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Lectures XII SAINTLINESS
  Here is an analogous case from Starbuck's manuscript collection:-"I went into the old Adelphi Theatre, where there was a Holiness meeting, . . . and I begansaying, 'Lord, Lord, I must have this blessing.' Then what was to me an audible voice said: 'Areyou willing to give up everything to the Lord?' and question after question kept coming up, to allof which I said: 'Yes, Lord; yes, Lord!' until this came: 'Why do you not accept it NOW?' and Isaid: 'I do, Lord.'--I felt no particular joy, only a trust. Just then the meeting closed, and, as I wentout on the street, I met a gentleman smoking a fine cigar, and a cloud of smoke came into my face,and I took a long, deep breath of it, and praise the Lord, all my appetite for it was gone. Then as Iwalked along the street, passing saloons where the fumes of liquor came out, I found that all mytaste and longing for that accursed stuff was gone. Glory to God! . . . [But] for ten or eleven longyears [after that] I was in the wilderness with its ups and downs. My appetite for liquor never cameback."The classic case of Colonel Gardiner is that of a man cured of sexual temptation in a single hour.

To Mr. Spears the colonel said, "I was effectually cured of all inclination to that sin I was sostrongly addicted to that I thought nothing but shooting me through the head could have cured meof it; and all desire and inclination to it was removed, as entirely as if I had been a sucking child;nor did the temptation return to this day." Mr. Webster's words on the same subject are these: "Onething I have heard the colonel frequently say, that he was much addicted to impurity before hisacquaintance with religion; but that, so soon as he was enlightened from above, he felt the powerof the Holy Ghost changing his nature so wonderfully that his sanctification in this respect seemedmore remarkable than in any other."[149]

[149] Doddridge's Life of Colonel James Gardiner, London Religious Tract Society, pp. 23-32.

Such rapid abolition of ancient impulses and propensities reminds us so strongly of what hasbeen observed as the result of hypnotic suggestion that it is difficult not to believe that subliminalinfluences play the decisive part in these abrupt changes of heart, just as they do in hypnotism.

[150] Suggestive therapeutics abound in records of cure, after a few sittings, of inveterate badhabits with which the patient, left to ordinary moral and physical influences, had struggled in vain.

Both drunkenness and sexual vice have been cured in this way, action through the subliminalseeming thus in many individuals to have the prerogative of inducing relatively stable change. Ifthe grace of God miraculously operates, it probably operates through the subliminal door, then. Butjust HOW anything operates in this region is still unexplained, and we shall do well now to saygood-by to the PROCESS of transformation altogether--leaving it, if you like, a good deal of apsychological or theological mystery--and to turn our attention to the fruits of the religiouscondition, no matter in what way they may have been produced.[151]

[150] Here, for example, is a case, from Starbuck's book, in which a "sensory automatism"brought about quickly what prayers and resolves had been unable to effect. The subject is awoman. She writes:- "When I was about forty I tried to quit smoking, but the desire was on me, and had me in itspower. I cried and prayed and promised God to quit, but could not. I had smoked for fifteen years.

When I was fifty-three, as I sat by the fire one day smoking, a voice came to me. I did not hear itwith my ears, but more as a dream or sort of double think. It said, 'Louisa, lay down smoking.' Atonce I replied. 'Will you take the desire away?' But it only kept saying: 'Louisa, lay downsmoking.' Then I got up, laid my pipe on the mantel-shelf, and never smoked again or had anydesire to. The desire was gone as though I had never known it or touched tobacco. The sight ofothers smoking and the smell of smoke never gave me the least wish to touch it again." ThePsychology of Religion, p. 142.

[151] Professor Starbuck expresses the radical destruction of old influences physiologically, as acutting off of the connection between higher and lower cerebral centres. "This condition," he says,"in which the association-centres connected with the spiritual life are cut off from the lower, isoften reflected in the way correspondents describe their experiences. . . . For example:

'Temptations from without still assail me, but there is nothing WITHIN to respond to them.' Theego [here] is wholly identified with the higher centres whose quality of feeling is that ofwithinness. Another of the respondents says: 'Since then, although Satan tempts me, there is as itwere a wall of brass around me, so that his darts cannot touch me.'" --Unquestionably, functionalexclusions of this sort must occur in the cerebral organ. But on the side accessible to introspection,their causal condition is nothing but the degree of spiritual excitement, getting at last so high andstrong as to be sovereign, and it must be frankly confessed that we do not know just why or howsuch sovereignty comes about in one person and not in another. We can only give our imaginationa certain delusive help by mechanical analogies.

