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The Hidden Life: Devotional Book, by Adolph Saphir


After trying a few different free online Christian books recently (including works from Henry Morris and Alfred Edersheim), I am now reading Adolph Saphir’s “The Hidden Life”.  This work is available in several formats from archive.org, and also free on Google Play: the format I’ve chosen, without the many typo errors in, for instance, archive.org’s Kindle version.

I’ve only read the first three chapters so far, but finding it a good devotional with the proper emphasis on different aspects of the Christian life: prayer, reading of scripture, and the overall question of what it means to draw near to God.  Saphir’s work considers the epistle of James, and specifically James 4:8 – “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” Scripture verses and Christian poetry abound, as Saphir considers the proper way to come to God, how we should approach prayer (along with discussion of our tendency to not pray), and more.

A few excerpts are noteworthy, including this from the preface:

It is right to guard the house against the attacks of foes, or rather to point out the strength and security of the divinely-laid foundation. It is also right to point out the gate wide and open, and to declare to all the freeness and fulness of divine grace. But to describe the home itself, the inner sanctuary, seems to be more essential, and also more in accordance with the practice of the apostles, who declared the whole counsel of God, and regarded the preaching of the gospel, in its fulness, and with the power of the Holy Ghost, as at once the great argument to convince, and the great attraction to persuade.

And

The Word, or the Scripture, is the great, and in many respects the unique, channel of God’s communications to the soul; or rather it is central, round which all other divine influences gather. Scripture is the divine revelation in a special sense, but so that it connects itself with all other manifestations of God to the soul, be they in Nature or Providence, or by the direct influence of the Spirit.

Saphir keeps balance, avoiding the excesses and negative associations of mysticism and Christian mysticism, while noting the proper focus the Christian should have: on the Lord Himself, rather than on the “experience” of communion we enjoy with the Lord (which tends toward self-centeredness).  Notes at the end of chapter 1 specifically address the errors of mysticism, also observing:

The Christian knows not only wherein religion consists, but he also knows the source and power of the true life. The mystics outside Christianity have truly felt the necessity of death, of hating our own will and life, and in this respect put to shame many professing Christians who mind earthly things, and are the enemies of the cross of Christ. But they did not know : ” Ye have died with Christ, and your life is hid with Christ in God. ” They did not know the power of Christ’s resurrection, and the constraining love of the Divine Saviour, who for us died and lived again, that we henceforth may live unto Him. They may therefore be viewed as resembling those who, through the law, have become dead and long for life.

Later chapters deal with worldliness and the Christian’s proper response: to not love the world, yet in our service in the world, The less he loves the world in its God-opposed character, the more he truly loves the world, and is a blessing to those around him.

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