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The Mystical Perfectionism of Thomas Cogswell Upham1
I. Upham And His Second Conversion
A great deal of the perfectionism which vexed the American churches through the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century was mystically colored. There is no difficulty in accounting for this. The embarrassment rather is to select out of numerous accounts which suggest themselves, the particular one which was really determining in each case. In some instances no doubt the mysticism was self-generated. A doctrine essentially mystical spontaneously presented itself to the inflamed minds of fanatics, as the basis of their pretension to peculiar holiness. The assumption of possession by the Divine Spirit is made with great ease. Even the West African savages make it. Nineteenth century Americans, however, did not live in the isolation of West African savages. They could not escape from the currents of religious sentiment which came flowing down to them through the years, even if they would. We easily underestimate the force and persistency of religious tradition, especially among what we call the submerged classes; and very especially if the tradition be in any degree fanatical and if it has been distilled into the blood through the experience of some form of persecution. The English sectaries of the seventeenth century were still living beneath the skins of many nineteenth century Americans; and there could be found inheritances even from radical mediæval sects, no doubt, if any one should dig deeply enough for them. Nevertheless, it was not to tradition that the mystical perfectionism which was continually springing up in nineteenth century Americans ordinarily owed its origin. It was to direct infection, either through personal contact or literary inculcation.
We have only, for example, to think of the Quakers. They were a compact body, universally esteemed, and exerting wide influence. Wherever this influence extended, a mystical perfectionism was commended, which the more recommended itself that it seemed to speak in much the same language that was familiar to everyone on the lips of the Methodists. There is nothing on which Quakerism has more strenuously insisted from its first origin than “a holy and sinless life,” as the natural product of “that of God” which dwells within us, the “Light,” the “Seed,” the “Principle” of God within us, the “Christ within.” When George Fox was haled before the magistrates of Derby, he was asked, he tells us, whether he “was sanctified.” “I answered,” he says, “ ‘Yes; for I am in the paradise of God.’ Then they asked me if I had no sin. I answered, ‘Christ my Saviour has taken away my sin; and in Him there is no sin.’ They asked how we knew that Christ did abide in us. I said, ‘By His Spirit, that He hath given us.’ ”2 The germ of the developed Quaker doctrine is already here—both in the extremity of its assertion and in its mystical basis.
The developed doctrine is set forth in barest outline by Robert Barclay, the most esteemed of the Quaker teachers, in his “Theological Theses.” “This certain doctrine then being received,” he writes, “(to-wit) that there is an evangelical and saving light and grace in all, … as many as resist not this light, but receive the same, in them is produced an holy, pure, and spiritual birth, bringing forth holiness, righteousness, purity, and all these other blessed fruits which are acceptable to God; by which holy birth (to-wit, Jesus Christ formed within us, and working his works in us) as we are sanctified, so are we justified in the sight of God.… In whom this holy and pure birth is fully brought forth, the body of death and sin comes to be crucified and removed, and their hearts united and subjected unto the truth, so as not to obey any suggestion or temptation of the evil one, but to be free from actual sinning, and transgressing of the law of God, and in that respect perfect. Yet doth this perfection still admit of a growth; and there remaineth a possibility of sinning, where the mind doth not most diligently and watchfully attend unto the Lord.”3
In his “Apology” Barclay expounds and argues these propositions at length.4 The perfection asserted, he affirms, is the result of the new birth; and is, of course, “proportionable and answerable to man’s measure”; but is not the less real, since “a little gold is perfect gold in its kind, as well as a great mass.” It is, however, capable of growth, and also, unfortunately, liable to be lost—though he “will not affirm that a state is not attainable in this life, in which to do righteousness may be so natural to the regenerate soul, that in the stability of that condition he cannot sin.” He does not profess to have himself attained that state, but he recognizes it as taught in 1 John 3:9. This text, however, if it affirms anything to the purpose, affirms it not of some but of all of those who are born of God. This inconsequence follows Barclay throughout his argument. His aim is to establish for the children of God the possibility and frequent realization of a complete perfection in this life. His appeal is made, however, always to considerations which altogether fail to support the extremity of the contention. There is an underlying assumption always that a promise of perfection is void unless fulfilled at once; or that the confession of imperfection is an admission of lack of all grace; or that remainders of sin in God’s people argue incapacity on His part to deliver them wholly, and derogate from the virtue of Christ’s sacrifice; or that the coëxistence of sin and holiness in an imperfectly sanctified heart implies that there is no difference between good and evil—which he says is the horrid blasphemy of the Ranters; or something of the kind.
All these modes of argument reappear in our nineteenth century perfectionists and become stereotyped in them. It is impossible to say how far they are derived from Barclay directly or indirectly—from reading his “Apology,” which had long since become the Quaker “classic,” and was not suffered to mold on dusty shelves; or from contact with those who carried forward his teaching in living tradition. Barclay was not the first to frame them nor the only accessible source from which they could be derived. And this may illustrate the difficulty in determining how far Quaker influences coöperated in producing the perfectionism of nineteenth century America. It was there; it was a vera causa; but the extent of its contribution to the effect is indeterminate. Let us only remind ourselves that Robert Pearsall Smith, and Hannah Whitall Smith were both of Quaker birth and breeding. They received their perfectionism directly from Methodism. But we can hardly be wrong in assuming that they had been prepared for receiving it by their Quaker associations. In Hannah Whitall Smith’s case this is demonstrably true. And it was she who took the lead in their common adoption of perfectionism.5 She remained, it requires to be remarked, a Quaker all her life, and was perhaps more and more a Quaker as she grew in years.6
The name of William Law slips off of the pen of more than one of the perfectionist writers of nineteenth century America. Off of that of John Humphrey Noyes, for example. Noyes considers Law, whom he represents as the real father of Methodist Perfectionism, the best of the Mystical Perfectionists,7 and his “Address to the Clergy” (1761) his best book.8 Law is also repeatedly quoted, as he could not fail to be, by Thomas Cogswell Upham.9 But it would be absurd to attribute to this aloof high-churchman any large influence in the production of movements to which he stood in no other connection than that of relative nearness in time. While Law gives large expression to his mysticism, moreover, he speaks only occasionally and briefly of its perfectionist corollary, and makes, therefore, only a limited appeal to those whose interests lay chiefly in the latter region. Even Upham passes over him to find the sources of his mystical doctrine of perfection in those Quietistic writers of the preceding century of whom Law apparently thought as meanly as he could think of any mystic.10 What we find in Upham is in fact a sustained attempt to revive the specifically Quietistic perfectionism of the seventeenth century, and to give it a new vogue in the conditions of the nineteenth century life of America. For this purpose he drew on the whole series of Quietistic writers from Miguel de Molinos himself to Antoinette Bourignon, and adapted them to his purpose with the utmost freedom, not to say violence. His attitude toward these writers was the precise opposite of Law’s. Recognizing, of course, the presence in them of the general mystical conception in which he shared, Law, nevertheless, repelled with the utmost disfavor the extravagances which constituted their peculiarity and made them what we know as Quietists. Upham, on the contrary, laid a remolding hand on these very extravagances, and by a skillful firmness or firm skillfulness of dealing with them, transmuted them into a tolerable likeness to evangelical Protestantism. By this means he built up on their basis a complete system of mystical perfection, which stands out boldly in a certain—though not very deeply going—contrast with the other systems of perfection launched in such profusion in his day among the Protestants of New England inheritance.
Thomas Cogswell Upham came of a distinguished New Hampshire family, members of which have attained eminence in a variety of activities, through a series of generations, and not least in his own.11 He was one of four brothers all of whom won recognition as men of conspicuous ability. He was born at Deerfield, New Hampshire, where his grandfather had served as pastor for a generation, on the 30th of January, 1799. It was in the autumn of this year (November 9) that Asa Mahan also was born. These two perfectionist leaders were, therefore, close contemporaries. The superior advantages which Upham enjoyed, however, showed themselves in his more rapid advancement. He was finishing his scholastic preparation about the time when Mahan was beginning his. He was graduated from college two years before Mahan entered; and had published his first book—an excellent translation of Johann Jahn’s “Biblical Archæology” (1823)—a year before Mahan was graduated. By the time Mahan had completed his theological course (1827), Upham had already been for three years seated in the chair of Mental and Moral Philosophy at Bowdoin College—a chair which he occupied for the rest of his active life—and had published his “Elements of Intellectual Philosophy” (1827), by which his reputation as a thinker was established. On the other hand, Mahan was the first of the two to obtain the “second blessing” and to enter upon the career of a perfectionist teacher. The light that came to him in the winter of 1836–1837 did not reach Upham until 1839. Mahan wished to believe that he was the channel of its conveyance to Upham. That, however, was not the fact; and he must content himself with the honor of having in this matter of the first importance to both of them not merely overtaken Upham, but forestalled him by two or three years. He was publishing his first perfectionist book—his “Scripture Doctrine of Christian Perfection” (1839)—about the time that Upham was just attaining perfection. Upham’s first perfectionist book—the “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life” (1843)—followed, however, at no more than the due interval. It would be hard to say which one was, after this, the more diligent in propagating their common opinions.
Dartmouth was Upham’s college, and 1818 was his year of graduation. The period of his residence there was a time of great turmoil. During it the great Dartmouth College controversy was fought out. It was in 1815 that John Wheelock was, after much violent debate, removed by the Trustees from the Presidency of the College, and Francis Brown elected in his stead. It was in 1816 that the usurping action of the Legislature, voiding all the college’s vested rights, was taken. It was on March 10, 1818, that Daniel Webster’s famous argument in the case which resulted, was made before the United States Supreme Court, presided over by John Marshall, and through it the sacredness of private trusts was established, as a principle of American law. The whole college, officers and students alike, shared in the distraction of this long excitement. The new president, Francis Brown, was broken by the strain and died in 1820. There would seem no room in this preoccupation for another strong emotion to enter in. Nevertheless, at the very moment when the struggle between Trustees and President was reaching its climax,12 in the spring of 1815, a remarkable revival of religion broke, unheralded and unexpected, upon the college. Nathan Lord, Brown’s successor in the presidency, writing in 1832, gives an account of it.13 “At once, and without premonition,” he says, “the Spirit of God evidently descended, and saved the great body of the students. A general and almost instantaneous solemnity prevailed. Almost before Christians became aware of God’s presence, and increased their supplications, the impenitent were deeply convicted of sin, and besought instructions of their officers. The chapel, the recitation room, every place of meeting became a scene of weeping, and presently of rejoicing; so that in a few weeks about sixty students were supposed to have become regenerate. A revival of such rapidity and power has been rarely known, and perhaps never one of such unquestionable fruits. Not one of the number of apparent converts, at that time, is known to have forfeited a Christian standing. Most of them are ministers of the gospel, a few are missionaries, and all are still using their influence for Christ.”
Upham himself tells us that he “supposes” that he “experienced religion” “in connection with” this revival.14 It is not probable that he meant by this language to throw doubt on the genuineness of the religious experience which he then enjoyed. It is not impossible, of course, that, looking back upon it from the exaltation of his “second conversion,” it had lost in his mind some of its significance. It is more likely, however, that it seemed in retrospect less certain than at the moment, that what he then experienced was the inception of religious life, rather than perhaps an intensified manifestation of a life already existing. Throughout his writings he exhibits a marked distaste for religious excitement, and with it an unmistakable distrust of revivals of excitement.15 Whether his religious life began in the revival of the spring of 1815, or not, however, it flowed on thence unbrokenly. He does not appear, it is true, to have made a formal profession of his faith, by uniting with the (Congregational) Church, until about the time of his graduation, three years later. He proceeded then, however, at once to the theological seminary at Andover, whence he was graduated in 1821. The professors under whose instruction he came at Andover were Leonard Woods, Moses Stuart, Ebenezer Porter and James Murdock; and he came in contact there (as indeed he had done at Dartmouth)16 with many young men as fellow students who afterward achieved distinction. Among his classmates were Baxter Dickinson, afterward to be a professor in Lane and then in Auburn Seminary; Charles D. Pigeon, the capable editor of The Literary and Theological Review; and Alva Woods, who had a notable academic career in the South: while in the other classes in the seminary with him there were to be met such men as Orville Dewey, Jonas King, Joseph Torrey, Elias Cornelius, Francis Wayland, Rufus Anderson, Leonard Bacon. His career at Andover was a distinguished one. During the last year of his course (1820–1821) he also served as a teacher in Phillips Academy. And after his graduation he remained two years at the seminary as instructor in Sacred Literature—under Moses Stuart. The last of these years he was registered also as “resident licentiate” (1823). It was during these years that he prepared his translation of Johann Jahn’s compendium on “Biblical Archæology,” the first edition of which bears the date of 1823, and the fifth, stereotyped, edition came out in the fifties.17
Of his own interior life during this period of preparation there seems to have survived little direct record. We are not without indirect intimations, however, which warrant the pleasantest inferences. When pleading on one occasion for the union of spiritual with mental culture in the education of youth, he draws a beautiful picture of what he found in Phillips Academy, in which we can read his own heart. “In early life,” he writes,18 “I had the privilege of being associated, for a short time, in an institution, where it seemed to me that some of these views were happily illustrated. The studies always opened in the morning and closed at night with religious services. The first half hour of every morning, in particular, was devoted to the reading of the Scriptures, the explanatory and practical remarks of the worthy and learned instructor, and to prayer. And it was understood by all, whatever might be the state of their own minds, that this religious exercise was regarded by the teacher as one of preëminent importance. When he came before his pupils on this occasion, they did not doubt that he had first commended them to God in private; and that of all objects which he desired and had at heart, there was none so dear to him as their souls’ salvation. Every movement was stilled; every voice hushed; every eye fixed. And whatever might be their creed or want of creed, their religious adhesions or aversions, such was their sympathy with his obvious sense of responsibility and his divine sincerity, that even the hearts of the infidel and the profane were cheerfully laid open before him; so that with their own consent he was enabled, by means of his prayers and warnings, to write upon them, as it were, inscriptions for immortality. I was not a pupil in the seminary to which I refer, but an assistant teacher; and had a good opportunity to observe and judge. My own heart never failed to be profoundly affected; and, from what I have learned and known of his pupils since, scattered as they have been in all parts of the world, and engaged in various occupations, I have no doubt that God eminently blessed the faithful labors of this good man, and that he was permitted to realize in his instructions, to an extent not often witnessed, the beautiful union of the culture of the heart with that of the understanding.”19
When Upham left Andover in 1823 it was to become pastor of the Congregational Church at Rochester, New Hampshire—his “home church”20—where he was ordained July 16, 1823. He remained at this post, however, only a single year. In 1824 he received an invitation to become Professor of Mental and Moral Philosophy and Tutor in Hebrew at Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine; and accepting it, entered upon what proved to be his life-work. He continued in the active work of his chair from 1824 to 1867, and then, becoming Professor Emeritus, retired to Kennebunkport, where his later years were spent. He died in the city of New York, April 2, 1872. The literary activity which had begun at Andover was continued with renewed vigor at Bowdoin. By the time he was forty years old he had printed eight separate works. There were included in these a treatise on the polity of Congregationalism (1829),21 and a very notable plea for universal peace, including the suggestion of a “Congress of Nations” (1836).22 But, as is natural, the larger place among them is given to treatises in his own special department of instruction. These treatises, taken together, constitute a comprehensive discussion of the whole field, written with charming simplicity and directness, and manifesting a very wide acquaintance with the literature of the subject, and, with it, clear and acute thinking. The “Elements of Intellectual Philosophy” appeared already in 1827, to be followed in 1831 by “Elements of Mental Philosophy, Embracing the Two Departments of Intellect and the Sensibilities” (of which an abridged edition also was at once published),23 in 1834 by “A Philosophical and Practical Treatise on the Will,” and in 1840 by “Outlines of Imperfect and Disordered Mental Action.” The inclusion of the last of these treatises in his scheme of a comprehensive discussion of mental faculty and action, may serve to suggest to us the wide range and rather popular character of Upham’s method of treatment. He keeps himself always in contact with life and the common interests of life, and enlivens his pages with copious illustrations drawn from a wide acquaintance with literature. Above all the interests of religion, and very specifically of the Christian religion, are everywhere kept in view. The books have quite as much the flavor of a Christian minister instructing his people, as of a professor of philosophy, lecturing his class: they are almost as much theology as psychology.
We see at once that Upham carried his religion to Bowdoin with him and did not sink it in his academic work.24 We are not surprised to learn, therefore, that outside the class-room he was looked to by his pupils for guidance in their times of religious distress.25 We find, for instance, young Henry Boynton Smith, when, in the course of a notable revival which visited Bowdoin College in 1834, he was smitten in his conscience and awakened to his soul’s needs, turning to him especially for counsel and direction. Smith had been bred under Unitarian influences, and his perplexities were accordingly as much theological as practical. But it is quite clear that Upham was no less helpful to him in his distresses than in his difficulties. “Last evening,” he writes,26 “Professor Upham came in, and we conversed a long while. I stated to him, fully and explicitly, my doubts, fears, hopes, and, in fine, my situation in every respect, and he talked to me calmly and reasonably. I am to see him again this afternoon.” Then, some three weeks later: “I talked with Professor Upham about the Trinity. Of one thing I feel assured, that I need an infinite Saviour. Further than that, may the Lord in his mercy and wisdom guide me! My prejudices were fixed in regard to this point as well as to the innate sinfulness of men. On the latter point I am convinced. As to the former, I know nothing but that Christ is my Redeemer and has atoned for my sins.” Young Smith won out as we know, and was born once for all to God. What part Upham’s counsel really played in the great change we can only conjecture. Smith’s was the stronger mind of the two, and he soon passed into the position of the teacher, not the taught. But he retained Upham in warm friendship; and it is clear enough that, in this episode at least, in which the corner of the veil has been lifted that we may see him at work, what we see in Upham is the devoted man of God.
We have thought it worth while to make this clear, because Upham’s own account of his state of mind at this time is not altogether cheering. Of course he did not doubt his interest in his Saviour. But he was not happy in his religious life. He had early set a high ideal of religious attainment before himself and he was conscious of not having reached it. He advanced sometimes, he says, and then again was thrown back, “living what may be called the common Christian life of sinning and repenting, of alternate walking with God and devotedness to the world.”27 He is looking back on himself here from the heights of his “second conversion,” and describing his earlier experience from that more elevated point of sight: and from the same point of sight, he suggests that the difficulty he experienced in attaining the state he longed for was, in part at least, due to “the discouraging influence of the prevalent doctrine that personal sanctification cannot fully take place till death.” It is plain, however, that he was not acquiescent in his shortcomings. Apparently, as time went on, his sense of them continued ever unabated; and he seems to wish us to understand that his sense of personal danger in view of them steadily increased. This emphasis on his increasing sense of danger in view of his shortcomings makes the unpleasant impression that the righteousness of Christ was becoming to his apprehension ever less sufficient as the ground of his hope: that he was growing ever more anxious to supplement it, or supersede it, by a righteousness of his own: that he was uneasy—increasingly so—so long as he had nothing but Christ’s righteousness to rest upon. It is probable, however, that he intends no more than to convey a strong impression of the distress the consciousness of his shortcomings gave him, and his consequent increasing anxiety to be completely delivered from them. He wishes us in any event to understand that anything short of complete deliverance from sin was becoming intolerable to him, and thus to prepare the way for his account of how he sought and obtained the “second blessing.” If this is all that he means, however, he has expressed himself badly.
He proceeds now, in any case, to describe at considerable length, how, spurred on by his uneasiness or fear, he sought and at length found the “second blessing.” “In this state of mind,” he writes,28 “I was led, early in the summer of 1839, by a series of special providences, which it is here unnecessary to detail, to examine the subject of personal holiness, as a matter of personal realization.” Conducting this examination, as he thought, “prayerfully, candidly and faithfully, looking at the various objections as well as the multiplied evidences,” he was led to the conclusion “that God required” him “to be holy, that He had made provision for it, and that it was both” his “duty” and his “privilege to be so.” “The establishment” of his “belief in this great doctrine was followed,” he tells us, “by a number of pleasing and important results.” One was that he “felt a great increase of obligation to be holy.” God required him to be holy, and God does not require impossibilities: on the contrary God’s requirement of him to be holy involved “an implied promise” to give aid in the accomplishment of the required result. Accordingly, “within a few days after rejecting the common doctrine, that sanctification is fully attainable only in the article of death, and receiving the doctrine of the possibility and duty of present holiness, I consecrated myself,” he says, “to God, body and spirit, deliberately, voluntarily, and forever.” There were no witnesses, and no formal written document; “it was a simple volition.” But simple as the act was, it marked a crisis in his moral life. The date was about the middle of July, 1839, and the step taken was not in his view without a certain boldness in it: he was not perfectly instructed as yet in the way of life; he was acting “in comparative darkness,” walking by faith, not by sight. It seemed, however, justified by the effects. “Two almost immediate and marked results followed this act of consecration. The one was an immediate removal of the sense of condemnation, which had followed me for many years, and had filled my mind with sorrow. The other result, which also almost immediately followed, was a greatly increased value and love of the Bible.”
We have thus far been told nothing of any influence from without directing Upham to the new paths he was entering. He does speak, to be sure, of having been led by “special providences” to study the subject; and this may be taken to imply some sort of impulse received from without. The carefulness of his examination of the matter, which he emphasizes, moreover, may suggest that he sought aid where aid was to be found. There seems, however, to be a studied implication running through his whole narrative, that he went his own way and was his own guide. We reach a point now, however, where contact with those who were before him in believing his new doctrine and seeking to exemplify it in their lives, becomes decisive for his experience. He visited New York on business, he tells us, in December, 1839. That business, he says, “brought” him “into connection with certain persons who belonged to the Methodist denomination.” “I was,” he continues, “providentially led to form an acquaintance with other pious Methodists, and was exceedingly happy in attending a number of meetings which had exclusive reference to the doctrine of holiness and to personal holy experience.” He made known to his new friends his own recently acquired belief in the doctrine of holiness, and of his attitude as a seeker of the experience: and they greatly cheered and aided him. Precisely what they did for him, he tells us, was to remove a difficulty which stood in the way of his victorious progress. That was his “ignorance of the important principle, that sanctification, as well as justification, is by faith.” He had put himself, it is true, in a favorable position to exercise this faith, by consecrating himself to God. “But” he “had never understood and felt the imperative necessity of this exercise, viz., of faith, as a sanctifying instrumentality.” He is explicit that it was his “Methodist friends” who gave him his needed instruction here. And it was because of this new point of view solely, he intimates, that he was enabled “in some degree”—“in a very considerable degree”—now to gain the victory. He can date the very day when he gained it. “It was early on Friday morning, the twenty-seventh of December.” “The evening previous had been spent in deeply interesting conversation and in prayer on the subject of holiness, and with particular reference to myself. Soon after I awoke in the morning I found that my mind, without having experienced any very remarkable manifestations or ecstasies, had, nevertheless, undergone a great moral revolution. It was removed from the condition of a servant, and adopted into that of a son.… I had no ecstasy, but great and abiding peace and consolation.”
Under the influence of these feelings Upham now consecrated himself anew to God; and this time he did it formally in a written document. He still was unable to speak confidently of having actually experienced “sanctification.” Consecration and sanctification are different things, although it is possible that the latter may follow the former immediately—God’s work follows man’s act. This did not occur, however, in Upham’s case. He had received great blessings—“a new sense of forgiveness, increased love, actual evidence of adoption and sonship, clear and deeper communion with God.” But something was still lacking. He left New York about the middle of January, 1840, and at once on reaching home, “united with some Methodist brethren in establishing a meeting similar to those which had benefited” him “so much in New York, for the purpose of promoting present godliness.” This meeting was open to persons of all denominations of Christians—that is, it took the form of a perfectionist propaganda. “Nevertheless,” he says, that is to say, despite his earnest seeking, “I was unable for about two weeks to profess the personal experience and realization of the great blessing of holiness, as it seemed to be experienced and realized by others.” Two weeks may seem to us a very short time in which to become perfectly holy. Upham felt them a long delay. The difficulty, he says, was that “while other evils were greatly or entirely removed,” he was still conscious of “the remainders of selfishness.” It seemed indeed as if the principle of self-love was even stimulated in him. He was no doubt not more selfish than before; but he felt it more. He prayed fervently for the realization in time of perfect love, though he did not fully know its nature.
On February 2, 1850—Sabbath evening—he suffered great affliction of mind. On the next morning—Monday—he was for the first time able to say that he loved the Heavenly Father with all his soul and all his strength. This attainment once made was permanent. Ever after his heart expressed itself in this language—language, he says, “which involves, as I understand it, the true idea of Christian perfection or holiness.” “There was no intellectual excitement,” he tells us, “no very marked joy when I reached this great rock of practical salvation.” “The soul had gathered strength from the storm it had passed through the preceding night; and, aided by a power from on high, it leaped forward, as it were, by a bound to the great and decisive mark.” He was distinctly conscious of the attainment made. Those selfish exercises which had troubled him were gone; he was now sanctified. Temptations, no doubt, continued, and “it would be presumption to assert positively,” he says, that there has never since been a lapse. But there certainly has been a new life, and the “witness of the Spirit” has been constant. This “witness” is not delivered in the way of reasoning or of reflection; “it is a sort of interior voice, which speaks silently and effectively to the soul.” There have even been times—for example, on February 14, 1840—when “some remarkable operations on the mind” were experienced. These are indescribable. The stress is laid, however, on ordinary spiritual succor. His whole soul turns from self to God, and all his longing sums itself up in the desire for union with God.
In this luminous narrative we have merely a typical account of the attainment of the “second blessing” or the experience of the “second conversion.” It differs from other similar accounts only in its unusually clear analysis of the several steps or stages of the experience; perhaps these steps or stages were more clearly marked in Upham’s case than usual. There is traced first the rise of the conviction of the obligation to be holy; then the discovery of the way by faith alone; and then the somewhat lagging actual attainment by faith of the blessing. Every step was taken under Methodist influence, or rather direction: this is explicitly noted in every instance except the first, where we read only of the direction of “providence.” That this formed no exception to the others—the exact nature of the providential circumstances thus alluded to—we learn from a narrative which Mrs. Upham gives us, in the same volume,29 of her own experiences as she journeyed to the same goal, some six months or so earlier.