If we should conceive, for example, that the human mind, with its different possibilities ofequilibrium, might be like a many-sided solid with different surfaces on which it could lie flat, wemight liken mental revolutions to the spatial revolutions of such a body. As it is pried up, say by alever, from a position in which it lies on surface A, for instance, it will linger for a time unstablyhalfway up, and if the lever cease to urge it, it will tumble back or "relapse" under the continuedpull of gravity. But if at last it rotate far enough for its centre of gravity to pass beyond surface Aaltogether, the body will fall over, on surface B, say, and abide there permanently. The pulls ofgravity towards A have vanished, and may now be disregarded. The polyhedron has becomeimmune against farther attraction from their direction.

In this figure of speech the lever may correspond to the emotional influences making for a newlife, and the initial pull of gravity to the ancient drawbacks and inhibitions. So long as theemotional influence fails to reach a certain pitch of efficacy, the changes it produces are unstable,and the man relapses into his original attitude. But when a certain intensity is attained by the newemotion, a critical point is passed, and there then ensues an irreversible revolution, equivalent tothe production of a new nature.

The collective name for the ripe fruits of religion in a character is Saintliness.[152] The saintlycharacter is the character for which spiritual emotions are the habitual centre of the personalenergy; and there is a certain composite photograph of universal saintliness, the same in allreligions, of which the features can easily be traced.[153]

[152] I use this word in spite of a certain flavor of "sanctimoniousness" which sometimes clingsto it, because no other word suggests as well the exact combination of affections which the textgoes on to describe.

[153] "It will be found," says Dr. W. R. Inge (in his lectures on Christian Mysticism, London,1899, p. 326), "that men of preeminent saintliness agree very closely in what they tell us. They tellus that they have arrived at an unshakable conviction, not based on inference but on immediateexperience, that God is a spirit with whom the human spirit can hold intercourse; that in him meetall that they can imagine of goodness, truth, and beauty; that they can see his footprintseverywhere in nature, and feel his presence within them as the very life of their life, so that inproportion as they come to themselves they come to him. They tell us what separates us from himand from happiness is, first, self-seeking in all its forms; and secondly, sensuality in all its forms;that these are the ways of darkness and death, which hide from us the face of God; while the pathof the just is like a shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day."They are these:-1. A feeling of being in a wider life than that of this world's selfish little interests; and aconviction, not merely intellectual, but as it were sensible, of the existence of an Ideal Power. InChristian saintliness this power is always personified as God; but abstract moral ideals, civic orpatriotic utopias, or inner versions of holiness or right may also be felt as the true lords andenlargers of our life, in ways which I described in the lecture on the Reality of the Unseen.[154]

[154] The "enthusiasm of humanity" may lead to a life which coalesces in many respects withthat of Christian saintliness. Take the following rules proposed to members of the union pourl'Action morale, in the Bulletin de l'union, April 1-15, 1894. See, also, Revue Bleue, August 13,1892.

"We would make known in our own persons the usefulness of rule, of discipline, of resignationand renunciation; we would teach the necessary perpetuity of suffering, and explain the creativepart which it plays. We would wage war upon false optimism; on the base hope of happinesscoming to us ready made; on the notion of a salvation by knowledge alone, or by materialcivilization alone, vain symbol as this is of civilization, precarious external arrangement ill-fittedto replace the intimate union and consent of souls. We would wage war also on bad morals,whether in public or in private life; on luxury, fastidiousness, and over-refinement, on all that tendsto increase the painful, immoral, and anti-social multiplications of our wants; on all that excitesenvy and dislike in the soul of the common people, and confirms the notion that the chief end oflife is freedom to enjoy. We would preach by our example the respect of superiors and equals, therespect of all men; affectionate simplicity in our relations with inferiors and insignificant persons;indulgence where our own claims only are concerned, but firmness in our demands where theyrelate to duties towards others or towards the public.

"For the common people are what we help them to become; their vices are our vices, gazed upon,envied, and imitated; and if they come back with all their weight upon us, it is but just.

2. A sense of the friendly continuity of the ideal power with our own life, and a willing self-surrender to its control.

3. An immense elation and freedom, as the outlines of the confining selfhood melt down.

4. A shifting of the emotional centre towards loving and harmonious affections, towards "yes,yes," and away from "no," where the claims of the non-ego are concerned. These fundamentalinner conditions have characteristic practical consequences, as follows:-a.

