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“One of the peculiarities of the Quietists, and which undoubtedly has some connection with the origin of the name, is what their writers have denominated the permanent or continuous state. They sometimes denominate it the fixed state. They do not mean by this a state which is absolutely immutable; although, when it is once reached, it is not very likely to change ; but a state which is established and at rest in itself by a continuity of nature.”— Madame Guyon.
We should fail entirely to appreciate the end to which all the operations of Providence were leading us, did we not bestow one chapter upon the great and final attainment. “Rest for the weary soul!” — It is the aspiration of universal humanity. And if there were no other evidence, it would be quite sufficient to prove that the present condition of man is a lost and wandering one this universal restlessness! Nowhere is repose. Everywhere is inquietude. And whither hath contentment fled? What would we not give to realize in divine presence before us, not occasionally only, but as a constant, ever-present guest, that perfect image of Repose which artists dream of, but fail so frequently to produce ! A form and countenance of expressive peace! A divine serenity! Only beauty can dwell with this; and where true beauty is, there also is repose. It is the product of a complete life. Or rather, it is life itself, in that perfect harmony which is the rest of all its faculties even when in highest activity. Far is it from inaction. It is the repose of life, not of death. But how hath it forsaken man ! He is not at rest ; life is but a “fitful fever" with him ; and scarcely ever can it be said of him, when it is over," he sleeps well.” Even in his most prosperous circum
stances, there is, almost without an exception, a vein of discontent running through all his experience; the moments of gladness give way to the seasons of sadness; the tincture of melancholy insinuates itself more or less into the cup of human life as drank by almost every one; and how large a portion of our time is afflicted with that restless oppression and ennui which weighs upon the spirits day by day. Where was there ever a contented man ? - one who had no desire to change his condition, except to progress in the Christian life and in the order of Providence ? No doubt, there have been such ; but in the present unregenerated state of the world, and the consequent fluctuating condition of human fortunes, there come times — alas, how frequent in the life of almost every one — when the soul, tired and burdened with its earthly cares and painful uncongenialities, would escape with loathing from all present scenes, to something far off and unrealized. that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away and be at rest.” (Psalm, 55 : 6.)
But the boon is not far off. The truth is, this rest that the soul covets so longingly is nothing more nor less than harmony of action. It is at once apparent that there can be no rest nor ease in discordant movements, nothing but chafing and discomfort: and surely none in inaction or idleness. The whole secret and element of happiness may be expressed in two words — harmonious activity. There must not only be harmony
in the soul itself in its whole structure and organism in the play of all its parts, and the interior with the exterior, but between the soul and its outer relations, the body and its surroundings, — and the occupations in which the soul engages. Also in its connection with other souls. Then there is rest and happiness ; perfect rest, and the perfect soul's joy. Such rest is never fully attained in the world. It may, however, be approximated to, by progress in the regenerate life. The great aim of Providence is to complete this whole circle of harmonious movement, in the soul and out of
the soul. It is only completed in eternity. There it will be found that the true rest takes its rise from the centre and spreads to the circumference. Perfect individual regeneration, a consequent harmonious outward world, congenial minds in association, and a multitude of agreeable pursuits and pastimes, varying incessantly with the ever-varying wants of the soul. Such is the heavenly rest. Such is the soul's Sabbath. In the natural world, of course it can be only partially realized. Much as we may perfect and harmonize our spirits, we cannot throw off this load of materiality. We cannot rise fully above the discomforts of the outward world. The very best of souls may sink into occasional depressions, and give way to consuming anxieties. But with only ordinary spiritual attainments, the burden is far more discouraging. Ah! truly, external things do have almost a superhuman power to throw the whole nature out of balance, and heap up discomfiture like a flood. But the question we have to put is— Would they have this power, if the soul itself was in the high attitude of life it should be in, or is capable of attaining ? It is a secret yet but little known and appreciated, how much a purely spiritual power can overcome the annoyances of the outward world. I will not say that it is miraculous, but that it approaches to the miraculous. Else why is it that the very flames of martyrdom, -- the fierce destruction which, in ordinary circumstances, racks the whole body with keenest torture, is deprived of all its power to torment, and is only attended with unspeakable pleasure in the soul? Unless there was
