Albert Leverett Gridley.

The divine life : its development and activities online

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That death constituted the Fall of Man. Its effect upon
posterity was death in the supreme sense — Spiritual
death. "In Adam all died." If any of his posterity
ever were to receive that life it must be by direct impar-
tation as Adam received his life. It was that life, eternal
life, that Christ came to impart. "I am come that they
might have life and that they might have it more abund-
antly." That more abundant life may be the result of
years of development, and may be considered later.


The Mystery of how One Life can be United With

"How can these things be?" (John 3 :3.)

The circumstances in which these words were spo-
ken are familiar to all. A Jewish rabbi came to Jesus by
night to learn of his teachings. He was a learned man,
a member of the Sanhedrim, the most learned body of
men in Israel and the court of final resort among the
Jews for all questions civil as well as ecclesiastical. He
was, too, evidently sincere. He pays Jesus the compli-
ment, "We know that thou art a teacher come from God,
for no man can do the miracles that thou doest except
God be with him." Jesus answered and said unto him,
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee except a man be born
again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus is
puzzled and asks, "How can a man be born when he is
old?" Jesus does not answer his questions except to
repeat the mystifying assertion, "Except a man be born
of water and the spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom
of God." After further conversation that learned rabbi
is still more mystified and asks, "How can these things

And so the question arises, "Is it possible that a
new life principle can be imparted to a life already ex-
isting?" Jesus did not try to explain the mystery, he
continued to assert the fact. In nature we cannot explain
the mystery, we cannot even explain the mystery of a
single life.

Philosophers, scientists, as well as others, have tried
in vain to tell what life is. But the fact remains, Life is.
As has been stated there may be millions of protoplasmic

24 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

cells, each with its own distinctive life principle, and
each producing different results. Each develops accord-
ing to the life that animates it. And not only this, but
each form is animated by at least two distinct life prin-
ciples. Without this union it cannot develop, but re-
mains as if dead. The ovum in the ovary of the plant
has life, its own kind of life. But it must remain as if dead
until the male life principle is imparted to it. Then it has
potency, it can develop according to the combined life of
both. The same is true in the animal creation. The
ovum in the ovary of the female is inert, incapable of
growth until the male life is imparted to it. Then it can
develop and it will be in accordance with the combined
lives. The outcome will partake of the nature of both,
though one or the other is likely to predominate.

The union of three life principles in the Deity is
not more hard to understand than that of two in human
beings. The latter we know to be a fact though beyond
our comprehension. We need not quarrel with the doc-
trine of the Trinity of God with any more reason. The
fact is that the law of the impenetrability of matter does
not hold in the realm of spirit.

The life of God could and did unite with that of
Adam and then he was of the image of God. When he
lost that life he lost the feature that made him Godlike
as well as the power to perpetuate in his posterity God-

There was left simply the mere human element, and
as Paul says, "That in me, that is in my flesh, dwelleth
no good thing." That is the basis of the doctrine of orig-
inal sin. It is sin in posse, but not in esse. It is not actual
sin that has been committed, but a certainty that when
one is of the ability to know good and evil he certainly
will commit sin. It is in his nature. A young lion may
never have injured any one, but he has a nature that

The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities 25

will naturally lead him to kill when he has the opportuni-
ty or necessity. It is in his nature. It is simply that
self and self interest are naturally predominant. He is
influenced by those things that are most nearly connect-
ed with himself. So he is likely, yes, certain to "trans-
gress," or cross the boundaries of the great command-
ment, the Law of love. When the God life is united
with the human, there results the Divine life. There is
a new nature with a new incentive. Then we can truly
say with the apostle, "Now are we the sons of God and it
doth not appear what we shall be, but we know that
when he shall appear we shall be like him for we shall
see him as he is." There is a great deal said these days
as if all the human race were the children of God. That
term may be applied in a kind of loose, conventional way,
but it is likely to be fatally misleading. What is the
status of a "child of God" who has not been "born of
God?" Taking the teachings of Christ for it, he is out-
side of the kingdom and can never enter it.

Christ was not speaking to an outcast vagabond
when he said, "Except a man be born of water and of
the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God." Nico-
demus himself was no exception, "Ye must be born
again." What is a new birth but the beginning of a new
life within?

In this connection it may be well to remark that
when a person is new born he is not full grown. What
a wise, benevolent arrangement it is that physically we
come into the world as infants. What a cold, hardhearted
world this would be without the influence of the little
ones. The helplessness of infancy, the beauty of child-
hood, what wonderful influence for good. So with the
new born in the kingdom of God. Those who are older
have a great opportunity, a great privilege in the way of
encouraging, assisting, those who are younger in the way

26 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

than themselves. How Christ treated his disciples ! How
beautiful, almost pathetically beautiful, was his relation-
ship with his disciples ! They were really, truly, his fol-
lowers, his children, his disciples, with the emphasis on
the word disciple, or learners. How often were their
weaknesses, or ignorance displayed and how often they
made mistakes ; and yet with what tender solicitude he
bore with them, led them, instructed them in his way. by
way of developing them in Godlikeness. It is his way
now. When one is "born of God" he may yet be but a
mere child in that life. But there are infinite reaches of
growth, development, before him.

