The life of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High may be called a Hidden Life, because the animating principle, the vital or operative element, is not so much in itself as in another. It is a life grafted into another life. It is the life of the soul, incorporated into the life of Christ; and in such a way, that, while it has a distinct vitality, it has so very much in the sense, in which the branch of a tree may be said to have a distinct vitality from the root.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Inward Burning

Be PATIENT, let the fire consume,
Give God's interior burning room.
Make no resistance, let it blaze.
And self, in root and branch, erase.

The life of self hath long annoyed;
Thy hopes assail'd, thy joys destroy'd;
It poisons every inward sense ;
And FIRE alone can drive it thence.

The fiery trial gives distress;
But never wish its anguish less;
The pain thou feelest is a sign
Of flames from heaven, of fire divine.

Oh let it burn, till pride and lust,
And envy, creeping in the dust,
And wrong and crime, of every name,
Shall perish in the heavenly flame.

— from Christ in the Soul (1872) LXXVII.

Friday, February 17, 2017

He Standeth at the Door

"My head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night." — Cant. 5.2.

The stars are shining from the depths of blue,
And one is standing at the door and knocks;
He knocks to enter in. His raven locks
Are heavy with the midnight's glittering dew.
He is our FRIEND; and great his griefs have been,
The thorns, the cross, the garden's deep distress,
Which he hath  suff'ered  for our happiness;
And shall we not arise, and let him in?
All hail, thou chosen one, thou source of bliss!
Come with thy bleeding feet, thy wounded side;
Alas, for us Thou hast endured all this;
Enter our doors, and at our hearth abide!
Chill are the midnight dews, the midnight air;
Come to our hearts and homes, and make thy dwelling there.

— from The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets XIV.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Sovereign Will

"Thou hast a mighty arm; strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand." — Psalm 89. 13.

There is one ruling power, one sovereign will,
One sum and center of efficiency.
'Tis like the mystic wheel within the wheel
The prophet saw at Chebar. Its decree
Goes from the center to the utmost bounds
Of universal nature. Its embrace
And penetrating touch pervades, surrounds
Whate'er has life or form or time or place.
It garnishes the heavens, and it gives
A terror and a voice to ocean's wave.
In all the pure and gilded heights it lives,
Nor less in earth's obscurest, deepest cave.
Around, above, below its might is known,
Encircling great and small, the footstool and the throne.

— from The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets XIII.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Justification and Self-Renunciation

But justification by faith involves one important mental element, which has sometimes been overlooked. We cannot better describe it, than by calling it the feeling of self-renunciation. A willingness to acknowledge our nakedness, blindness, and want; and to receive, with the helplessness of little children, whatever may be necessary for us from another. This feeling of self-renunciation is involved in the act of faith; or more properly and truly, it is antecedent and prerequisite to it. In other words, we must cease to believe in ourselves as a ground of hope, we must cease to believe in our own merits and our own strength as a source of salvation, before it is possible for us to believe, in a scriptural manner, in Christ as a source of salvation and as a ground of hope.

The feeling of personal renunciation is a mental element in the process of justification, which, as we have already intimated, has sometimes been overlooked. But we cannot hesitate in saying, that it is an element, which cannot be dispensed with, consistently with realizing the great spiritual result, which the term justification expresses. It is of the nature of a contradiction in terms, to say that a man can be justified by faith, and at the same time be justified by any way or method besides faith. Justification by faith negatives and denies, in the necessary import of the expressions themselves, any and every other method of justification. When we are justified by faith, we not only have faith in Christ, as the propitiation for sins in general; but, appropriating this propitiation to our own necessities, we believe in him as a Savior from our own sins. But it is obvious, that, if we believe in Christ as our Savior, we do not believe in ourselves as our Savior, nor in our own efforts as our Savior, nor in any system of human effort and instrumentality, nor in any saving efficacy whatever out of him. That is to say, it is obviously implied in the very act of faith, that we renounce ourselves; that we feel, in respect to our salvation, that in ourselves we are nothing.

And this feeling of self-renunciation, as we shall have occasion to notice more particularly in the succeeding chapter, which is antecedent to the faith that justifies, is also antecedent and prerequisite to the faith which sanctifies; and perhaps we may add, is prerequisite to every gracious exercise, which is involved in sanctification. The truly holy soul, that has renounced the falsity and the bitterness of self-reliance, understands this. Such a soul feels itself to be, because it is so in fact, under the inspiration and movement of a power out of itself and above itself; although it may be said, at the same time, to be a power dwelling within it. In the spirit and in the language of a devout person, who had known what it was to renounce self in order to receive God, it would rather be lost than be saved, would rather be cast out than received into favor, by any means which would exclude the divine operation, and which would not give God all the glory.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 8.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Justification by Faith

Faith is a principle which does not stand alone. It always has an object; and always has results.

