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.

Friday, January 20, 2017

A Time of Neglect and Poor Health

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





During her residence at the house of the Benedictines she was treated with great kindness. In one instance only was she the subject of punishment on the part of those who had the charge of her; and this seems to have happened in consequence of the misapprehension, or the designed misstatement of her young associates.

Her health, however, was exceedingly poor. And soon after the transactions just now mentioned, she was taken home, in consequence of frequent and severe turns of indisposition. She complains that she was again left almost exclusively in the care of domestics; and that consequently she did not meet with that attention to her morals and manners, which would have been desirable. Certain it is, as a general statement, that domestics are not in a situation to discharge, in behalf of young children, all those duties which may reasonably and justly be expected of parents. It might be unjust, however, even where appearances are unfavorable, to ascribe to parents intentional neglect, without a full knowledge of all the circumstances.

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

Childish Mockery of Her Faith

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





While resident at the House of the Benedictines, though early in life, she appears to have received some religious ideas, and to have been the subject of some religious impressions. She speaks in particular of a dream, in which she seemed to have a very distinct conception of the ultimate misery of impenitent sinners, as making a deep impression on her mind. Aroused by the images of terror which were then presented to her, and operated upon by other circumstances which were calculated to awaken her religious sensibilities, she became very thoughtful, and exhibited at this early period a considerable interest in religious things.

She was too young to appreciate fully the relation existing between herself and the Infinite Mind; but the idea of God was so far developed to her opening but vigorous conceptions, that she inwardly and deeply recognized his claims to her homage and her love. She endeavored to conform to these convictions, not only by doing in other respects whatever seemed to be the will of God, but by openly and frankly expressing her determination to lead a religious life.

Happy in these solemn views and determinations, she one day, with a frankness perhaps greater than her prudence, remarked in the presence of her associates, that she was ready to become a martyr for God. The girls who resided with her at the Benedictines, not altogether pleased that one so young should go so far before them in a course so honorable, and supposing perhaps that they discovered some ingredients of human pride mingling with religious sincerity, came to the conclusion to test such enlarged pretensions. By representations more nicely adjusted than either true or honorable, they persuaded her that God in his providences had suddenly but really called her to the endurance of that martyrdom for which she had exhibited and professed a mind so fully prepared. They found her true to what she had previously professed. And having permitted her to offer up her private supplications, they conducted her to a room selected for the purpose, with all those circumstances of deliberateness and solemnity, which were appropriate to so marked an occasion. They spread a cloth upon the floor, upon which she was required to kneel, and which was destined to receive her blood. One of the older girls then appeared in the character of an executioner, and lifted a large cutlass, with the apparent intention of separating her head from her body. At this critical moment, overcome by her fears, which were stronger than her young faith, she cried out, that she was not at liberty to die without the consent of her father..  The girls, in the spirit of triumph, declared that it was a mere excuse to escape what was prepared for her. And assuring her that God would not accept as a martyr one who had not a martyr's spirit, they insultingly let her go.

This transaction, which was so cruel in its application, although it, probably originated in thoughtlessness as much or more than in unkindness, had a marked effect upon her mind. Young as she was, she was old enough to perceive, that she had not only been open but voluntary in her professions; that she had been tried, and been found wanting. Those religious consolations, which she had previously experienced, departed. Something in her conscience reproached her, that she either wanted courage or faith, to act and to suffer, under all circumstances and without any reserve, in the cause of her heavenly Father. It seemed to her, in the agitation of her spirit, that she had offended him, and that there was now but little hope of his support and favor. Thus, as in many other similar cases, the religious tendency, unkindly crushed in the very bud of its promise, withered and died.

[TO BE CONTINUED] 

— from The life of Madame Guyon (1877) Volume 1. Chapter 1.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Young Girl Among the Nuns

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





In the city of Montargis, where her father resided, was a seminary for the instruction of young girls, under the care of the Ursuline Nuns. The Ursulines are a sisterhood of religious persons, who bind themselves, in addition to other vows of a more strictly religious character, to occupy themselves in the education of children of their own sex. At the age of two years and a half, she was sent from home, and placed at the Ursuline Seminary, but remained there only for a short time. When she was taken from the Ursuline Institution, she remained for a time at the residence of her parents; but for some reason not clearly understood, but probably in part from an imperfect view of the value of parental influence, was left by her mother chiefly in the care of the domestics of the family. In after life she refers to this period as one in which her mental and moral culture, such as she was even then capable of receiving, was not properly attended to. She speaks of it also as a period in which she incurred, in repeated instances, those dangers, from which she sometimes narrowly escaped, which are incidental to the sports and to the thoughtless and venturesome spirit of childhood. But God, who had designs of mercy for her own soul, and through her instrumentality for the souls of others, protected her.