a power in the heavens, of spiritual life and joy, to interfuse into such a soul at such a time, and thence into the very body, could the stake and the faggot be spoiled of all their power to hurt? But the testimony is better than this, for the very faces of the angels themselves have been seen at such times, and their gladness and triumph added to the triumph of the victim. And who does not know what moments of intense excitement can do, even in ordinary life, towards banishing all consciousness of
to the common, every-day experience.” Yes, but they reveal the law; they show that the spirit can triumph over the worst physical circumstances,
that there is a fountain of power that can be and is made efficient, to infuse gladness, and trust, and victory, into the upright soul, over all the power of the enemy. Now, therefore, it is but a fair inference that this fountain may be made to flow into human life in its ordinary circumstances, with the most marked and successful experience. And it does
Christian experience is enough to assure us; the history of the faithful is enough to put it beyond doubt, that, aside from these extraordinary examples, the Spirit that supports us
that enlivens us through all, is a “spirit of power and of might,” — a Comforter" indeed, which can put far away the evil and feeble life of the merely natural man, and impart to the soul something of its own heavenly supremacy.
And besides all this, so evident it is that it is the mind that does all, or nearly all, and that this alone is capable of rising superior to all its circumstances and to be happy in spite of them, that it is only necessary to refer to certain natural or hereditary phenomena, where, in certain well-built and happily attempered men, who have no particular religious supports, there is a cheerfulness and buoyancy preserved through the most embarrassing experience. Contrast them, for instance, with certain others of an opposite make. And in their common, worldly circumstances, while the one would go downcast and discouraged, plunged in trouble, and letting his pecuniary misfortunes extract from him all the sweet peace and comfort of his mind, the other would live through continual embarrassment debt upon debt, with no ability to pay, overwhelming him all the time, and yet, by this gift of a buoyant and cheerful nature, or, call it if you please a careless nature, he passes merrily through the whole of it - it is almost impossible to cast him down — and he manages to maintain himself as freely and blithely as a bird of song through the air. Now, what
nature does for some men, it is the province of religion to do upon a more exalted scale. Such facts show that it is all in the mind, or at least very greatly, and may be altogether so, whether a man will be miserable or happy, Say, if you please, that it is very much in the body, and in the circulating fluids; in health and a good digestion : it is granted most cheerfully: and with all due credit to the bile, the spleen, and the stomach, we can readily appreciate how the mutterings of such a rising host as too often appears in some haggard son of dyspepsia, are enough, like the touch of Ithuriel's spear, to put to flight a world of comforters, charm they ever so wisely, and in the name of religion. But, aside from the reflection that such an array of bodily invaders is too often induced by mental foes and diseases, there is still the truth that mere animal happiness is but a small part of human enjoyment, and that all bodily delights and outward things are nothing for conscious, rational satisfaction, only so far as they affect the mind. A man may have ever so healthy and harmonic a body, yet if he has a mind disposed to melancholy and the dark side of things, he will turn every pleasure into insipidity, see a lion in every prosperous way, and infringe even upon his bodily health and comfort by this cheerless tendency to the lower regions of the soul.
And, truth to say, it is such, that is, the spiritually diseased, and not those who are surrounded with external, worldly annoyances, who are most disposed to the literal sense and aspiration of the Psalmist —“Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away and be at rest.” They think they can find rest by escape from external inconveniences. They do not mistrust that the chief trouble is in their own souls, and that if these souls were right, external things would have scarcely any power to harm them.
Let us not be stoical here. We realize too painfully that man has a body, has senses to be gratified, lives in an external world, and has frequently several dependent on him and his