Hostile criticism may be very wide of the mark. Ig-
norance, weakness, heredity, the influences of early en-
vironment and other circumstances may operate to make
a very poor showing of a divine life. But, after all, if
one has the life principle it will, eventually, produce its
effects. Such a life has "the eternal years" before it.

But the question has arisen as to infants who have
not, of course, consciously, intelligently, accepted Christ.
Are they the subjects of salvation? The question is not
hard to answer. While Adam was innocent God freely
volunteered to impart to him of his own life. He would
without doubt do the same for infants taken away in
their innocence, "For of such is the kingdom of heaven."

Again the question may arise as to those who lived
and died beforeChrist came to make an atonement for
sin. But here, again, the answer is apparent. \n the
councils of God and to the knowledge of all sentient be-
ings who were concerned, the Lamb was slain from the.
foundation of the world. The promise of the United
States government to pay $10 or any other sum of money
is as good as the gold. The promise of God to send a
Redeemer was as good as its fulfillment until the proper
time should come for that fulfillment.

The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities 27

If Abel had been asked as he knocked at the gate of
heaven by what right he claimed admission he could have
replied, "By the atonement of the Son of God to be offered
on Calvary four thousand years hence." He had accept-
ed that work of Christ by offering up sacrifices which
were the types of the great, the efficient, sacrifice. So of
every other mortal who by faith in the promise accepted
the sacrifice.

A question here may be pertinent. What must have
been the suffering by which that Antitype redeemed that
promise, paid the price and justified the faith of all the
faithful of the preceding centuries? The humiliation of
limiting himself to human degree, laying aside the glory
that he had with the Father before the world was, the
rebuffs he met from those he came to save. Note the
limited conceptions of his nature, and real dignity of him
even by his closest followers, not his sorrow as he looked
upon the desolations that in the near future were to come
upon his loved city and people, note the bloody sweat,
the garden agony, the nails, the spear. What finite mind
can grasp the price paid by the Infinite Son of God for
man's redemption!

"The Son of God in tears,
Bewondering angels see.
Be thou astonished, O my soul,
He shed those tears for thee."

Another question is pertinent here but one it is hard
to ask : What must be the fate of those who, knowing
the price paid for their redemption still reject it, still re-
fuse the salvation so freely offered and yet so costly? I
will not ask it, but will let the writer of the letter to the
Hebrews ask it : "For if the word spoken by angels was
steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience re-
ceived a just recompense of reward, how shall we es-
cape, if we neglect so great salvation?" And again, "He

28 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two
or three witnesses, of how much sorer punishment, sup-
pose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden
under foot the Son of God and hath counted the blood of
the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy
thing, and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace?"

But it is not my purpose so much to call attention
to what those must suffer who refuse the gift of life as
to what they gain who accept it, Eternal Life.


■God is able to graft them in again." (Romans 11 :

These words of the apostle, while directly referring
to the possibility of a restored Israel, may serve to illus-
trate one phase of the impartation of the Divine Life.

There are, probably, millions of naval organge trees
in the United States. They produce an excellent fruit,
but they have no seeds. How, then, can they be propo-
gated ? They have no power of self reproduction. How,
then, have these trees become? The answer is easy.
There is in Brazil a single tree of that variety. We may
not question how it became, now it exists. From its
scions, bud timber, were taken years ago, and brought to
this country. They were inserted, grafted or budded into
the natural, common stock. They produce the fruit of
the original tree because they partake of the life of that
parent tree. That life principle is imparted, transmitted
through all of the successive operations of grafting to

It is a pleasing thought that in its original habitat the
best fruit is obtained by grafting into the worst quality
of orange stock. The God life has been imparted to the
most forbidding human beings and with wonderful re-
sults. It suggests, at least, that there is no man so de
graded, so low down in the scale of being but that he may
be renewed, restored to an honorable life ; more than that,
he can be restored to the image of God, and become a
child of God.

But we need not carry out this illustration further
than this, the parent tree imparts its life to all the trees
that its scions are grafted into.

30 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

And now an interesting question arises, can scions
from the grafted tree produce the fruits of the original
tree? In nature, yes, of course. That is the way by
which all of the trees of that kind now existing, or near-
ly all at least, became what they are. But does this hold
true in the case that this is designed to illustrate? In
other words, can Christian parents impart the God life
to their offspring? There are instances, in which it
would seem to have been the case. But even in such cases
there has been a conscious act of will essentially accept-
ing the work of Christ so far as the knowledge extended.