She had been for fifteen years a professing Christian, she says, before she found the way. “I never heard of the doctrine of entire holiness,” she explains, “as a thing to be realized in this life, until February, 1839.” “When I tell you,” she adds apologetically, speaking to Phoebe Palmer and her circle, “that I do not belong to your, order”—that is, to the Methodist Church—“and have never been at all associated with people of this belief, you will be able to account better for my ignorance.” We could not have a more direct assertion than this, that the experiences she is about to relate were the only ones operative on her in her “second conversion.” “In the good providence of God,” she now proceeds, “I went last February”—that is, February, 1839, and we observe that she is writing within the year after the experiences narrated—“into a Methodist protracted meeting. I heard a sister there speak as I never before heard a man or woman speak. A holy composure sat on her countenance, and she seemed to me to be breathing the atmosphere of heaven. She spoke with the simplicity and love of the beloved disciple, who leaned on Jesus’ bosom. I sought a private interview with her. I opened to her my heart. I told her I lived in a state of daily condemnation, and I had never indulged a hope of living above that state. Then, for the first time in my life I heard of Jesus, a present Saviour from all sin.” Here we have an explicit statement that Mrs. Upham heard of the holiness doctrine for the first time from this woman. “I had only one interview with this sister,” she continues, “as she left town, having been here only on a visit. Alone, unaided, except by the Spirit of God, I pursued the doctrine of heart holiness.… I soon became speculatively convinced, not only of the extent of God’s requirements, but of the obligation and the ability of the Christian to fulfill these requirements in and through Jesus, who, I saw, was manifested to take away our sins.” In these circumstances it was natural that she should set herself to make the attainment which she perceived to be required of her. The Bible alone was her guide. She saw and believed. Her efforts to be holy failed: but faith conquered its way. “For the last year I can say,” she writes, “the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God.”
Now, Mrs. Upham tells us30 that she was led, on May 25, 1839, publicly—“at a public prayer-meeting,” she says—“to declare the greatness of the salvation she had experienced.” We will recall that Upham’s examination of the matter was undertaken “early in the summer of 1839.” The appearance is that Mrs. Upham’s publication of her own experience constituted the “providential circumstances” which led to Upham’s inquiry. Thus the only obscure point in his narrative is cleared up; and the beginning as well as the prosecution of his “second conversion” is brought under direct Methodist influence. It is quite clear that we have in the cases of Upham and his wife nothing more than instances of conversion to Wesleyan Perfectionism. All this, perfectly plain in itself, is authenticated now by an absolutely contemporary entry in Phoebe Palmer’s diary of the date of January 3, 1840.31 She tells us here that Mrs. Upham had been led by the simple testimony of a Methodist sister to seek “the blessing” and had entered into the enjoyment of it. The difficulties thrown in her way by her connection with the Congregational Church (which discountenanced the experience itself and also the speaking of women in the church) were “overcome,” and Mrs. Upham bore her public testimony to her new experience. Her husband, however, held back. “For several months, he was skeptical as to his privilege in reference to this blessing,” though he had come to be assured of the glory of the inheritance. He came to New York to attend to the publication of his book on “The Will,”32 and Mrs. Upham, who accompanied him, found her way to the famous Tuesday holiness-meeting for women, which for a whole generation was held in Phoebe Palmer’s parlor.33 She asked the privilege of bringing her husband to the meeting. This was granted and some other gentlemen were invited to be also present. Upham came and was deeply impressed. On the following Thursday he had a long interview with Phoebe Palmer and the next morning entered into the rest of faith.
The close relations thus established between him and Phoebe Palmer naturally were maintained. We find him writing to her on March 24 following, and again, in September, in accents of deep gratitude. His experience in her parlor, he tells her, was “in religion, the ‘beginning of days’ ” to him; and Mrs. Upham declares to her (March 24), “you have begotten him in the gospel.” They are glad to inform her that they have set up a meeting in their own house modeled after hers, where (Mrs. Upham says, with wifely pride) Upham spoke tenderly to the people of his great blessing.34 There can be no question that Phoebe Palmer looked upon Upham and Upham looked upon himself as her pupil; and so strong was her sense of this relation that when she found him after a while wandering from the path in which she had placed his feet she did not hesitate, in her capacity as instructress, soundly to rebuke him, and to point him back to the right way.35
It has seemed desirable to make the facts of Upham’s “second conversion” perfectly clear for several reasons. One of them is, of course, because they are intrinsically interesting. Another is because of the importance, for the understanding of his career, of the circumstance that his perfectionist doctrine was fundamentally just the Wesleyan doctrine. A third is because a different and misleading representation has been made with respect to the source from which he derived his new knowledge. To put it brusquely, Asa Mahan has pointed to him as a trophy of his own spear. He shows, to be sure, a (somewhat distorted) knowledge of the circumstances; but with that fine self-centeredness which often characterizes the mental attitude of “selfless” saints, he reads them chiefly in his own honor. He enjoyed Phoebe Palmer’s acquaintance,36 and one would have wished to see him gladly leave her in quiet possession of a feather in her cap in which she took pride. This, however, is how he deals with the matter:37 “The spiritual writings of the late38 Professor Upham, of Bowdoin College, in the State of Maine, U. S., are ‘known and read of all men.’ The manner in which he became such a fruitful writer on such a theme was on this wise. When the peculiar views advocated at Oberlin were spread before the public, he took it for granted that they were wrong, and gave them no examination. Mrs. Upham, however, was induced by a lady friend, then residing in the family of the former, to give our writings a careful examination—her husband, in the kindest manner possible, often expressing his utter incredulity in respect to the subject. Mrs. Upham at length became fully convinced, and sought and obtained ‘the sealing and earnest of the Spirit.’ The new life to which she had attained, and that in connection with the manifest divineness of the change wrought in her, soon arrested the attention of her husband, and induced him also to inquire, until he was brought fully to accept the views which the wife had embraced. It was the example of the wife, as an epistle of Christ, that rendered the husband ‘the man of God’ and the spiritual writer which he afterwards became.”
It may be just within the bounds of possibility that the Uphams had “the Oberlin writings” in their hands during their period of stress and strain. When this period began for Mrs. Upham, in February, 1839, there were, however, no expositions of Oberlin Perfectionism generally accessible, except the two lectures on “Christian Perfection” included in Finney’s “Lectures to Professing Christians” (1837) and whatever was contained in the first two or three numbers of The Oberlin Evangelist, which was started at the close of 1838. In these early numbers there was published, it is true, Mahan’s famous address, which formed the nucleus of his little book on “Christian Perfection,” which was just now on the eve of publication and which may have been in Upham’s hands in the summer. It cannot be affirmed, therefore, that Mrs. Upham could not, or may not, have read these expositions, or that Upham did not read them later; and if they read them there is no reason why they should not be supposed to have received instruction from them. But in the face of their own detailed accounts of their experience, it is impossible to ascribe to these writings—even if read—any such part as Mahan assigns to them. It is perfectly clear that the Uphams were the converts, not of Oberlin, but of the Methodists.
Something more requires to be said. There is some reason to doubt whether “the Oberlin writings,” had they been read, would have made an altogether favorable impression upon the Uphams. Upham himself, at any rate, was of a markedly different spirit from the Oberlin men, especially if we look upon Finney as their type; and there are numerous remarks scattered through his writings which bear the appearance at least of referring with distaste to their noisy and bustling religion. Quietness is the mark of Upham’s piety.39 “Quiet men,” says he,40 “other things being equal, are the truly strong men.” He deprecates not only the religious excitement of visions and dreams and revelations, but also the religion of nervous and even of strong emotional manifestations. He wishes the emotions, “whenever they make their appearance,” to be “so kept under control, as never to disturb the calmness of the perceptive and rational action of the mind.”41 It is not by way of vagrant impulse and unregulated feeling, he says, that we come to know God or His will. God is a God of order. It is impossible to doubt that in some of the remarks of this kind which he makes, the phenomena of the Finney revivals are lying at the back of his mind. He frankly did not like them. He would have had but little pleasure in the strong tremors which have often moved the hearts of those who, like the Oberlin men, saw God in the whirlwind and the storm. His own ears listened for the still, small voice. “Fanaticism,” says he very significantly,42 “is characterized, among other things which help to define it, by being out of repose, by being restless, excitable, visionary, and denunciatory.… Granting that he [the fanatic] has a disposition to do good, it is still true, that he aims, although perhaps he is not distinctly conscious of it, to do God’s work in man’s hasty and selfish temper.… He is in too much of a hurry for God himself …” As he wrote these words, did he not have Finney’s “denunciatory revivals,” as Lyman Beecher called them, in mind? “I have sometimes thought,” he says,43 “that persons of flighty conceptions and vigorous enthusiasm would regard the Savior, if he were now on the earth, as too calm and gentle, as too thoughtful and intellectual, as too free from impulsive and excited agitations, to be reckoned with those who are often considered the most advanced in religion.” “It is probably through a disregard, in part at least, of the course taken by the Savior, … that we find, in all denominations of Christians, melancholy instances of persons, who are young in the Christian life, or who are prompted by an undue confidence, exhibiting a disposition to enter prematurely, and sometimes violently, upon measures which are at variance with the results of former experience, and with the admonitions of ancient piety.”
We have not observed that Upham anywhere in his religious writings mentions the Oberlin men by name. That also may be a significant fact, for it cannot be that he remained ignorant of their writings. To other perfectionist movements preceding his own, he more distinctly alludes—sometimes very unhappily. There is an allusion, for example, to the “New Dispensation” Perfectionists,44 with especial reference to their teaching as to the Sabbath. He rejects their teaching, but in doing so deals very gently with them themselves. “It is something worthy of notice, amongst the remarkable things of the present time,” he says,45 “that the Christian Sabbath, contrary to what would be the natural expectation in the case, is attempted to be set aside by persons who have a respect for religion, and appear to be persons of true benevolence and piety. Some of them make high claims to holiness of heart. The holiness of their hearts, as they understand it, has made all things holy. Their work is holy; their rest is holy; their recreations are holy;—everything they do, while the heart is holy, partakes of the character of the source or motive from which it proceeds. No one day, therefore, can be more holy to them than another. The Sabbath is on a footing with other days. All days are alike. This is the general train of their thought and reasoning. And it cannot be doubted, I think, that there is not only a degree of plausibility, but a portion of real truth in these views.” This element of truth, he proceeds to point out, is that we must be holy on every day—the Sabbath is not different from other days in that. But it does not follow, he urges, that we are to do the very same things on every day. Each day has its appropriate activities, and our holiness consists, among other things, in doing on each day what is appropriate for it. It is a holy duty to rest on the Sabbath; it is the day for public worship and social service, and it should be kept for that. No doubt the holier we are, the better we ourselves could get along without it; but also the holier we are the more we shall be impelled to preserve it, for ourselves and others. It is a good ad hominem argument, which he develops, but he says nothing in contravention of the fundamental antinomian assumptions of the errorists whose anti-Sabbatarianism he is repelling. They “appear to be persons of true benevolence and piety”; they are recognized as holy brethren.
It is quite possibly these same people who are in Upham’s mind, when a few pages further on he astonishes us by adopting from some not clearly identified “experimental writers,” and utilizes for his doctrine of the family, that notion of “correspondences” on the basis of which they had in Upham’s own memory put into practice the iniquity of “Spiritual Wives.”46 “There seems,” says he,47 “to be a just and adequate foundation for the doctrine, of which we find some intimations and glimpses from time to time in experimental writers, that all holy beings have their correspondences.” That is to say there is somewhere existing the completion or complement of each spiritual being, destined at the appropriate time to be revealed to it. “Then, under the attractions of mutual love, which is wiser and stronger than mere arbitrary and positive law, they unite together:—and they do it under such circumstances that it is not possible to separate them. They thus fulfill the purposes of their Maker; and realize in time a marriage, which, in spirit and essence, is eternal.” “The moment that such beings are unveiled to each other as perfect correspondences, the mutual attraction, at once strengthened to its highest intensity, becomes irresistible.” Perhaps, however, it is Swedenborg, rather than the “New Dispensationists,” on whom Upham is drawing in proclaiming these bizarre notions, and we recall that his Dartmouth classmate, George Bush, had become a vigorous Swedenborgian propagandist and may be thought of as a channel of Swedenborgian influence to Upham.48 In any case, however, he was bound to remember the evil use to which this very notion of correspondences had been put only a few years before by men of whom he had just spoken without any manifestation of reprobation.
If it is surprising to see Upham adopt and utilize this notion of “correspondences” which had just wrought out so evil a history among the “New Dispensationites,” it is more surprising still to see him adopt and utilize the general conception of the New Dispensation itself, from which these errorists derived their name. He announces his adherence to this conception, it is true, in connection with an exposition of some teaching of Madame Guyon’s to the same effect,49 but he does not so much represent himself as deriving this conception from her as according with her in it. In point of fact, the conception is very widespread among mystical perfectionists, who have been prone in every age to represent themselves as introducers of a new dispensation, the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, set over against the dispensations of the Father and the Son, conceived as now past. Among Upham’s immediate predecessors in America, the so-called “New York Perfectionists,” as we have already noted, derived their more descriptive name from this doctrine; and John Humphrey Noyes himself, who no longer held to the Millenarianism by which this conception was justified by them, yet managed to retain the conception itself. Upham’s presentation of it possesses no advantages over that of his predecessors and seems clearly to belong to the same mintage. The great doctrines of the Divine unity and of Christ crucified, he says, have been proclaimed, have had their advocates and martyrs, and have prevailed. “But there is another great truth, of which it may at length be said, that its hour has come;—namely, that of God, in the person of the inward Teacher and Comforter, dwelling in the hearts of his people, and changing them by his divine operation into the holy and beautiful image of him who shed his blood for them. Christ, received by faith, came into the world to save men from the penalty of sin; but it has not been so fully … recognized that he came also to save them from sin itself. The time in which this latter work shall develop itself is sometimes spoken of as the period of the reign of the Holy Ghost. It is now some time since the voice has gone forth; an utterance from the Eternal Mind, not as yet generally received, but which will never cease to be repeated;—Put away all sin; Be like Christ; Be ye holy.” And then again: “The kingdom of the Holy Ghost has come. Its beginnings are feeble, it is true.… But the signs of its full approach are too marked, too evident, to be mistaken.… Happy will it be, if its friends shall remember, that it is a kingdom which comes without observation.… Behold here the dominion of the Holy Ghost, the triumph of the true Millennium, the reign of holy love!” The reader can hardly believe his eyes when he sees Upham discovering in his perfectionist sect, which has only recently come into being (“some time since”),—referring no doubt to the rise of Molinism—and is now embodied in himself and his coterie, the dispensation of the Holy Ghost which has now at length, after so long a time, dawned. We wonder whether he really imagined that never until this sect had arisen, had the cry of, Put away all sin! been heard. And we wonder even more what judgment he intended to pass on all the perfectionist sectaries, stretching in unbroken succession from, say, Pelagius to, say, the Ranters, that they should be passed by and the dispensation of the Spirit made to begin only with his own special party. We must not leave without notice that he identifies this New Dispensation, the inauguration of which “some time since” he asserts, with the Millennium. In doing so he places himself distinctly on the plane of the Chiliastic perfectionism which had been troubling the churches for the preceding quarter of a century.
The general position taken in these amazing claims presents a curious parallel to the fundamental Montanistic assumption, and it is not strange that the opponents of Quietism were quick to take note of this fact. When A. C. McGiffert50 writes of Montanism: “Its fundamental proposition was the continuance of divine revelation which was begun under the old Dispensation, was carried on in the time of Christ and his apostles, and reached its highest development under the dispensation of the Paraclete, which opened with the activity of Montanus,” his words would require very little adjustment to adapt them to Upham’s representations. Upham does not, it is true, assert that a new revelation in the strict sense has come with him and his companions. But he does assert that a new truth has come into the possession of the Church, through him and them; a new truth by means of which a new and culminating dispensation of the Kingdom of God has been introduced. Thus in a true sense he contends that in him and them the Kingdom of God has at last come. In this broad application of the parallel, Bossuet was not wrong, then, in comparing Fénelon and Madame Guyon to Montanus;51 and the similarity cannot be evaded as Fénelon endeavored to evade it, by pleading that there were many particulars in the Montanistic teaching, and especially in the conduct of its protagonists, to which he and Madame Guyon provided no parallel. Neither Madame Guyon nor Upham were Montanists. But they shared with Montanus the fanatical assertion, that the culminating dispensation of the Kingdom of God, the dispensation of the Spirit, has been introduced only by them. It would be wrong, of course, to suppose that they derived this fanatical point of view, which they shared with the Montanists, either directly or indirectly from them. It came down to them, as we have already intimated, from quite a different source, and through a well-marked line of tradition. John the Scot, the head of the line of Western Mystics, holds it with as great clearness as Madame Guyon or Upham, although he avoids the identification of the Dispensation of the Spirit, which he conceives as still future, with himself. John continued in a very positive way—Rufus M. Jones describes his teaching thus52—“the idea of a progressive revelation, already taught by the Montanists. He marked out in his Commentary on the Gospel of John three stages of priesthood. The first stage—that of the priesthood of the Old Testament—was transitory, and it saw the truth only through the thick veils of mysterious types. The second priesthood, that of the New Testament, had a greater light of truth, but still obscured by symbols. The third priesthood, that which is to come, will see God face to face. To the first corresponds the laws of condemnation, to the second the law of Grace; the third will be the kingdom of God. The first assisted human nature, which was corrupted by sin; the second ennobled it by faith; the third will illumine it with direct contemplation. The Church of the present will be swallowed up by the light of the Church of the future, when souls will actually possess God by direct communion with Him by the Spirit.” Joachim of Fiori repeats in effect the representations of John and still, like him, places the Dispensation of the Spirit in the future, although he looked for it in the immediate future;53 and his disciple, Gerard of San Donnino, in the famous “Eternal Gospel,” fixed so firmly in the minds of “spiritual” men the idea of a coming religion of the Spirit that it never afterward died out.54 In Amaury (Amalrich) of Bene, however, and his followers, the Dispensation of the Spirit, formerly looked forward to, has already come in himself and his coterie. “The Father, they taught, was incarnated in Abraham; the Son in the child of Mary’s womb; and the Holy Spirit has become incarnated in them.” And this new “reign of the Holy Spirit,” now at last begun, “frees humanity from all burdens and servitude. In Him all laws and commandments are at an end.”55 It is this form of the conception, rife among the Brethren of the Free Spirit, and equally so among the Anabaptists and Ranters of seventeenth century England, which reappears in the mystical perfectionists of Western and Central New York at the end of the first quarter of the nineteenth century, and is proclaimed with the confidence of strong conviction by Upham.
Even the “New Dispensationists” do not represent, however, the extreme to which Upham was able to sink in order to find companionship in his vagaries. In a most astonishing chapter in his latest work56—published posthumously—he undertakes to reconstitute the Trinity into a Duality—Father and Mother instead of Father, Son, and Spirit; but a Duality which afterwards becomes a Trinity by the appearance of a Son, which is identified with—the creation, “the whole of creation from the lowest to the highest form.” In order to obtain support for this precious speculation he does not scruple to appeal to the teaching of a long catalogue of heresies, ancient Gnostics, the Jewish Cabala, Mediæval Mystics, the Familists, the Philadelphians, the Shakers, and—this is the culmination of all—“the Bible Communists,” that is to say, John Humphrey Noyes, the founder of the Oneida Community.57 To this length his sense of solidarity with fellow-perfectionists had brought him in his old age. He actually sets forth the ravings of Noyes as an element in the “absolute religion,” that is, in that essential, universal, and eternal religion which may harmonize with Christian teaching, but is in essence the rational faith of all men.
We should be sorry to leave the impression that these grotesque speculations are a fair sample of the substance of Upham’s teaching. That is far from the fact. Upham belongs among the soberest of our perfectionist leaders. Our main purpose in the preceding paragraphs has been to suggest the extent of his knowledge of his immediate predecessors in this type of religious thinking, and the distance to which his mental sympathy with them was able to carry him—on occasions. He owed his “second conversion” wholly to Methodist influences: Phoebe Palmer, to use Mrs. Upham’s figure, “begot him in the Gospel”; it was the Methodist doctrine of perfection which he desired to proclaim, and in the main did proclaim.58 But his mind was not an empty cask into which the Methodist doctrine was poured, and that was the end of it. He was blessed, or, as he might himself say, cursed, with great intellectual curiosity; and first and last he explored many odd corners of religious thought, and usually came back with something in his hands. It is probable that he never taught the Methodist doctrine of perfection quite in its purity—not even in those first days of his return from New York when, laying aside his dislike for public utterance, he spoke so winningly, in Mrs. Upham’s opinion, in their little propagandist meetings at Brunswick. We have expressed our opinion that the writings of the Oberlin people did not furnish the subject of his study during those days of feverish examination of the nature of the Gospel requirements and provisions with reference to holiness, to which he was incited in the summer of 1839 by Mrs. Upham’s adoption of the Methodist doctrine. But we have had no intention of implying that no writings on holiness were then in his hands. Upham being the man he was, that would have been inconceivable. It is very safe to say that many books on holiness were subjected to very intensive study during those difficult weeks. And it does not seem very difficult to say in general what books they in the main were. The writings of the Quietistic Mystics were certainly among them. They were not the whole of them, but they occupied the central place.
The general reason for saying this is that, when Upham comes into view after he had found his peace, he has these books in his hands. In point of fact we know no Upham after his “second conversion” but the mystical Upham. It is quite true that there was an interval of two or three years between his return from New York at the beginning of 1840 with the treasure conveyed to him by Phoebe Palmer, and the publication of his first religious book in 1843. We cannot confidently assert that there may not have been a period immediately after his finding “the blessing” in which he preached Methodist Perfectionism, unmodified by mystical infusions. But the wide acquaintance he shows with the Quietistic literature, and the abundant use he makes of it in his first book59—and the deep absorption in it which he manifests in its immediate successors—suggests pushing back the beginnings of his engagement with it as far as possible.
What strikes us most strongly, however, as we glance through Upham’s literary history is the greatness of the crisis which he passed through at his “second conversion.” The direction of his studies and the whole character of his reading were transformed by it. We have already had occasion to point out the strength of his natural literary impulse and the abundance of his literary product. His first book came from the press contemporaneously with his own emergence from the schoolroom; and in the course of seventeen years thereafter he had published eight solid volumes on very abstruse subjects. A sudden and complete change takes place in this stream of publications on his “second conversion.” The literary activity continues, but the subjects on which it expends itself are totally altered. Never again does he print a philosophical work.60 There was a volume of poems,61 and a volume of “Letters” from abroad.62 But with these exceptions everything else that he printed through a long list of publications—embracing a dozen items—was not only religious in its subject, but designed specifically for “the promotion of practical holiness.”63 There are included in the list, it is true, two works which take the form of biographies—the “Life of Madame Catharine Adorna” (better known, perhaps, as St. Catharine of Genoa), 1845, and the “Life and Religious Opinions and Experience of Madame de la Mothe Guyon,” 1847. But these books are biographies only in form: the didactic element dominates them, and indeed constitutes even physically the greater part of their contents. They are simply additional commendations of Upham’s perfectionist doctrine, cast in a biographical form in the hope, no doubt, of obtaining thereby a fresh appeal. All the rest of his books, published in this second period of his life, are openly pleas for “holiness,” or aids to its attainment. They include the following volumes: “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life,” 1843; “The Life of Faith,” 1845; “A Treatise on Divine Union,” 1851; “Religious Maxims,” 1854 (taken from the “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life”); “A Method of Prayer,” 1859 (an analysis of the work by Madame Guyon so entitled); “Christ in the Soul,” 1872; and “Absolute Religion,” 1873. It is obvious from this list of titles that Upham’s real interest lay in “holiness,” and his engagement with Quietistic Mysticism was secondary and ancillary to that. If he did not merely repeat the Methodist doctrine of “holiness” which he “learned more perfectly” from Phoebe Palmer, neither did he transmute it into Quietistic Mysticism. He modified his statement of it, here and there, with formulas which he borrowed from the Quietists, but for “substance of doctrine” what he taught remained steadily Wesleyan Perfectionism. So far from assimilating his Wesleyan doctrine to Quietism, he sought rather at bottom to assimilate Quietism to it. What he undertook, indeed, was nothing less in effect than the amazing task of evangelicizing Quietism. We say evangelicizing rather than Wesleyanizing, for, after all, there was a deeper lying stratum in Upham’s thought than even the Wesleyan Methodism which Phoebe Palmer taught him. He was a Congregationalist before he became a Methodist Perfectionist—a Congregationalist of the “New Divinity” type, and holding the “New Divinity” firmly, though not in an extreme form. What we have to do with in him, accordingly, is a somewhat mild “New Divinity” Congregationalism, overlaid with Wesleyan Perfectionism, endeavoring to read the Quietism of Madam Guyon in harmony with itself.
II. Upham And The Quietists
It was a tremendous undertaking—this of evangelicizing Quietism. Fénelon had expended his genius in an attempt to Catholicize it, with a great deal less than indifferent success. Upham looks over the “Maxims of the Saints” and pronounces them in essence evangelical! The Jansenists, whom Fénelon persecuted and who had no weapon against their persecutor except their wit, wrote an epitaph for him:
“Neath two damnations, here lies Fénelon—
One for Molinos, for Molina one.”
Upham seems to think that in combining Molinos-ism and Molina-ism, instead of doubling his condemnation, Fénelon escaped it altogether and became—evangelical. Something as, we suppose, the combination (in proper proportions) of oxygen and hydrogen comes out, not doubly gaseous, but a good, serviceable liquid. No doubt we must remember that Upham looked at Fénelon out of “New Divinity” eyes, and the “New Divinity” had invented for itself a doctrine of sin and grace, of dependence and freedom—indeed, of “congruism” itself—of which Molina-ism need not have been ashamed. From this point of sight, Fénelon might very well have been quoted as a brother, and Upham’s fundamental mistake was in imagining the “New Divinity” to be evangelical. But it was not merely Fénelon’s Molina-ism which he proclaimed evangelical, but his Molinos-ism also. And, perceiving no difference between the exquisite nicety of Fénelon’s distinctions, by which he attempted to give Catholic standing to the essence of Molinos-ism, and the raw crudity of Madame Guyon’s declamations, he pronounced her teaching also in substance evangelical. All Quietism was the same to him, whether read in Molinos’ “Spiritual Guide,” at the one end, or in Antoinette Bourignon’s “Light in Darkness” at the other; and it was all in intention and effect evangelical. His method was very simple. He read all this literature with so firm a conviction that it is in intention and effect evangelical, despite the unfortunate appearance given it by its unhappy use of language, that he persistently imposed on the unwilling language his own evangelical sense so far as his own sense (the sense of the “New Divinity,” with Methodist Perfectionism superposed on it) was evangelical. Thus the unevangelical language came in the end really to speak to him in evangelical accents, and he actually employs it to express his own evangelical meaning. The effect on his writings is very curious. However natural it may have become to him to express his evangelical conceptions in Quietistic language, his readers do not find it easy to read his Quietistic language in an evangelical sense. A veil of ambiguity is thrown over the page. The reader is continually disturbed by doubt as to how much or how little is intended by the mystical language which he reads; and it is much if he does not end by raising the general question whether Upham is a mystic at all, or whether he has not merely acquired a bad habit of obscurely expressing himself in mystical forms of speech.
Much of this confusion is due, however, to a more deeply lying confusion still—the confusion of inwardness in religion with evangelicalism. Evangelicalism is, of course, in its very idea, a religion of the heart. But it does not follow that all inwardness in religion is evangelicalism. That form of religion which we call mysticism is as inward as evangelicalism—in fact, more exclusively inward than it. It is in this that its appeal has always lain—and its usefulness—as a protest against the externalities of the sacerdotalism of the Romish Church. It is in it that the self-consciousness of the mystic has centered; or we might as well say plainly, his pride, a pride in which he has as heartily despised external religion as it has him. The ethos of the contestants in the Quietistic controversy is not badly revealed in the contemptuous name of “the new spiritualists” which the Catholics fixed on the Quietists, and in Fénelon’s repudiation only of the epithet “new”—“It is not a new spirituality which I defend, but the old.” It is quite in the manner of the mystics of all ages when Jacob Behmen reminds us grimly that Cain was an observer of ordinances. “Cain,” he says,64 “goes to church to offer and comes out again a murderer of his brother.” The altar of God, he explains, is wherever the living knowledge of Christ is; and at that altar alone can true and acceptable offerings be made. He would not, it is true, “abolish and raze the stone churches,” but he would keep us reminded of that “Temple of God which must be brought into the stone churches with us,” or else the whole business of the stone church is only “a Cain’s offering, both for the preacher and hearer.” Nothing truer than that could well be said; and, reading it, and the like of it, after their own fashions of speech, in the Quietistic writers, we are almost ready to say with Upham, when speaking of Madame Guyon’s “Method of Prayer”:65 “Its doctrines are essentially Protestant; making Faith, in distinction from the merits of works, the foundation of the religious life, and even carrying the power of faith in the renovation of our inward nature beyond what is commonly found in Protestant writers.”
Such a remark rests, nevertheless, on a complete misunderstanding. Madame Guyon has nothing in common with Protestantism except the inwardness of her religion and her consequent emancipation from rites and ceremonies, on the one hand, and on the other a certain exaltation of Christ in the center of her religious life, although thinking of Him quite differently and looking to Him for quite different benefits, from Protestantism. In all that concerns the distinction between Protestantism and Romanism she is wholly Romanist. Her conception of faith is not the Protestant conception; and her notion of its function is far from the Protestant understanding of it. Nothing could be more misleading than to suggest that she opposed faith and works in the Protestant sense. What she did was to oppose faith to external works—for did she not teach an “interior religion”? But as for works in the broad sense, she taught as arrant a work religion as other Romanists—only the works on which she depended were not external but internal works. She suspended everything on the subjective state and looked upon personal holiness as the condition, not the issue, of communion with God. In describing the work of Madame Guyon among the young ladies at Madame de Maintenon’s “Female Institution” at St. Cyr, Upham employs an expression which, if we may be permitted to press it into our service, may not only rather sharply express to us the difference between the ordinary Romanist teaching and that of Madame Guyon, but also suggest part of the distinction between her teaching and that of Protestantism. These young ladies, he says,66 had no doubt generally been accustomed—under the ordinary Romanist teaching—to regard “their acceptance with God as depending, in a great degree at least, on a number of outward observances, rather than on inward dispositions”—as Madame Guyon now taught them to regard it. Here we have the exact fact—Madame Guyon suspended acceptance with God not on outward observances but on inward dispositions, and it was in this sense that she interiorized religion.
The New Testament and evangelical religion teach that acceptance with God depends wholly on the finished work of Christ, faith being merely the instrument by which this finished work of Christ is received and rested on. Of this fundamental principle of New Testament and evangelical religion, as Heinrich Heppe justly points out, Madame Guyon knew nothing. The foundation-stone, he reminds us,67 on which the whole evangelical consciousness is built, is the historical redemptive work of Christ. In this, faith finds, once for all, the righteousness which avails with God. On it the believer reposes with sure confidence for his peace with God here and his eternal felicity hereafter. It is the firm foundation on which his whole system of faith is built. Of all this, however, Madame Guyon was altogether ignorant. The fundamental fact of the Gospel was not known to her as such. Everything therefore which was transacted in the person of Christ here on earth, and found its completion in Him, she transferred to the heart of the individual and had transacted over again there. It is only in this sense that she enthrones Christ in the center of her religious life. It is not the fact of the redemptive work of Christ on which she rests; and it is not the forming of Christ within, as a result of faith in this redemptive work, for which she hopes. She suspended her hope on the repetition in the soul, by its own exercises, of the experiences of Christ, until, having reproduced in itself the qualities that characterized Christ, it becomes sharer in the divine favor which rested on Him. Christ ceases in this view to be our Saviour and becomes our model. He is not Himself the Way by which we reach God, but only the Guide who shows us the way; not the blood of Christ but imitatio Christi has become the ground of our hope. It is not unfair to say, as Upham says,68 that in this view religion has become “something more than [a] … mere ceremonial”—it has become “a life.” But we must remember that “life” has two meanings—the life which is lived and the life by which it is lived; the manner in which we live and the power by which we live. And it is only in the former sense that religion is a life with Madame Guyon: after all is said and done, religion remains with her a scheme rather than a power.
It is already apparent how misleading it is to speak of Madame Guyon as recommending herself to Protestants by the honor she places on faith—“even carrying the power of faith in the renovation of our inward nature beyond what is commonly found in Protestant writers.”69 The allusion in these words is to what is represented as Madame Guyon’s great discovery—a dramatic account of which is given70—of “sanctification by faith.” This is a doctrine, we are told, which, hardly tolerable in the Protestant Church, is quite impossible in the Romanist; but was formed in Madame Guyon’s heart “by infinite wisdom,” and was uttered by her “in obedience to that deep and sanctified conviction which constitutes the soul’s inward voice”—uttered at the moment of its discovery and always, so that it became in a true sense her life-message. Faith, we must bear in mind, however, was in Madame Guyon’s view a “work,” that is to say, a virtue, a virtuous disposition, that particular virtuous disposition which above all others prepared and opened the soul for the reception of divine things. Her proclamation of sanctification by faith had a double significance, negative and positive. On the one hand, it was an assertion of emancipation from the sacerdotal means of sanctification without which in the modes of conception prevalent in the Roman Church, there could be no sanctification. It was anti-sacerdotal. On the other hand, it asserted that the condition of sanctification is an absolutely passive receptivity—and it is this state of mind which is called “faith.” The soul that is empty, says Madame Guyon, is the soul that is filled, and the whole duty of man is to make and keep his soul empty. This is Quietism. In it is announced a philosophy of life under the influence of which—in the furthest extension of its application—inactivity, indifference, apathy, mental and bodily, became the idea of behavior in every department of living. Madame Guyon relates of herself with great satisfaction—Upham quoting her account with apparent approval71—that in a dangerous carriage-accident she sat quietly in the vehicle and made no effort to save herself. In any given instance this mode of action may or may not be in accordance with good judgment. That is not however Madame Guyon’s plea. The point of her narrative is that faith in God implies and requires on all occasions complete inactivity on our part. In no circumstances of life are we called upon to act. Our duty at all times and in all spheres of activity (as we say—but how meaninglessly in this view!) is—to do nothing. “It is better to perish, trusting calmly in God’s providence, than to make our escape from danger, trusting in ourselves.” “I would rather endure them”—any conceivable trials—“all my life long, than put an end to them in a dependence on myself.” That is to say, we must never make any effort to save ourselves from any danger, or to relieve ourselves from any difficulties. If the house catches on fire we must sit quietly in it and burn up: to walk out is to distrust God. If the boat sinks under us, we must not swim to shore, but fold our hands and sink—“let go and let God.” Here is a fully developed philosophy of irresponsibility.
We have seen Upham felicitating the young ladies of St. Cyr on the spiritual revival which they experienced under the teachings of Madame Guyon. “Turned by the conversation of Madame Guyon,” he says,72 “from the outward to the inward, led to reflect upon their own situation and wants, they saw that there is something better than worldly vanity; and began to seek a truer, sincerer, and higher position.” There is unfortunately some reason to fear, however, that this is only an ideal sketch of the effect of Madame Guyon’s instruction on her pupils, framed on the assumption that the substance of what she taught them was “redemption, and permanent inward salvation by faith”—in the Protestant sense of these words. We have a very spirited picture of what happened at St. Cyr under Madame Guyon’s Quietistic teaching, from the pen of an eye-witness—one of the inmates of the house—a Madame du Pérou.73 It proves to be very much what might have been expected, as Ernest Seillière puts it, “in a community invaded by a purely emotional morality and Guyonese mysticism.” Whatever may have been the spiritual revolution which they experienced, the observable deportment of the converts was not edifying. “These ladies,” writes Madame du Pérou, “were chilly, distant, even a little scornful, towards those not of their party; very independent towards their superiors and directors, very full of presumption and pride.… They attended preaching as seldom as they could, saying that it distracted them, and that they needed nothing but God.… Nearly the whole house became Quietist. Nothing was talked about but pure love, abandonment, holy indifference, simplicity, in the practice of which every one abandoned herself to her ease, and disturbed herself about nothing, not even her own salvation. It is to this that this alleged resignation to the will of God comes in which we can consent as readily to our own damnation as to being saved; this was what that famous act of abandonment that was taught consisted in.… These fashions of speech were so common that even ‘the Reds’ (the pupils of the lowest class) employed them; even down to the lay-sisters and the servants, nothing was talked of but pure love. There were some who, instead of doing their work, spent their time in reading Madame Guyon’s books, which they fancied they understood.” The novices no longer obeyed. “They fell into ecstatics. They conceived so lively and so inconvenient an appetite for prayer that they neglected their most necessary duties. One, instead of sweeping, stood nonchalantly propped on her broom; another, instead of attending to the instruction of the girls, lost herself in inspiration and abandoned herself to the Spirit. The under-mothers (of the novices) furtively assembled the illuminated in some corner, where they fed themselves on Madame Guyon’s ideas. Under pretence of seeking perfection, they despised the only method of attaining it.…” This last sentence, adds Seillière, in comment, is the protest of Stoic-Christian ethics, against a purely emotional ethics, founded on an irrational feminine mysticism. In the Christian system, perfection is conceived as absolute performance; in the Quietistic as absolute non-performance.
We are here at the heart of Quietism. But not of Quietism alone. For Quietists are not alone among mystics in calling upon man to “nought” himself, that he may become “nothing,” and the floods of God may wash in and fill his emptiness. This is general mystical teaching. “A man shall become as truly poor,” says Eckhart,74 “and as free from his creature will as he was when he was born. And I say to you, by the eternal truth, that as long as ye desire to fulfill the will of God, and have any desire after eternity and God, so long are ye not truly poor. He alone hath true spiritual poverty who wills nothing, knows nothing, desires nothing.” “The soul”—Rufus M. Jones continues the quotations thus in summary—“must withdraw not only from possessions and ‘works,’ but it must also withdraw from all sense experience, from everything in time and space, from every image of memory, every idea of the understanding into an experience above this lower form of consciousness—an experience in which ‘all things are present in one unified now and here.’ ”75 The soul must become a tabula rasa if God is to write upon it. Similarly “ ‘Swester Katrei’—Sister Katharine—called in the narrative ‘Eckhart’s Strasbourg Daughter,’ ” declares that “ ‘not even desire of heaven should tempt a good man toward activity.’ ” The story runs that “on one occasion she became cataleptic, and was being carried to burial for dead. Her confessor, just in time, discovered that it was trance instead of death, and awoke her. Katharine exclaimed: ‘Now I am satisfied, for I have been dead all through.’ ” Jones,76 in telling this story, speaks of it as presenting “an extreme example of morbid quietistic mysticism”; but it is difficult to perceive anything extreme about it in comparison with the ordinary Quietistic teaching; it is just the common doctrine of the Quietistic mystic uncommonly poignantly expressed. It is quite paralleled, for example, by what Jones77 again calls “an extraordinary case” in which as “Friend of God” “got to the indifference-point to such a degree that he, ‘through the power of love, became without love,’ and in this state of perfect surrender, he heard a voice say to him: ‘Permit Me, My beloved child, to share in thee and with thee all the riches of My divinity; all the passionate love of My humanity; all the joys of the Holy Spirit,’ and the ‘Friend of God’ replied: ‘Yes, Lord, I permit Thee, on condition that Thou alone shalt enjoy it, and not I!’ ” Indifference must be carried to such a point as to be indifferent to the very end that is sought. There is nothing startlingly novel, therefore, in the “passivity,” “indifference,” “abandonment,” “annihilation” which was taught by the sixteenth century Quietists and from their teaching of which they derived their name.
This teaching has its roots ultimately in the pantheistic background which underlies the whole mystical teaching. Whenever this pantheistic understratum cropped out fully upon the surface, it naturally destroyed all sense of individuality, and reduced what, to the vulgar apprehension, appeared to be separate personalities to mere momentary wavelets on the bosom of the deep of being. That, however, is pantheism, not mysticism; mysticism seeks as an attainment what pantheism posits as a fact. Mysticism, however, everywhere and always true to its pantheistic groundwork, with more or less force of assertion and clearness of expression, proclaims the necessity, for that union with the divine to which all its yearnings urge, of stripping away everything which enters into the individualization of the subject. This anti-individualistic tendency, intrinsic to mysticism, was, in the days of developed Romanism, no doubt reinforced in its effect, but also modified in its expression—often so greatly modified as to seem even superseded—by another tendency grounded in a wholly different, not to say contradictory, point of view. This is the tendency to contempt of “nature,” arising out of the dualism of “nature” and “the supernatural” in the Romanist doctrine of salvation. For the ellipse of the Romanist doctrine of salvation is not thrown, as in Protestantism, around the foci of sin and grace, so much as around those of nature and the supernatural. God, it is taught, had designed man for a state higher than that of merely natural virtue and felicity and therefore had endowed him, when he left His creative hands, with a donum superadditum—a supplementary gift of something lying wholly outside of and beyond his nature as man—which raised him to a plane of supernatural virtue and supernatural felicity. It was this donum superadditum which man lost in the fall; so that he fell not out of what he ought to be by nature, but back into—mere—nature. It is it also which is restored in salvation; so that man is brought by salvation not into what he ought to be by nature, but into something above all nature. Fallen man, accordingly, existing, as it is phrased, in puris naturalibus, in the purity of his—merely—natural state, just as he came from his Maker’s hands, requires no recreation that he may be able to maintain himself in a state of natural virtue or natural felicity. Salvation is therefore conceived in essence as delivering man not precisely from sin, but from a consequence of his sinning; not as restoring him to the natural purity which belongs to him in the conception of pure manhood, but as raising him above this, to a higher purity, to which he could in any case be brought only by the addition of something to him which does not belong to his nature as such. Human nature, as fallen, is thought of then, not as depraved and corrupted, reduced below what human nature as such ought to be, and needing restoration; but as all that man as such ought to be or can be—only functioning, as such of course, on a lower plane than by God’s supernatural gift to it, it may be elevated to. This doctrine in intention and effect honoring human nature, as it at present exists in the world—“fallen man,” as we say—and only holding out to its heights of attainment to which it may climb above itself—ended, in the hands of earnest men, in dishonoring human nature as such and transferring to it the degradation which belongs to it only as fallen. Fallen human nature having been defined as pure human nature, the characteristics which belong only to fallen human nature—which, however much they were denied, could not remain unfelt—were naturally transferred to pure human nature. The supernatural gifts and felicity held out as the prize to be striven after, threw in contrast with them the nature without them into the blackest shadow and made it contemptible. The natural life in all its manifestations came thus to be looked upon as not merely a less exalted life than might be ours, but as an essentially degraded life; and a Manichaean-like misprision of the whole natural order resulted. Men longed to be delivered not from their sin but from their selves: and only in the deliverance from self could they see deliverance from sin. They became to their own apprehension all evil—in such a sense all evil, that nothing could avail for their salvation but their complete destruction. There was nothing about them or in them which could survive in the process of salvation. They forgot, in other words, that nature itself is the work of God, and that it is the restoration, not the destruction, of nature that Christ came to accomplish—that it is not the works of God but the works of the devil that He came to destroy.78
It is up against this double background of doctrine—Pantheizing Mysticism on the one hand, Pelagianizing Romanism on the other—that the “passivity,” “indifference,” “abandonment,” “annihilation” of the Quietists were thrown. They meant precisely what they said; though naturally they succeeded but indifferently in attaining the states which they described. G. W. Leibnitz, writing to the Landgrave Ernest of Hesse,79 reveals how the matter struck a competent contemporary observer. He remarks that there is very little in Molinos’ “Spiritual Guide” which may not be found in other mystics—only Molinos has infused poison into their honey. He instances especially the doctrine of “annihilation.” “For,” says he, “the pretence of being without action, without thought, and without will—of what they call quietude, and of annihilating ourselves, so as to enter into silence and so hear God better (since He speaks within) and to receive His impressions—these things are chimeras, no rational justification of which has been given. We should have to take opium or get drunk in order to attain to such a quietude, or inactivity; which is nothing but the stupidity suitable only to brutes. The true quietude which is found in the Scriptures, in the Fathers, and in Reason, is withdrawal from the outward pleasures of sense, the better to hear the voice of God—that is to say, the inward light of eternal verities. But in order to do this we must give ourselves to meditation and devote ourselves to the learning and study of the great verities; we must consider God’s perfections and direct the will to love Him—and all this is very different indeed from that irrational inactivity of the sham Quietists, whom the Jesuits are very right in combating. No matter what is said, it is not possible for a substance to cease to act. The mind is never more active than when the outer senses are silent. This is the silence and repose which the mystic sages ask for, with no notion of the mind’s sinking itself into a deep lethargy. Tauler, Ruysbroek, Valentine Weigel, and other mystics, Catholics and Protestants alike, often speak of a resignation, or annihilation—of a ‘collectedness.’ But I suppose that they mean it in the sense I have just explained: otherwise the results would be evil, as is seen in the turn which Molinos has given to those ideas.”80 Mystics may differ from mystics in the length to which they push their fundamental contempt of nature common to them all; and this difference of degree may seem at times so great as to amount almost to a difference of kind. A man like John Tauler may stand at one extreme of the series: the Quietists stand so at the other extreme that the language which Tauler employs when expressing his reprobation of the men of the “Free Spirit,” might be read almost without change as applicable to them. “They stand exempt from all subjection, without any activity upward or downward,” he writes,81 “just as a tool is passive and waits until its master wishes to use it, for it seems to them that if they do anything then God will be hindered in His work; therefore they count themselves above all virtues. They wish to be so free that they do not think, nor praise God, nor have anything, nor know anything, nor love nor ask nor desire anything; for all that they might wish to ask they have (according to their notion). And they also think that they are poor in spirit because they are without any will of their own and have renounced all possessions. They also wish to be free of all practice of virtue, obedient to no one, whether pope, or bishop, or priest. They wish to be free of everything with which the Church has to do. They say publicly that so long as a man strives after virtues, so long is he imperfect and knows nothing of spiritual poverty, nor of this spiritual freedom.” This is the type of religion which the Quietists commended.
It is often a great temptation, in reading the writings of the Quietists, to think of the “nature” which they wish to “crucify” much more in terms of what we commonly speak of as our “sinful nature” than they themselves did; and thus to accord to sin and deliverance from sin a far greater prominence in their thought than it really occupies. Rufus M. Jones offers us a very good example of the greatness of this temptation. Fénelon, he says,82 “is one of the noblest illustrations in the seventeenth century of the impossibility of successfully solving the problem of spiritual life on the assumption that human nature—the natural man—is absolutely corrupt and depraved, and that God can triumph in the soul only when the human powers have been annihilated, the assumption that God is all only when man is nothing.” Fénelon, however, made no such assumption as “that human nature—the natural man—is absolutely corrupt and depraved.” That was Jansenist doctrine; and would have been thought of by Fénelon, as it is by one of his biographers,83 as misrepresenting God’s world “as a sinful chaos, a shaking quagmire of corruption, in the midst of which rises, stark and lonely, the storm-swept citadel of Grace.” “Fénelon,” himself, as this same historian rightly tells us,84 “was a priest who disbelieved in total depravity, and meant to make the best of human nature as it was.” “Children,” according to him, “are born without any natural trend to good or evil,”85 and any sin which they ever have is picked up by them in the course of living: it may be much, but it may be little—it may conceivably be so little as to be none at all.86 The niceties of the distinctions which divide Protestant and Romanist—and Mystic—in their several conceptions of the state of fallen man, are apparently out of the focus of Jones’s vision. When he tells us87 that Quietism “had its birth and its nurture in the absolute despair of human nature which Protestant theology and the Counter-Reformation had greatly intensified”; that “it flourished on an extreme form of the doctrine of the ruin and fall of man—an utter miserabilism of the ‘creature’ ”; that to it “the trail of the old Adam lies over all that man does or thinks,” and “the taint of the ‘creature’ spoils all that springs from this source and fountain”; so that “nothing divine, nothing that has religious value, can originate in man as man”—he has so confounded things that differ as quite to reverse the real state of the case.
What is true in it all is only that Quietism is rooted in the ordinary mystical contempt for the “creature”—we may call this, if we will, a doctrine of the “utter miserabilism of the creature”—and was sure that “nothing divine”—not quite “nothing that has religious value”—“can originate in man as man.” And we must here take “man as man” literally; not man as sinner, but man as man. And it is because this is true that it is also true, that to the Quietist the preparation for all that is spiritual, lay in “the repose of all one’s own powers, the absence of all efforts of self-direction, of all strain and striving, the annihilation of all confidence in one’s own capacities, the complete quiet of the ‘creature.’ ” This, however, only because to the Quietist all that is “spiritual” is “divine,” and cannot come, therefore, out of the “creature,” but must come out of God. We are here in the presence, in other words, of that Romanist dualism of which we have already sought to give an account, and which Jones himself describes very picturesquely as follows:88 “There are two levels or storeys to the universe. One level is the realm of ‘nature,’ which has passed through a moral catastrophe that broke its inherent connection with the divine and so left it godless and ruined. The other level is the ‘supernatural’ realm where God is throned in power and splendor as spiritual Ruler. Nothing spiritual can originate on the level of ‘nature’; it can come only from ‘yonder.’ ”
The Quietist’s preoccupation, in other words, was not with sin but with nature. The Protestant, whose preoccupation was with sin, did not look for the annihilation of nature, but for the eradication of its sin. But what the Quietist sought to be delivered from was self. It was not a purified nature he sought but a superior nature. To employ Madame Guyon’s favorite figure of the stream, what the Quietist wished was not that the muddy waters which flow through it should be cleansed but that the sea from which it came and to which it tends, should flow up into it and replace its own waters wholly, hence the appropriateness of Fénelon’s own figure:89 “As the sacristan at the end of the service snuffs out the altar candles one after another, so must grace put out our natural life, and as his extinguisher, ill-applied, leaves behind it a guttering spark that melts the wax, so will it be with us if one single spark of natural life remains.” Where Fénelon says “natural life” the Protestants say “sin”: and the difference is polar. It would be misleading in the extreme to say that one and the other identifies sin with self, self with sin. To the Protestant when sin is gone, nature remains—the whole of nature; sin is merely an accident to nature. To the Quietist it is only when “nature” is gone that “sin” is gone; what he is thinking of chiefly when he says “sin” is that limitation of “nature” which constitutes its essential character. There is no cure for this evil but passage into the All.
In drawing up an abstract of Madame Guyon’s “Spiritual Torrents,” Jones points out that she takes her start from the common mystical doctrine of the “seed.” “It is a primary idea of Madame Guyon,” he writes,90 “that there is a ‘central depth’ in the soul, which has come from God and which exhibits ‘a perpetual proclivity’ to return to Him, like the push of the stream back to its source in the sea.” All souls are at bottom emanations from God and tend to return to their fountain. Hence, “all souls would return to their native Source, if they did not encounter the obstacle of sin, and therefore the main problem of life is the healing of the wounds of sin. There is, in her opinion, no solution short of the complete annihilation of the individual self in which sin inheres, the absolute spoiling of every particular thing to which the soul clings in its sundered selfhood. The soul must die to everything which it loves for self-sake, even to its desire for states of grace, gifts of the Spirit, supernatural communications, and salvation itself.… The soul must let itself go without thinking or willing or desiring. It must even get beyond doing virtuous actions, and reach a height where the distinction of actions is annulled. But the soul loses its own powers and capacities only to receive an immense capacity, like that of the river when it reaches the sea. It no longer possesses, it is possessed. It has lost ‘the nothing’ for ‘the All.’ It is perfect with the perfection of God, rich with His riches, and it loves with His love. It is one and the same thing with its Source. The divine life becomes entirely natural to it. It moves with the divine moving, acts as He acts through it, and its interior prayer is action.” That is to say, put in simple language, the soul being by nature of the substance of God, by escaping from its individualism is reabsorbed into God. Or employing Madame Guyon’s figure, the river which has flowed out from God, on flowing back to God is washed into by the tide and filled with the salt water of the Sea: the salt water has replaced the fresh and now constitutes the river, which of course now shows the qualities of sea-water.
This is the doctrine in the terms of which Upham undertook to express what, after all is said, remained in substance the Wesleyan doctrine of Christian Perfection. Naturally he did not accomplish this feat without some difficulty, in seeking to meet which he found it necessary to modify both doctrines. He did not, however, modify them equally. The modifications he introduced into the Quietistic teaching amounted to an act of violence, by which he forcibly transposed it into quite another key. The violence thus wrought on it, rendered similar violence less necessary with respect to the Wesleyan Perfectionism which he was endeavoring to express in terms of Quietistic mysticism. There were modifications made in the Wesleyan doctrine, modifications intrinsically of importance; but in the main the result was merely the expression of the Wesleyan doctrine in the language of Quietistic mysticism.
We may illustrate what is meant by this by observing at once, without delaying on minor matters, how the culminating conception of Quietism—that of union with God—was dealt with. Of course Upham took this conception over, and endeavored to make a place for it in his scheme of salvation. He attempts to do this by simply adding to the two stages of salvation provided for by the Wesleyan doctrine—those of justification and sanctification—a third, the state of “divine union.” The adjustment did not turn out, however, to be so simple as, at first blush, it may have appeared; and Upham found himself not quite able to determine whether the third stage was really a third stage of the Christian’s progress or only the second stage in its higher reaches. This doubt was due of course to the fact that, in taking over the conception of “divine union” from the Quietists, he had profoundly modified it, and reduced it to the level of mere sanctification. That he really so conceived it is sufficiently manifest from a sentence like this:91 “It is taken for granted, that the subject of this higher experience has passed through the more common forms of religious experience; and has advanced from the incipient state of justification, and from the earlier gradations or steps of sanctification, to that state of divine union, in which he can say with a good degree of confidence, ‘I and my Father are one.’ ” Only two stages of salvation are recognized here, “the incipient state of justification,” and the completing “state of sanctification”—the latter of which, however, passes through a plurality of gradations, the culminating one of which is “divine union.”