In connection, therefore, with our general doctrine, that faith is the source of feeling both natural and religious, and that it is the great foundation of the religious life, we proceed to say further, that one of the remarkable results of faith, considered as the means of spiritual restoration and renovation, is, that it frees us from that condemnation, which is brought upon us by reason of sin. In other words, we are JUSTIFIED by faith.

Believing themselves to be sinners, believing Jesus Christ to be the propitiation for sins, and accepting salvation through his merits alone, men are forgiven, and are treated, in reference to the law of God, as if they had not sinned against it. In other words, they are justified. The creature, who has violated the divine law, is the subject of justification; God, in connection with the administration of his government and the arrangement of his providences, is the author of it; but still, being justified in the manner which has been mentioned, viz.: by trusting in Christ alone, men are properly said to be justified by faith.

Nor is there any other way of its being done. Justification, in the scripture sense of the term, always implies forgiveness or pardon. Forgiveness or pardon, as the terms themselves imply, is a free gift. At the same time, such are the relations existing among moral beings, that such forgiveness cannot, in the spiritual sense, be made available to the subject or recipient of it without confidence or faith existing on the part of such subject towards the author. A pardon, which is spiritually available, one which is desirable and valuable in the spiritual or religious sense, is a pardon, which results in entire reconciliation between the parties. But it is self-evident, if we could suppose forgiveness or pardon to exist without faith or confidence on the part of the subject of it, (for instance, without faith in the kind intentions of the being offering the pardon and without faith in his power of making it good,) that it would fail to result in mutual reconciliation, in the reciprocation of benevolent feelings, and in true happiness. On a favorable construction of it, it would be merely forgiveness intentional and inchoate; existing exclusively in the mind of the author; without counterpart, and without completion. From the nature of the case, therefore, a man cannot be pardoned or forgiven, to any available spiritual purpose, without faith; and consequently he cannot be justified without faith.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 8.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Hour of Prayer

It is the place and hour of prayer;
Oh, haste and meet together there.
Inspr'd with faith, relieved from care,
How sweet, how blest the hour of prayer!
Sweet hour of prayer!

At that dear hour distrust retires;
The earth withdraws its vain desires;
And God, the Holy Ghost, inspires
The flame of heaven's celestial fires;
Sweet hour of prayer!

'Tis then that truth shall guide thy ways;
'Tis then that prayer shall change to praise;
'Tis then that hearts and tongues shall raise
The song of heaven's unending days.
Sweet hour of prayer!

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXXVI.

Saturday, February 11, 2017


Departed ones, that shine afar,
My earthly life is hasting through;
And soon, beyond the circling star,
Shall wing its raptured way to you.

Oh come, and meet me in my flight,
Oh come, and take me by the hand,
When first I greet celestial light,
And tread the new, the heavenly land.

Long years have worn my furrow'd brow,
And stained my cheek with many a tear;
But that is past, and brightly now
I see the land of glory near.

Dear sharers of my joys and tears,
Not dead, but only gone before!
Friends of my past, my early years,
Oh, meet me on the shining shore.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXXV.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Hidden Spiritual Decline

Reflections on
the Life of
Madame Jeanne de la Mothe Guyon.

The account which she gives of her inward state at this time, is an exceedingly painful one.