There is a great deal said about ministers' sons and
deacons' daughters, as if they generally turned out badly.
The reverse is the fact. In innumerable instances the
children have followed in the footsteps of the parents.
When there is an exception it is so remarkable that it
attracts attention.

There are, of course, exceptions to the general rule,
but only enough to teach that salvation is an individual
matter. Each one must stand upon his own feet before
God. No one can trust his own salvation to any one
else. His destiny is in his own individual keeping. And
so we have the worst of men, sometimes, the sons of the
best of parents, and the best of men the offspring of the
worst. The rule is, "Train up a child in the way he
should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."

Returning now to the main line of thought — God im-
parts of his own life to those whom he justifies through
the merits of Christ's atonement. So one who is thus
"regenerated" becomes a partaker of God's own life, of
the life of Christ, of the life of the Holy Spirit. All are
spoken of as dwelling within us. Then are we the sons
of God in a sense peculiar, unique. It is in no ambiguous,
figurative or fictitious sense, but literally, truly, une-
quivocally. Then we can sing "I'm the child of a King."

The Divine Life : Its Development and Activities 31

All men, in a generic sense, are but human stocks
into which the God life can be grafted. This illustration
can be carried further to bring to our thought another
truth in this connection. The natural stock remains
after the scion has been inserted. Shoots may grow out
of that stock below where the scion was inserted. If
allowed to grow they will not only hinder the growth of
the scion, but will produce the fruits of the original stock.
So with men. After the new life has been imparted,
much of the old human nature still remains and strug-
gles to assert itself.

Now, dropping the figure we have been employing
to illustrate one or two features of this subject — after re-
generation there still remains the old human element,
human nature, to contend with. When born again one
does not spring at once, like the fabled Minerva, full
armed and panoplied from the brain of Jupiter; he is but
a child of God and we may place the emphasis on the
word child.

The attitude of the will has, indeed, been changed,
but there remains to a great extent, the natural impulses,
desires, affections and passions to be brought into sub-
jection to the will. Note the words of Paul, "For to will
is present with me ; but to perform that which is good I
find not."

But, it may be asked, why were not all of those old
shoots of the original tree broken off when the new scion
was ingrafted ; why were not all of the old elements of
the human nature, its desires, passions, prejudices, in-
stincts and impulses, exterminated when the new life
was imparted?

The answer is apparent, that would frustrate the
very purpose for which the entire physical universe was
brought into existence.

32 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

A great evangelist was once asked, "If God is all
good and all powerful, why doesn't he kill the Devil?"
The answer was not as direct and positive as it might,
and ought to have been, "Because he wants to make
virtue possible in the human race.". He wants a race of
beings with stronger moral characters then could grow
up in a breezeless sunshine of a sphere in which no trials
ever came He could have made men and conditions
such that men would no more go astray than the planets
do in their orbits around the sun. But in that case there
would have been no more virtue in men than in the plan-
ets. God wants a more virile race of beings, a race up-
right in spite of trials, in spite of temptations, and strong
because they have exercised their strength in resisting

So God thwarts the purposes of the Devil and makes
them subservient to his own designs.

But some may become impatient at my delay in com-
ing to the great point in this matter, the source of our
hope and strength.

While the world is a school for instruction and its
evil influences are a gymnasium for developing moral
strength, the source of our strength to overcome is Jesus
Christ. "Faith is the victory," or as Paul to the Philip-
pians, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which
has begun a good work in you will perform it until the
day of Jesus Christ."

But with all of our power we must cooperate with him
and, working together we may be able to change the
words, "O wretched man that I am," to the joyful ex-
clamation, "There is therefore now no condemnation to
them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the
flesh but after the Spirit."


"Let your moderation be known to all men," (Phil.

Said a person once to his pastor, "I hate modera-
tion." Perhaps in the sense in which he contemplated
the term, he was right. He, doubtless, was thinking of
warmness in espousing a good cause. But in the sense
in which the apostle uses the word, the path of modera-
tion is the path of rectitude. All of our natural desires,
passions or instincts are not to be exterminated, but con-
trolled, or kept within the limits of moderation. The ex-
ercise of the will in thus controlling them is a means of
grace, an opportunity and a means for developing the
Divine life. Certain passions used to be classed as mal-
evolent passions. More properly they should be called
defensive passions, given to assist us in defending our-
selves or others against the wrong. They become "mal-
evolent" when they are allowed to go beyond their prop-
er limits, or when malice enters in, or they transgress
or go across the boundaries of the law of love. "What
is the great commandment of the law?" one of the Phar-
isees asked Christ. "Jesus said unto him Thou shalt love
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy
might and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This
is the first and great commandment, And the second is
like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On
these two commandments hang all the Law and the
Prophets." He simply quoted from the book of Deuter-
onomy. The scribes and lawyers were familiar with that
law, as one of them once replied to him "Thou hast
answered right." And when Christ asked the same ques-
tion of one of them the answer was the same. In fact
that law was written in the hearts of men and was known

34 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

to and by all until the writing was blotted out by sin. In
fact all of the ten commandments, with possibly one ex-
ception, were written into the very constitutions of men
and would never have been needed to be written any-
where else if men had retained the life that Adam first
possessed and which made him in the image of God.

