The Highest Condition of the Human Will

The highest condition of the human will is in sight… I say not the highest condition of the Human Being; that surely lies in the Beatific Vision, in the sight of God. But the highest condition of the Human Will, as distinct, not as separated from God, is when, not seeing God, not seeming to itself to grasp Him at all, it yet holds Him fast.

–George MacDonald


Can’t You Believe It?

“You think it is all an old story–that fable. Can’t you believe it? All I can say is, I can; and I expect to find that the raising of that man was simply the type of what we shall all find to be true. There seems to me nothing unreasonable or difficult about it.”

— George MacDonald

In That Fashion

“Most people calling themselves Christians think that somehow or other they shall be able to scramble into heaven and keep out of hell. There is no religion in that, that is only prudential care of themselves. I do not blame it, but I do not praise it. I do not call that salvation, even if you could have it, but you could not; for if there were a place that could be got into in that fashion, where everybody else was blessed and happy, and you got into it somehow, you would just be miserable as you ought to be, and I am not quite sure that you would not leave it and try the other place.”

From a report of George MacDonald’s sermon reprinted in ‘George MacDonald in the Pulpit.’

Thou Art my Home

"That man is perfect in faith who can come to God in the utter dearth of his feelings and his desires, without a glow or an aspiration, with the weight of low thoughts, failures, neglects, and wandering forgetfulness, and say to him, 'Thou art my refuge, because thou art my home.'"

-George MacDonald

The Freedom of the Children

“Christ died to save us, not from suffering, but from ourselves; not from injustice, far less from justice, but from being unjust. He died that we might live–but live as he lives, by dying as he died who died to himself that he might live unto God. If we do not die to ourselves, we cannot live to God, and he that does not live to God, is dead. ‘Ye shall know the truth,’ the Lord says, ‘and the truth shall make you free. I am the truth, and you shall be free as I am free. To be free, you must be sons like me. To be free you must be that which you have to be, that which you are created. To be free you must give the answer of sons to the Father who calls you. To be free you must fear nothing but evil, care for nothing but the will of the Father, hold to him in absolute confidence and infinite expectation. He alone is to be trusted.’ He has shown us the Father not only by doing what the Father does, not only by loving his Father’s children even as the Father loves them, but by his perfect satisfaction with him, his joy in him, his utter obedience to him. He has shown us the Father by the absolute devotion of a perfect son. He is the Son of God because the Father and he are one, have one thought, one mind, one heart. Upon this truth–I do not mean the dogma, but the truth itself of Jesus to his father–hangs the universe; and upon the recognition of this truth–that is, upon their becoming thus true–hangs the freedom of the children, the redemption of their whole world. ‘I and the Father are one,’ is the centre-truth of the Universe; and the circumfering truth is, ‘that they also may be one in us.'”

—George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons

The Eternal Gladness

I take a comfort from my very badness:
It is for lack of thee that I am bad.
How close, how infinitely closer yet
Must I come to thee, ere I can pay one debt
Which mere humanity has on me set!
“How close to thee!”—no wonder, soul, thou art glad!
Oneness with him is the eternal gladness.

~ George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul

Being Good Vs. Doing Good

“Why do you call me good? None is good except God alone.”

Checked thus, the youth turns to the question which, working in his heart, had brought him running, and made him kneel: what good thing shall he do that he may have eternal life? He thought to gain his objective by a doing, when the very thing desired was a being: he would have that as a possession which must posses him. But the Lord cared neither for isolated truth nor for orphaned deed. It was truth in the inward parts, it was the good heart, the mother of good deeds, he cherished. It was good men he cared about, not notions of good things, or even good actions, save as the outcome of life, of love and will in the soul taking shape and coming forth. He would die to make men good and true. His whole heart would respond to the cry of sad publican or despairing Pharisee, “How am I to be good?”

When the Lord says, “Why askest thou me concerning that which is good?”

we must not put emphasis on the me: he was the proper person to ask, only the question was not the right one. The good thing was a small matter; the good being was all in all. ‘Why ask me about the good thing?’ There is one living good, in whom the good thing, and all good, is alive. Ask me rather about the good person, the god being – the origin of all good. It is not with this or that good thing we have to do, but with that power whence comes our power even to speak the word good. To know God is to be good. It is not to make us do all things right he cares, but to make us hunger and thirst after righteousness.

The youth is looking for some unknown good thing to do, and the Lord sends him back to the doing of what he knows, and that in answer to his question concerning the way to eternal life. He has already more than hinted where the answer lies, namely, in God himself, but that the youth is not yet capable of receiving; he must begin with him farther back:

If thou wouldst enter into life, keep the commandments.

For verily, if the commandments have nothing to do with entering into life, why were they ever given to men? They are the beginning of the way. If a man had kept all those commandments, yet would he not therefore have in him the life eternal; nevertheless, without keeping of the commandments there is no entering into life; the keeping of them is the path to the gate of life. It is not life, but it is the way to it.

The Lord says nothing about the first table of the law: why does he not tell this youth as he did the lawyer, that to love God is everything? He had given him a glimpse of the essence of his own life, had pointed the youth to the heart of all, for him to think of afterwards: he was not ready for it yet. To love God with all our heart, and soul, and strength, and mind, is to know God, and to know him is eternal life. But to begin with that would be as sensible as to say to one asking how to reach the top of some mountain, “Just set your foot on that shining snow-clad peak, high there in the blue, and you will at once be where you wish to go.”

George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons