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.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Strive to Believe

Those persons, who have been inwardly convinced, that the promises of God ought to control their belief, and those who have endeavored to secure this result by resolves or purposes calculated to diminish the effects of former habits of unbelief, have found themselves blessed in it. The susceptibility of belief, which had been weakened and almost prostrated in its action, has in this way become invigorated. And not only this, it is continually increasing its facility and strength of movement by each repeated exercise. The powerful law of habit lends its aid. So that the exercise of faith, which once seemed the most difficult thing, is now found to be easy.

If these views are correct, it seems to be a proper and important direction: STRIVE TO BELIEVE. Make efforts to exercise faith. Resist, as much as possible, the dreadful influence of long-continued habits of unbelief; not in order that belief may be yielded to that which is not the truth; but that the truth, liberated from such unpropitious and erroneous influences, may have its appropriate and just effect.

— edited from The Life of Faith Part 1, Chapter 12.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Overcoming Disbelief

In reading some account of the experience of a pious person, who is said to have died in the triumphs of faith, I find the following expressions:

I have given God my undivided heart; believing that he does accept of it, and believing that the blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin. Like a stone which the builder takes, and puts on the foundation, so do I lie on Christ’s blood and God’s promises; giving God my soul and body a living sacrifice, and covenanting with him never to doubt more. My language is, I will believe. I will sooner die than doubt.

And we may add, it is very proper, and it seems to us indispensable on the part of those, who wish to live the life of faith, that they should not only watch against unbelief, but that they should resolve against unbelief.

This course is sometimes objected to. It is said, and in a general view of the subject is said very correctly, that belief ought to rest upon evidence, and not upon volition. The objection, however, is divested of validity, when it is understood, that the act of volition is not designed to have an influence independently of evidence, but in accordance with it, and in its support. Such have been the results of long-continued habits of doubting, that the faculty of belief, when exercised upon religious subjects, seems to have lost its appropriate power. It has become in a degree paralyzed, and its assent fails to be given, where it obviously ought to be. Under such circumstances it is obvious, that an act of the will may not only be proper, but that it is necessary. The mind, in consequence of having become in some degree disordered, stands in need of the aid, which a purpose or resolve of the will is calculated to give.

A person, for instance, has been the subject of that inward experience, which may be supposed to constitute him a religious person; and as such a person, he has given himself to God in an act of sincere and permanent consecration. He has an inward conviction, in accordance with what is really the case, if he be truly a devout and sincere man, that he has placed all upon the divine altar. And he knows from the Scriptures, that God is pledged to receive all who are in this situation; and that, in accordance with his promises, he will be, and that he is now, a friend and father to them; and that all such persons are, and will be, so long as they continue in such a state of entire consecration, encircled and blessed in his paternal love. All this he knows to be true, because statements and promises of this kind, and to this effect, are abundantly announced in the Scriptures. But it is true, notwithstanding, that he finds a great difficulty in taking these promises home to himself. They are written, but they are not received; they are applicable to his own case, but they are not applied. He has so long disbelieved, that the very faculty of believing, as already has been intimated, may be said to be struck with a palsy. It certainly seems incapable of moving and acting effectually, until it is encouraged and aided by some accessory influence. And a portion of this influence is a volition, or firm resolve, embodied in the declaration, “I will believe,” which I understand to be the same thing with saying, and nothing more than saying, “I will no longer yield to doubts, which I have found to be unreasonable, and which I know to be destructive. The evidence of God, to which Satan, taking advantage of my former evil habits, would blind me, shall have its effect. I will receive it.” 

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 12.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Faith and the Law of Habit

One of the most general laws of our mental nature, is the law of habit.

The law of HABIT, in its application to the principles of the mind, may be expressed by saying, that it is the facility and strength of action, resulting from frequent exercise or repetition. The perceptive powers, the memory, the power of reasoning, the affections, all invigorate themselves under the influence of this mighty law. The same can be said of faith. Faith unexercised, becomes weak; faith, in frequent exercise, becomes strong. He, who believes frequently, will believe energetically; while he, who puts forth the act of belief only at distant intervals, will find the impotency of his faith corresponding to the infrequency of its exercise.

And, in accordance with this general view, it is related of some pious persons, who have distinctly seen the connection between a strong faith, and the life of God in the soul, that they have endeavored to sustain and strengthen acts of faith, by acts of the will. Taught by an experience, which had already cost them much, that, in the language of an English poet,

—— "Our doubts are traitors,
"And make us lose the good we oft might win,
"By fearing to attempt,"

they have determined to meet and resist the treachery of unbelief by the religious patriotism, if we may so express it, of a fixed resolve. Their language has been, “I will believe.” “I am determined not to doubt.”

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 12.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Poor of this World Rich in Faith

"And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor; for yours is the kingdom of God." — Luke 6.20.

In yon dark forest dwells an aged man,
Whose hoary beard descending sweeps his breast;
His numerous days "are dwindled to a span,"
He waits for his dismissal and his rest.
He  hath no worldly wealth, no worldly fame,
But inward wealth and joys of soul are his;
For he doth love the Savior's blessed name,
And prayer and praising constitute his bliss.
In every evening star a God he sees,
In the wild mountain wind a God he hears,
And bending to the earth his aged knees,
He pours his prayer into Jehovah's ears.
His soul, ascending above earthly things,
Finds audience high in heaven, the glorious King of kings. 

The Religious Offering (1835) XXI.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Consolation in the Gospel

"That, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope  set  before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul both sure and steadfast." — Heb. 6.18, 19.

How beautiful, as fades the gloom of night,
How beautiful the early sunbeams fall
In long and level'd lines of light, o'er  all
The wide expanse of plain and vale and height,
And clothe them with a young and purple bloom!
So, when my heart environ'd is with sorrow,
And from the earth no ray of hope can borrow,
The Gospel's glory dissipates its gloom.
That Gospel plants a sun within my breast,
Which hath the power to change dark shades to day;
Unchanged, unfailing, it transmits its ray,
And e'en in sorrow makes my bosom blest.
The vales throw off their shades, the mists take wing,
The flowers unfold their leaves, the birds start up and sing.

 The Religious Offering (1835) XX.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

God Righteous in Judgements

"Clouds and darhness are round about him; righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne." — Ps. 97.2.

Sad is my heart, embittered with deep grief,
E'en as a bulrush I bow down my head;
The dark, substantial clouds are overspread,
I see no friendly hand, find no relief.
No more I taste the joys which once I tasted,
My hopes, my honors, and my pleasures flown;
There's nought on earth which I can call my own;
All blacken'd, wither'd, torn away, and wasted,
And, in their stead, afllictive tears and woe.
Oh, give me faith, Thou holy, sovereign Power,
That I may know the hand that smites me so.
Oh, give me faith, when the dark tempests lower,
To yield Thee reverence and submission due;
Thou art the righteous God, thy judgments just and true.

The Religious Offering (1835) XIX.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

When Thy Pure Fires Prevail

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





Such are the expressions, in which she speaks of the remarkable change which thus passed upon her spirit, — an event in her life which opened new views, originated new feelings, instituted new relations, and gave new strength. Too important in itself and its relations to be forgotten under any circumstances, we find her often recurring to it with those confiding, affectionate and grateful sentiments, which it was naturally calculated to inspire.

One of her religious poems, which Cowper has translated, expresses well the feelings which we may suppose to have existed in her at this time.

"All are indebted much to Thee,
But I far more than all;
From many a deadly snare set free,
And raised from many a fall.
Overwhelm me, from above,
Daily with thy boundless love.

What bonds of gratitude I feel,
No language can declare;
Beneath the oppressive weight I reel,
'Tis more than I can bear;
When shall I that blessing prove,
To return Thee love for love?

Spirit of Charity! Dispense
Thy grace to every heart;
Expel all other spirits thence
Drive self from every part.
Charity divine! Draw nigh;
Break the chains in which we lie.

All selfish souls, whate'er they feign,
Have still a slavish lot;
They boast of liberty in vain,
Of love, and feel it not.
He, whose bosom glows with thee,
He, and he alone, is free.

Oh blessedness, all bliss above,
When thy pure fires prevail!
LOVE only teaches what is love;
All other lessons fail;
We learn its name, but not its powers,
Experience only makes it ours.

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 6.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Stroke of a Dart

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





It  may be interesting to hear Madame Guyon state the effect of this conversation in her own words.

Having said these words, the Franciscan left me. They were to me like the stroke of a dart, which pierced my heart asunder.  I  felt at this instant deeply wounded with the love of God; — a wound so delightful, that I desired it never might be healed. These words brought into my heart what I  had been seeking so many years; or rather they made me discover what was there, and which I did not enjoy for want of knowing it. Oh my Lord! thou wast in my heart, and demanded only the turning of my mind inward, to make me feel thy presence. Oh, infinite Goodness! Thou wast so near, and I ran hither and thither seeking thee, and yet found thee not. My life was a burden to me, and my happiness was within myself. I was poor in the midst of riches, and ready to perish with hunger near a table plentifully spread and a continual feast. Oh Beauty; ancient and new! Why have I known thee so late? Alas, I sought thee where thou wast not, and did not seek thee where thou wast! It was for want of understanding these words of thy Gospel: 'The kingdom of God cometh not with observation, neither shall they say, Lo! here, or  lo!  there; for, behold, the kingdom of  God is within you.' This I now experienced, since thou didst become my King, and my heart thy kingdom, where thou dost reign a Sovereign, and dost all thy will.

I told this good man, that I did not know what he had done to me; that my heart was quite changed; that God was there; for from that moment he had given me an experience of his presence in my soul, — not merely as an object intellectually perceived by any application of mind, but as a thing really possessed after the sweetest manner. I experienced those words in the Canticles:  'Thy name is as precious ointment poured forth; therefore do the virgins love thee.' For  I felt in my soul an unction, which, as a salutary perfume, healed in a moment all my wounds. I slept not all that night, because thy love, oh my God! flowed in me like delicious oil, and burned as a fire which was going to destroy all that was left of self in an instant. I was all on a sudden so altered, that I was hardly to be known either by myself or others. I found no more those troublesome faults, or that reluctance to duty, which formerly characterized me. They all disappeared, as being consumed like chaff in a great fire.

I now became desirous that the instrument hereof might become my Director,  in preference to any other. This good father, however, could not readily resolve to charge himself with my conduct, though he saw so surprising a change effected by the hand of God. Several reasons induced him to excuse himself: first, my person, then my youth, for I was only twenty years of age; and lastly, a promise he had made to God, from a distrust of himself, never to take upon himself the direction of any of our sex, unless God, by some particular providence, should charge him therewith. Upon my earnest and repeated request to him to become my Director, he said he would pray to God thereupon, and bade me do so too. As he was at prayer, it was said to him, 'Fear not that charge; she is my spouse.' This, when I heard it, affected me greatly. 'What! (said I to myself,) a frightful monster of iniquity, who have done so much to offend my God, in abusing his favors, and requiting them with ingratitude, — and now, thus to be declared his spouse!’ After this he consented to my request.

Nothing was more easy to me now than to practice prayer. Hours passed away like moments, while I could hardly do anything else but pray. The fervency of my love allowed me no intermission. It was a prayer of re­joicing and of possession, wherein the taste of God was so great, so pure, unblended and uninterrupted, that it drew and absorbed the powers of the soul into a profound recollection, a state of confiding and affectionate rest in God, existing without intellectual effort. For I had now no sight but of Jesus Christ alone. All else was excluded, in order to love with greater purity and energy, without any motives or reasons for loving which were of a selfish nature.

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 6.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Accustom Yourself to Seek God in Your Heart

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





God was pleased to send one more messenger. 

"Oh, my Father!” says Madame Guyon, in connection with the incidents we are about to relate, "it seems to me sometimes, as if Thou didst forget every other being, in order to think only of my faithless and ungrateful heart." 