So, when pride, or passion, or any other of our nat-
ural inclinations, causes us to cross the bounds of that
law, we commit sin, and become transgressors of the
law. But the exercise of self control, the keeping of
these passions or natural instincts or desires within their
proper limits, is a great means for promoting strength of
character. In fact, it seems as if strong characters could
be built up in no other way. Strong characters in right-
eousness is what God wants and for which He has made
such abundant provision.

Take anger, for instance. We are cautioned against
it, and the caution is needed for it is so likely to carry
one away across the limits of the law. This is so common,
so natural, that the inspired writers well may caution us
against it as a work of the flesh, characteristic of fools,
connected with pride and cruelty, and so on. Hence
we are to be slow to anger and in its perverted forms it
is forbidden.

But God is angry with the wicked every day. Christ
"looked about him with anger, being grieved for the
hardness of their hearts." But there was no malice in his
anger. Jacob was rightly angry at his father-in-law for
the treatment that he had received. His anger was kept
within due limits. So Moses, though he was the meekest
of men, yet after an interview with Pharoah, went out in
a great anger. But he was, more than any other, a type
of Christ. One may be "angry and sin not" when that
anger is kindled by acts of wrong. It may be but a
"righteous indignation," and there is such a thing.

The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities 35

I refer to these things because they are so closely-
connected with the subject under consideration — growth
in righteousness.

The same observations may apply to hatred which
may be considered as a continued condition of anger. Is
it ever right to hate? That depends upon whether mal-
ice enters as an element, whether it is carried beyond
due bonds, or the object toward which it is directed is
not such as to be hated. But in human nature it is so
often the outcome of malice, or is carried too far, so as
to transgress the great law of love, or is directed toward
objects that ought to be loved, that, in general, it is for-
bidden. It has been styled a work of the flesh, as incon-
sistent with a knowledge and love of God and so on.

But such hatred is an abortion of a passion that in
itself is lawful and is even enjoined. Hatred is but the
antithesis of love. "Ye that love the Lord, hate evil." If
one really loves the Lord he will necessarily hate evil.
There has been much discussion as to whether we should
hate the authors and perpetrators of the most gigantic
assault upon humanity the world ever saw. There may
be, and with some there seems to be, a feeling that love
is a kind of flabby sentimentality that should be exercised
promiscuously toward everything, good, bad and indif-
ferent, sin and righteousness, God and the Devil. Such
is not the case. The more one loves righteousness, the
more he will hate unrighteousness. The more intense and
intelligent the love of God, the more intense will be the
hatred of his arch enemy. But men are so likely to love r
and to love only, a god of their own conceiving. How
often we hear such expressions as, "I could not love a
God that would doom whole nations to destruction," or
that would send some of their friends to perdition, or
something else ; and all of the time be telling what they
know that a just and righteous God must do, and what the

36 The Divine Life: Its Development and Activities

God of Nature and the Bible is doing. If we do not love
such a God we do not love the God with whom we have
to do. To learn to love the God with whom we have to
do, is to develop moral character. We may as well learn
to love the God with whom we have to do as to make a
god of our own choice and finally find that we have
made a wrong choice.

God is wiser than we. His thoughts are not our
thoughts nor his ways our ways. The more intelligent
and submissive our love for him, the more intense will
be our hatred of his arch enemy and the enemy of all

In Professor Wilkinson's Epic of Paul occurs a
somewhat remarkable thought. One of Paul's friends
is agonizing to find words to express his hatred of those
who are so persecuting him, when Paul interrupts, "Hast
thou been made so perfect in love that thou canst hate
like that?' The stronger the love, the more intense will
be the opposite.

But here it is necessary to make a distinction. Such
hatred may be the antithesis of complacent love, but not
be incompatible with benevolent love. So we are exhort-
ed to hate evil, false ways, backsliding and so on.

One has to really smile at the enthusiasm of the
Psalmist (Ps. 139:21.22), "Do not hate them that hate
thee? and am I not grieved with those that rise up
against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count
them mine enemies." And then, in perfect, childlike
innocence he goes on, "Search me O God and know my
heart : try me and know my thoughts and see if there be
any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way of ever-
lasting." The controlling of this passion, or turning it
into the right direction, is a means of developing God-

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Online LibraryAlbert Leverett GridleyThe divine life : its development and activities → online text (page 2 of 9)