apostle Paul, he does that which he hates to do: he does good, but "evil is present with him."

Some would, perhaps, say, that a union so imperfect as this, including only a part of our nature, is not to be regarded as union in any proper sense of the term. But looking at the subject psychologically, that is to say, in reference to the nature of the mind, it is obviously a positive or real union as far as it goes. Undoubtedly it is imperfect. It has not that full and broad basis which it might have, and which it ought to have. But still it is something, and especially because it involves that conviction of mind which is likely to lead to something else better. He who observes the Sabbath, not because he loves to observe it, but because his conscience requires it is in a more favorable condition than he who has neither conscience nor love. But if something is done, it is still certain that the most important part remains to be done.

6. The union of the will, which has just been described, becomes consolidated and perfect when we add the concurrence of the affections to the supports of the moral sense. It is this union which we have denominated
affectional. In order, therefore, to that union of the will with God which is requisite in the highest state of religious experience, the action of the will, in harmonizing with God's will, must rest upon the twofold basis of the approbation of the conscience and of the love of the heart. In any other state of the mind, the union of the will with God is more or less obstructed and enfeebled. When, in connection with the moral union, the obstruction of all discordant tendencies and desires is out of the way, and the affections are in the right direction, the union is such as it should be. Of a will thus united with God, it may be said, with almost literal truth, that it is the subject of a new creation, and has a new life.

7. But then comes up the great question again, How can we obtain this basis of love? How can we be made to possess that which we are not possessed of, by being made to love that which we do not love? Especially as love, in that higher sense of the term which has been explained, is not human, but divine; not a thing created, but eternal. The answer is, that God, in being a benevolent existence, necessarily loves to dispense his own nature, to enter into all hearts where there is a possibility of entrance, to pour out everywhere the radiance of his own brightness. What we have to do, then, is first to be emptied, in order that we may be filled; first to cease from self, that we may be recipients of that which is not self.

But how can we do this? Or how can we learn to do it? Daily, O man, is the Providence of God teaching thee, by perplexing human wisdom, by disappointing human efforts, and by showing, in a thousand ways, the blindness, the weakness, and the iniquity of selfishness. It is for this that thou art smitten. Sorrow is thy teacher. It is a hard lesson to learn, but still a necessary one, that a life out of the divine life is not life, but that the true life is from God. Our heavenly Father, in the infinite fulness of his nature, will pour out upon us the principle of holy love, as soon as we are ready to relinquish the opposing principle of self.

8. In connection with what has now been said, we shall be able to form a true idea of what is sometimes denominated the
death of the will.

Properly speaking, or perhaps we should rather say, in this case,
psychologically speaking, man's will can never die. A will is essential to man's nature, as it is to the nature of every moral being. Man, without a will, ceases to be man.

When, therefore, in examining the topics connected with religious experience, we speak of the death of the human will, we mean the human will considered in its action and its tendency to action,
out of the divine order. It is the human will divergent, — resting in the origin of its movement on the limited and depraved basis of personal interest, and out of harmony with the will of God.

9. In the sense which has just been given, the human will, before it can have a higher and divine life, not only
may die, but must die. Its death is not only possible but necessary. In its present life, if we may so express it, it has its principle of movement in motives which God cannot respect and approve; but, on the contrary, he disapproves and condemns them as inconsistent with the highest good of the universe. From such a will he is necessarily excluded.

It is impossible, therefore, that there should be any mitigation of its sentence; any pity or compromise whatever with its natural life. The hand of God himself, through the working of his unerring providences, nails it to the cross. It may exhibit much resistance; it may experience a painful and lingering death; with the nails driven through its hands and feet, it may plead that its bones may not be broken, and that its side may not be pierced; but no attention can, or ought to be given to its supplications.

10. The death of the will (that is to say, its death to the selfishness of nature) is the antecedent of its resurrection to holiness. In its resurrection love takes the place of selfishness. The will can no more be born into its new and divine life, and expand and flourish in its new beauty and maturity of love, before the extinction and death of its natural life of selfishness, than the spiritual body of the resurrection, adorned with immortal beauty, can come into existence before the death of the natural body. "That which thou sowest," says the apostle Paul, speaking of wheat and other grains, "is not quickened
except it die." "So also," he adds, "is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body."

And these expressions, applied to the resurrection of the body, are applicable to the death and resurrection of the will. If it dies to all that is the opposite of God, it is made alive to all that has God in it. Dishonored and corrupted in its selfish nature, it perishes and is thrown lifeless into its burial place, until the spirit of God, brooding over and operating in its ruins, brings life out of death, and glory out of shame.