There was a devout man who belonged to the Religious Order of St. Francis. His name is not given, nor will it now probably ever be known on earth. This man, deeply impressed with religious sentiments, spent five years in solitude, for the express purpose of spiritual renovation, and of communion with God. With a heart subdued to the world's attractions, and yet inflamed for the world's good, he went out into the field of labor. He thought that God called him to labor for the conversion of a person of some distinction, who lived in the vicinity of M. De La Mothe. But his labors there proved fruitless, — or rather they resulted only in the trial of his own faith and patience. The humble Franciscan, resolving in his mind where be should next go and announce the divine message, was led by the inward monitor, speaking in connection with the indications of providence, to go to the house of M. De La Mothe, with whom he seems to have had some acquaintance in former times. 

M. De La Mothe, a man in whom the religious tendency was strong, was exceedingly glad to see him, and to receive his instructions, especially as he was then out of health, and had not much expectation of living long. His daughter Madame Guyon, who was desirous of rendering him every assistance in his increasing infirmities, was there at her father's house, although her own health was very infirm. Her father was not ignorant either of her outward or inward trials. She had conversed with him with entire frankness on her religious state. She related to him the exercises of her mind, her dissatisfaction with her present spiritual condition, and her earnest desire to avail herself of every favorable opportunity to receive religious instruction. Her father, influenced by the representations she made, as well as by his high sense of the piety and religious wisdom of the Franciscan who had visited him, not only advised but strongly urged her to consult with him.

Attended by a kinswoman, as seemed to be proper under the existing circumstances, she visited the room of the Franciscan, and stated to him her conviction of her need of religion, and the often-repeated and long-continued efforts she had made without effect. When she had done speaking, the Franciscan remained silent for some time, in inward meditation and prayer. He at length said: 

Your efforts have been unsuccessful, madame, because you have sought without, what you can only find within. Accustom yourself to seek God in your heart, and you will not fail to find him.

It is very probable, that she had heard a similar sentiment before; but if it were so, it came to her as religious truth always does come to those in their natural state, who are permitted to hear, before grace has enabled them to understand. But now the hour of God's providence and of special mercy had arrived. Clearly and strongly did the divine Spirit apply a truth which otherwise would have fallen useless to the ground. "Your efforts have been unsuccessful, Madame, because you have sought without what you can only find within. Accustom yourself to seek God in your heart, and you will not fail to find him." These few words, somewhat singular in the mode of expression as they are, obviously convey the great principle, that religion does not and cannot consist in outward working, — in a mere round of ceremonial duties, — in anything which comes exclusively under the denomination of an external action. But, on the contrary, it is inward in the sense of having its seat in the heart's affections, and in accordance with the great scriptural doctrine, that the "just shall live by faith." 

From the moment that Madame Guyon heard these words, she was enabled to see the error she had committed, — that of endeavoring to obtain God by a system of outward operations,— by the mercenary purchase of formal services, rather than by the natural and divine attraction of accordant sympathies. Speculatively, there may be a God objective, a God outward, a God recognized by the intellect as a great and majestic being living in the distance. And in certain respects this is a view of God which is not at variance with the truth. But still God can never be known to us as our God, He can never be brought into harmony with our nature, except as a God inward, a God received by faith and made one with us by love, and having his home in the sanctified temple of the heart. "Believe in the Lord your God; so shall ye be established."  “Believe his prophets; so shall ye prosper.”

 — edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 6.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Influence of M. De Toissi

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





Another individual, besides the lady whose conversation and influence have just now been stated, had a share in that series of providences, which God saw to be necessary, in order to turn the mind of Madame Guyon from the world to himself. This was a pious person, who has already been mentioned, M. De Toissi, the nephew of M. De La Mothe. He had been to Cochin China as a sharer in the religious enterprises which were carried on there, and after an absence of about four years, had returned on business connected with the Mission with which he was associated. 

