IN the introductory lecture to his "Character and Characteristics of William Law," Dr. Whyte writes, "I wish some student of Law had reprinted for the Christian public the third and practical part of the 'Spirit of Love.'" Elsewhere he speaks of it as A Golden Dialogue. In this issue of the Dialogue I have left out what appeared to have no direct reference to the practical part of the "Spirit of Love." In the notes I have tried to help some readers, who might not at once be able to take in Law's teaching, and might not be ready to give the careful and continued study needed to master his thoughtful style, to see what really the points are that he wishes to open up and enforce.
His chief thoughts are these. The ordinary Christian life is a state of pupilage, in which, under the influence of the teaching of Scripture, mind and heart have to be educated and disciplined, and the will trained and stirred, to seek after a life in which the Spirit of Love really fills and rules the soul. Such a life is possible, but can be received only by the operation of God, in which our Lord, as the Lamb of God, reveals himself in the heart and takes possession. The great, in fact the one real hindrance to this life of the Spirit of Love within us, is the power of our evil self that poisons our whole nature. The chief object of our time of pupilage, and that on which its length and its issue depend, is that the soul, in its struggle to obey God's law and to overcome this evil self with its tempers, be brought to the confession of its own utter impotence to work deliverance.
The only way to deliverance is by a true and entire death to self. The great secret of this death to self-this is really the secret of his teaching and the central thought of the dialogue-the great secret of the death to self, is to be found in a simple helpless turning from self to God.
This dying to self is the very perfection of faith in Christ as the Lamb of God. At first sight it does not appear how this can bring such a wonderful deliverance from self, or lead to Christ's rising in the soul with the light of heaven and the full birth of the Spirit of Love.
But as he expounds the truth, and shows how in the humility of the Lamb of God lay the secret of the work He did, and the salvation He gives, and how the sinking down before God in humility, meekness, patience, and resignation to God is the very perfection of faith in Christ, and the one only condition of God's doing His work in us, we are compelled to acknowledge that here is indeed the place of blessing.
A great deal has been said against the use of terms like The Higher Life, and A Second Blessing. In Law one finds nothing of such language, but of the deep truth of which they are the, perhaps defective, expression his whole book is full. The points on which so much stress is laid in what is called Keswick Teaching, stand prominently out in his whole argument. The low state of the average life of the believer, the cause of all failure as coming from self confidence, the need of an entire surrender of the whole being to the operation of God, the call to turn to Christ in faith as the one and sure deliverer from the power of self, the divine certainty of a better life for all who will in self-despair trust Christ for it, and the heavenly joy of a life in which the Spirit of Love fills the heart- these truths are common property. What appears make Law's putting of the truth of special value is the way in which he shows how humility and utter self-despair, with the resignation to God's mighty working in simple faith, is the infallible way to be delivered from self and have the Spirit of Love fill the heart.
Some may object to the title "Dying to Self." I have tried in Appendix A to explain my view of it as connected with our being dead to sin in Christ. I pray that the blessing and help his teaching has been to myself may be shared by many, and that this little book may be used of God to open up the exceeding riches of His grace in Christ Jesus.
July 11, 1898