Nevertheless Upham permitted himself to use with reference to this “divine union” all the extremities of language which he found in his mystical teachers, and in doing so to give it an apparent significance far in advance of anything which sanctification can be supposed to express. On one occasion, for example,92 he cites with approval Catharine of Genoa’s repetition of the old formula, “God was made man that He might make men God,” and declares that “it indicates the object at which every Christian ought to aim, and may hope to aim with success, viz. to experience inwardly and entirely the divine transformation, and to become, in the moral sense, and on the limited scale of humanity, ‘God manifest in the flesh.’ ” This is quite shocking language, which only familiarity with it in the mystical writers enables us to tolerate. Its tendency is to obliterate the infinite distance which separates God and man, and to efface the sense of wonder and awe with which the miracle of the incarnation is contemplated. The qualification “in the moral sense, and on the limited scale of humanity,” supplies no excuse for such reckless speech and serves only to declare its impropriety. The perversion of Scripture texts at once adduced in support, merely adds to the offense. When Paul says “I live, and yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,” he means neither that “selfishness had become love,” nor yet that “humanity had become divine,” in him. Nor does John by declaring that we experience “an entire transformation of nature” teach “the conversion of the human and fallen into the restored and the deified,” the “transformation of humanity into divinity.”
A union with God so conceived cannot reasonably be explained as merely a high stage of sanctification, and Upham accordingly very categorically declares that it is not. “Divine union,” he says,93 “is to be regarded as a state of soul different from that of mere sanctification.” “It is subsequent to it in time,” he says; and “sustains [to it] the relation of effect.” There seems to be, however, some difficulty in telling precisely what it is. It is “union,” and union implies “two or more persons or beings, who are the subjects of it.” We might conceive a perfectly holy soul by itself. We cannot conceive a united soul by itself. “Union, in the experimental sense of the term, is not merely holiness, but is the holiness of the creature united with the holiness of God.” We seize on this language with avidity, as apparently implying that after the union as before there are two, not one; that it results in a society, not a coalescence. But we are told next that, although not sanctification, it is a necessary result of sanctification. “When the soul has reached a certain point in Christian experience, the divine union, in the moral sense of the terms”—that is the only sense, we remember, that Upham admits—“is a matter, not only of choice, but in some sense a matter of necessity.”94 That is because when we become holy God must love us—for He by the very necessity of His nature loves holiness, and what is more, we must love Him—for holiness must love holiness. This then is a necessary law of the life of pure love. “So strong is this tendency, that no obstacles can resist it. It is just as certain that they [God and holy beings] will meet, and that they will become one in purpose and happiness, and one in purity and life, as that they exist.”95 Accordingly “holiness of heart implies, as a necessary consequence, union with God.”96 But have we not somehow, in the course of the discussion, lost sight of “divine union,” altogether? That is, of that “divine union” which is not sanctification, but something additional to and higher than sanctification? There is nothing of which Upham is surer than that entire sanctification and “pure love” are one and the same thing: and is not the sanctified man one in purpose and one in purity with God? Is not that his very quality as entirely sanctified?
Upham, however, is not satisfied here with generalities. He who is in union with God, is through and through like God. “The soul,” says he,97 “which is fully in the experience of divine union, will harmonize perfectly with the emotions and desires of the divine mind.” He apparently wishes us to take this declaration literally and even a little more than literally—for he ends by imposing on himself with his similitudes. As a movement in the ocean throbs in all the streams which are connected with it—we do not stop to inquire, Does it?—so, says he, “the desire of the Infinite mind sympathetically takes shape and develops itself in the finite mind.” Wherever such union exists, “there cannot, as a general thing, be a feeling or purpose in one party, without the existence of a corresponding feeling and purpose in the other.” So far does he push this declaration, that he actually draws as an inference from it the astounding representation that “when we know the thoughts of God’s true people, we know God’s thoughts; when we know what God’s true people desire, we know what God desires; when we know what the people of God are determined to do, we know what God is determined to do.” It is to advance but a step further, to declare that the movement of desire in the soul of “a child of God” is the continuation of “the distant but affiliated throbbing, of the great heart of the universe,” and justifies the sure expectation of its realization. This appears to constitute the holy man a very tolerable prophet:98 whatever he desires must come to pass. This too seems to be taken strictly: the voice of a holy man at prayer is something “not only impressive but sublime, and almost terrible”—it is “not more the voice of man than of God.” Upham neglects to tell us how we are to identify the man who has become so holy as thus to be to the observer only a mirror of God’s thoughts, desires, intentions; and thus leaves us unable to avail ourselves practically of his guidance and compelled to content ourselves just with the Scriptures as a guide to life. But what we need to observe is that in the midst of all this extremity of language he yet conceives of the holy man only as a mirror of the divine; it is only sympathetically that the desires of the divine mind take shape in his mind. There is no union of coalescence; only a union of likeness.
Beyond a union which is sanctification, Upham never really gets. At the end of his first religious book,99 he undertakes to explain to us what “the Unitive State” is. The “state of union,” he says, is distinctly a “state of mind.” Nothing like a “physical union,” a “union of essence with essence physically,” is expressed by the phrase, but only “a moral and religious union.”100 The fact is, he explains, that what we mean when we speak of “the Unitive State” is just a state “of close and ineffable conformity with the Divine Mind.” We do not become in it one with God: we only become in it like God: and the thing we become like God in is holiness. No doubt Upham even here uses phraseology which, taken naturally, might mean more than this: he says, for example, “we unite with God.” But he at once explains his meaning thus: “Holy beings recognize in each other a mutual relationship of character, and are led, by the very necessities of their nature, to seek each other in the reciprocal exercise of love.” And he explains this to mean that “nothing appears to them so exceedingly good, desirable, and lovely as holiness, whenever and wherever found.” Holy beings, in other words, tend to come together, and to act together, and to form with one another a union, a community, of holy beings; in other words, a social union. He speaks in precisely the same sense in the last of his books, the posthumously published “Absolute Religion.”101 “Man,” he here declares flatly, “must necessarily retain his individuality.” “The finite cannot be the Infinite.” But he can enlarge in the sphere of his sympathies. If we say he is merged and mixed with God, has himself become “extinct,” and “lost” in God—is “self-annihilated”—the “literal meaning” of these terms “must be somewhat modified.” It is not meant that he is “lost,” “annihilated,” in his “actual self-consciousness,” but only that he no longer has different “interests and hopes” from God; that he has ceased to have those “reflex acts which turn the mind too much upon our own joys and purposes.” We may distinguish between the “individual,” the “humanitarian,” and the “holy or divine” (the double designation is significant) man. The difference between them is real, but it is a difference only in the progressive enlargement of man’s benevolence and sympathies, until they embrace all Being. As to the “divine man”—“such a man, in the wide and resistless movement of the divine Spirit within him, not only transcends the restricted bounds of individualism, not only passes beyond the limits of kindred and country, but beyond those of humanity itself; and embraces not only the brotherhood of man but all existences, both those above him and those below him. Nothing but the boundlessness of existence, which is ever developing itself, nothing but the boundlessness of benevolence, which is ever pouring happiness into existences, nothing but the Infinite of creation and the Infinite of love, nothing but God himself in the widest and noblest sense of that glorious term, can meet and satisfy his measureless sympathies.”
How little the conception of intimate and loving conformity with God presented here is that which Upham’s Quietistic guides attached to the notion of Divine Union we may learn by simply permitting Heinrich Heppe to tell us how Madame Guyon thought of the relation of the perfected soul to God. “The state and life of the perfected soul,” in her view, says he,102 “is the most perfect simplicity of being, seeing that it is as little possible for it to distinguish itself from God as God distinguishes Himself from it. As long as the soul still possesses a perception of God, however slight, the union of the soul with God is still incomplete. When this union has reached its completeness, it ceases to be capable of perception, because then the life of God has become altogether restored to the soul, and it, having become merged in God’s being, has become wholly one with God, absolutely deified. God has then become the life-atmosphere of the soul, which belongs as essentially to it as the earthly atmosphere to the body, and which the soul perceives therefore as little as the body does the atmosphere in which it lives. The perfected soul knows of God only that He exists, and that He is exclusively its life.” Here are no two beings bound together only by the bonds of a mutual love, although so closely that the two hearts beat as one. The soul is not like God, but is God. God has ceased to be objective to it: it is not merely immersed in God as its atmosphere—that is an inadequate image. Madame Guyon says expressly that “the soul is not merely hidden in God, but has in God become God.”103 Why Upham thought it worth while to express his own widely divergent meaning in this language, appropriate only to another circle of thought—and indeed to insist that in doing so he was only bringing out the real meaning of the Quietistic writers—we can only conjecture, and need not be careful to inquire. The effect is to throw a veil of ambiguity over all his references to the subject.
Precisely the same method is followed by Upham with precisely the same effect in his discussion of that whole group of ideas which concern the mortification of “nature.” We may find an excellent example in the chapter in “The Life of Faith” entitled “On the Relation of Faith to Inward Crucifixion.” It is quite clear that it is precisely sin which Upham understands the soul to die to, in its inward crucifixion. To be inwardly crucified, says he, is “to be dead to every desire … which has not the divine sanction,” “to every appetite and every affection, which is not in accordance with the divine law.” Yet he alternatively speaks of the soul having “undergone a painful death to every worldly tie,” and sets in opposition to the “new spiritual life” just “the old sensual life.” And he attains his climax by means of this appeal to Tauler: “To be inwardly crucified, in the language of Tauler, ‘is to cease entirely from the life of self, to abandon equally what we see and what we possess, our power, our knowledge, and our affections; so that the soul in regard to any action originating in itself is without life, without action, and without power, and receives its life, its action, and its power from God alone.’ ” The governing idea of the discussion thus oscillates between deliverance from sin and deliverance from self; and after a while the two statements are brought into immediate contiguity that “holiness is something which must be desired and sought for itself,” and that holiness must by no means be sought for itself but only for God’s sake. The culmination is reached in the violent paradox that “perhaps the most decisive mark of the truly crucified man is, that he is crucified even to holiness itself.” The explanation follows at once: “that is to say, he desires God only, seeks God only, is satisfied and can be satisfied with God only, in distinction from … gifts or graces.”104 But why should God and His gifts be set in opposition to one another, as if one could be taken and the other left? Of course God is to be desired above all His gifts; but they cannot be had, or even considered, apart. The mystical analysis is pushed even further than this, however. A definition of “pure divinity,” as the object of the contemplation of those who are in a state of “pure love,” is placed on Madame Guyon’s lips, which cuts even deeper.105 This “pure divinity” is God apart from His attributes. As God is not the sum of His attributes, but the substrate of them, it is argued that we may and should contemplate Him apart from them all. To think of God’s power is not to think of God; to think of God’s wisdom is not to think of God. And so we may go through the whole list and arrive at last at the “pure divinity” which lies back of all attributes. This is, of course, mere logomachy, and is indicative only of the tendency of this type of thought to seek after undifferentiated Being for God—and for us. We are glad to have it noted that Fénelon at least knew better than to reason thus. What he says is that it is not enough to occupy ourselves merely with the attributes of God, but we should think of “God considered as the subject of his attributes.” “It is not infinite wisdom, infinite power, or infinite goodness, considered separately from the existence of whom they can be predicated, which it [the soul] loves and adores; but the God of infinite wisdom, power, and goodness.”106
The subject of “interior or spiritual solitude” is dealt with in the same confusing way.107 Seclusion of the body, we are told, is not meant; nor indeed mental seclusion. What is meant is “solitude from that in the mind, whatever it may be, which tends to disunite and dissociate it from God.” Why then, we feel bound to ask, do we speak of “solitude,” and not rather “renunciation of sin”? The answer plainly is that it is not renunciation of sin, after all, which is really in mind. Hence we read at once in a fuller description that, “in the state of interior solitude,” the soul is “in a state of solitude or separation from two things in particular.” And the average reader may feel some surprise to learn that these two things are the soul’s “own desires” and the soul’s “own thoughts.” These universal phrases receive, however, some limitation in the more precise definitions: “all desire, except such as God himself animates,” all thoughts “which are self-originated, and which tend, therefore, to dissociate it [the soul] from God.” This language is of course dictated by the opposition between “nature” and “the supernatural” which—rather than that between sin and grace—rules the thinking of the Romanist mystics; and on their lips is natural and even inevitable. In Upham it is only disturbing. We should have expected from him such phrases as, “all desire which is not conformed to the law of holiness,” “all thoughts which are not pure and ennobling.” To say that we must be separated from all but God-animated desires and God-originated thoughts is not to say that we must be freed from sin, but that we must be deprived of our own individuality. Accordingly, we are told that we are not to have any thoughts that are “our own,” and it is explained that “thoughts, which arise from the instigation of self, and not from a divine movement, are not in harmony with what God in his providential arrangements would desire and choose to suggest,” and are therefore “not only not from God, but … constitute so many disturbing influences, which separate God from the soul.” Of course the self, as it is now constituted, is corrupt; and all its thoughts and desires are corrupt. But the remedy for this dreadful state of things which the Scriptures offer is not the substitution of God for the self as the source of our thoughts and desires, but the purification of the self. The mystics, however, whom Upham is here reflecting, did not think in terms of sin and grace but in terms of self and God. It was not from sin but from the self itself from which they wished to turn; not to holiness that they wished to flee but to God. The form in which Upham presents that here is to remind us that in its spiritual solitude “the soul is not left alone with itself,” but “with God, who is Eternal Life,” a form of statement which embodies an unusually crass paradox—declaring that the soul enters into “solitude” by entering into “communion.” “Separation, in its spiritual application,” he therefore proceeds to tell us, is “not only seclusion, but transition”—transition to God, so as to be “not only with God, but in him; not only in harmony of action, but in the sacred enclosure of his being.” All roads lead to Rome; and in mystical thinking all roads lead to union.
The doctrine taught in this discussion is repeated, with perhaps some additional clearness of statement, in the chapter in “The Life of Faith,” “On the Mental State Most Suitable to the Constant Indwelling of the Holy Ghost.”108 Upham says “most suitable,” but he is soon found discussing rather what the mental state is that is most favorable to the in-dwelling of the Holy Ghost. What he is investigating is the mental state which we must assume, if we wish to induce the indwelling of the Spirit. His conclusion is, “inward meekness and quietness,” and Ruysbroek and Père Lombaz are quoted to the effect that this state of mind “gives full liberty to the Spirit of God to act in the soul.” Having thus suspended the entrance of the Holy Spirit into the soul on the soul’s prior action,109 Upham now gives himself to a description of what this “quiet spirit” is. “The quiet mind, in this sense of the terms,” says he, “has no preference, no election, which results from the impulse of its own tendencies. It is precisely in that situation, being free from any desires or purposes of its own, in which the smallest possible divine influence will give it the true direction. In other words, while it remains in this condition, it is susceptible of being moved, only as it is moved upon by the Spirit of God.” There is no question here of sin, and the overcoming of sin by grace. We hear only of the necessity of the mind’s attaining to a state of inanition; and the doctrine taught is that a state of complete inanition is the necessary precondition of the impulsion of the Spirit. A soul is most accessible to divine influence when there is no activity in it at all. Even that is not enough; for Upham now proceeds110 to argue that not only is a soul so emptied prepared for the Spirit; but the Spirit must enter it. If not physically, it is morally necessary for Him to do so. He always stands at the door and knocks; and he enters when unresisted—“whenever the natural or selfish desire, in distinction from the sanctified desire, ceases.” In these words there may lie a suggestion that after all it is sin that is in question; but the suggestion is not justified by the discussion in general. It is the emptiness of the soul, not its purity, which prepares it for the Spirit. Accordingly Upham at once returns to the broad declaration; “Our doctrine, in accordance with that of many judicious writers on christian experience, is, that desire must cease; otherwise the Holy Spirit cannot be in-dwelling; in other words, cannot take up his abode fully and permanently in the heart.” Desire—not sin—must cease. But no: it is after all sin that must cease. For in his quality as psychologist Upham now goes on to explain that “there is not any such thing, and cannot be any such thing, as an absolute extinction of desire; neither in God, men, nor angels”: “desire is a necessary and unalienable attribute of every rational being.” He uses the term, therefore, he says, in the sense, not that desire, but “the natural, the unsanctified desire has ceased.” Once more then he plays fast and loose with mystical terminology, to the great discomfort of his readers and disadvantage of his meaning.
It will already have been observed that Upham has the odd faculty of suggesting the doctrine of Quietistic inaction as an undertone of his discussion, while avoiding its open assertion. We may find another instance of this mode of writing in the chapter, “On the True Idea of Spiritual Liberty,” in the “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life.”111 The text here is taken from Francis de Sales’ definition of Christian Liberty—as “consisting in keeping the heart totally disengaged from every created thing, in order that it may follow the known will of God.” That is true or false, according as we take it. That we may follow the known will of God, it is not necessary to keep the heart totally disengaged from every created thing. It may rather be necessary to engage it very deeply with every created thing. It is for example the known will of God that we shall love our neighbor, and we may take neighbor here universally. There is a contradiction suggested between obedience to God and natural affection which is not in the least Christian. It is easy, however, so to expound this fundamental declaration as to keep its false suggestion just under the surface, so that it is always suggesting itself, but is perhaps never openly asserted. It is easy to lay the stress on the duty of “in all cases and on all occasions doing the will of God” and of subordinating all else to it; and only subtly to suggest that we are therefore better without the love of country, or the love of parents, or of children, say, because they are apt to absorb us and so interfere with doing the will of God. Soon, however, we strike an openly false antithesis like this: “A man who is really guided by his appetites, his propensities, and even by his affections,”—these are Upham’s three categories of desires—“his love of country, or any thing else other than the Spirit of God, cannot be said to be led by that divine Spirit.”112 Why not? The Spirit of God is not a fourth to this trio—appetites, propensities, affections, the Spirit of God—operating on the same plane with them, and contending with them on equal terms for the mastery of action, so that if we follow His guidance we must repel their propulsions. He works in and through them and by their propulsions accomplishes His guidance. It is by purifying them that He guides us in pure paths; by elevating them that He brings us to exalted actions. Nothing less true, accordingly, could be said than this: “In the heart of true liberty the Spirit of God rules, and rules alone; so that he who is in the possession of this liberty does nothing of his own pleasure or his own choice.” On the contrary, he in whose heart the Spirit of God rules and rules alone, does all that he does of his own pleasure and of his own choice. His liberty consists precisely in its being his pleasure and his choice to do what the Spirit of God, who has made him thus free, would have him do. The law of God has been written on his heart, and he spontaneously does its commandments. The suggestions of the succeeding phraseology are accordingly quite unscriptural: “That is to say, in all cases of voluntary action, he does nothing under the impulse and guidance of natural pleasure or natural choice alone. His liberty consists in being free from self; in being liberated from the dominion of the world; in lying quietly and submissively in the hands of God; in leaving himself, like clay in the hands of the potter, to be moulded and fashioned by the divine will.” The question is not whether we are in the hands of the Potter; or whether it is not our joy to be in the hands of this Potter; it is how this Potter proceeds in molding the clay. And we praise God that it is not by liberating us from our selves, but by liberating our selves from sin and forming them in the image of Christ, that He proceeds. What has deflected Upham’s exposition from the truth is the undertone of sympathy with that false antagonism of the natural and the supernatural which dominates the thoughts of his Romanist teachers.
Out of the same source there rises a note of asceticism which sounds through many of Upham’s discussions. We may take as an example the chapter in the “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life” on “The Excision and Crucifixion of the Natural Life.”113 Everything here depends, of course, on what is understood by “the natural life.” If a life of sin is meant, then of course it is to be excised and crucified. And Upham does, at bottom, mean just that. But he is always treading on the border line which divides this conception of the natural life from that which sees in it only a life in accordance with “pure nature.” In other words, the Romanist doctrine of the natural and the supernatural constantly intrudes into his thought. It is a hard counsel when we are bidden114 to “cut off and crucify the desire of internal consolations and comforts”—although a good meaning can be attached to it. It becomes harder when we read on: “If we would be what the Lord would have us to be, we must be willing, in the spirit of inward crucifixion, to renounce and reject all other natural desires, and all our own purposes and aims.” It is some relief to learn that only “all desires and purposes which spring from the life of nature, and not from the Spirit of God,” are meant; although the antithesis is not exact. And the relief is not lessened so far as the words go, when we read further: “In other words, it is our duty, as those who would glorify God in all things, to check every natural desire, and to delay every contemplated plan of action, until we can learn the will of God, and put ourselves under a divine guidance.” But that by “natural desires” here are meant not the desires intrinsically sinful because the expressions of the “lusts of the flesh” of the “natural man,” but just desires proper to us as men, is clear, since we are only to delay following them until we can ascertain whether they are in accordance with the will of God, which it is implied they may prove to be. And we now read further: “Every desire must so far lose its natural character as to become spiritually baptized and sanctified, before it can be acceptable to God.” What? a desire intrinsically good, which on investigation may prove to be in accordance with God’s will? Would it not be nearer the truth to say that every desire, not corrupted by sin, is already acceptable to God, in its natural character? Baptism and sanctification presuppose sin: and only sin-corrupted desires require baptism and sanctification. It is not nature but sin which needs extirpation. There floats before Upham’s mind, in other words, under the ambiguity of his use of the word “nature,” a condemnation of nature itself, and an aspiration not for a holy natural life, but for a purely supernatural life.
The resultant asceticism shows itself most plainly, however, when he begins to illustrate the doctrine which he has laid down. He illustrates it, for example, from the desire for knowledge.115 The desire for knowledge is in itself innocent; but it becomes wrong when it is so “strong as to disquiet the inward nature, and thus to perplex our intercourse with God.” It is to be “merged and lost, as it were, like all the other natural desires, in the supreme desire for God’s glory”—“a desire which evidently is not the product of nature, but which can come from the inspiration of the Holy Ghost alone.” Why the most complete possession of knowledge may not subserve God’s glory, we are not told. There is no reason for setting the “natural” desire for knowledge and the “supernatural” purpose to seek God’s glory in contradiction to one another, except an underlying feeling that nothing that is of “nature” is good. In point of fact the desire for knowledge and the desire for God’s glory lie in consciousness side by side as alike just desires: as they emerge in consciousness we know nothing of their diverse origins and cannot discriminate between them on that ground. On an earlier page,116 the warning against an excessive desire for knowledge is put on a different ground. We can easily know too much, it is there suggested, for our soul’s good, for every enlargement of our sphere of knowledge decreases our sphere of faith. “Knowledge necessarily excludes faith, in regard to the thing which is known. And we do not hesitate to say, that ignorance with faith is, in many things, better than knowledge without it.” We shall not be led astray by the prudent adjunctive of those two last words “without it”: they merely introduce an “undistributed middle.” The doctrine announced is clearly that it is better not to know too much, because faith is better than knowledge and we should leave all that we can to be merely believed and not known—and there is an unpleasant suggestion that faith flourishes better in half-light. Surely this is that voluntary humility which did not commend itself to an apostle. As with knowledge, so with friendship. Our friendships must be “crucified.” Friends may become idols: better shun the danger and not have too many of them: and among friends he includes kindred—though he does not tell us how it is best to free ourselves of superfluous kindred. Even if our friends are “eminent Christians, so much so as to bear the very image and likeness of the Savior himself,” we must beware of loving them too much. This is an atmosphere more Buddhist than Christian. In this “baptism of fire,” as he rightly calls it, he declares that the natural life dies; and that thus the way is prepared for the true resurrection and life of Christ in the soul. We are, that is to say, not so much to cleanse the soul, as to empty it, that Christ may enter in. “We must not think to go to heaven and carry our natural life with us.” That depends on what we mean by our natural life. We are to continue men in heaven, we suppose. But we are not to love the “world”? That again depends on what we mean by the “world.” Certainly we are not to delight in the world, the flesh, and the devil. But are we not to love the world which is our “neighbor”? But we are now told that it is “the corrupt life” of nature that we are to renounce. And to that we agree with all our heart. The mystical ascetic strain serves only to confuse the two senses of “nature,” and so to convey to the uninstructed mind some very dubious notions.
In some paragraphs117 of a chapter devoted to the duty of a primary, all-embracing, and eternal act of consecration, Upham endeavors to give currency to the mystical term and notion of “nihility,” and yet keep his prescriptions in harmony with his strong New England sense of human activity. We must coöperate with God, he allows: but he adds at once that “in order to realize, personally, the conditions of divine coöperation … it is necessary to be, mentally, in a state of passivity, as it is sometimes expressed,” or “more properly and truly, of strict impartiality before God.” That is to say, we must be free and ready to go God’s way, and that implies that we have none of our own: our minds are to be but mirrors reflecting His will. And we must “not only begin in our nothingness, but must be willing to remain in it.” All our coöperation is really a receiving. If we work it is only God working in us. We are not inactive; but “man is justly and efficiently active” only “when he is active in communication with God, and yet remaining deeply in his own sphere of nothingness.” “Man never acts to higher and nobler purpose than when, in the realization of his own comparative nihility, he places himself in the receptive position, and lets God work in him.” This curious mode of expressing oneself amounts to a forced employment of mystical language, with a constantly suggested reserve. What, for example, is the function of the word “comparative” inserted before “nihility” in the sentence last quoted, except to warn against taking the language in its natural sense? We cannot quite say that all that is taught here is that we must do the will of God. It is taught also that the way to do the will of God is to inhibit our own willing and let God’s willing flow into us in its stead. This is what is understood in mystical language by “the death of the will.” But when Upham comes to deal with this phrase118 he manages to reduce it, too, simply to preferring God’s will to our own. Of course the will cannot cease to exist, he says—then we should cease to be men. But we must cease to will divergently from God’s willing. And, it is added, so soon as we cease to will divergently from God’s willing, we shall find that we have begun to will accordingly with God’s willing. When the will dies, then, it is not dead; it is not even quiescent; it is only transformed. Does it not seem a pity then to speak of this transformation and transfiguration of the will as “the death of the will”? Upham himself has the grace to say:119 “When we use the phrase ‘interior annihilation,’ we of course use it in a mitigated or qualified sense”—in this sense, namely, “as meaning not an entire extinction of any principles within us, but only an extinction of certain irregularities of their action.” “In other words,” he adds, “it is not an absolute annihilation; but only the annihilation of any thing and every thing that is wrong; the annihilation of what the Scriptures call the ‘old man,’ in distinction from the ‘new man, created anew in Christ Jesus.’ ” Of the habit of using in much the same reference the term “nothingness,” he has the grace to speak120 also with mild criticism: this terminology is “convenient,” indeed, “but yet not accurate.” Nevertheless, in deference to the usage of his Quietistic guides, he uses this phraseology and permits himself to speak familiarly of “the soul that has reached the centre of its Nothing”—meaning only, he explains, that it is “absolutely and forever nothing relatively to self,” a statement not itself beyond serious criticism: let us at least say “relatively to sin.” It is pleasing to report that before the end of the volume is reached—though only just before it is reached121—the true note is for once firmly struck. Upham is speaking here of the doctrine of “some advocates of Christian perfection,” “especially,” he says, of “some pious Catholics of former times,” “that the various propensities and affections, and particularly the bodily appetites, ought to be entirely eradicated.” That is the familiar “noughting of nature.” No, says he, with unusual directness: No—“we are not required to eradicate our natural propensities and affections, but to purify them. We are not required to cease to be men, but merely to become holy men.” This is true, and it is well said. The question that forces itself constantly on the reader is, Why dally, then, with the mystical phraseology when the mystical meaning is not intended?