Asceticism.--The self-surrender may become so passionate as to turn into self-immolation. Itmay then so over-rule the ordinary inhibitions of the flesh that the saint finds positive pleasure insacrifice and asceticism, measuring and expressing as they do the degree of his loyalty to thehigher power.

b. Strength of Soul.--The sense of enlargement of life may be so uplifting that personal motivesand inhibitions, commonly omnipotent, become too insignificant for notice, and new reaches ofpatience and fortitude open out. Fears and anxieties go, and blissful equanimity takes their place.

Come heaven, come hell, it makes no difference now!

"We forbid ourselves all seeking after popularity, all ambition to appear important. We pledgeourselves to abstain from falsehood, in all its degrees. We promise not to create or encourageillusions as to what is possible, by what we say or write. We promise to one another activesincerity, which strives to see truth clearly, and which never fears to declare what it sees.

"We promise deliberate resistance to the tidal waves of fashion, to the 'booms' and panics of thepublic mind, to all the forms of weakness and of fear.

"We forbid ourselves the of sarcasm. Of serious things we will speak seriously and unsmilingly,withoutbanterandw(use) ithout the appearance of banter;--and even so of all things, forthere are serious ways of being light of heart.

"We will put ourselves forward always for what we are, simply and without false humility, aswell as without pedantry, affectation, or pride."c. Purity.--The shifting of the emotional centre brings with it, first, increase of purity. Thesensitiveness to spiritual discords is enhanced, and the cleansing of existence from brutal andsensual elements becomes imperative. Occasions of contact with such elements are avoided: thesaintly life must deepen its spiritual consistency and keep unspotted from the world. In sometemperaments this need of purity of spirit takes an ascetic turn, and weaknesses of the flesh aretreated with relentless severity.

d. Charity.--The shifting of the emotional centre brings, secondly, increase of charity, tendernessfor fellow-creatures. The ordinary motives to antipathy, which usually set such close bounds totenderness among human beings, are inhibited. The saint loves his enemies, and treats loathsomebeggars as his brothers.

I now have to give some concrete illustrations of these fruits of the spiritual tree. The onlydifficulty is to choose, for they are so abundant.

Since the sense of Presence of a higher and friendly power seems to be the fundamental featurein the spiritual life, I will begin with that.

In our narratives of conversion we saw how the world might look shining and transfigured to theconvert,[155] and, apart from anything acutely religious, we all have moments when the universallife seems to wrap us round with friendliness. In youth and health, in summer, in the woods or onthe mountains, there come days when the weather seems all whispering with peace, hours when thegoodness and beauty of existence enfold us like a dry warm climate, or chime through us as if ourinner ears were subtly ringing with the world's security. Thoreau writes:-[155] Above, pp. 243 ff.

"Once, a few weeks after I came to the woods, for an hour I doubted whether the nearneighborhood of man was not essential to a serene and healthy life. To be alone was somewhatunpleasant. But, in the midst of a gentle rain, while these thoughts prevailed, I was suddenlysensible of such sweet and beneficent society in Nature, in the very pattering of the drops, and in<270> every sight and sound around my house, an infinite and unaccountable friendliness all atonce, like an atmosphere, sustaining me, as made the fancied advantages of human neighborhoodinsignificant, and I have never thought of them since. Every little pine-needle expanded andswelled with sympathy and befriended me. I was so distinctly made aware of the presence ofsomething kindred to me, that I thought no place could ever be strange to me again."[156]

[156] H. Thoreau: Walden, Riverside edition, p. 206, abridged.

In the Christian consciousness this sense of the enveloping friendliness becomes most personaland definite. "The compensation," writes a German author,--"for the loss of that sense of personalindependence which man so unwillingly gives up, is the disappearance of all FEAR from one'slife, the quite indescribable and inexplicable feeling of an inner SECURITY, which one can onlyexperience, but which, once it has been experienced, one can never forget."[157]

[157] C. H. Hilty: Gluck, vol. i. p. 85.

I find an excellent description of this state of mind in a sermon by Mr. Voysey:-"It is the experience of myriads of trustful souls, that this sense of God's unfailing presence withthem in their going out and in their coming in, and by night and day, is a source of absolute reposeand confident calmness. It drives away all fear of what may befall them. That nearness of God is aconstant security against terror and anxiety. It is not that they are at all assured of physical safety,or deem themselves protected by a love which is denied to others, but that they are in a state ofmind equally ready to be safe or to meet with injury. If injury befall them, they will be content tobear it because the Lord is their keeper, and nothing can befall them without his will. If it be hiswill, then injury is for them a blessing and no calamity at all. Thus and thus only is the trustful manprotected and shielded from harm. And I for one--by no means a thick-skinned or hard-nervedman-am absolutely satisfied with this arrangement, and do not wish for any other kind of immunityfrom danger and catastrophe. Quite as sensitive to pain as the most highly strung organism, I yetfeel that the worst of it is conquered, and the sting taken out of it altogether, by the thought thatGod is our loving and sleepless keeper, and that nothing can hurt us without his will."[158]

[158] The Mystery of Pain and Death, London, 1892, p. 258.