It was in the year 1652, that a lady of distinguished rank, the Duchess of Montbason, who wished probably to avail herself of the means of religious retirement and instruction which they afforded, came to reside with the Benedictines, another religious body, distinct from the Ursulines, who had established themselves at Montargis. The daughter of M. De La Mothe was then four years of age. At the solicitation of the Duchess, who was an intimate acquaintance and friend of her father, and who said it would be a source of great satisfaction to her to have the company of his little daughter, she was placed with the Benedictines.

"Here I saw," she says, in the Account of her Life, which she afterwards wrote, "none but good examples; and as I was naturally disposed to yield to the influence of such examples, I followed them when I found nobody to turn me in another direction. Young as I was, I loved to hear of God, to be at church, and to be dressed in the habit of a little Nun.”

[TO BE CONTINUED] 

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

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Birth and Infancy of Jean de la Mothe

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





The subject of this Memoir was born the thirteenth of April, 1648. She was baptized the same year, on the twenty-fourth of May; Her father's name was Claude Bouviéres De La Mothe. The place of her birth was Montargis, a French town of some note, situated about fifty miles to the south of Paris, in the part of France known previously to the French Revolution as the Province of Orleanois.

Of her parents we know but little. It would seem, however, that they were very worthy people, holding a highly honorable position among the leading families of Montargis, and that both of them, especially the father, were deeply impressed with religious sentiments. Her father bore the title of Seigneur or Lord de La Mothe Vergonville.  Her father and mother had both been previously married; and both had children previous to their second marriage. The father had a son and daughter; the mother had a daughter; and these were their only children, so far as we have any account, when they became united with each other. The subject of this Memoir, whose remarkable personal and religious history has made her an object of interest to succeeding ages, was the offspring of this second marriage. Her maiden name was Jeanne Marie Bouviéres De La Mothe.

In very early infancy she was afflicted with a complaint, which reduced her to such extremity, that her life was for some time despaired of. To her narrow escape from death at this period, she refers in after life, with feelings which her religious experience was naturally calculated to inspire. Her life had its vicissitudes, its trials, its deep sorrows; but in view of the sanctification which had attended them, she was deeply thankful, that God had been pleased to spare her. "It is owing," she says, "to thy goodness, O God, that there now remains to me the consolation of having sought and followed Thee; of having laid myself upon the altar of sacrifice in the strength of pure love; of having labored for thine interests and glory. In the commencement of my earthly existence death and life seemed to combat together; but life proved victorious over death. Oh, might I but hope, that, in the conclusion of my being here on earth, life will be forever victorious over death! Doubtless it will be so, if Thou alone dost live in me, O my God, who art at present my only Life, my only Love."

[TO BE CONTINUED] 

— from The Life of Madame Guyon (1877) Volume 1, Chapter 1.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Aids to the Biography of Madame Guyon

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





Not unfrequently [Madam Guyon] is introduced in the following work, as speaking of herself in the first person; sometimes detailing the outward incidents of her life, and sometimes giving an account of her opinions and inward experience. It  is proper to say here, that, in translating passages where she speaks of herself and her opinions, I have aimed rather to give the sentiment, than the precise mode of expression. In some cases, in order to complete the statement and make it consistent with itself, I have combined what is said in one place with what is said in another. It is sometimes the case, also, that in the original, something, instead of being brought out prominently to notice, is merely involved in what is said, or is indistinctly but yet really intimated, which it has been necessary, in order to give a clear idea of the subject, to develop in distinct propositions, and to make a part of the statement, whatever it may be. So that, sometimes, instead of a mere rendering of word for word, or a mere translation in the ordinary sense of the terms, I give what may be termed perhaps an  interpreted  translation; that is to say, a translation of the spirit rather than of the letter. This course seemed to me a proper one, not only for the reader, but in order to do full justice to Madame Guyon herself. I may add here, that I have availed myself, from time to time, of the aid offered by the judicious translation which Mr. Brooke has made of a portion of her Life, and of the work entitled "A Short Method of Prayer."