III. Upham’s Doctrinal Teaching
From examples such as those which we have adduced, it is sufficiently evident that in taking over the language of his Quietistic teachers, Upham took over with it only in part the doctrines of which that language was the appropriate expression. His own doctrinal system was different and it becomes desirable to ascertain in outline—or at least in its salient points—what the doctrinal system is to which he elects to give expression in this extraordinary fashion.
His primary engrossment was psychological; and it is natural that the conclusions at which he arrived in that field should underlie and be constantly attended to in the development of his religious philosophy. The one of these upon which he seems most to have prided himself was the threefold distribution of mental faculty into the intellect, the sensibilities, and the will. There appears to have been a sense in which he—or certainly his friends—looked upon this distribution as a discovery of his own. Alpheus S. Packard tells an affecting story122 of how in the early years of his work at Bowdoin, discouraged by his failure to coördinate the facts of mental action in an intelligible scheme, he was on the point of resigning his professorship and retiring beaten from his work, “when what we may term a discovery in mental science flashed upon his mind, which gave place, order and proportion to all his facts; the idea that there were in the unity of the soul three coöordinate forms of activity, the intellect, the sensibilities and the will.” Such a discovery at that date was, of course, only a rediscovery; and we can scarcely doubt that Upham was helped to it by at least obscure reminiscences of what he had read. He himself points out in his treatise on the Will123 that this threefold distribution was already to be found in Locke and Hume, in Lord Kames and Sir James Mackintosh. It was as old in continental psychology as Tefens and Mendelssohn, and had been given general currency there by Kant. Sir William Hamilton is ordinarily credited with having first clearly expounded and defined it in English, though we may understand this as meaning only that he performed much the same service for it among English-speaking writers as Kant did on the continent. Among his own New England predecessors Upham might have read it very clearly set forth as early as 1793 in Samuel West’s “Essays on Liberty and Necessity”; and he himself in 1834124 points to Asa Burton’s “Essays on Some of the First Principles of Metaphysicks, Ethicks, and Theology,” which was published in 1824, the very year he went to Bowdoin—as expounding it. It was being taught, also, contemporaneously with himself, at New Haven by N. W. Taylor.125 When he lays hold of it, however, he makes it very much his own, and founds on it his whole conception of mental action. “The general division of the Mind,” he says,126 “is into the Intellect, the Sensibilities, and the Will. The External Intellect is first brought into action; followed, in greater or less proximity of time, by the development of the Internal. The subsequent process of the mental action, when carried through in the direction of the Pathematic”—that is, the natural as distinguished from the moral—“sensibilities, is from intellections to emotions, and from emotions to desires, and from desires to acts of the will. When carried through in the direction of the Moral sensibilities, it is from intellections to emotions, (not natural but moral emotions;) and then diverging into a different track and avoiding the appropriate domain of the Desires, passes from emotions to feelings of moral obligation, and from the Obligatory feelings, like the corresponding portion of the sensibilities, to the region of the Voluntary or Volitive nature.”
Thus everything culminates in willing; and Upham teaches127 that “the will, in making up its determinations, takes immediate cognizance of only two classes of mental states, viz., Desires and Feelings of obligation.”128 What he is seeking to enunciate here is, no doubt, primarily the general manner of the will’s action; but behind that there lies an intense conviction that the will is subject to law, and is no more capable of acting apart from the law to which it is subject than any other creature of God. He closes the long section of his “Treatise on the Will,”129 devoted to validating this conviction, with these eloquent words: “Let us remember, that in this simple proposition”—that the will is in its action subject to law—“we find the golden link, which binds us to the throne of God. If my will is not subject to law, then God is not my master. And what is more, he is not only not so in fact, but it is impossible that he should be so. But on the other hand, if my will is not independent, in the sense of being beyond the reach of law, then the hand of the Almighty is upon me, and I cannot escape even if I would. The searching eye of the great Author of all things ever attends my path; and whether I love or hate, obey or rebel, I can never annul his authority, or evade his jurisdiction.”
There is, it is true, a certain faltering, scarcely in complete harmony with this eloquent assertion of the complete subjection of the will to law, in his enunciation of the general law of its action. He does not say that the will is determined by desires and feelings of obligation; he says that in its action it “takes cognizance” of them alone. What he means to say is that the will does not act except in the presence of or in view of motives: “the existence of motives in some form or other,” he roundly asserts,130 “is the indispensable condition of any action of the voluntary power.” But he wishes to avoid asserting that the will is determined by the motive, in the presence or in view of which it acts: the motive is “nothing more than the preparatory condition, circumstance, or occasion; a sort of antecedent incident to that which takes place.”131 The will stands among the motives which have released it for action, and sovereignly chooses which of them it will follow. This free choice among the motives, Upham now declares to be necessary if we are to regard man “as a free and accountable agent.” This seems to imply that if the motive really determined the volition man would not be “a free and accountable agent.” And that seems to imply that the power to act—and the habit of acting—contrary to the motive is essential to free and accountable agency. If this does not separate the action of the will from the control of the desire or moral feeling (with all the machinery of intellection, emotion, and so forth, back of it) and make its action lawless, we would like to know what it does do.
Reverting to the matter at a somewhat later point,132 Upham makes his doctrine plainer by repetition. The will never acts and cannot act in the absence of motives. “The will acts in view of motives and never acts independently of them.” The motives furnish “the condition or occasion”—“the indispensable occasion”—on which the “ability” of the will to put forth volitions “is exerted.” That is to say, the presence of the motives releases the will for action. But the motives, though they draw a circle around the will, do not determine—no one of them at least—how it will act. It acts “in view of motives”; yet “its acts are its own and are to be regarded and spoken of as its own.” It acts “in connection with motives,” and yet has “a true and substantive power in itself.” “In other words,” says Upham, coming at last really to the point, “although motives are placed round about it, and enclose it on every side, it,” that is, the will, “has the power of choosing, (or if other expressions be preferable,) of deciding, determining, or arbitrating among them. Although it is shut up within barriers, which God himself has instituted, it has a positive liberty and ability within those barriers. Although its operations are confined within a sphere of action, which is clearly and permanently marked out by its maker [God], yet within that sphere, (the proposition of the will’s subjection to law still holding good,) its acts emanate in itself.” The meaning of this is apparently that not only is the will released for action only by the presence of motives soliciting its action, but the range of its action is limited by their solicitations. It cannot act in the absence of motives and it equally cannot act otherwise than as it is solicited by one or another of them. But it has the power of selecting, among the motives presented to it, that one in accordance with which it prefers to act. Its “free action” is confined within the circle of its solicitation: but within that circle it is “free.” It must have a master, but it chooses its own master—from among the claimants for its service. It serves; but it gives willing service.
What now, we may ask, would happen if there were but one motive present at a given time to the will? Or what if a plurality of motives were present, but they acted in harmony with one another and drew all in the same direction? Obviously then we should have a determined will. The will released for action by the presence of motives and confined in its choice to the solicitations actually experienced, could choose only one way and would be a determined will. This is Upham’s own understanding of the matter and on it he founds a prescription of the proper method to become holy in life. It is to become holy in our desires, that the desires may pull in the same direction as conscience: and that, says he, will secure the holiness of the will. “The will acts,” he explains,133 “if it acts at all, in accordance either with natural and interested motives, on the one hand, or with moral motives on the other.” In a normal condition, in a man of sound mind, “the moral sense will always act right and act effectively, and will always furnish a powerful motive to the will, unless it,” that is the will, “is perplexed and weakened in its action … by the influence of unsanctified desires.” “If, therefore, the desires are sanctified, and the perplexing and disordering influence from that source is taken away, the feelings of desire and the sentiment of justice will combine their action in the same direction, and the action of the will cannot be otherwise than holy. To possess holy desires, therefore, in their various modifications, or, what is the same thing, to possess, as we sometimes express it, a holy heart, is necessarily to possess a holy will.” “Cannot be otherwise than holy”; “necessarily to possess a holy will.” Whenever then, either because there is only a single motive present to the will or because the motives present and active are in harmony with one another, the will is the subject of a unitary solicitation, we have a determined will—it cannot do otherwise than follow the only solicitation acting upon it. The condition here described is, however, it ought now to be said, always the real state of the case. The picture of the will standing in the midst of contending motives dragging it hither and yon, is an artificial and mechanical one. The conflict of appetences is carried on, not in the will, but before the will is reached. At the moment of volition there is but one motive active—the resultant of the whole. So long as the mind is divided, the will hangs suspended: it forms no volition. Upham discusses, formally, at least twice, the old question whether the will follows the strongest motive and he parries it with the old rejoinder, that there is no criterion of what is the strongest motive except the actual action of the will. The question which is the strongest motive, it is better to understand, is one of which the will has no cognizance: it settles itself in the conflict of appetences—and only the surviving motive, or better, the resultant motive, reaches the will. What determines the will is the total subjectivity at the moment of volition. That total subjectivity is a very complex thing, but its pressure on the will is unitary.
Upham does not, however, attain a solution of his difficulties. Vacillating between the claims of “law” and those of “freedom,” he is at his wit’s end. It is “freedom” that wins the victory with him. At the bottom of his heart he knows that man is determined in all his actions. Does he not tell us that “if the law of universal causation in particular be not true, there is no Deity”?134 But on the top of his mind he is sure that man is the master of his own action—nay, that he controls God’s action, too. His philosophical faith assures him that God controls man; his practical belief is that God is at man’s disposal. Does he not tell us over and over again that God can do nothing for man’s moral and spiritual welfare without man’s consent? It is “undoubtedly a correct” opinion, he declares,135 “that it is impossible for God to operate on a morally responsible being, for moral purposes, and with moral virtue resulting, without a real and voluntary consent.” “Man is a moral being,” he says again,136 “endued with the power of free choice; and … the divine presence cannot exist in him, as a principle of life, except with his own consent.” “God cannot take up his abode in the heart,” he repeats with more elaboration,137 “he cannot become the God and ruler of the heart, without the consent of the heart. This is all he wants, and where this consent (an act which has the peculiarity of sustaining moral responsibility without involving moral merit,) is not given, the poor rebellious one is left, left to himself, left of God.” The parenthesis thrown in here is a vain attempt to escape the imputation of teaching salvation by works. To withhold consent brings moral ruin, expressed here in terms of negative reprobation. Is it not wrong? And, it being wrong, to give consent, is that not a right act? And does not a right act “involve moral merit”? If God’s entrance into the soul depends as its condition on the soul’s consent, how can it be said that this consent—given on the soul’s own motion and in its own strength—is not a meritorious act? What is mainly to be observed here, however, is the strength of the assertion of the helplessness of God over against the rebellious sinner. He cannot save him, but must just leave him to perish.
This note is struck again in Upham’s latest book.138 There it is asserted that although God’s love “is absolute and unchangeable,” “freedom also, as an attribute of moral beings, is absolute and unchangeable,” and cannot be violated. “God himself,” we read, “who in being the absolute truth, can never fail to respect the absolute truth, and139 will never coerce a sinner into heaven; for that would only be placing him in a deeper Hell. This would be a violation of fixed and unchangeable truths and relations. It would be an impossibility.” Here is a flat assertion that it is impossible for God to determine human action without violating human freedom; and to give color to this absurd assertion, the more absurd assertion still is made that to save a sinner, without waiting for his “consent” to be saved, is coercion, and leaves him in his rebellious mind: that is to say, he is supposed to be saved without being saved.140
There is a chapter in the “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life”141 which deals in general with, if we may so express it, the locality of religious experience. In the course of it we may learn something more of Upham’s view of the interrelation of the human faculties. He begins, of course, with his threefold division of Intellect, Sensibility, and Will; and with his subdivision of the Sensibilities into Emotions and Desires—a subdivision so marked as to raise the question whether the Emotions and Desires—are not really conceived as major divisions. And he repeats here of course his view that normal mental action runs through these four states in the order in which they are enumerated. It begins with an act of intellect, which quickens emotions into activity, through which the desires are moved, and through them in turn the will. This is his constant representation. The point to be observed at present is that it is supposed that this normal course of action may interrupt itself at any point—so that the intellect may be brought into action without arousing any emotion, or emotion may be aroused without setting desire into action, or desire may burn strongly without moving the will. This notion results, of course, from a mechanical conception of mental action, the essential unity of which, as of the acting mind, is insufficiently apprehended. On the ground of this notion, however, we are told that if the intellect alone is moved by religious truth, there is no religion in that. No clearness of perception of religious realities, no amount of religious knowledge acquired and intellectually realized, is in any true sense religious—if it stops there. Even if the emotional nature responds to the new perception of religious realities, and is roused to the greatest conceivable heights of religious feeling, there is no religion, in the true sense, in that either—if it stops there. It is not until those modifications of the sensibilities which are called affections, and through them the will, are reached that anything which may properly be called religion is produced. “Any religion, or rather pretence of religion, which is not powerful enough to penetrate into this region of the mind, and to bring the affections and will into subjection to God, is in vain. It is an important fact, and as melancholy as it is true, that a person may be spiritually enlightened and have new views on the subject of religion, and that he may also have very raised and joyful emotions, and yet may be a slave to his natural desires.”142 Thus the mind is split into two halves—on the one side the intellect and emotions, on the other the affections and the will: and it is supposed that these two halves can stand contradictorily over against one another—the intellect and emotions be teeming with religious knowledge and thrilling with religious feeling, and at the same time the desires and will be lying cold and unmoved, dead in sin. This representation is the more remarkable that what Upham is employed in depicting is not merely the movements of the mind under nature but distinctively under grace. What is under discussion is the saving operations of the Holy Spirit. “We will suppose,” he says,143 “the case of a person who is the subject of a divine operation. Under the influence of this inward operation, he experiences, to a considerable extent, new views of his own situation, of his need of a Savior, and of the restoration of his soul to God in spiritual union. The operation which has been experienced, so far, is purely intellectual.… But in addition to this, we will suppose that an effect, and perhaps a very decided effect, has been experienced in the emotive part, which in its action is subsequent to that of the intellect.… The perception of new truth … gives him happiness; and the perception of its relation to his salvation gives him still more happiness.… His mouth is filled with praise. And others praise the Lord on his account.” Nevertheless, he has no religion, and is not the subject of any “religious experience.”
The faults of this representation are of two kinds—psychological and religious. The human soul is a unit and cannot be divided thus into water-tight compartments. As the emotions cannot be aroused except through a prior movement of the intellect, so every movement of the intellect must be felt in the emotional nature—and through it, in those affections which Upham calls desires and in the will. New views of truth, if genuine, cannot fail to be felt to the extreme verge of human action. Above all it is inconceivable that the intellect can be illuminated by the Holy Spirit and the feelings, appropriate to the new view of truth imparted, aroused, with no effect at all upon “the affections and the will.” The fundamental fault of Upham’s representation lies, however, in his complete failure to recognize any creative operation of the Holy Spirit on the heart. He is endeavoring to account for the difference between the growth of the seed which falls on the rocky ground and of that which falls on the good ground—without recognizing any difference in the soil. The reason why some who hear the word go on to fruit-bearing, and others do not, he says, is that the natural process of growth is arrested in midcourse in the one case and not in the other. The reason why it does it, is—that it does it. The truth of course is that whenever true religion starts in the intellect it does not end until it reaches the will. We may say, if we choose, that whenever the Spirit enlightens the intellect and arouses the emotions, He will quicken the affections and move the will. That is true and may be enough to say; but it is not all nor even the most fundamental thing that is true. We must add that whenever true religion begins in the intellect it is because the Spirit of God has moved creatively over the soul and prepared it in all its departments of activity to respond to His Word. The account of the difference of “temporary faith” and “saving faith” is that in the one case there has never been any true religion at all, and in the other there has—because in the one case the soul has not been prepared by the Holy Spirit for the acceptance of the seed and in the other it has.
Let us observe meanwhile that the effect (it is really the cause) of Upham’s representation, is to throw all religion into the affections and will; ultimately into what we would call the voluntary activities of the soul. This too is a result of his theological attitude, which in this matter has affected his psychological construction. He is operating here with one of the basic contentions of the “New Divinity,” and what is meant ultimately is that he thinks in terms of the will as the sole source of all ethical and religious character. This involves, of course, the denial of native depravity, and forms thus one of the points of sympathy between him and his Romanist mentors, with their doctrine of pura naturalia. It is upon this element of his teaching that his pupil, young Henry Boynton Smith, very naturally concentrates his criticism in the estimate of his psychological system which he wrote, at Upham’s request, for The Literary and Theological Review of December, 1837.144 Upham goes wrong, he points out, on the question of the morality of instincts, appetites, propensities, defending the view “that it is the will which gives them a moral character; that we are accountable for them only as far as they are voluntary; that in their native, instinctive action, they are innocent.” In opposition Smith rightly declares that “the affections are a fount of moral character, separate altogether from deliberate volition,” and appeals in support to the older New England tradition. In point of fact, so far is the will from giving character to the impulses, emotions, affections, it is they which give character to the will. An interesting inquiry might be started whether in Upham’s view the deliverances of conscience in the sense of the moral sense, the organ of moral judgments, which appear in his system as motives to the action of the will, not products of it, have any moral character. The time may come in the development of the Christian life at any rate, he teaches,145 when conscience passes into the background, because no longer needed: we are good without its aid. “The soul which is given to God without reserve,” he teaches, has passed beyond the need, of course, of the reproofs of conscience. It is “clothed with innocence,” and there is therefore now no condemnation for it. Madame Guyon accordingly spoke of having “lost her conscience.” She had not done that: she had only transcended the need of the admonitions and reproofs of conscience, and now called out only its approving judgments. It is to be recognized, however, that it is not merely the reproofs of conscience, but its compulsory or constraining action, that holy people are said to pass beyond the need of. They do all that is right without any instigation from it, under the guidance of holy love. “It would be a work of supererogation to drive a soul which goes without driving.” “Conscience itself becomes the companion and playmate of love, and hides itself in its bosom. Shielded by innocence, we come to God without fear”—which seems to say that our dependence is in our own, not Christ’s righteousness. This appears to be as near as may be a doctrine of the abolition of conscience in the “perfect” state: and as conscience is the organ of our morality, the abolition of morality. We get beyond the categories of right and wrong. True, it is allowed that conscience persists, in order to applaud. It no longer directs—not even love: it waits on love’s acts to approve them. In Upham’s imaginative picture of what men are when they are perfect, he says they are emancipated (among other things) from conscience. Why just that? Why not say they are emancipated to the perfect fulfillment of all the indications of a perfectly instructed conscience?
Love, it is clear, is the highest category of Upham’s thought. It is in his usage a synonym of God. He deals much more sanely with the phrase, “God is love,” than most teachers of his type.146 But he seemingly fancies that he is speaking intelligibly when he says that love is “the life of God,” “that elementary, self-moving and self-instigating principle in God which constitutes” His life:147 that it “makes or constitutes God”; and is “the essential and eternal life of the divine existence, and in fact constitutes that existence.”148 In point of fact no clear meaning can be attached to such words: these are things which love, which is a quality of being or a mode of action of a being, cannot be. What is true, Upham himself tells us149 when he defines the phrase “God is love by essence,” as meaning that “love is forever and unchangeably essential to his existence as God.” God would not be what we call God without it. It is inevitable, however, from his general point of view that he should exalt love above all those other essential attributes, without which equally God would not be what we call God; and should make it the sole principle of the divine action. It was the principle, for example, of creation. We are told that love was the motive and the production of happiness the purpose of God in creation150—from which we perceive that Upham adopts that hedonistic theory of ethics prevalent in the New England of his day,151 according to which happiness is the summum bonum and general benevolence, or the love of being in general, the principle of all virtue. Man is not only like other creatures the product of God’s love, but, having been created in the image of God, like God a “love being”152—though this certainly cannot mean, on man’s part, that love is the very substance out of which he is constituted. The image of God in man, we are told, does not consist in external form, for God has no form. Nor does it consist in intellect—“for the intellect of God embraces all things, while man can know only a part”—surely a suicidal remark, since it can scarcely be meant that man’s love equals God’s. Nevertheless, it is boldly said at once that God’s image in man does consist “in that which constitutes, more than anything else”—this qualifying phrase seems to allow something else than love to be of the divine nature—“the element, the life, of the divine nature, namely, holy love.” As specifically a “love-being,” man as he came from his Maker’s hands, loved instinctively, immediately and universally. Love “flowed out” from him “in all directions, like a living stream” and suffused all his environment. It almost seems as if it were conceived as a necessary mode of action, like a natural force. “Spontaneous in its action,” we are told, “acting because it had a principle of movement in itself, it did not wait for the slow deductions of reason.” Did not reason, then, act spontaneously—and indeed also “instinctively, immediately and universally”—in the protoplasts as truly as love? We suppose in any case that the action of love did wait, even in the protoplasts, for the apprehension of an object, and for the perception of it as an appropriate object for this affection. We should be loath to conceive of love, even in them, as radiating from man as a center like light, say, from the sun, and playing indifferently on everything that came within its reach. Even in the protoplasts love, we presume, should be conceived as the action of an intelligent and moral being.
This exaggeration apart, however, there is a great deal that is just in Upham’s description of man, on the side of his affectional nature, as he came from his Maker’s hand. We agree that man came from his Maker’s hand “a love being,” spontaneously loving every sentient thing brought to his apprehension. Of course, loving God most of all—Upham says, because the amount of existence or being in God is greater than in any other being. “The law of love’s movement, all other things being equal, is the amount of being, or existence in the object beloved.”153 We draw back from this quantitative mode of conceiving the matter, which is part of the mechanical representation by which love is supposed to act like a natural force—say “directly as the mass and inversely as the square of the distance.” “Other things” are not equal: they never are. God is loved most of all because He is the most worthy of all beings to be loved. Directed to Him, the love of benevolence, which in Upham’s scheme is the sum of all virtues, seems to pass into the love of complacency. We desire for Him nothing that He has not or is not: we would have Him be nothing but what He is: desire turned to Him becomes pure delight. And Upham describes the love of the protoplasts for the creature also much in terms of complacency, as if the creature in the world’s prime scarcely stood in need of anything for the supply of which the love of benevolence could be called out. Man, he tells us,154 “saw all things in the possession of life and beauty, and he rejoiced in all things, because all things had God in them. He loved the tree and the flower, which reflected the divine wisdom and goodness. But far more did he delight in the happiness of everything which had a sentient existence.… He loved them; and he gave them their names.… His simple and pure heart flowed out” to them. It is a beautiful picture. And it is Upham’s picture not only of the paradise that has been lost but of the paradise that shall be regained when once more “pure love” becomes the principle of our existence.
The sin-cursed desert lies between. As we traverse its burning sands one of our chief consolations is the providence of God. For in His providence we meet with God. “God himself,” says Upham finely,155 “is hidden in the bosom of every event.” “So that we can truly say,” he adds, “that no event in his providence happens, without bringing God with it, and without laying his hand upon us.” It is here only—in His providences—besides the heart, that God is to be found. Neither in clouds nor in sunsets, neither in our seasons of retirement nor in our devotion, can He be found: only in these two “places”—the heart and His providence.156 Upham is accordingly accustomed to insist on the presence of God in all happenings—except sin. He tells us, for instance,157 that “every thing which occurs, with the exception of sin, takes place, and yet without infringing on moral liberty, in the divinely appointed order and arrangement of things; and is an expression, within its own appropriate limits, of the divine will.” The conclusion he draws is that therefore “in its relations to ourselves personally and individually,” whatever occurs “is precisely that condition of things which is best suited to try and to benefit our own state.” Thus God is essentially present to us in every occurrence. “Faith identifies every thing with God’s superintendence, and makes every thing, so far as it is capable of being so, an expression of his will, with the exception already mentioned, viz., of sin. And even in regard to this, faith proclaims the important doctrine that sin has, and ever shall have, its limits; and that Satan, and those who follow him, can go no further than they are permitted to go.” There are curious—we had almost said amusing—reserves inserted here and there in this statement, as in others like it:158 reserves which, if pressed, might go far toward eviscerating it. Sin is to be excepted from the control of God’s providence, though limited by it: moral liberty is not to be infringed by it; there are limits to the expression of the divine will in it. Despite this display of timidity in giving expression to the whole truth, the statement shows clearly as its main matter, that Upham believed in the universal providence of God and had the courage to say so. Calvin says it better; but it is good to have it said at all, and that directly in the interests of holy living.