I readily gave way, to sallies of passion. I failed in being strictly conscientious and careful in the utterance of the truth. I became not only vain, but corrupt in heart. Although I kept up some outward religious appearances, religion itself, as a matter of inward experience, had become to me a matter of indifference. I spent much time, both day and night, in reading romances, those strange inventions to destroy youth. I was proud of my personal appearance, so much so that, contrary to my former practices, I began to pass a good deal of my time before the mirror. I found so much pleasure in viewing myself in it, that I thought others were in the right, who practiced the same. Instead of making use of this exterior, which God gave me as a means of loving him more, it, became to me the unhappy source of a vain and sinful self-complacency. All seemed to me to look beautiful in my person; but in my declension and darkness I did not then perceive, that the outward beauty covered a sinful and fallen soul.
But this was not the judgment which the world then passed upon her; the world so severe in the exaction of its own claims, but so indulgent in mitigating the claims of God. Under a form that was outwardly beautiful, and veiled by manners that had received the most correct and advanta­geous culture, it was not easy for man to perceive the elements and workings of a heart which harbored moral and religious rebellion. In the eye of the world, therefore, which is but imperfectly capable of penetrating beyond the exterior, and which delights in elegance of form and perfection of manners, there was but little to blame, and much to praise; but in the eye of God, which sees and estimates the inmost motive, it was not possible for outward beauty to furnish a compensation for inward deformity. And in using the phrase inward deformity, we do not necessarily mean, that she was worse than many others who have a reputation for good morals. Estimating her by the world's standard, she had her good qualities, as well as those of an opposite character, her excellences as well as her defects. Nevertheless, there was that wanting which constitutes the soul's true light, without which all other beauty fades, and all other excellence is but excellence in name, — the love of God in the heart.

 — edited from The Life of Madam Guyon (1847) Volume 1, Chapter 3.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Seeking in the Creature What Can Only Be Found in God

Mademoiselle De La Mothe continued in the state of mind which we have described, about a year. But this strong religious tendency also had its end.

What it was which led to the termination of religious prospects so flattering, it is difficult to state with entire confidence. There is some reason for thinking, however, that the love of God, not far from this time, began to be disturbed by the accession and influence of a love, which was more mixed and earthly in its origin. She relates that her father with his family left the city of Montargis, in order to spend some days in the country; and that he took with him a very accomplished young gentleman, one of his near relations. This young man, of whom she speaks in high terms for his religious sentiments, as well as his intellectual and other accomplishments, became much attached to her. She was still young, being only in her fourteenth year. She gives us to understand, that this individual, notwithstanding the circumstance of her immature age, made propositions of marriage. And this, after a suitable time, would probably have been the result, with the cordial consent of all the parties concerned, if it had not been met by the obstacle, that their relationship was so near as to bring them within the degrees of consanguinity, in which marriage is prohibited in the Catholic Church. This obstacle, it is true, could have been removed by a dispensation from the Papal See; but, still it was one of so serious a nature, that her father did not think it proper to give his consent. Still they were mutually pleased, and spent much time in each other's company. It was at the time of this attachment, that she says significantly and penitently, that she "began to seek in the creature what she had previously found in God." But we will let her describe her spiritual declension in her own language.

In connection with a reference to her daily interviews with this young relative, she says:

I left off prayer. I became as a vineyard exposed to pillage, whose hedges, torn down, give liberty to all the creatures to ravage it.  I began to seek in the creature what I had found in God.  And thou, oh my God! didst leave me to myself, because I left the first and wast pleased, in permitting me to sink into the horrible pit, to make me see and feel the necessity of maintaining a state of continual watchfulness and communion with thyself. Thou hast taught thy people, that thou wilt destroy those who, by indulging wrongly-placed affections, depart from thee. Alas! their departure alone causes their destruction; since in departing from Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, they enter into the region of darkness and the shadow of death. And there, bereft of all true strength, they will remain. It is not possible that they should ever arise again, unless Thou shalt revisit them; unless Thou shalt restore them to light and life, by illuminating their darkness, and by melting their icy hearts. Thou didst leave me to myself, because I left Thee first. But such was Thy goodness, that it seemed to  me, that Thou didst leave me with regret.

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon (1847) Volume 1, Chapter 3.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Missed Visit

Reflections on
the Life of
Madame Jeanne de la Mothe Guyon.

About this time the Catholic church of France, desirous to spread abroad the Christian religion where it was yet unknown, was enlarging its missions in the East. Among the individuals whose piety led them to engage in this  benevolent  work, was a nephew of M. De La Mothe. His name was De Toissi; the same individual, of whom some account is given in the History of Foreign Missions, Relation des Missions EtrangĂ©res,  under the name of De Chamesson. This young man, in company with one of the French bishops, the titular bishop of Heliopolis, had commenced his journey to the place of his labors in Cochin China; and in passing through Montargis, had called at the residence of his uncle. His visit was short; but characterized as it was by the circumstance, that he was about to leave his native land perhaps forever, and on business too that was infinitely dear to the heart of humanity and religion, it was full of interest. He was one of those, who could say in the sweet language of the subject of this Memoir, when in after life she suffered in prison and its exile,

“My  country, Lord, art Thou alone;
No other can I claim or own;
The point, where all my wishes meet,
My Law, my Love, life's only sweet."