He visited the house of M. De La Mothe, where his cousin, Madame Guyon, was exceedingly glad to see him. She knew his character. She remembered what was said of his conversation and his appearance, when he visited her father's house some years before, just  before his departure for the East. And, in her present state of mind, groping about as she was in solitude and desolation of spirit, she eagerly sought interviews and conversations with pious persons. This pious cousin, impelled by natural affection as well as by a regard for the interests of religion, did all that he could to encourage her in her search after God. There were other things which gave him an increased interest in the case, such as her personal accomplishments, her great talents, the wealth of her family, her position in society, and her comparative youth, — circumstances, which, in that age of worldly splendor and enjoyment, were particularly adverse to the humble and pure spirit of religion. And it was not easy for one to see the possessor of them seeking religion, with a full determination to be satisfied with nothing else, without feeling a deep interest in the result, — much more so, probably, than would be felt in ordinary cases. Madame Guyon very freely and ingenuously stated her views of her inward state to her cousin, — the faults of her character, her inward sense of her alienation from God, the efforts she had made, and the discouragements she had met with. He expressed the deepest interest in her case. He prayed for her. He gave such advice as he was able. With earnest exhortations he cheered her onward, not doubting that God's wisdom and goodness would bring all well in the end.

Her interviews with this good man had an encouraging effect. His spiritual habits, as well as his conversation, affected her. Among other things she gives us to understand, that he was in a state of inward and continual communion with God; that state of mind, probably, which, in accordance with the nomenclature of the higher experimental writers, she variously denominates, in her religious works, as the state of "Recollection," or of "Recollection in God;" and which I think may be properly denominated the Prayer of Recollection. This state of continual prayer affected her much, although she was unable at that time, as she expressly admits, to understand its nature. She also noticed, with interest and profit, the conversation which passed between him and the exiled lady resident at her father's, who has already been mentioned. As is the case with all truly religious people, they seemed to understand each others' hearts. "They conversed together," she says, "in a spiritual language.”  They had that to speak of, which souls unconverted can never know,— a Savior "who was no longer as a root sprung out of the dry ground," sins forgiven, and joy and peace in believing. 

The example and the exhortations of her cousin, De Toissi,  could not fail to make a deep impression. Many were the tears she shed when he departed. She renewed her solemn resolutions. She endeavored to imitate him in his state of continual prayer, by offering up to God ejaculations, either silent or spoken, moment by moment. On the system of making resolutions and of mere human effort, she seems to have done all that she could do. But still she did not understand; a cloud hung over one of the brightest intellects when left to itself, — so perplexing to human wisdom, and so adverse to the natural heart is the way of forgiveness and justification by faith alone. Those know it who experience it, and those only; but her hour had not yet come. 

More than a year had passed in this state of mind, and with such efforts, —  but apparently in vain. With all these appliances which have been mentioned, with afflictions on the one hand to separate her from earthly objects, and encouragements on the other to allure her to heaven, she still seems to have remained without God and without hope in the world. So much does it cost, in a fallen world like this, to detach a soul from its bondage and to bring it to God! God has not only spread the feast, in the salvation which he has offered through his Son, but, by means of ministers, both providential and personal, he goes out into the highways, and compels them to come in. 

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 6.

Friday, March 31, 2017

How Much it Costs to Bring a Soul to the Knowledge of God

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





In narrating the  various  providential dispensations and instrumentalities, which resulted in the spiritual renovation of Madame Guyon, we cannot well avoid noticing how much it costs to bring a soul to the knowledge of God.

This recital of instrumentalities and influences does not; as I suppose, present anything peculiarly new; — anything which does not occur in many other cases. The human mind is so wedded to its natural perverseness, that, generally speaking, it is not brought into harmony with God at once. Even those conversions, which appear to be especially prompt and sudden, have in many cases been preceded by a long preparatory training, which is not the less real, because it has been unseen and unknown. Generally speaking, we see efforts frequently renewed, resolves made and resolves broken, alternations of penitential tears and of worldly joys, advice and warning received to-day and rejected to-morrow, and very frequently a long series of disappointments and sorrows, before the mind is so humbled and instructed, as to renounce its earthly hopes, and to possess all things in God by becoming nothing in itself. But this state of things, which so frequently happens, and which is really so afflicting, teaches us the lesson of patience and of hope. Tears may have been wiped away, and resolutions may have been broken; and yet those tears, which seemed to have been in vain, and those resolutions which seemed to have been worse than in vain, may have been important and even indispensable links in the chain of providential occurrences. We repeat, therefore, that conversions long delayed, although they are calculated to try and purify our patience, ought not to extinguish our hope. "In due season we shall reap, if we faint not."

