Sunday, April 12, 2009

“It would be out of analogy with the order of things as established by God, if the exercises of the spiritual life were not attended by peace and joy. Happiness is so intimately associated with these exercises that the apostle says, To be spiritually minded is life and peace. Excellence and enjoyment are blended in inseparable union; so that all right emotions and affections are pleasurable. And this pleasure is, in kind if not in degree, proportionable to the dignity of the powers from whose exercise they flow.
The senses afford the lowest kind of happiness; then, in an ascending scale, the social affections; then the intellectual powers; then the moral emotions, and then the religious affections.
The kind of enjoyment which attend these latter is felt to be more pure and elevated, more satisfying and better suited to our nature, than that which flows from any other source. Hence the Scriptures ascribe to communion with God a joy that is unspeakable and full of glory, and a peace which passes all understanding. Joy, therefore, is one of the fruits of the Spirit; it is one of the accompaniments and evidences of spiritual life; it is a healthful affusion (pouring); it is the oil of gladness, which the Spirit pours over the renewed soul, to invigorate its exercises, to brighten its visage, and to make it active in te service and praise of God.”

“Excellence and enjoyment are blended in inseparable union”, this is the first line that caught my eye; God has designed humans to experience enjoyment when they do excellent things, good, compassionate, loving things. Think what chaos the world would be in if this common grace was not knitted into the fabric of our souls. He states that all right emotions are pleasurable. Again, what a mercy that we don’t take pride or experience dignity in evil deeds.

He then describes the scale of ascending enjoyments, starting with the five senses, moving on to our social affections, then intellectual powers; then moral emotions, which I take to be love, compassion, mercy, kindness and those described in the Fruit of the Spirit; and last the mystical union of love toward God.
I’ve read this over a number of times and I believe it is the true order but also know that the enjoyment of the senses is what conflicts with the other enjoyments in the scale, how many times have I lived for my senses and sabotaged all of the others and robbed my self of joy and peace? Too many.
I had to ask myself if I really believe that religious affections are my greatest joy when I am willing to so easily distracted by lower affections knowing I will lose the joy of union with God. I suspect it is a life long battle that all Christians war against.
Charles Hodge - photo by The Bonnies Blues, Flickr


Mel said...

Amen, Fred! I wish I could open my kids' skulls like flip-top caps and pour this truth into them. They truly seem to believe that happiness means being able to play with the toy that their sibling is playing with, even if they have to steal, borrow, beg, torture, tattle, or whatever else to get it. And once they get it, they don't want to play with it anymore, they want to play with the next to their sibling decided on. It's so sad and so tragic. Only God can teach them to love serving above being served, to love giving above receiving, to love humility and justice and mercy.

My prayer is that He will give them eyes to see and ears to hear, and will bring whatever message into their lives that will reach each one of them and transform them from the inside out. I'm going to read this to them. Please pray that God will plant a seed through this beautiful message.

Happy Monday! :)

FCB said...

Hi Mel, your post brings a smile to my face, not that I don't think these things are important to instill in children, sure they are, but children learn these thins far slower than adults, and look how long it takes adults!!
Momma Mia! I'm sixty two and I'm still at battle over things your children are doing. God will instill in your children the important issues of life through your example, the rest will come, go and change with each season they're in. I hope you don't trouble yourself too much with childhood antics, annoying, yes, but like lion cubs that battle and fight with siblings, it has a purpose and socializes them. Children too.
As long as there isn't too much blood flowing I wouldn't get to concerned. Yes, I'm a grandpa now, and I'm far more indulgent, but some children have strong wills and with creative evasive tactics, lots of time spent with them, and forgiving much, they will probably live life far stronger in the Love of Christ than you can now imagine, especially if they have a step over toe hold on one another as we speak :)
I'm not sure it's sad or tragic, just normal.
Just thank your lucky stars they were't like me!
God bless,

Danielle&Hannah said...

Yes, reading your post, I think.... well there is so much to dwell upon within the text... and I reflect in whole - Jesus said, “I am come that you may have life, and keep on having it in abundance” (John 10:10) - copiousness, plentiousness -
1. an extremely plentiful or oversufficient quantity or supply: an abundance of grain.
2. overflowing fullness: abundance of the heart.
3. affluence; wealth: the enjoyment of abundance.
4. Physics, Chemistry. the number of atoms of one isotope of an element divided by the total number of atoms in a mixture of the isotopes.

How exciting - if we can deflect the worries of this life and focus on the promises and affections Jesus has toward us...... it is always by 'choice' we can embrace the life Jesus wants us to. Ah... then i wish my time was endless and I could type forever... maybe we will get the chance to talk in Heaven one day....
And another thought.....
"and last the mystical union of love toward God"
I think that I understand this section of the sentence... yet dispute if reading it for the first time without greater thought? We should "see ye first" the things/kingdom of God and then all these things/peace, joy, love, abundance - shall be added unto us!

I thank God I am who I am... and yet He enables me to dream and pursue the ultimate He has in store for me.

Thank you for your thoughts and post. May blessings be surrounding you at this time! In Jesus Name :-)
You have brightened my evening!

FCB said...

Hi Danielle,
Thanks for you comments, and I agree there is a lot in this quote and I'm not sure I understand it all but I like it and I'm glad it blessed you as well. It is difficult to fully understand a quote when lifted from the chapter's context.

Yikes! we better have time to talk about it in heaven or we are woefully misled :)
Look forward to that day,

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Fred :)

This post reminded me of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Man first needs to meet Physiological needs such as food, water, sleep, sex, shelter etc.

Second comes, such as security of self, family, health, employment etc.

Thirdly man needs, Social needs such as friendship,intimacy, having a supportive and communicative family.

Fourthly, man needs self esteem,achievement,respect from others etc.

Fifthly, he needs to fulfill aesthetic\self actualisation needs which are required after he fulfills all his other needs.

Your post is very interesting and the photo is excellent.

Have a nice day Fred:)

FCB said...

Hi Joseph,
Now those are interesting comments you posted. Very similar in principle aren't they. I think they are clearly realized by all. My challenge is to grow the last and shrink the first :)
God bless,