Mademoiselle De La Mothe had gone out at, the time of this short but deeply interesting visit of her pious cousin; a visit incidental to a journey undertaken from religious considerations, and which, therefore, could not well be delayed from purely worldly motives. "I happened," she says, "at that time to be gone a-walking with my companions, which I seldom did. At my return he was gone. They gave me an account of his sanctity, and of the things he had said. I was so touched with it, that I was overcome with sorrow. I cried all the rest of the day and of the night."

This was one of those incidents in the Providence of God, which come home to the heart. How often has the mere sight of a truly pious man brought the hardened sinner under conviction! How often have those who have been unmoved by the most eloquent religious appeals, been deeply affected by the most simple and unpretending words, when uttered under circumstances favorable to such a result. When she heard the statement of the deep and devoted piety of her cousin De Toissi, the thoughts of Mademoiselle De La Mothe, on the principle of contrast rather than of resemblance, naturally reverted to herself. She remembered how often God had called her to himself; and how often she had listened without obeying, or had obeyed without persevering in obedience. "What!" she exclaimed to a pious person, who acted as her Confessor and religious teacher, "am I the only person in our family to be lost! Alas! Help me in my salvation." Her whole soul was roused to a sense of her situation. She recalled with deep compunction her repeated seasons of seriousness and religious inquiry, and of subsequent declension. "Alas!" she exclaimed, "what grief I now sustained for having displeased God! What regrets! What exclamations! What tears of sorrow!" Once more she endeavored to bring her mind to a religious frame.

Once more she applied herself to the task of her soul's salvation, apparently with great sincerity and earnestness; but without being able to find the simple way of acceptance by  faith.  She resisted her passions, which were liable to be strongly moved; and her efforts were attended with a considerable degree of success. She asked the forgiveness of those, whom she was so unhappy as to have displeased. Appreciating, in some degree, the relation between religion and practical benevolence, she visited the poor, gave them food and clothing, and taught them the catechism. She spent much time in private reading and praying. She purchased and read some of the practical and devotional books which were most highly valued among her people, such as the Life of Madame de Chantal and the works of St. Francis de Sales. She inscribed the name of the Savior in large characters upon a piece of paper; and so attached it, to her person as to be continually reminded of him. With an erroneous notion of expiating her sin by her own suffering, she voluntarily subjected herself to various bodily austerities. Determining to leave nothing undone which seemed to furnish any hope of spiritual improvement, it is worthy of notice that she made a vow, in imitation of the devout Madame de Chantal, of ever aiming at the highest perfection, and of doing the will of God in everything. This undoubtedly was an important resolution, which, we may reasonably suppose, would have been followed by the happiest consequences, if it had not been made too much in her own strength, and in ignorance of the great renovating principle, that all true strength is derived from God through Christ by faith.  Among other things which characterized her mental exercises and her efforts at this time, it appears that she came to the resolution, if Providence should permit, to enter into a Convent, and in the apparent hopelessness of aid from any other source, to secure her spiritual interests and her salvation by becoming a Nun. This part of her plan, which showed the depth of her feeling on the subject which now occupied her mind, was frustrated by her father, who was tenderly attached to her, and who, while he was earnestly desirous that his daughter might become truly religious, supposed that she might possess religion without separating from her family, and without an entire seclusion from the world.

The Infinite Mind, no doubt, beheld and sympathized in the anxiety which she felt, and in the efforts she made. God is not, indifferent, he never can be indifferent, to those who strive to enter in. He numbers all their tears; he registers all their resolves. How can it be otherwise? If the state of mind be that of true striving after God, he himself has inspired it. Has he no feeling, no sympathy for his own work? It is true that he sometimes permits those whom he determines eventually to bless, to strive long, and perhaps to wander in erroneous ways. But the result of this painful experience will be, that, they will ultimately understand much better than they otherwise would have done, the direction and the issue of the true path. They have a lesson to learn which cannot well be dispensed with; and God therefore is willing that they should learn it. What that lesson is, it is not always easy to say, in individual cases. Perhaps the remains of self-confidence exist within them, which can be  removed only by the experience of the sorrows which are attendant upon the errors it invariably commits. And accordingly God leaves them to test the value of human wisdom. They try it; they fall into mistakes; they are overwhelmed with confusion; and then, and not till then, they see the necessity and importance of reposing all their confidence in Him, who alone can guide them in safety.

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon (1877) Volume 1, Chapter 3.