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The Christian looks forward to being a partaker of the divine nature, and to being one with Christ, as he is one with the Father, but never supposes, with the mystics, that he is to be fused into the divine essence. His union with God consists, he well knows, in having Christ for his living head, and in his being made a temple of the most high God, by the holy Spirit dwelling in him throughout eternity. But this is infinitely different from supposing that we shall flow into the divine nature like drops into the ocean of boundless Being.
Christianity directs us to love God with all our heart, and our neighbour as ourselves. Here the love of self is implied to be a holy affection in its right place and degree. The mystics, in defiance of sense and Scripture, suppose the love of self in all its forms and degrees to be sin, and contend that the principle of self must be destroyed before we can love God in sincerity. This foolish notion prevails amongst many of the former American divines, who insist upon the destruction of a principle which God himself has planted in the mind of man, as a pre-requisite and qualification before any one can believe in Christ, and who in effect, if not in words, maintain that every one must be willing to be damned before he can hope to be saved.
The stricter mystics contend for self-annihilation; the more moderate compound for the disciple making himself “infinitely little.” It would be curious to see a revelation adapted to the mystics; it must confine itself entirely to the use of impersonal verbs. “Taulēre demandoit au mendiant, où il avoit trouvé Dieu, qui lui répondit, ou je me suis quittémoi-même. O' les admirables paroles!” adds Madame Guion ; and thus we see, it is more easy for a man to get quit of himself, than to get rid of the personal pronouns. The faith of a Christian consists in believing in the Lord Jesus Christ; the degrees of faith may differ, but the more faith increases, the more clearly the divine object of faith is revealed. The highest attainment of mystical faith is a belief which believes nothing, where the mind has no distinct proposition before it, and where, of course, nothing can be either denied or affirmed.—“La Foi pure, quise sépare, peu a peu, non seulement du sensible, du distinct, et du materiel, mais même de l'apperçu, pour entrer peu a peu dans la nudité totale.” In Christianity, the first step is to believe in the Saviour; “What shall I do to be saved 2–Believe in the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved.” The believer is first justified, and then purified or sanctified by faith. But according to the mystical sys-, tem, the disciple must be purified before he can believe, he must get rid of self first, for till then his belief would be only a selfish belief. According to Christianity, whosoever believes in the Lord Jesus receives all the benefits of the great
atonement, his sins are blotted out like a thick cloud, and remembered no more against him for ever; the divine law is fulfilled for him, and all transgressions of that law are immediately expunged. According to the mystical system, there is no other law than that of the divine substance flowing out into the production of innumerable finite spirits—of these spirits contracting pollution by the selfish principle—and of the return of these spirits to God, by the destruction of that principle. Thus, in mysticism, there is nothing corresponding to the Christian notion of sin. There is one error, the belief in self; and one truth, the identity of all things with the Deity. As, according to this scheme, there is, strictly speaking, no law on the part of God, and no sin on the part of man, there is no divine attribute of justice to be appeased, or positive punishments to be undergone; the only misery that exists is the natural punishment that proceeds from selfishness. God necessarily loves all that exists, because nothing exists but himself. It is only selfishness which hinders us from perceiving this love of God towards all things. There is there..fore no atonement, in the Christian sense of the term. God is not angry, and therefore cannot be appeased; there is no satisfaction to his justice, for he has no justice to satisfy. The only atonement we have need of is, an At-one-ment, or a mode of becoming one with the divine essence. Those pantheist writers who consider Christ as our atonement, merely believe him to be the medium, or channel, by which we flow back into the divine Being. It may be asked how the mystics who profess Christianity, reconcile these notions to divine revelation. It is by a method which has been practised in all ages, by which one set of opinions may easily and successfully be engrafted upon any other system of opinions, however diametrically opposite they may be. This method is generally called spiritualising. It was first practised by the philosophers of antiquity, upon their own mythology, and upon their ancient poets. Homer, from having called the ocean the father of gods and men, was pressed into the service of his theory by Thales, who makes him assert the origin of all things from water. The stoics were so expert in this sort of spiritualising and allegorising, that they made the whole of the ancient literature of Greece wear the hue of their peculiar opinions, as Cicero observes, “Utetiam veterrimi poetae, qui haec ne suspicati quidem sint, Stoici fuisse videantur.” The Alexandrian school were still more eminent spiritualisers than the stoics; and Origen, their well instructed disciple, made the outward sense of Scripture give place to the higher and more spiritual meaning which he conceived to lurk under it. Bylineal descent his method has been inherited by the mystics; and, while the obvious sense of the Bible is left to the uninitiated, the enlightened few enjoy an inner revelation, appropriated to themselves, and conformable to the doctrines of pantheism. Not that they are strictly tied down to this inner sense of the Scriptures; they claim to have more immediate and individual communications addressed to their inward man; discoveries of the inmost nature of things, and perceptions of the divine existence, (as some inform us, who make a vehement profession of Christianity by law established) more magnificent than were vouchsafed to the Hebrew prophets of old. X. Mysticism, which was first favourable to the reformation of religion, since that reformation has taken place has become decidedly adverse to it, and is more indulgent to Popery than to Protestantism. During the dark ages, the mystics opposed the gross superstitions and the material worship of Popery, which it saw clearly to be the religion of this world. The mystics often indicate that the Pope, with the pomp of his worship, and the tyranny of his power, is the corrupter of true religion; taking care, however, not to commit themselves too far, and to speak only to the initiated. Their hopes of reformation were all directed within, and the renovation of the earth, was, in their notions, to be accomplished by very different weapons from what the reformers used. Plain Scriptural statements of truth were as