Rest from Desire

‘How many persons are the subjugated slaves of those inordinate appetites, which have their origin in our physical nature! How many are not merely agitated, but consumed, as it were, by the desire of accumulating property! How general and strong is the desire of reputation! Many, in whom other desires are perhaps comparatively feeble, spend anxious days and toilsome nights in seeking for power. But the truly holy person, whose great and only desire is that the will of the Lord may be done, has no desire of these things, or of any other things, except so far as God may see fit to inspire them. And all desires which harmonize with God’s arrangements, and have their origin in a divine inspiration, are peaceful and happy.

“Love, pure love,” says Mr. Fletcher, in some remarks addressed to Christians professing holiness, “is satisfied with the supreme good, with God. Beware, then, of desiring  anything but Him. Now you desire nothing else. Every other desire is driven out; see that none enter in again. Keep thyself pure; let your eye remain single, and your whole body shall remain full of light. Admit no desire of pleasing food, or any other pleasure of sense; no desire of pleasing the eye or the imagination; no desire of money, of praise, or esteem; of happiness in any creature. You may bring these desires back; but you need not. You may feel them no more. Oh, stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made you free!”

This passage, written by a man of deep religious experience, clearly involves and sanctions the doctrine that holy souls rest from all desires, except such as are from a divine source. There are, then, two classes of desires; — those which are the product of a fallen and unsanctified nature, and those which are from God. Agitation and sorrow always attend the one class. True peace, the peace of Christ and of angels, is the characteristic of the other.

And we proceed now to say, that the ground of difference between them is this: Desires which are from God are attended with faith; and those which are not from him are without faith. The man of the world is full of desires; but being constantly in doubt whether his desires will be accomplished or not, he is constantly the subject of agitation and grief. But the holy man, being the subject of those desires only which God has inspired within him, cannot doubt that God, who is never disappointed, will fulfill them in his own time and way.  Having  thus two facts in his mental experience at the same time, namely, desire and a belief in the fulfillment of desire, the element of uneasiness, which is involved in the wants of the one, is annulled by the pleasure which is involved in the supply or fullness of the other. In other words, faith stops the cravings of desire, by being itself the “substance” or fulfillment of its object; so that constant desire, supposing it to be constantly existing, is changed into constancy of fruition, constancy of peace.

source: Thomas Cogswell Upham, A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 8, Chapter 3 (thomascupham | Craig L. Adams).

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