From this doctrine of universal providence it is very easy to draw the conclusion that submission to providence is not only a duty, but a privilege and a joy. If providence is the expressed will of God and we are His children, what other can we do than rejoice in it? All that God does is glorious: let us but observe and applaud. Upham, however, confuses the duties of submission to providence and of ordering our lives by providence, and while not neglecting to insist on the one, insists equally and very distressingly on the other. “Harmony with Providence,” says he,159 “is union with God.” “The man who lives in conformity with Providence necessarily lives in conformity with God.” How, we ask in perplexity, can a man do anything else than live in conformity with providence? In this particular statement Upham may be only expressing himself ill and may intend only to dissuade us from that temper which, in dissatisfaction with our lot in life, or with the events which befall us, complains of God’s providential arrangements. It would be wise in that case, if, instead of saying that the natural man is out of harmony with God’s providence, while to the truly holy man God’s providences are dear, because he conforms to the law of providence—we should say simply that the circumstances of life come from our Father’s hands and should be received as such. But it is not always possible to escape from the confusing implication of Upham’s prescriptions thus. “If the law of Providence were strictly fulfilled,” he remarks in one place,160 “it is obvious that order would at once exist throughout the world.” How can the law of providence—which is not the preceptive but the decretive will of God—fail to be strictly fulfilled? Upham, however, proves to have a special use of the phrase. “It should be remembered,” he says,161 “that Providence is one thing; the law of Providence is another.” “Providence is God’s arrangement of things and events in the world, including his constant supervision. The law of Providence, in distinction from Providence in itself considered, is the rule of action, which is contained in, and which is developed from, this providential arrangement.” He is actually recommending us to derive our rule of life from an observation of God’s providential government of the world! As if we could sweep our eye over the whole course of things from the beginning to the end! It is the universal course of things which constitutes the matter to be observed, and our rule of life is to be in conformity to this universal course of things. How this differs from the Stoic maxim of living according to nature, it is difficult to see: “some call it evolution, others call it God.” If, on the other hand, we limit the providence to which we attend to a few outstanding happenings which appear to us divine interpositions, the law of life which we derive from them runs great risk of betraying us into fanaticism. We may and must commit ourselves to the divine providence: it is a joy to be in our Father’s hands. We cannot deduce from observed providences a law of life: if for no other reason than that the observation is fatally defective. It is the written Word and it alone—the preceptive, not the decretive will of God—in which our divinely given rule of life is to be found: that and that law of nature, written on the heart, conscience. When we say, in our current speech, that we order our lives by the indications of providence, we mean something very different from that ordering them by a rule of life deduced from the observed providential order which Upham vainly commends. We mean that we adjust our lives to emerging events, and seek to do our obvious and nearest duty in every situation which successively confronts us. Stated in secular language that is to say that we order our lives in accordance with circumstances; from the religious point of view, the circumstances are recognized as ordered by God and hence we say we are led by providence. But the rule of life in these circumstances is not derived from an induction from them—and therefore not from providence—but from the law of God, written whether in His revealed Word or on the fleshly tablets of our hearts.
Great as is the perversion of the precious truth that God meets us in His providence, which is made by Upham’s proposed erection of the observed order of providence into our rule of life, there is an even greater perversion which was also taught him by his Quietistic mentors. Under color of the high motive of—not submitting to providence merely—but gladly embracing it, because the hand of God is in everything and all that occurs is therefore right, Madame Guyon, and Upham following her, inculcate a very unwholesome indifference with respect to life and all that occurs in the process of living, as if it were wrong to seek to better anything. Madame Guyon, for example, boasts that her soul is entirely independent of every thing which is not God.162 It would be content, she says, if it were alone in the world, since it does not find its happiness in any earthly attachments. Every desire has been mortified and no wishes survive. This is merely inhuman. God has made us social beings; he does not desire us to be indifferent to our fellows. We do not require to break all earthly attachments that we may be attached to Him. There is revealed in this attitude of indifference attachments not so much to God as to ourselves. It is the self-centered attitude by way of eminence. Of this aspect of it also a word should be spoken in this connection. Because God is in all that occurs, each thing that exists may be taken in turn as a center from which we may look out upon the all-embracing providence of God, and in relation to which we may contemplate all that occurs. It is not in itself wrong, therefore, that each individual soul should look upon all that occurs to it, and to all that circle of existence which closely surrounds it, as part of God’s providential dealing with itself, and should utilize it from that point of sight. Nevertheless, some very curious—some very undesirable—results are apt to grow out of this entirely right and useful habit, when it is onesidedly indulged. It may, often does, end in erecting our individual self into something very like the focus of the universe and conceiving of everything and everybody in the circumference of the circle thrown out from ourselves, as a center, as existing for us alone. A death of someone in our circle, for example, comes to be viewed only in its relation to our own person, and is thought of as if it were brought about by the Divine Governor of the world solely for its effect upon us. We read, for instance, in Upham’s “The Life of Madame Guyon,”163 of the deaths of her father and daughter, and from all that appears from the expressions of feeling quoted from Madame Guyon, or from Upham’s comments, they seem to have been looked upon by her and to be recommended to our consideration by him, so prevailingly from the point of view of her own disciplining, as to suggest that they were brought about by God for no other purpose than to benefit her. “He who gives himself to God,” writes Upham, “to experience under his hand the transformations of sanctifying grace, must be willing to give up all objects, however dear they may be, which he does not hold in strict subordination to the claims of divine love, and which he does not love in and for God alone. The sanctification of the heart, in the strict and full sense of the term, is inconsistent with a divided and wandering affection. A misplaced love, whether it be wrong in its degree or its object, is as really, though apparently not as odiously, sinful, as a misplaced hatred.” Madame Guyon’s freedom of soul, it seems, was liable to be contracted and shackled by domestic affections, which were but partially sanctified. So God took from her, her father and her daughter that she might learn to love only Him and in Him. It would seem to be quite dangerous to live within the reach of the as yet only partially sanctified affections of a saint. In such a position we are liable to be “removed” at any time, for the benefit of his growing holiness. Contact with him appears almost as perilous as contact with a live wire. Madame Guyon’s comments on the death of her daughter are: “What shall I say,—she died by the hands of Him, who was pleased to strip me of all.” There is no reason for refusing to see this relation of the child’s death, or for refusing to profit by the sense that it is a Father’s hand here too that is dealing with us, fitting us for the Sanctuary above. Only—it is distinctly unpleasant to see the mother apparently thinking in this strain alone, or predominantly. Everything is looked at from the point of view of its relation to a morbid preoccupation with self. And this is the characteristic mental attitude of the mystic—a truly morbid preoccupation with his own subjective states and experiences. He looks within to find God, he says: it is with difficulty, apparently, that he finds anything there but himself.
In the opening pages of “A Treatise on Divine Union,”164 Upham gives a brief summary of his dogmatic system. It proves to be, as expressed there, pure Semi-Pelagianism. Man is “unable to help himself,” but is “able nevertheless to utter the cry of his helplessness and anguish,” and thus to obtain the help of God. Cassian could not have expressed his doctrine better: men need grace, but not prevenient grace. They cannot restore themselves, says Upham, repeating Cassian’s doctrine, but they can turn to God for the needed aid. It lies in our own choice whether we will live with God or not: though it is not in our power to live with God. We must go to God of our own free-will; and then, “God, acting upon the basis of man’s free consent, becomes the life of the soul.”165 We must open “our hearts to the free and full entrance of his grace,” and then, “he will become the true operator in the soul, and will give origin to all spiritual good.”166 “It is then,” he says precisely to the point, “that God works in the soul.” Man must “exercise voluntary acquiescence in and acceptance of the divine operation”; but it is this divine operation which works salvation. Not indeed even this apart from man’s activities: man does not become quiescent after his first act of “consent”: let us call it coöperation rather: he ceases only from “independent action.” Now “God becomes the Giver, and man the happy recipient.” “We coöperate … with God in the work of … redemption,” he explains more fully in another place,167 “when we submit to this divine operation without reluctance”; or168 man “unites with God in his own restoration, when he lets the great Master of the mind work upon him.” “Lets.” This of course subordinates God to man in the work of salvation; and as murder will out, so this comes out plainly in a statement like this:169 “God acts in the holy man in connection with, and perhaps we should say, in subordination to, his own choice.”
Thus Upham suspends the whole process of salvation in its inception and in all its stages alike, on our voluntary action. He is very much afraid of an “enforced” salvation, “against men’s consent.” “Grace, and compulsion in the administration of it,” he declares,170 “are ideas which negative each other.” Grace “implies a suitable subject for its reception,” and it is “impossible, in the nature of things, to bestow” it not only “upon a being, that has no intelligence to realize its value,” but also upon one who has “no power of reception or rejection”171—a proposition which is not obvious, unless “grace” be arbitrarily defined as just “divine influence.” In the statement we have just quoted from him, it is apparently more than this. In others, however, he reduces it to this. In one passage, for instance, dealing with it under this designation,172 he very naturally declares that neither “the application of material force,” nor of “anything … analogous to material force” is implied in it. That “would obviously be inconsistent with the nature of mind.” “So far as we can perceive,” he now adds positively, “such divine influence is, and can be, only the application of that mental force which is lodged in motives.” “God influences by setting motives before us.” Then he quite superfluously remarks: “God, in operating upon man by means of motives, never violates his freedom.” Upham places himself here, we perceive, squarely on the platform of the “New Divinity,” the maxim of which (as enunciated by Lyman Beecher, for instance) was crisply expressed in the words: “God governs men by motives, not by force.” In doing so, he brings the whole body of his mystical teachings and especially the more Quietistic ones among them, under some obscuration. It is more immediately important, however, here to note that he equally embarrasses the doctrine of salvation which we have just seen him teaching. He is no longer a Semi-Pelagian. He has become a Pelagian. If God only persuades, something more than “consent” on man’s part seems to be requisite to the working of effects.
Other language which he employs in the same relation incurs the same condemnation. There is the term “renunciation” for instance. Both justification and sanctification, he tells us, involve, on our part, complete “renunciation.” We must “be willing to be saved, both from the guilt of the past and from present sin, by God’s grace” alone. Is God’s grace conceived here as merely suasive? What is being emphasized is, it is true, that we must be willing. God respects our freedom and unless by our own free act we put ourselves in His hands, He will not save us. We must decide—but is it not implied that it is He that does the work? We remember, however, the importance which Upham attaches to our “consent” being conceived not as mere consenting, but as involving actual activities coöperative with God’s saving operation. Even this, however, becomes an inadequate form of statement, when all the actual work proves to be done by us. On one occasion,173 when defining the nature of this wonderful “consent” by which we make ourselves to differ, after telling us broadly that it is not a cessation of action, or the absence of action, but “a real or positive act on the part of the creature,” he adds more specifically, that it is “an act of harmonious concurrence and coöperation with the divine act.” Does it require nothing more than concurrence with an act of persuasion—or even cooperation with an act of persuasion—to recover a lost soul? Where the divine efficiency is reduced to persuasion, and the human to coöperation with this persuasion, there seems to be no power left to work salvation. We no longer have the alternatives, grace and free-will to choose between: each is in turn eliminated. We cannot trust in grace; it is mere persuasion. We cannot trust to free-will; it merely gives consent.
Of course it is the will that gets the victory. Even in his Semi-Pelagian mood, as we have just noted—where God’s grace is conceived as the operating cause of salvation—the soul is represented as capable of performing and as actually performing an act of harmonious concurrence and coöperation with the divine act, even before God takes charge of the soul. What need has such a soul of salvation? If it can perform one such act, it can perform another. Or many others. Or an unbroken series of others. And are we not told that “salvation is nothing else, and can be nothing else, than harmony with God”? An unbroken series of acts of harmonious concurrence with God’s acts is already salvation. What need of salvation has a soul already capable of performing and actually performing these acts? A soul must save itself—bring itself into harmony with God—in order that it may be saved by God, be brought into harmony with God! For, we are told, what characterizes a saved soul is the constant repetition of this “consentient and concurrent act,” by which it freely enters into salvation.
We make ourselves a new heart immediately and at once by a volition, says Finney, and this volition is just as easy to make as any other volition—say the volition to raise our arm. No, says Upham, we make ourselves a new heart by our faith: it is faith that makes a new heart. And he seems to mean this of the direct action of faith. Of the two, Upham certainly has the advantage. “The faith of the heart, therefore,” he says,174 “is that faith, which makes a new heart; in other words, which inspires new affections; such affections, as are conformable to God’s law and will.” A body of new affections may, no doubt, be spoken of collectively as a new heart. And, no doubt, a strong faith (which is itself an affection) dropped into the seething caldron of this heart, may cause a new crystallization of the affections and so tend to make us a “new heart.” What kind of a heart this “new heart” will be can scarcely be predicted so long as we operate with the abstract notion of “faith.” In itself, without consideration of its object (no doubt such an abstraction has no existence) “faith” cannot make a “new heart.” There is no faith which is not faith in something; and it is the nature of this something which gives its character to any faith which really exists; and to the “new heart” which results from its entrance into it. After all, then, it is not faith but the object on which faith rests which gives us our “new heart.” Faith in God; faith in some great and good man; faith in ourselves; faith in a bad cause: the new hearts which faith can make differ among themselves toto cœlo. Upham, of course, has, at the back of his mind, the idea of faith in God, when he says that faith gives us a new heart. Faith in what God? Faith in the tribal God of the savage? Faith in the distant God of the Deist? Or faith in the God who in Christ is reconciling the world unto Himself? The new heart that we get will depend on the God on whom our faith rests. Two things further need be said. The former is this: it is not faith only which will give us a new heart. Any alteration in any affection will no doubt produce a readjustment of our affections and so give us to that extent a “new heart.” Faith has no monoply in this power to make a “new heart.” The other is this: where shall we get this faith that is to make us a new heart? No doubt, if we will be satisfied with a very little change in our heart—and a very little change will make so far a “new heart”—we may manage to produce the requisite faith ourselves. But if we want a really new heart? Undoubtedly a change from unbelief to real, hearty faith in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, will profoundly transform—say, rather transfigure—the whole affectional life. But where shall we get this real and hearty faith in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? Certainly it cannot be the spontaneous product of a heart at enmity with God, filled with the mingled dread and hatred of God of the conscious criminal in the presence of his just Judge. Can such a heart trust itself, trust itself wholly and without reserve, trust itself with full confidence that we shall receive from Him nothing but good, to God? Clearly, we shall need the “new heart” before we can conceive the faith that is to make us this new heart. Faith, this faith, cannot come into existence except as the product of the new heart: the heart it enters is already the new heart. We may say that it is the first issue of the new heart and that it is through it that the reconstruction and realignment and rearrangement of the other affections are accomplished. It may be the gathering point about which they all assemble; and in this sense it may be precisely faith which makes us a new heart. But in any case, the new heart itself—faith does not make it but presupposes it.
In a remarkable chapter in his posthumous volume, “Absolute Religion,”175 Upham gives us in brief his whole philosophy of human existence, under the categories of creation and regeneration—the first and second births. God, we are told, “is the beginning or source of things,” and therefore “the first or natural birth of man is and must be from the Infinite to the finite.” That is man’s descent into individuality; an individuality in which, by necessity of nature he is “self-centered,” and in which also, as we learn later, he becomes “by a moral necessity” sinful, “moral evil” being “necessarily incidental to the facts which are involved in the constitution of man’s nature.”176 The second birth, now, “is a birth back from the finite to the Infinite.” This is man’s ascent back to his source; but, we are told, without loss of his personality. “In the first birth God may be said to make or constitute the finite, giving it the freedom and independence of a personal existence; and yet without spiritually incarnating Himself in it as an indwelling principle of that life.… In the second birth, the finite in the exercise of its moral freedom, which is an essential element in its personality, has accepted God in the central intimacy of its nature as its living and governing principle.” Thus we learn that God brings about the first birth, man the second. The reason why it must be man who produces the second birth is “the inviolability” of man’s freedom, which makes God’s “spiritually incarnating Himself in it” impossible, “without a consenting action on the part of the creature.” When, however, in its own freedom the creature accepts God in the central intimacy of its nature, “the human or ‘earthy,’ as the Scriptures call it, without ceasing to be human or earthy, but by renouncing its own centre as the source of life, and taking God as its centre, does by its own choice and in a true and high sense become divine.” From the beginning God intended this issue: that was the plan. But it could not be reached otherwise than through this development—a development which began on the thrusting of man by God down into the finite—involving sin—and the rising of man up by his own free-will into the infinite, into unity “with the universal or divine personal life.” Sin, which is not mentioned at all in the primary exposition of man’s fundamental history, appears in this construction only as the incidental and inevitable result of man’s finiteness, to be left behind, of course, when he attained the infinite, eliminated as incidentally as it arose. In essence, salvation is then our deliverance not from sin, but from the finite, not the attainment of holiness, but the achievement of the divine.
In dealing with the topic of justification and sanctification Upham has in the first instance two objects in view. He wishes to make it clear that sanctification is the end to which justification is the means. This is in order that he may preserve the general contention of the perfectionists that deliverance from the power of sin is more important than deliverance from its guilt.177 But he wishes equally to make it clear that sanctification is not an inevitable result of justification; as he phrases it in one passage,178 that “the work of sanctification” is not “absolutely and necessarily involved in that of justification.” This is in order that he may preserve the specific contention of the perfectionists that sanctification is obtained by a separate and independent act of faith. Justification exists only for sanctification, but it only prepares the way for it, and does not itself involve it. It cannot be said, however, that Upham succeeds in preserving formal consistency in his many discussions of their relations. That these relations are not merely those of antecedence and subsequence he distinctly declares;179 he represents sanctification as “starting on the basis180 of justification” though apparently not in the full force of this language;181 and he even speaks of sanctification being the evidence of justification.182 There is something more than even this apparently implied in a statement like the following, which links justification and sanctification so intimately together as hardly to escape making them imply one another.183 “It is important to remember that there are two offers involved in that great work, which Christ came to accomplish;—the one is, forgiveness for the past, and the other is, a new life in God for the future. A new life in God, which implies entire reconciliation with God as its basis, could not be offered to man, until the penalty of the old transgression was remitted. And, on the other hand, the remission of the penalty of the past would be wholly unavailing, without the permanent restoration of a divine and living principle in man’s spiritual part.” We should be scarcely justified in insisting on the reiterated reference of forgiveness here to “past” sins and the valuelessness of their forgiveness apart from permanent spiritual restoration, as intended to assert that no remedy exists for sins committed after justification, or that no sins are committed after justification. One or the other of these assertions is, it is true, required to introduce perfect consistency into the statement, but all that seems to be intended is to declare that justification and sanctification are so interrelated that one implies the other. They have at any rate two things of great importance in common, which bind them together at least as the two indispensable saving operations. They are both supernatural operations: in both we ultimately receive everything from God. And in both, we receive everything through the same channel, viz. “by faith.”184
We do not receive everything in both, however, “by faith” in precisely the same way, although in both instances faith may fairly be called the procuring cause. Justification is summed up in pardon or forgiveness, and from that point of view an attempt is made to show that there can be no effective pardon except by faith.185 No doubt an offended person may pardon an offender with no reference to any state of mind the latter may be in or may enter into: pardon is free. But such an act of pardoning would have no effect upon the offender. He would not feel pardoned; and the act of pardon would not “result in mutual reconciliation, in the reciprocation of benevolent feelings, and in true happiness.” The implication is that in such circumstances pardon would do no good; it would leave the offender just where he was before with unaltered feelings towards the pardoner. The removal of objective penalties is left wholly out of the question: and the entire transaction is conceived as subjective. Upham now argues that on the assumption that a pardon “which is spiritually available, one which is desirable and valuable in the spiritual or religious sense,” “results in entire reconciliation between the parties”—in the manner explained—therefore no pardon is conceivable among moral beings “without confidence or faith existing on the part of such subject towards the author.” Justifying faith in this view is not faith in the atoning Saviour, but general confidence in the benevolent God; and justification takes place in foro conscientiæ and not in foro cœli. As a rationale of justification therefore this exposition wholly misses the mark. It amounts to saying that justification is by faith because pardon can work its beneficent effects in the pardoned one’s heart only if received in confident trust, a trust which will believe without question that the pardon is real and that it is worth while. But justification concerns not the reception of pardon on the part of the offender but the granting of pardon on the part of the offended. When we say we are justified by faith, we do not mean that it is through faith that we are enabled to enjoy the sense of pardon, though that is true also. We mean that it is through faith that we enter the state of pardoned ones. It is through entrusting ourselves to Christ, that by virtue of His atoning work, we are received as pardoned sinners. However true it is, that it is only by trusting in the pardoning God that we can enjoy the sense of pardon, that is not the function of faith in justification; is only a secondary effect of it. It is better to be saved than to feel saved: and we must not confound salvation with the sense of salvation.
The precise explanation of exactly how faith operates to sanctify us apparently presents some difficulty to those who are yet agreed that the doctrine of sanctification by faith is not second either in importance or certainty to the parallel doctrine of justification by faith. Sometimes sanctification is spoken of as so directly by faith as to appear to imply that the state of mind which we call faith is itself sanctification, that is to say to identify faith and holiness. At other times what is meant seems to be merely that sanctification is an effect wrought by God, to whom we entrust it believingly. The latter is perhaps the prevailing manner in which Upham speaks of it; and when he does so his primary assertion is doubtless that sanctification is in some sense a supernatural effect. This, however, is not always made as clear as it might be. He can speak of the “sanctification of the heart, resting upon faith as its basis in distinction from mere works,”186 after a fashion which unhappily suggests that he is thinking of faith as a virtue and is merely giving it the precedence as an inward virtue—the inward virtue by way of eminence—to external acts of virtue, especially “ceremonial observances and austerities.” In that case he would mean merely that this state of mind is a holy state of mind and those who possess it are holy. There is at least one passage, however,187 in which he explains somewhat formally how faith purifies the heart of “irregular and unholy desires”; and we probably will not go wrong if we take this explanation as expressing his matured mind on the subject. Faith, he here says, purifies the heart in two ways, directly and indirectly. Directly, it lays hold of the promises of God, and so rests on God to cleanse us. Indirectly, it gives birth to love to God and this inhibits all love to the creature. Here is a comprehensive explanation, recognizing both a supernatural and a natural operation. It is not clear, however, at first sight, how these two are harmonized in the single effect. If it be “faith formed by love”—it is a Romanist conception which seems to be floating before his mind—which sanctifies us, that appears to carry with it the conception that our sanctification consists in a faith-produced love, which is only another name for holiness. In this case we do not readily see how our sanctification can be brought about by God in the fulfillment of His promises, except by just the fostering of faith in us by Him—and this is done by Him in Upham’s view, as we have seen, not supernaturally, but naturally, viz. solely by presenting to us motives to believe. There do not lack passages in which it seems that it is precisely this which Upham means to say. Thus, for example, he tells us,188 that God saves us from sin by “operating by the Holy Spirit in the production of faith in the heart.” What he means apparently is that God does not directly eradicate sin from the heart through the creative operation of His spirit, but attains the result by producing faith in the heart—of course by the presentation of motives to believe, which is the only mode of the divine operation which Upham admits in the premises. In that case it seems meaningless to talk of two modes of action by which faith purifies the heart—a direct one in which it rests on the promises of God and an indirect one in which it produces the love which is holiness. The so-called direct method is swallowed up into the so-called indirect method: God purifies the heart only through the faith which works by love. The rationalism of the “New Divinity” neutralizes the mystical tendencies to supernaturalism, and we have left only that we are sanctified by faith because faith passes into love and love is holiness. God may graciously support and aid us in the process, but we sanctify ourselves, and look to Him only to urge on our own good work.
Faith, then, passes into love.189 And love constitutes holiness. “perfect love,” says Upham,190 “is to be regarded, on the principles of the gospel, as essentially the same thing, or rather as precisely the same thing, with sanctification or holiness.” To love, then, is to be holy; and perfect love is only another name for perfect holiness. In assuming this attitude there is danger, of course, of conceiving of love as a substitute for holiness; and of supposing that if a man has love he has all the holiness he needs. And the double peril lurks in this path, of sentimentalizing the conception of the Christian life, on the one hand—fostering a tendency to conceive it in terms of emotion rather than of morality—and of directly relaxing the demands of righteousness, on the other. Upham does not wish to relax the demands of righteousness. “Immutable right,”191 says he, “has a claim and a power which entitle it to regulate every thing else. Even love itself, an element so essential to all moral goodness that it gives a character and name to God himself, ceases to be love the moment it ceases to be in conformity with justice. Love that is not just is not holy; and love that is not holy is selfishness under the name of love. Every affection, therefore, however amiable and honorable it may be when it is in a right position, is wrong, and is at variance with inward holiness of life, which is not in conformity with the rule of right.” Nevertheless, it can scarcely be denied that Upham in his actual treatment of the subject does not succeed in avoiding somewhat depreciating the sense of right as a principle of action in the interests of love—contrasting the religion of obligation with the religion of love, with a view to showing the superiority of the latter in the conduct of life.192 It is a subject with respect to which some careful discrimination is necessary to its prudent treatment. The propositions which Upham defends are such as these: that in the order of nature love is the first in time—the heart naturally acts before the conscience; that it is love which determines the actions of the holy man—in fact not so much from as with conscience; that the more holy a man is the less he feels the compulsive power of conscience—and he may even feel that he has “lost his conscience.” No doubt each of these propositions is true—with its proper qualification. But in their sum, they do not avail to subordinate duty to love. Love itself, indeed, is a duty; and in loving, we fulfil our obligation. When Augustine says, “Love and do what you please,” it is with the maxim in his mind that love is the fulfillment of the law, in the sense that love is in order to duty, and instrument to the meeting of obligation. It is a fundamental mistake to set love and duty in opposition to one another, as if they were alternative principles of conduct. We cannot try a cause between the religion of love and the religion of duty as litigants—as if we were trying the cause between spontaneous and legalistic religion. Love should be dutiful and duty should be loving. What God has joined together, why should we seek to separate? If we could think of a love which is undutiful—that could not be thought of as an expression of religion; any more than a dutifulness without affection. What we are really doing is discussing the affectional and the ethical elements in religion and seeking to raise the question whether we prefer emotion or conscientiousness in religion. The only possible answer is—both.
Upham remarks that “the holy man does not act from mere will, against the desires of his sensitive or affectional nature, on the ground, and for the reason, that his conscience requires him to do so; but, on the contrary, acts under the impulse of holy and loving affections, affections which are the regenerated gift of God, and which sweetly carry the will with it.”193 True enough: and we remark in passing, that this is also true psychology, truer psychology than Upham always gives us. But this is only to say that in the holy man, his affections are on the side of his conscience. That is what his holiness—in part—consists in. His enlightened conscience and purified affections move together to the one holy end. But how if the affections are not purified—not so fully purified as perfectly to harmonize in their impulses with the requirements of conscience? That is the condition of all on earth: though Upham, as a perfectionist, may have reserves in allowing it. Surely then, the conscience and imperfectly purified affections will not “sweetly” move together to one end. There is a conflict—and, in the interests of holiness, which ought to govern? Surely conscience ought to govern. Upham has not shown that the affections ought to rule, against conscience, when there is a conflict; but only that it is a higher stage of holiness where there is no conflict, but the affections coincide with conscience. No doubt the law is then written on the heart; but it is the law that is written on the heart. And when it is the law that is written on the heart, why, then the impulses of the heart accord with the law. That is the felix libertas boni. As nothing but the good pleases us now, why—we can do as we please. Conscience has not been dethroned but enthroned. If we no longer feel “the compulsive power of conscience,” that can only be because we so spontaneously obey conscience that we do not feel it as imperative as compulsion. The categorical imperative has not died within us: it has so prevailed as that it embodies itself in the systole and diastole of all our most intimate action. It is not merely that conscience now approves and so does not whimper against our actions. It is that it flows out “sweetly” into and through the open channels of the sanctified affections into the unreluctant will. Conscience is not superseded by love. Love has become an organ of conscience. Were it not so, it would not be holy love, and if it were not holy love neither would it be (Upham himself being witness), so far, religious love. There is no religion of love, then, which is not also, and first of all, a religion of obligation.