The Second Volume of the work is occupied, in a considerable degree, with the acquaintance which was formed in the latter part of her life between Madame Guyon and Fenelon, Archbishop of Cambray; with the influence which was exerted by her over that truly distinguished man; with the religious opinions which were formed and promulgated under that influence, and with the painful results which he experienced in consequence. These details, I think, will be found to communicate important instruction, while they will not fail in interest. The discussions, in this part of the work, turn chiefly upon the doctrine of pure or unselfish love, in the experience of which Fenelon thought, in accordance with the views of Madame Guyon, and it seems to me with a good deal of reason, that the sanctification of the heart essentially consists. It is true, that they insist strongly upon the subjection of the will; but they maintain, as they very well may maintain, that such a love will certainly carry the will with it.

The work is committed to the reader, not without a sense of its imperfections, but still in the hopes that something has been done to illustrate character, and to confirm the truth.

[TO BE CONTINUED]

— from The Life of Madam Guyon (1877) Volume 1 "Preface."

Monday, January 16, 2017

Reading the Life and Writings of Madame Guyon

Reflections on
The Life of
Madame Jeanne de la Motte Guyon.





I had read the life and writings of Madame Guyon with interest, and I think with profit. The impression made upon my own mind was similar to that which has been made upon the minds of others. And this impression was, that the facts of her history and her opinions are too valuable to be lost. They make a portion, not only of ecclesiastical history; but of the history of the human mind. Under these circumstances, and in the hope of contributing something to the cause of truth and of vital religion, I have undertaken the present work.

In giving some account of Madame Guyon's life, it will be seen in what has been related, that I have made great use of her auto-biography. The origin of this remarkable work, entitled in French, in which language alone it has been printed in full,  La Vie de Madame de  la Mothe Guyon, icrite par elle-même, was this. After her return from Italy in 1686, La Combe, her spiritual Director, in accordance as I suppose with the authority allowed him by his church, an authority to which she readily submitted, required her to make a written record of her past life. This she did for the most part, when she was shut up, a year or two afterwards, in the Convent of St. Marie in Paris. She proposed, as she would be likely to do under such circumstances, to use a degree of discretion and to make a selection of incidents; but La Combe fearful that the delicacy of her feelings might prompt her to multiply omissions, required her to write every thing.

To this she at last consented, especially as she did not, and could not well suppose, that a biography, written under such circumstances, would ever be given to the public. There are some things, therefore, in her personal history, as it is actually given, which cannot be particularly profitable to the reader, because they are obviously unimportant; some things which she herself speaks of as unessential. But if her auto-biography, just as it stands, might be unprofitable and perhaps injurious, it is very evident, I think, that a biography, written on different principles, would be both interesting and beneficial.

To the information, derived from her auto-biography, I have added numerous facts, derived partly from her other writings, and partly from other sources. So that I speak with considerable confidence when I say; that the reader will find, in the following pages, a full account of the life and labors of this remarkable woman.

[TO BE CONTINUED]

— from The Life of Madame Guyon (1877) Volume 1 "Preface."

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Blessed Name of Christ

"If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth on you. On their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified." — 1 Peter 4.14.

Whate'er our griefs in life, whate'er in death,
If doomed perchance to feel the martyr's flame,
Still, with our last and agonizing breath,
In joy will we repeat Christ's precious name:
Oh! there's a magic in that glorious word;
No other has such power; the mighty voice,
From senatorial lips and patriots heard,
Can ne'er like this enkindle, rouse, rejoice.
For Christ's dear name the saints, without a groan,
In times of old met death upon their knees;
For Christ's dear name the lonely Piedmontese
Down headlong o'er the crimson rocks were thrown.
That blessed name gives hope and strength and zeal,
That sets at nought alike the flood, the fire, the steel.

The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets IX.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Faith Revives All the Christian Graces

Those, who are familiar with the life of Rev. Richard Baxter, a man not more eminent for personal piety than for abundant religious labors, will recollect, that he was sometimes tempted in a remarkable manner by doubts in relation to the Bible and some of the leading truths contained in it. These trials naturally led him to reflect upon the nature of faith and its relation to other Christian graces. In connection with a temptation to unbelief, such as has been referred to, he remarks as follows: “From this assault, I was forced to take notice, that our belief of the truth of the Word of God and of the life to come is the spring of all grace; and with which it rises or falls, flourishes or decays, is actuated or stands still; and that there is more of this secret unbelief at the bottom, than most of us are aware of; and that our love of the world, our boldness in sin, our neglect of duty, are caused hence. I easily observed in myself, that, if at any time, Satan, more than at other times, weakened my belief of Scripture and of the life to come, my zeal in every religious duty abated with it, and I grew more indifferent in religion than before.” “But when,” he adds, “FAITH REVIVED, then none of the parts or concerns of religion seemed small; and then man seemed nothing, and the world a shadow, and God was all.”