More excited expressions of this condition are abundant in religious literature. I could easilyweary you with their monotony. Here is an account from Mrs. Jonathan Edwards:-"Last night," Mrs. Edwards writes, "was the sweetest night I ever had in my life. I never before,for so long a time together, enjoyed so much of the light and rest and sweetness of heaven in mysoul, but without the least agitation of body during the whole time. Part of the night I lay awake,sometimes asleep, and sometimes between sleeping and waking. But all night I continued in aconstant, clear, and lively sense of the heavenly sweetness of Christ's excellent love, of hisnearness to me, and of my dearness to him; with an inexpressibly sweet calmness of soul in anentire rest in him. I seemed to myself to perceive a glow of divine love come down from the heartof Christ in heaven into my heart in a constant stream, like a stream or pencil of sweet light. At thesame time my heart and soul all flowed out in love to Christ, so that there seemed to be a constantflowing and reflowing of heavenly love, and I appeared to myself to float or swim, in these bright,sweet beams, like the motes swimming in the beams of the sun, or the streams of his light whichcome in at the window. I think that what I felt each minute was worth more than all the outwardcomfort and pleasure which I had enjoyed in my whole life put together. It was pleasure, withoutthe least sting, or any interruption. It was a sweetness, which my soul was lost in; it seemed to beall that my feeble frame could sustain. There was but little difference, whether I was asleep orawake, but if there was any difference, the sweetness was greatest while I was asleep.[159] As Iawoke early the next morning, it seemed to me that I had entirely done with myself. I felt that theopinions of the world concerning me were nothing, and that I had no more to do with any outwardinterest of my own than with that of a person whom I never saw. The glory of God seemed toswallow up every wish and desire of my heart. . . . After retiring to rest and sleeping a little while,I awoke, and was led to reflect on God's mercy to me, in giving me, for many years, a willingnessto die; and after that, in making me willing to live, that I might do and suffer whatever he calledme to here. I also thought how God had graciously given me an entire resignation to his will, withrespect to the kind and manner of death that I should die; having been made willing to die on therack, or at the stake, and if it were God's will, to die in darkness. But now it occurred to me, I usedto think of living no longer than to the ordinary age of man. Upon this I was led to ask myself,whether I was not willing to be kept out of heaven even longer; and my whole heart seemedimmediately to reply: Yes, a thousand years, and a thousand in horror, if it be most for the honor ofGod, the torment of my body being so great, awful, and overwhelming that none could bear to livein the country where the spectacle was seen, and the torment of my mind being vastly greater. Andit seemed to me that I found a perfect willingness, quietness, and alacrity of soul in consenting thatit should be so, if it were most for the glory of God, so that there was no hesitation, doubt, ordarkness in my mind. The glory of God seemed to overcome me and swallow me up, and everyconceivable suffering, and everything that was terrible to my nature, seemed to shrink to nothingbefore it. This resignation continued in its clearness and brightness the rest of the night, and all thenext day, and the night following, and on Monday in the forenoon, without interruption orabatement."[160]

[159] Compare Madame Guyon: "It was my practice to arise at midnight for purposes ofdevotion. . . . It seemed to me that God came at the precise time and woke me from sleep in order that I might enjoy him. When I was out of health or greatly fatigued, he did not awake me, but atsuch times I felt, even in my sleep, a singular possession of God. He loved me so much that heseemed to pervade my being, at a time when I could be only imperfectly conscious of his presence.

My sleep is sometimes broken--a sort of half sleep; but my soul seems to be awake enough toknow God, when it is hardly capable of knowing anything else." T. C. Upham: The Life andReligious Experiences of Madame de la Mothe Guyon, New York, 1877, vol. i. p. 260.

[160] I have considerably abridged the words of the original, which is given in Edwards'sNarrative of the Revival in New England.

The annals of Catholic saintship abound in records as ecstatic or more ecstatic than this. "Oftenthe assaults of the divine love," it is said of the Sister Seraphique de la Martiniere, "reduced heralmost to the point of death. She used tenderly to complain of this to God. 'I cannot support it,' sheused to say.

'Bear gently with my weakness, or I shall expire under the violence of your love.'"[161]

[161] Bougaud: Hist. de la Bienheureuse Marguerite Marie, 1894, p. 125.


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