Having identified “sanctification, evangelical holiness, and evangelical or Christian perfection” with “perfect love,” Upham undertakes to tell us what “perfect love” is.194 It is, he says, first of all “pure love,” that is, it is free from all selfishness. It is, however, on the other hand, “relative to the capacity of the subject of it”; the perfection of a man is not that of an angel. It includes, of course, like all love, the two elements of pleasure or complacency in its object and a desire to do it good—or, since we are speaking of love to God, a desire to promote His glory, and that “in such a degree, that we are not conscious of having any desire or will at variance with the will of God.” As, however, “the nature of the human mind is such, that we never can have an entire and cordial acquiescence in the will of God in all things, without an antecedent approval of and complacency in his character and administration,” we need only attend to the second mark of perfect love, “a will entirely accordant with and lost in the will of God.” Thus Upham gets around to his definition of perfection:195 “An entire coincidence of our own wills with the divine will; in other words, the rejection of the natural principle of life, which may be described as love terminating in self and constituting self-will; and the adoption of the heavenly principle of life, which is love terminating and fulfilled in the will of God.” This view of the nature of perfect love, he says, is very important “practically, as well as theologically.” There is certainly every appearance here that love is confounded with one of its effects.
In another place196 “pure or holy love” is defined by Upham as the love which is “precisely conformed to its object.” That is to say, it is the reaction of the subject loving to the object loved, when that reaction is precisely accordant with the loveliness of the object. “If,” says he, “all objects were correctly understood by us in their character and in their claims upon us, and if our affections were free from all selfish bias, our love would necessarily be appropriate to the object, and therefore holy”—from which we learn incidentally that a necessary reaction of the affections may have moral character, a thing we would not have expected from Upham. What is directly said, however, is only that if our perceptions of the loveliness of the object are perfect, and our reaction to this perception is unaffected by any disturbing causes—we should love that object as it ought to be loved. From this point of view, it would seem, we can have a pure love of God only when our apprehension of Him, in His character and His claims on us, is perfect—when we know Him perfectly as He is in all the loveliness of His infinite loveliness—and when our souls, reacting to this perfect apprehension of Him, are perfectly free from every detracting and disturbing bias—in a word, are themselves perfect. This would appear to render what is called pure love to God impossible to creatures like us. Upham, if we understand him, seeks to meet this difficulty by affirming that pure love tends to purify the judgment. “The object is much more likely to present itself before the mind distinctly, and precisely as it is, in the state of pure love, than it is to present itself before the mind with entire precision, when its affections are perverted and selfish.” Quite so. But this posits pure love as the condition of the apprehension which is to serve as its cause. What we get from it is then only the assertion that in order to exercise pure love, we must first be pure of heart. The question then presses very severely, How are we to become perfectly pure of heart? Upham’s suggestion here197 seems to be that we must not be too exigent in our demands on ourselves. God will have regard to our weaknesses. “All that he requires at such times is, that we should love the object just so far as it is presented to us.… And such love, however it may be perplexed in its operation by existing in connection with involuntary errors of judgment, he readily and fully accepts.” The general conclusion then is, “that, if we avail ourselves of all suitable aids in obtaining a knowledge of objects, and if by loving without selfishness we love them purely, we shall love them rightly or holily, and of course love them acceptably.” This can mean nothing else than that, after all, then, pure love can exist without a perfect apprehension of its object, and without a perfect soul to react to it. Pure love need not be perfectly pure, then, to be pure love. “Perfect love,” we read,198 “as it is understood by such writers”—that is, “writers on evangelical holiness”—“to exist in truly holy persons in the present life, is a love which is free from selfishness, and which is conformed to its object, so far as a knowledge of its object is within our reach in our present fallen state.” We are now flatly on the plane of the Oberlin “sliding scale,” and arrive therefore in the end at nothing more than that perfection of heart—a mitigated perfection—is the condition of holy activities—a mitigated holiness. “Certain it is,” he says at another place,199 “that those who are perfected in love, whatever may be their infirmities and errors, and however important and proper it may be for them to make constant application to the blood of the atonement, both for the forgiveness of the infirmities of the present, and of the infirmities and transgressions of the past, are spoken of and are treated, in the New Testament, as accepted, sanctified, or holy persons.” The term “transgressions” seems to be carefully avoided when the present failings of the saints are mentioned.
We are now in the midst of Upham’s doctrine of perfection. We have already seen that the perfection which he teaches is a “mitigated” perfection: it may be—it is—marred by infirmities and errors; and it requires to be forgiven. And we infer from that, that it is not yet all that shall be: there is something beyond. In the second chapter of his “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life,”200 he describes in some detail what he understands that holiness to be which constitutes its substance, and which he declares to be “the first and indispensable prerequisite” of the state of “the Interior or Hidden Life,” here represented as “walking in close and uninterrupted communion with God,” and elsewhere as “union with God.” He begins by declaring it an obtainable state, a state actually to be enjoyed in this life. It is then defined in passing as consisting in a life free from “voluntary transgression.” To this is soon added the information that it is sometimes called “evangelical or gospel holiness” in order “to distinguish it from Adamic perfection”; and a little later still, that the name of “Christian perfection” is given to it, thus identifying it with the Wesleyan doctrine of perfection. And then we are given quite an elaborate exposition of what it does not involve. It does not “necessarily imply a perfection of the physical system”; nor yet a “perfection of the intellect”; nor is it in every respect the same as “the holiness or sanctification of a future life”—it is subject to temptations, and it may be lost. Nor does it imply that we no longer need an atonement. We still require an atonement for “all mere physical infirmities, which originate in our fallen condition, but which necessarily prevent our doing for God what we should otherwise do.” And also for “all unavoidable errors and imperfections of judgment, which in their ultimate causes result from sin.” These things, he says, are “very different in their nature from deliberate and voluntary transgressions,” which is true enough: and then he adds that nevertheless their stains can be washed away in the blood of Christ—they are sins, though only “involuntary sins.” It would perhaps be more just, however, he adds, not to call them sins at all, but “imperfections or trespasses”—though they cannot be remitted without application to the blood of Christ. No doubt it is with these things in mind, he says, that some good people say that they are morally certain to sin all the time. If so, he has no quarrel with them: he means by perfection only freedom from “sins of a deliberate and voluntary nature.” That is the negative side of it. Positively, “Christian perfection,” or “that holiness which, as fallen and as physically and intellectually imperfect creatures, we are imperatively required and expected to exercise … at the present moment, and during every succeeding moment of our lives”—consists just in love.201 He “who loves God with his whole heart, and his neighbor as himself, although his state may in some incidental respects be different from that of Adam, and especially from that of the angels in heaven, and although he may be the subject of involuntary imperfections and infirmities, which, in consequence of his relation to Adam, require confession and atonement, is nevertheless, in the gospel sense of the terms, a holy or sanctified person.”202 And this holiness is a “condition” of moral communion with God which is called the Hidden Life here and elsewhere Union with God.
Attention cannot fail to be attracted in this exposition to the stress which is put on voluntary sinning, with the involved light estimate of involuntary faults. This reflects, no doubt, the tendency of thought prevalent in the “New Divinity,” but it is also the common tendency of perfectionists everywhere, who by it seek to adjust their doctrine of perfection to the only too manifest facts of life. It leads us only to observe therefore, that with Upham also, as with the rest, perfection is not conceived as perfection. Physical infirmities, intellectual errors, involuntary sins remain—all somehow connected with our fallen condition and therefore needing the atoning blood of Christ to wash away their stains. Perfect men are even guilty of “relatively wrong acts and feelings”203—whatever that may mean: can we understand it of anythything but “little sins”? And they may even commit not merely sins which “result from infirmity and are involuntary,” but sins “which are seen by the omniscient eye of God, but which may not be obvious to ourselves”;204” “sins of ignorance,” then, let us say. They need therefore “every moment” “the application of Christ’s blood,” and ought to confess sin, “during the whole course of the present life”;205 and to pray in the words of the Lord’s prayer, “Forgive us our trespasses.” And no man “is able, either on philosophical or Scripture principles, to assert absolutely and unconditionally, that he has been free from sin, at least for any great length of time”206 It is not wrong, then, to speak with some caution about our sinlessness, “merely as if” we “hoped, or had reason to hope,” that we have “experienced this great blessing,” and have been “kept free from voluntary and known sin.”207 If it is a question of “absolute perfection”—why, that “exists only in another world.” “We are permitted to indulge the humble hope, that there may be, and that there are instances of holiness of heart on earth.” But, “notwithstanding their exemption from intentional sin,” “truly holy persons” do not exhibit “an obvious perfection of judgment, of expression, and of manner.”208 We gather that they may be rather trying people to live with; people whom, of course, we love, but may find it sometimes rather difficult to like.
The question of growth in holiness is often a perplexing one to perfectionists, and they solve it variously. Many are content to say that we do not grow into but in holiness; but that seems rather an avoidance than a solution of the question—to grow in holiness, surely, is to grow progressively into a holiness not before this last increment of growth enjoyed. Upham209 calls in a distinction between nature and degree. We already have holiness according to its nature, but can grow in degree of holiness. The phraseology does not seem happy; but the meaning is reasonably clear. He adduces also the doctrine of total depravity as an illustration e contrario: we are totally depraved, but we are not as bad as we might be, or as we will be, if we continue in our bad course. The distinction here is that of extension and intensity. The totus homo is depraved—his depravity extends to every department of his being: there is no faculty or disposition, or appetite or propensity, or affection, into which depravity does not penetrate. But the depravity which penetrates to every department of the man’s being is not necessarily the deepest possible depravity: it may increase indefinitely in intensity. A drop of ink falling into a glass of water may stain its whole volume—it is totally stained; but if you empty the whole ink well into it, it is not more totally, but very much more deeply stained. The difficulty is that the perfectionists, Upham included, do not teach that we are merely extensively perfect, but insist that we are intensively perfect also—or perfect as we can be. Upham says here, for example,210 that we are perfect “in our perceptions, our feelings, and our purposes”—extensively therefore—“to the full extent of our capability”—intensively, therefore, too. And it would seem that we must say this, if we are to employ such a notion as “perfect.” For perfect is a superlative notion and admits no growth beyond it. There seems to be but one door of escape and Upham takes it. To grow in perfection the perfect one must grow in capability. Our perfection depends on our knowledge, he says, and may grow as our knowledge grows. “Evangelical holiness,” he explains, is “nothing more nor less than perfect love.” And “love is based in part upon knowledge, and is necessarily based upon it.” We can love no object we do not know; and our love for a lovable object must grow with our knowledge of it. As our knowledge grows, our capability for loving grows and that means our capability for perfection.211 Of course we may raise the question whether this argument proves that perfection expands with growing knowledge, or that there can be no such thing as perfection until knowledge is perfect. And beneath that lurk two further questions. Does holiness really depend on knowledge? Do we really “know” God? The importance of the last question lies in the circumstance that Upham does not always appear to be sure that we can really “know” God: but sometimes speaks almost like an earlier Mansel playing on the strings of “faith” as the organ of the incomprehensible and of “symbolical knowledge” which only serves the purposes of knowledge.212
Whatever may be the difficulties to a perfectionist of the idea of a developing holiness, however, Upham frankly teaches that idea, and gives it very rich expression. It is embodied, for example, in the following eloquent description of the process of salvation.213 “In the day of his true restoration, therefore, God once more really dwells in man. We do not say, however, that he actually enters and takes full possession at once. Just as soon as man gives his exiled Father permission to enter as a whole God and a God forever he enters effectually; but ordinarily he enters by degrees, and in accordance with the usual laws and operations of the human mind. He does not break the vessel of man’s spirit, nor mar its proportions, nor deface anything which is truly essential to it; but gradually enters into all parts of it, readjusts it, removes the stains which sin has made upon it, and fills it with divine light. Man’s business in this great work is a very simple one. It is to cease all resistance, and to invite the Divine Master of the mind to enter it in his own time and way. And even this last is hardly necessary. God does not wait even to be invited to come, except so far as an invitation is implied in the removal of the obstacles which had previously kept him out. Man’s ceasing from all resistance, and his willingness to receive God as the all in all, and for all coming time, may be regarded as essentially the completion of the work in respect to himself; but the work of God, who is continually developing from the soul new powers and new beauties, can be completed only with the completion of eternity.” The most important thing to note here is that Upham casts his eye forward through all the eternities to view the ever-increasing perfection of God’s servants. He is able to do this, it is true, only by the help of some adjustments. The work of perfecting them is “essentially” completed here and now. But there is something beyond. Inadequate as this provision for undying aspiration is, it is much that its existence is recognized. There is a sense in which the perfectionist doctrine is the child of aspiration. The trouble is that it permits this aspiration to be too easily satisfied and so clips its wings. Henrich Heppe points out214 that Madame Guyon’s perfectionism was in essence a revolt from that ecclesiastical perfectionism of official Roman teaching, which is embodied in the doctrine of the consilia evangelica. She longed for a higher perfection than that—and for a perfection not confined to an ecclesiastical order, but open to every child of God. What she was really thinking of, says Heppe, “was the perfection of the souls in heaven, who have now achieved complete union with God.” Only—and this is the tragedy of it—she transferred this heavenly perfection to earth and identified it with the attainments of mere viators. Thus she abolished aspiration and corrupted the very notion of perfection in order that it might accord with the observed attainment of the saints on earth. We purchase the proud title of “perfect” here too dearly when we barter for it the hope of heaven. One of the gravest evils of the perfectionist teaching is that it tempts us to be satisfied with earthly attainments and to forget the heavenly glory. It is an old remark that the more saint-like a man is, the less saint-like he feels: the less evil there is to see in him, the more evil the evil that remains is seen to be. “The nearer we approach” to God—this is the way R. A. Vaughan puts it215—“the more profoundly must we be conscious of our distance. As, in a still water, we may see reflected … the bird that soars towards the zenith—the image deepest as the ascent is highest—so it is with our approximation to the Infinite Holiness.… It appears to us that perfection is prescribed as a goal ever to be approached, but ever practically inaccessible. Whatever degree of sanctification any one may have attained, it must always be possible to conceive of a state yet more advanced,—it must always be a duty diligently to labour towards it.”
It will scarcely have passed without notice that in all the discussion of perfection and of the remnants of sinning which continue even in the perfect to vex them, Upham says nothing of the “corruption of man’s heart.” He draws the distinction between “deliberate and voluntary transgressions” on the one hand which he represents as inconsistent with perfection, and inadvertent, unintentional and other forms of sinning, thought of as “relatively” light, on the other, which he represents as still liable to show themselves in the perfect. His thought of sin is all in terms of sinning; and no account at all is taken of the underlying sinfulness of nature. This also is no doubt due to his basal “New Divinity” consciousness, which finds very insufficient correction in his chosen Quietistic mentors—although they do not manifest so complete a neglect of the inner springs of evil as he does. Samuel Harris, in a very able review of Upham’s “Life of Madame Guyon,”216 takes occasion to remark on the futility of a doctrine of perfection of mere act. Madame Guyon, he says, teaches a real perfection, because she supposes that we may cease from sin as well as from sinning. Here is a perfection in which we not only do not determine to do wrong, but have no desire or tendency to do so. Nothing less than this is in any real sense perfection. A perfection of act is unimportant and without significance, if “through the remains of corrupt nature or the effects of sinful habit”—the conceptions of the old and the “New Divinity,” respectively—“evil thoughts and evil desires are rushing into the soul, even though the strong hand of the will instantly seize and throttle them.” That “the strong hand of the will”—itself under the control of these very propensities (the operari follows the esse)—can perform any such feat, is not shown and cannot be shown. The case is therefore worse than Harris supposes; and the real fact is that evil in the heart not only may, but must, show itself in all our acts. The conclusion he draws, however, is sound: “We are never perfect till the effects of corrupt nature and of sinful habit are eradicated, till self-denial ceases in the extinction of all tendency to selfishness and not the mere restraining of it, till we are restored to a state of spontaneous, delightful, universal coincidence with God’s will.…” No man is perfect “till he not only refuses to gratify corrupt tendencies and desires, but till they actually cease to exist.” And so he adds, the Bible teaches. The greatest error of perfectionism, he now goes on to say, is in neglecting this fact and “teaching that to be perfection which is not—it is the element of antinomianism perpetually appearing—the lowering of the standard of moral obligation, not merely to the capacity, but to the present habits and attainments of men.” “We regard perfectionism as dangerous, not because it requires too much, but because it requires too little.”
Upham may be supposed to escape the incidence of these remarks by the slenderness of the recognition he gives to the activity, not to say the very existence, of what Madame Guyon speaks of as “that secret power within us which continually draws us to evil.” But the neglect or denial of the corruption of the heart does not abolish it; and in its presence it is futile to talk of perfection of life. In any event, however, he does not teach even a perfection of life; but endeavors to give that appearance to the life, which he presents as perfect, by minimizing the importance and evil of the transgressions of the absolute rule of life which he cannot deny that it exhibits. He then falls squarely under Harris’ condemnation of “lowering the standard of moral obligation, not merely to the capacity, but to the present habits and attainments of men.” Ray Palmer in a review of Upham’s “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life,” published a few years earlier,217 emphasizes the same point on which Harris principally lays his stress. There can be no perfection, he urges, which does not go through and through. “No being can be considered perfect, of whom it is true, either that his moral action is in any respect defective, or his moral nature in any respect deranged.” But his own primary stress is thrown on the matter which, in Harris’ discussion, holds the second place—on the confusion wrought by defining perfection as something less than perfection. When Upham complains that it is “the popular doctrine, that no man ever has been sanctified, or ever will be sanctified till the moment of death,” he says, and speaks of “the common doctrine of the impossibility of present sanctification,” it is not so certain that he is not paltering in a double sense. If we are to define “sanctification” as Upham defines it—as a state which admits of the continued commission “of a large class of sins”—it can hardly be doubted that all Christians devoutly believe that they not only ought to be but in many cases are sanctified now. What Upham calls “perfection” most Christians look upon as only the ordinary attainments of the Christian life—a stage in the advance towards perfection no doubt, but far short of perfection. These remarks are valid and important in their general sense, but it is not impossible to push them beyond their validity, and Palmer can hardly be exonerated from doing this. It is not quite true that the common doctrine looks upon perfection, as defined by Upham, as attainable and generally attained by sincere Christians, in this life. For although Upham admits into perfection as defined by him, “a large class of sins,” yet, formally at least, he excludes from it all voluntary transgression. We may doubt whether he does this really; we may discern among the sins which he admits, some from which voluntariness is abstracted with some difficulty, not to say arbitrariness. Meanwhile all voluntary transgression is formally excluded; and so long as our hearts are corrupt we shall never escape all voluntary transgression. Not only shall we never be perfect through and through until we are perfect in heart as well as in life; but we shall never be perfect in life—not even in the highest movements of our living—until our hearts are perfect. We must not look upon sinning atomistically, as if we could sin in this act and not sin in that: sin is a quality which, entrenched in the heart, affects all of our actions without exception. It is more true, then, to say that all our voluntary, as well as instinctive acts, are sinful, than that all voluntary acts may be holy, leaving only the instinctive ones to sin. A defective psychology underlies the notion that the range of our activities may be divided between indwelling sin and intruding holiness; some of them being altogether holy and others altogether sinful. This could be true only on the false doctrine of the “will” that it does what it pleases, independently of the “nature” that lies behind it, and can therefore vi et armis act holily despite the constant infection of the evil of a sinful nature. Only on some such notion can we talk of the voluntary acts being holy in the presence of an unsanctified heart.
On its positive side, however, Palmer’s criticisms are perfectly just. Nothing can be more important than that the conception of perfection be maintained at its height. If there is an eternal and immutable distinction between right and wrong, he argues, then “goodness must be everywhere and in all beings essentially the same. The fundamental principles of right moral action, must be the same to God and to his creatures; and there must be one rule of duty—one standard by which to test character—to angels and to men.… True perfection is one and the same thing in all beings.” The habit of conceiving of perfection as admitting of many imperfections—moral imperfections, glossed as infirmities, errors and inadvertences—not only lowers the standard of perfection and with it the height of our aspirations, but corrupts our hearts, dulls our discrimination of right and wrong, and betrays us into satisfaction with attainments which are very far from satisfactory. There is no more corrupting practice than the habit of calling right wrong and wrong right. That is the essence of antinomianism, if we choose to speak in the language of the schools. To give it its least offensive description, it is acquiescence in sin. And this is the real arraignment of all perfectionist theories, Upham’s among the rest. They lull men to sleep with a sense of attainments not really made; cut the nerve of effort in the midst of the race; and tempt men to accept imperfection as perfection—which is no less than to say evil is good.
The books in which Upham developed and commended these opinions had a wide circulation, running through many editions, through the middle half of the nineteenth century. They were republished in England through the instrumentality of G. Pennell, Esq., a Wesleyan local preacher of large means at Liverpool,218 and have enjoyed there a larger popularity and exerted a more lasting influence than even in America. They are apparently no longer, however, on the market—except the most elaborate of them all and the one with the most general appeal, the “Life of Madame Guyon,” a new edition of which, with an Introduction by W. R. Inge, was published so lately as 1905. Upham’s retired life and aversion to public speaking confined his influence to the single channel of his published works. It can be traced in the perfectionist parties which succeeded him, but it is not dominant in any of them; he formed no sect and built up no party of his own. It is among the adherents of the Keswick movement that his name remains in most honor, and that his works continue to be most sought and read. J. B. Figgis, writing the history of that movement, represents him with Francis de Sales, Thomas à Kempis, Molinos and Madame Guyon as one of the channels through which the “pure stream from the River of the Water of Life” has come down to us.219 But even at Keswick it is not his which is the decisive influence. Loved by all who knew him; admired by all who came into contact with him, whether in person or in his printed works; he lived his quiet life out in a somewhat remote academic center, and has left behind him little more than the sweet savor of an honored name. Perhaps in his case we can reverse Mark Antony’s maxim and say that the good he did lives after him and the evil has been largely interred with his bones.
1 Reprinted from The Union Seminary Review, xxxii. 1920–1921, pp. 89–123, 196–230, 273–298, and xxxiii. 1921–1922, pp. 44–65; cf. Benjamin B. Warfield, The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield: Perfectionism, Part Two, vol. 8, 335–459.
2 “George Fox: An Autobiography,” edited with an Introduction and Notes by Rufus M. Jones, M.A., Litt.D., 1919, pp. 120 f. In a note on p. 85, the editor points out the persistency with which Fox asserted the fact of perfection. The basis of the assertion is made clearer by some remarks in the Introduction (p. 30): “As soon as he realized that … to be a man means to have a ‘seed of God’ within, he saw that there were no limits to the possibilities of a human life. It becomes possible to live entirely in the power of the Spirit and to have one’s life made a free and victorious spiritual life.”
3 The Eighth Proposition, “Concerning Perfection.” We have prefixed some phrases from the two preceding Propositions in order to provide a context. We are quoting from Barclay’s “An Apology for the True Christian Divinity: being an Explanation and Vindication of the Principles and Doctrines of the People called Quakers,” Philadelphia, 1789, pp. 7–9. This Apology first appeared in Latin, Amsterdam, 1676, and then in English (Aberdeen?), 1678. For the doctrine, see also Barclay’s “A Catechism and Confession … which containeth a true and faithful Account of the Principles and Doctrines, which are most surely believed by the Churches of Christ in Great Britain and Ireland, who are reproachfully called by the Name of Quakers …” ed. 5, London, 1716, pp. 42 ff. for the Catechism and pp. 129 f. for the Confession. The article in the Confession and the answers in the Catechism are mere centos of Scripture passages: but Barclay manages to argue the matter quite fully in the questions of the Catechism.
4 “An Apology for the True Christian Divinity,” as cited, pp. 241–262.
5 The Princeton Theological Review, xvi. 1918, pp. 612 ff. or pp. 501 ff. of this volume.
6 Ibid., xvii. 1919, pp. 61 ff. or pp. 534 ff. of this volume.
7 William Law’s “Humble, Earnest, and Affectionate Address to the Clergy” makes the pathetic appeal of not merely being his last book, but of having been completed only in the last few days before his death. In these last few pages (pp. 190 ff.), he argues the question of perfection. Christ came to save us from all sin; He saves us from all sin. Absolute freedom from sin is, therefore, not only our duty but our privilege. “He that is left under a Necessity of Sinning, as long as he lives, can no more be said to be cleansed from all Unrighteousness, than a man who must be a Cripple to his dying Day, can be said to be cured of all his lameness. What weaker Conclusion can well be made, than to infer, that because Christ was the only Man, that was born and lived free from Sin, therefore no Man on Earth can be raised to a Freedom from Sinning; no better than concluding, that because the Old Man is every one’s Birth from Adam, therefore there can be no such Thing as a New Man, created unto Righteousness, through Christ Jesus, living and being all in all in him; no better Sense or Logic than to say, that because our Redeemer could not find us any Thing else but Sinners, therefore he must of all Necessity leave us to be Sinners” (pp. 197 f.). “To suppose a Man born again from above, yet under a necessity of continuing to Sin, is as absurd as to suppose, that the true Christian is only to have so much of the Nature of Christ born in him, as is consistent with as real a Power of Satan still dwelling in him” (p. 194). “That which cannot help you to all Goodness, cannot help you to any Goodness; nor can that take away any Sin, but that which can take away all sin” (p. 192).
8 “The Berean,” 1847, pp. 271 ff.
9 For example, in his “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life” (1843), ed. 8, 1859, p. 120. Quotations from this book are throughout from the eighth edition.
10 Compare J. H. Overton, “William Law, Nonjuror and Mystic,” 1881, pp. 161–170: “Law himself … very rarely mentions any of this group of mystics. There is, indeed, frequent allusion to Madame Guyon in the earlier interviews between Law and Byrom; but the subject was obviously introduced by Byrom, who was attracted to her by her resemblance to his favourite, Madame Bourignon. Law’s remarks on both ladies are by no means complimentary. To that most lovable of men and fascinating of writers, Archbishop Fénelon, Law hardly ever refers” (p. 161). “He expressly mentions both ‘the great Fénelon and the illuminated Guion’ as mystic writers whom he had read, and yet we may gather, from his distinct words in one case and from his silence in the other, that neither of them was a real favourite of his” (p. 164). “They were, neither of them, robust enough for Law’s taste” (p. 165). “Though Fénelon was not exactly effeminate, there was a certain softness about him … not at all the sort of charm to fascinate William Law” (p. 166). “As to Madame Guyon, the very fact that she held many of Law’s sentiments would naturally make him all the more intolerant of her other views which were likely to bring those sentiments into disrepute” (pp. 166 f.). “As for that other mystic lady, Madame Bourignon, … Law constantly expressed strong antipathy to her in his conversations with Byrom” (p. 169).