We close these remarks with referring to a few familiar passages. “Behold, his soul, which is lifted up, is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.” Habakkuk  2:3.—“And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye, that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. Then touched he their eyes, saying, according to your faith be it unto you;” Matthew 9:28, 29.—It is said of Barnabas, that “he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith;” Acts 11:24.—“Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God;” Romans 5: 1, 2.—“Therefore we are always confident, knowing, that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord; for we walk by faith, and not by sight;” 2nd Corinthians 5:6, 7.—“The life, which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me;” Galatians 2:20.—“But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, is evident; for the just shall live by faith.” Galatians 3:11.—“For whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world; and this is the victory, that overcometh the world, even our faith; 1 John 5:4.—The Apostle, speaking of the ancient saints, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Sarah, says, that “these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off; and were persuaded of them and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Hebrews 11:13.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 5.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Faith is the Foundation of the Religious Life

Looking at the subject, therefore, in the light of the Scriptures, we feel abundantly justified in what has been said, viz.: that faith is the great foundation of the religious life.

But this is not all. If we will take the trouble carefully to analyze our religious feelings, and to trace them in their origin and their relations, we shall find this important truth, sustained by additional evidence from that source. If, for instance, we should undertake to enter into an examination of the nature and operations of the principle of LOVE, we could not fail to see, that it requires the antecedent existence of faith in the beloved object as the basis and the condition of its own existence. In other words, there cannot be love without faith going before. Take almost any other Christian grace, such as the spirit of submission, of gratitude, or of prayer, and it will be found that they sustain intimate relations with other states of the mind, particularly with faith; and that in reality they cannot possibly exist without faith. When they are closely examined, all the Christian graces, however divergent and remote they may now appear, will be found to converge to one centre, and to rest upon one foundation. A remark, which furnishes a reason for the remarkable and important saying of the Scriptures, that “without faith it is impossible to please God.”

We may add further, that what has been said is confirmed by individual experience; particularly the experience of eminent Christians. There may have been remarkable experiences without much faith; experiences characterized by visions and by strong emotions, and which have been the subjects of much attention and conversation; but there has not been, and there cannot be, a sound and thorough scriptural experience, one which will truly renovate the soul and will carry a person victoriously through the trials and labors of life, without strong faith as its basis. So that it can be truly said of all those eminent men in different countries and different ages of the world, who have done most and suffered most for the cause of true religion, like the worthies mentioned in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, that they lived and died in faith. They had other eminent Christian graces, it is true, but it was strong faith, which gave a character to their lives and actions.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 5.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Prominence of Faith in the Bible

In reading the life of Mr. John Berridge, a worthy minister of the English Episcopal Church, who had long preached the doctrine of works as the great source of hope and safety, I noticed, that his biographer, in connection with the fact of his having made some anxious inquiries and having experienced certain peculiar exercises of mind, remarks, that he "saw the rock, upon which he had been splitting for nearly thirty years." And the writer adds, "immediately he began to think on the words faith and believe; and looking into his Concordance, he found them inserted in many successive columns. This surprised him to a great degree; and he instantly formed the resolution to preach Jesus Christ, and salvation by faith."

We introduce this short extract, chiefly on account of its reference to the Concordance. If any person will take the trouble to look into the Concordance, and carefully notice the terms FAITH and BELIEVE, and others related to them either by meaning or etymology, he will see at once the large space, which they occupy. And by referring to the passages, as they stand in the Bible, he cannot fail to be deeply struck with the important position, which Faith holds in scriptural history and in theology. He will find, that faith is not only the beginning of the religious life, but is its great support from beginning to end; that by faith we are justified from the sins of the past; and that faith is equally necessary to keep us from sin in time to come. Looking at the subject, therefore, in the light of the Scriptures, we feel abundantly justified in what has been said, viz.: that faith is the great foundation of the religious life.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 5.