11 See A. G. Upham, “History of the Upham Family,” 1845.
12 A number of the pamphlets published in this controversy are brought together in vol. 430 of the “Sprague Collection,” preserved in the Library of Princeton Theological Seminary.
13 W. B. Sprague, “Lectures on Revivals of Religion,” ed. 2, 1833, p. 325.
14 In a short account of his religious experience printed in Phoebe Palmer’s “The Riches of Grace,” 1854, pp. 20 ff.
15 One of his pupils describing his personal carriage, says that “he was meek enough to inherit the whole earth”:—“A tall man of bent figure, face turned toward mother-earth, but heart lifted toward the stars, Professor Upham impressed the undergraduates of his time with the idea that the Kingdom of God is not taken by violence” (F. L. Dingley, in The Lewiston [Maine] Journal, February 27, 1915).
16 George Bush, the eccentric Hebraist, William Chamberlain, subsequently Professor of the Classics at Dartmouth, Cyrus P. Grosvenor, afterwards President of New York Central College, were classmates at Dartmouth.
17 The translation was made from the Latin one volume compend, compared with and enlarged from the German original, and furnished with additions in the form of notes. It is a very scholarly piece of work and was long in demand as a textbook in the theological seminaries.
18 “A Treatise on Divine Union” (1851), ed. 6, pp. 342 f. The citations from this book are throughout from the sixth edition.
19 It seems probable that the teacher who is here described was John Adams, born at Canterbury, Connecticut, September 18, 1772, graduated at Yale in 1795, and given the degree of LL.D. by Yale in 1854; died at Jacksonville, Illinois, April 24, 1863. His life was passed in teaching, except that in his later years he served as Sunday School Missionary in Illinois. He was principal of Phillips Academy, Andover, from 1810 to 1833, including Upham’s time. There is a brief notice of him in Appletons’ “Cyclopædia of American Biography.” Horace E. Scudder gives an account of Phillips Academy, Andover, in Harper’s Magazine for 1877, lv. pp. 562 ff., but the portrait is drawn from the times of “Uncle Sam” Taylor.
20 His father had removed from Deerfield to Rochester in his childhood (see A. S. Packard, “Address on the Life and Character of Thomas C. Upham, D.D.,” 1873, p. 6).
21 “Ratio Disciplinae, or the Constitution of the Congregational Churches,” 1829; new ed., 1844.
22 “The Manual of Peace, Embracing I. Evils and Remedies of War, II. Suggestions on the Law of Nations, III. Consideration of a Congress of Nations,” 1836: the third part reprinted 1840, 1842. A. S. Packard, as cited, pp. 10 f., gives the following, not perfectly clear, account of this work. “Having embraced at an early period the doctrines of Peace announced and advocated with great zeal and ability by Capt. William Ladd of this vicinity, he wrote several articles for the public press under the signature of ‘Perier,’ the name of the eminent French banker and statesman.… These essays were embodied in one of the four Prize Essays on a Congress of Nations, in a volume under that title in 1840.… Previously, in 1836, was published his Manual of Peace, which has been stereotyped, and both these works are among the advertised volumes of the Peace Society.” Upham characteristically pushed his conclusions as to peace to the furthest extreme. He would not allow that war could be condoned in any case whatever. “We say, in any case whatever,” he writes, (“The Manual of Peace,” p. 81) “because we do not propose to make any distinction between offensive and defensive war.… The true doctrine is, that human life, both in its individual and corporate state, as one and as many, is inviolable; that it cannot be taken away for any purpose whatever, except by explicit divine permission; and that war, in every shape, and for every purpose, is wrong, absolutely wrong, wholly wrong.” Packard (p. 19) nevertheless tells us, with what exact meaning we do not know, that “he labored earnestly, as we have noticed, in the cause of peace, and yet when the cloud of civil war hung over our land, his heart was stirred within him for the salvation and integrity of his bleeding country.”
23 Cf. Packard, as cited, p. 8: “Prof. Upham at first gave lectures to his classes, and in 1827 embodied them in a work, which he called a compilation on Mental Philosophy, which in 1831 he expanded into a more original and systematic work in two volumes.”
24 He ceased, however, to preach. Packard, as cited, pp. 13 f., says: “Prof. Upham came, as we have seen, from a pastorate to his professorship. But although he had exercised the public ministry of the Word, his nervous temperament, as he alleged, did not allow frequent preaching.… He … soon felt constrained to avoid public speaking.… At an early period of his life among us his voice ceased to be heard even in the social meetings.” One of his pupils (ibid., p. 17) writes of him: “His excessive nervous timidity to my mind accounted for traits of character that awakened unfavorable comment. He trembled at, and shrank from, public speech. He hesitated at a bold assertion, however true. He loved the most retired, not to say secret, ways of investigation for either practical or philosophical purposes, more because his nerves were weak, than because his convictions were feeble or his moral courage faint.”
25 Packard, as cited, p. 16, refers to “the unaffected, deep and earnest interest he always manifested in the moral and religious well-being of his fellow-men,” and illustrates this remark by adding: “He was instant in season and out of season, in visiting the students at their rooms, was the first to discern indications of awakening interest in religious concerns; was abundant in personal efforts in such seasons; was sagacious in detecting the in-working of the Divine Spirit, or the presence of the spirit of evil.…” He cites instances of Upham’s work of this sort.
26 “Henry Boynton Smith. His Life and Work,” edited by his wife, 1881, pp. 14, 15.
27 We are drawing, in the following account, on Upham’s own narrative printed in Phoebe Palmer’s collection of “experiences” bearing the title: “The Riches of Grace: or the Blessing of Perfect Love as Experienced, Enjoyed and Recorded by Sixty-Two Living Witnesses,” 1854 (copyrighted 1852), pp. 20 ff. Compare her: “Pioneer Experiences; or the Gift of Power Received by Faith. Illustrated and Confirmed by the Testimony of Eighty Living Witnesses of Various Denominations.” Introduction by Rev. Bishop Janes, 1867.
28 “The Riches of Grace,” 1854, p. 20.
29 “The Riches of Grace,” 1854, pp. 435 ff.
30 P. 444.
31 Richard Wheatley, “The Life and Letters of Mrs. Phoebe Palmer,” 1876, pp. 239 f.
32 This seems to be not quite accurate. Upham’s book on “The Will” was first published in 1834 at Portland; and although it was ultimately transferred to the Harpers, along with the rest of the series on Mental Science, it does not seem to have been issued by them as early as 1840. His work, “Outlines of Imperfect and Disordered Mental Action,” designed to form the fourth part of his comprehensive treatment of mental faculty, on the other hand, was published by the Harpers in 1840; and it was doubtless in connection with this publication that he was in New York. He appears to have arranged at the same time, or not long afterward, for the taking over of the whole series by the Harpers. The Harpers, it will be remembered, were a Methodist house and fit the description which Upham gives of those he had business with.
33 Phoebe Worrall was born in New York, December 18, 1807. She gave herself to her Saviour in childhood and adorned the doctrine she professed through a long life of abounding activity. It was on the 26th of July, 1837, that she “entered into the rest of faith, the Canaan of perfect love” (Wheatley, p. 36). That day she always spoke of as “The day of days.” The famous Tuesday meetings date, however, from the combination of the ladies’ prayer-meetings of the Allen Street M. E. Church and the Mulberry Street M. E. Church in 1835. The combined meeting was held at first in Dr. Palmer’s (Phoebe Worrall had become Mrs. Palmer) back office, but, outgrowing this room, was taken upstairs to the parlor. It continued to be exclusively a ladies’ meeting until Upham’s attendance was the occasion of its transformation into a union meeting (Wheatley, p. 238). Phoebe Palmer, it will be seen, had herself entered into holiness only a little over two years before she conducted Upham into it. She was for many years the editor of The Guide to Holiness. She died November 2, 1874, and her life was written by Richard Wheatley, 1876.
34 For these items see Wheatley, as cited, p. 241. We should not forget how much it meant to Upham to speak publicly (see above, note 24).
35 Letter to the Uphams of April 30, 1851, in Wheatley, as cited, pp. 518 f.
36 Wheatley, as cited, p. 426.
37 “Out of Darkness into Light,” 1875, pp. 199 f.
38 Upham had died shortly before—in 1872.
39 Cf. above, note 15.
40 “The Life of Faith,” 1845, p. 294.
41 “The Life of Faith,” 1845, p. 91.
42 Ibid., pp. 263–264.
43 “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life,” pp. 245, 251.
44 The “New Dispensation” Perfectionists swarmed, in Western and Central New York and adjacent parts of New England, in the later twenties and early thirties of the last century. For their teaching see The Bibliotheca Sacra, lxxviii. January, 1921, pp. 70 f., or this volume, pp. 247 f., note 55.
45 “A Treatise on Divine Union,” pp. 285 f.
46 The Bibliotheca Sacra, lxxviii. January, 1921, pp. 52 f., or this volume, pp. 244 f. The classical book on “Spiritual Wives,” is W. Hepworth Dixon, “Spiritual Wives,” 1868.
47 “A Treatise on Divine Union,” pp. 295, 299.
48 George Bush became a Swedenborgian in 1845, and was, at the moment (1851) when Upham was writing these words, editing the Swedenborgian journal, The New Church Repository and Monthly Review (1848–1855). “Memoirs and Reminiscences of George Bush,” edited by W. M. Fernald, was published in 1860. There is a brief notice of him in “The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge,” ii. p. 318.
49 “Life and Religious Opinions and Experience of Madame de la Mothe Guyon,” 1849, ii. pp. 52 ff. In the passage quoted from Madame Guyon, she is represented as speaking directly of martyrs for the truth. There are three different grounds of their martyrdom, she is represented as saying, corresponding to three several fundamental truths which required, one after the other, to be proclaimed and witnessed, thus constituting three successive dispensations. There was first the Old Testament dispensation, in which the existence of the one true God was proclaimed and won its martyrs. Then, in “the primitive times of the Christian Church,” that Jesus Christ was crucified for sinners was proclaimed and won its martyrs. “At the present time” there are those who are “martyrs of the Holy Ghost”—who “suffer for proclaiming the great truth, that the reign of the Holy Ghost in the souls of men has come.” Thus the entrance of Quietism into the world is set in the same sequence with the entrance of the old and new dispensations.
50 “The Church History of Eusebius,” p. 229, in “Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers,” Second Series, i. 1890.
51 Upham, “Life of Madame Guyon,” ii. p. 271.
52 “Studies in Mystical Religion,” 1909, pp. 122 f.
53 Jones, as cited, p. 172.
54 Jones, as cited, p. 175.
55 Jones, as cited, pp. 187 f.
56 “Absolute Religion. A View of the Absolute Religion, based on Philosophical Principles and the Doctrines of the Bible,” 1873, pp. 45–67, especially pp. 64 f.
57 “The doctrine, that the Divine Nature is dual in its personalities, and that this duality implies and includes the fact of a divine maternity, is adopted and advocated by the sect known as Bible Communists. The leading doctrines of this people are found in a work entitled ‘The Berean’; a work which is characterized by acuteness of thought and reasoning, and by no small share of biblical learning” (“Absolute Religion,” p. 64). Then he proceeds to quote from “The Berean” passages in support of his contention. It is not credible that Upham was unaware of the character of the sectaries to which he was appealing. Cf. The Bibliotheca Sacra, lxxviii. October, 1921, pp. 343–375, or this volume, pp. 308–333.
58 A writer in The Methodist Quarterly Review for April, 1846, p. 260, remarks, apparently with no misgivings with respect to the non-Wesleyan element in its teaching: “There is no work in our language, not excepting our own writers, in which the doctrine of entire sanctification is more fully stated and applied than in the ‘Interior Life.’ ”
59 In the “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life,” 1843, he quotes not only from Tauler and Behmen, À Kempis and Law, but from St. Theresa, Francis de Sales, Molinos, La Combe, Madame Guyon, Fénelon, Antoinette Bourignon, and Père Lombaz. Yet this was a “popular” book, meant for the reading of “the general.”
60 In 1869 he gathered the three parts of his “Mental Philosophy” into one comprehensive work in two volumes. But this resume of old material constitutes no exception to what is said in the text.
61 “American Cottage Life,” ed. 2, 1850, ed. 3, 1852.
62 “Letters Written from Europe, Egypt and Palestine,” 1855.
63 The language is his own in describing, in the preface to the latter (p. v.), the leading purpose of the first two of these books—“Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life” and “The Life of Faith.” It may be applied to all.
64 “Mysterium Magnum” in “Works,” edition of Schiebler, Leipzig, 1843, v. chapter xxvii. p. 177.
65 “Life of Madame Guyon,” i. 1849, p. 398.
66 Ibid., ii. 1849, p. 127.
67 “Geschichte der quietistischen Mystik in der katholischen Kirche,” 1875, p. 488.
68 “Life of Madame Guyon,” ii. p. 128.
69 Ibid., i. p. 398.
70 Ibid., i. p. 238.
71 Ibid., i. pp. 140 f.
72 “Life of Madame Guyon,” ii. pp. 127 f.
73 We are drawing from Ernest Seillière, “Madame Guyon et Fénelon, Prècurseurs de Rousseau,” 1918, pp. 143 f.
74 Rufus M. Jones, “Studies in Mystical Religion,” 1909, p. 230.
75 “Alle miteinander in eime Blicke und in eime Punte”—“Everything merges into a single flash and into a single point.”
76 As cited, p. 222.
77 As cited, pp. 270 f.
78 A good brief account of this Romanist doctrine (with references) may be found in H. Bavinck, “Gereformeerde Dogmatiek,” ed. 2, i. pp. 369–378; see also the same author’s “De Algemeene Genade,” 1894, pp. 18–24.
79 May 25, 1688, quoted by C. E. Scharling, “Michael de Molinos,” German translation, 1855, pp. 115–116.
80 Leibnitz adds an anecdote which is not exactly ad rem, but may serve to show the way in which the matter was looked at: “I am told,” says he, “that there was this kind of a Quietist in Hesse—a Reformed minister—who lewdly kissed a devout woman while she was praying: and when she resisted, blamed her for not being sufficiently abstracted and insensible to outward things.” There were many stories of this kind in circulation, showing that in the general apprehension of the time, the quietude of the Quietist was complete insensibility. Compare above, the story of Swester Katrei, who was “dead all through.”
81 Rufus M. Jones, “Studies in Mystical Religion,” 1909, p. 209, drawing from Preger, “Geschichte der deutschen Mystik im Mittelalter, iii. p. 133.
82 The Harvard Theological Review, x. 1917, p. 49.
83 Viscount St. Cyres, “Francois de Fenelon,” 1901, p. 229.
84 As cited, p. 67.
85 “Works,” edition published by Leroux, 1851, 1852, v. p. 566; quoted by Viscount St. Cyres, as cited, p. 61.
86 Cf. H. Bavinck, “De Algemeene Genade,” pp. 18–19: “In one word, it is conceivable that a man, confined wholly within the limits of nature, shall perfectly conform to his idea.… Most men, of course, are very far from attaining a sinless, earthly, natural life; … But so far as the abstract idea goes, it does not seem impossible.” Again, pp. 21–22: “The natural man of 1 Cor. 2:14, is according to Rome, not the sinful man, but the man without the donum superadditum.… This is the explanation of the milder judgment which Rome confers on the heathen. And from it also flows, for the Christian, the doctrine of fides implicita, the concessions made in morals, the compilations of casuistry.”
87 As cited, p. 3.
88 As cited, p. 2.
89 Jones, as cited, p. 49.
90 As cited, pp. 36 ff.
91 “A Treatise on Divine Union, ed. 6, p. 325.
92 “Life of Madame Catharine Adorna,” 1845, p. 245.
93 P. 247.
94 P. 248.
95 P. 249.
96 P. 250. A little before (p. 241) Upham had told us: “Nothing but sin can ever prevent him from entering into the most intimate union with the human mind. Let the heart be right, and he dwells there as a matter of necessity. A holy heart, whether it be in man or in angels, cannot be otherwise than a part of himself.” It is Upham’s consistent representation that holiness is the condition, not the effect, of union with God—its “first and indispensable prerequisite” (“Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life,” ed. 8, p. 17). J. W. Yeomans (The Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review, xviii. 1846, pp. 285 f.), comments on this: “We are … instructed that this ‘hidden life,’ this ‘greatly advanced state of religious feeling’ results in a sacred and intimate union with the Infinite Mind. We are accustomed to reverse this order.… That successive stages of advancement in holiness should be attended with an enlivened consciousness of intimacy with God, is both conceivable and undeniable.… It is the conscious sympathy of like with like. It is a recognition of oneness; in which is involved the whole idea of the most intimate union conceivable between different persons. But we do not receive from the Scriptures the notion of any sacred and intimate union with the Infinite Mind which belongs rather to one true believer than to another. Every true Christian must be as intimately united to Christ as any other; and any difference among different Christians, respecting the consciousness of that union, and the manifestation of its fruits, cannot amount to a different kind of life, but only to a different degree, or conception, or manifestation of the same life.”
97 “A Treatise on Divine Union,” pp. 364–366.
98 The conception of the holy man as an inspired man belongs to the common property of perfectionists. It is found also among the Quietists. Madame Guyon, Upham tells us (“Life of Madame Guyon,” i. p. 377), was so near to claiming inspiration for her Commentaries that she records something like the miracle which attended the Septuagint translators as occurring in her case. Parts of her comments on Judges were mislaid and she rewrote them. When the first copy turned up again, it was found almost exactly like the second. She regarded this as evidence of divine superintendence over her writing.
99 “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life,” ed. 8, pp. 370 ff.
100 P. 374.
101 1873, pp. 263 ff.
102 “Geschichte der quietistischen Mystik in der katholischen Kirche,” 1875, pp. 469 f.
103 “Lettres Spirituelles,” ii. p. 187, quoted by Heppe, as cited.
104 P. 250.
105 “Life of Madame Guyon,” ii. p. 157.
106 P. 237, quoting from the 27th of the “Maxims of the Saints.”
107 “A Treatise on Divine Union,” ed. 6, pp. 238 ff.
108 Pp. 356 ff.
109 Madame Guyon’s statement, as given by Upham (“Life of Madame Guyon,” i. p. 393) is a little more arresting in form, but the same in substance. “When he finds us in this position,”—the position of self-annihilation, “nothingness”—“he finds us, not to despise and reject us, but to come into the heart which is now made empty and clean for his reception, and to set up his kingdom there forever.”
110 P. 361.
111 Ed. 8, pp. 258 ff.
112 P. 265.
113 Ed. 8, pp. 213 ff.
114 P. 221.
115 Pp. 222 f.
116 P. 199.
117 “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life,” ed. 8, pp. 314 ff.
118 “A Treatise on Divine Union,” ed. 6, p. 157.
119 “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life,” ed. 8, p. 362.
120 Pp. 365 ff.
121 Pp. 394 f.
122 “Address on the Life and Character of Thomas C. Upham, D.D.,” 1873, pp. 8 f.
123 “A Philosophical and Practical Treatise on the Will,” 1834, pp. 28 ff. Compare H. B. Smith, The Literary and Theological Review, December, 1837, p. 630.
124 “A Philosophical and Practical Treatise on the Will,” pp. 29 f.
125 For West, Burton and Taylor, see F. H. Foster, “A Genetic History of the New England Theology,” 1907, pp. 232, 243, 247.
126 “Elements of Mental Philosophy” (1831), ed. 2, 1837, ii. p. 117. Cf. “A Philosophical and Practical Treatise on the Will,” 1834, p. 24.
127 Ibid., § 263; more at large, ibid., §§ 28–30.
128 The distinction between these two classes of mental states is stated as follows (“A Philosophical and Practical Treatise on the Will,” p. 61): “Desires are founded on those emotions, which involve what is pleasurable or painful, while Obligatory feelings are exclusively based on emotions of a different kind, viz. those of approval and disapproval.” These two classes, it is added, often “stand before the will in direct and fierce opposition to each other.”
129 Pp. 109–201.
130 P. 214.
131 P. 215.
132 Pp. 250 ff.
133 Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life,” p. 211.
134 “A Philosophical and Practical Treatise on the Will,” p. 132.
135 “Life of Madame Catharine Adorna,” 1845, p. 32.
136 “A Treatise on Divine Union,” 1851, p. 355.
137 “Life of Madame Catharine Adorna,” p. 196.
138 “Absolute Religion,” p. 266.
139 We suppose this “and” should be omitted, that the sentence may become correct.
140 Enoch Pond, in a perfunctory notice of Upham’s “Treatise on the Will,” in The Literary and Theological Review for March, 1835, pp. 148–168, strangely says that the views of Upham are substantially the same as those of Edwards. The Methodists saw more truly and claimed him for their own. A writer in The Methodist Quarterly Review for April, 1846, p. 249—who quotes Wilbur Fiske among others as of the same mind with him—declares that the “Treatise on the Will” “is certainly more satisfactory to the Arminian school than any of its predecessors,” and adds that “it modifies quite away the Cyclopean mound of difficulty reared by Edwards.” Compare in the same sense F. H. Foster, “A Genetic History of the New England Theology,” p. 252.
141 Pp. 138 ff.
142 P. 141.
143 P. 140.
144 Pp. 650 ff.
145 “A Treatise on Divine Union,” pp. 389 ff.
146 Ibid., pp. 99–104.
147 Ibid., p. 246.
148 “Absolute Religion,” p. 82.
149 “A Treatise on Divine Union,” p. 99.
150 “Life of Madame Catharine Adorna,” p. 112.
151 Cf. “A Treatise on Divine Union,” p. iv.: “The view which is taken of the nature of pure or holy love, namely, that in its basis it is the love of existence … does not essentially differ, I believe, from that which is presented by President Edwards, in his Treatise on the Nature of Virtue.”
152 Ibid., pp. 109–110.
153 P. 112.
154 P. 110.
155 “The Life of Faith,” 1845, p. 260; cf. p. 223.
156 “The Life of Madame Guyon,” i. p. 123.
157 “The Life of Faith,” pp. 182–184.
158 As, for example, in “The Life of Faith,” pp. 440 ff. God is present in all things that occur. He is not the originator of them all, at least not in the absolute sense of the term. But He is “in some sense present to all things which take place”; “exercises over all events a degree of control and direction”; “every thing, which takes place, exists either by his control or by his permission”; “whatever is, has God in it; not always in the same sense; but always in some sense.” There is some fumbling; but this general statement is aimed at the mark. And the inferences are right: all events are ordered in wisdom and goodness: God is glorified in everything that takes place.
159 “A Treatise on Divine Union,” p. 228.
160 “A Treatise on Divine Union,” p. 234.
161 P. 193.
162 “The Life of Madame Guyon,” i. p. 66. “The great principle of practical sanctification,” says Madame Guyon (ii. p. 79), “is this;—to desire nothing but what we now have, sin only excepted.… When we thus have God, by accepting him in all his manifestations and doings, we necessarily have every thing.” This is the very essence of Quietism.
163 i. pp. 136–137; cf. i. p. 144.
164 1851, pp. 26 ff.
165 P. 29.
166 Pp. 28–29.
167 P. 271.
168 P. 270.
169 P. 272.
170 “Life of Madame Catharine Adorna,” p. 205.
171 P. 205.
172 “Absolute Religion,” 1873, p. 230.
173 “The Life of Faith,” pp. 73–74.
174 “The Life of Faith,” pp. 55–56.
175 Pp. 95 ff.
176 Pp. 105, 116.
177 So e.g. “The Life of Faith,” pp. 164–165.
178 “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life,” p. 173.
179 Ibid., p. 171.
180 The italics are ours.
181 P. 170.
182 Pp. 171–172.
183 “A Treatise on Divine Union,” pp. 265–266. In the “Life of Madame Guyon,” ii. p. 8, Upham expounds Madame Guyon and Father La Combe as teaching “that sanctification is the … true end of justification; and that the merciful intentions of the Infinite Mind are not satisfied … by merely redeeming us from hell, without making us holy.” “They proclaimed,” he continues, “the doctrine of sanctification, therefore, as the true complement and result of that of justification.” This is said in a manner to involve his agreement with the doctrine expressed.
184 “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life,” p. 169.
185 “The Life of Faith,” pp. 65 ff.
186 “Life of Madame Guyon,” ii. p. 10; cf. ii. p. 8, and i. p. 370.
187 “The Life of Faith,” pp. 162 ff.
188 “The Life of Faith,” p. 165.
189 Ibid., p. 53; “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life,” pp. 85 f.
190 “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life,” p. 125.
191 Ibid., p. 210.
192 “A Treatise on Divine Union,” pp. 130 ff.
193 Pp. 131–132.
194 “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life,” pp. 145 ff.
195 P. 148; cf. “Life of Madame Guyon,” ii. p. 338.
196 “Life of Madame Catharine Adorna,” pp. 123 ff.
197 Pp. 126–127.
198 P. 135, he says this “perfection” is essentially the same thing as “pure love.”
199 “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life,” p. 125.
200 Pp. 17–24.
201 P. 23.
202 P. 23.
203 Pp. 274 ff.; cf. p. 72.
204 P. 277.
205 P. 275.
206 P. 277.
207 P. 278.
208 “The Life of Faith,” pp. 188–189.
209 “Principles of the Interior or Hidden Life,” pp. 267 ff.
210 P. 269.
211 Pp. 270, 273.
212 “The Life of Faith,” pp. 150–151; cf. “Absolute Religion,” pp. 80–81.
213 “A Treatise on Divine Union,” pp. 266–267.
214 “Geschichte der quietistischen Mystik in der katholischen Kirche,” p. 483.
215 “Hours with the Mystics,” ii. p. 233; cf. p. 240.
216 The New Englander, April, 1848, pp. 165 ff; see pp. 171–175.
217 The New Englander, July, 1845; pp. 373 ff; see pp. 380 ff.
218 Richard Wheatley, “The Life and Letters of Mrs. Phoebe Palmer,” 1876, p. 379.
219 J. B. Figgis, “Keswick From Within,” 1914, p. 9; cf. W. H. Griffith Thomas in C. F. Harford’s “The Keswick Convention,” 1907, p. 224.