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 6.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Christian Example

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





God, who adjusts the means to the end to be accomplished, and who is not easily wearied out in His benevolence, was pleased to add other instrumentalities.

During her visit to the city of Paris, which has just now been referred to, and at other times, she had opportunities, more or less frequently, of being at her father's house. After the death of her mother, her respect and affection for her father seemed especially to require it; She there became acquainted with a lady, whom she speaks of as being an Exile, very possibly some one of those persons, who with the Queen of England and others, had been driven away from England by the civil wars in that country, which resulted in the dethronement and death of Charles First. She intimates that this exiled lady, whose name is not given, came to her father's house in a state of destitution; and says expressly, that he offered her an apartment in it, which she accepted and staid there for a long time. This destitute woman, instructed in the vanities of the world by the trials she had experienced, had sought and had found the consolations of religion. She was one of those, that, in loving God, "worship him in spirit and in truth." Her gratitude to M. De La Mothe, who had received and sheltered her in her misfortunes, was naturally shown in acts of kindness to his daughter, Madame Guyon. And it is but reasonable to suppose that these favorable dispositions were increased by what she observed of her talents, her beauty; and her sorrows; and still more by what she noticed of her sincere and earnest desire to know more, and experience more, of the things of religion.

Madame Guyon eagerly embraced the opportunity which was thus afforded her of religious conversation; and from this pious friend who was thus raised up by Providence to instruct her, she seems to have received the first distinct intimations, that she was erroneously seeking religion by a system of works without faith. Among other things, this devout lady remarked to her, in connection with what she had observed of her various exterior works of charity, that she had the virtues of  "an active life," that is to say, the virtues of outward activity, of outward doing, but that she had not the "truth and simplicity of the life within." In other words, that her trust was in herself rather than in God, although she might not be fully aware of it. But Madame Guyon, in referring to this period afterwards, says significantly,

My time had not yet come; I did not understand her. Living in my presence in the Christian spirit she served me more by her example than by her words. God was in her life. I could not help observing on her  countenance, reflecting as it did the inward spirit, something which indicated a great enjoyment of God's presence. I thought it an object to try to be like her outwardly, — to exhibit that exterior aspect of divine resignation and peace, which is characteristic of true inward piety. I made much effort, but it was all to little purpose. I wanted to obtain, by efforts made in my own strength, that which could be obtained only by ceasing from all such efforts, and trusting wholly in God.
— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 6.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Her New Determination to Seek God

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





Fully established in her determination to seek God, in all time to come, as her chief good, she adopted those measures which seemed to her to have a connection with that great object. Undoubtedly they had. They show her sense of need and her deep sincerity; but they indicate also how difficult it is for the natural heart, especially under certain systems of religious belief and practice, to detach itself from its own methods and its own supposed merits, and in true simplicity of spirit to follow him who is "the way, the truth, and the life." It is evident, however, although they were in some sense only preparatory, that they had a connection with the great lesson which she was destined ultimately to learn.

Among other things which seemed to be necessary in her present state, she gives us to understand that she ceased to give that attention to her outward appearance which she had done formerly. Fearful that she might either excite or increase emotions of vanity, she diminished very much the time which she had formerly occupied in adjusting and contemplating her person at the mirror.

In addition to this improvement of a personal nature, she commenced doing something for the religious benefit of the servants of the family. She likewise, as a part of her renewed system of effort, began a process of inward examination, often performing it very strictly, writing down her faults from week to week, and comparing the record at different periods, in order to see whether she had corrected them, and to what extent. The sabbath, it is hardly necessary to add, was a day strictly observed, and the place of worship was not only regularly visited, but was attended with some beneficial results.

She made such progress in certain respects, that she began to see and to appreciate, much more correctly than at any former period, the defects of her character and life, and to feel sentiments of sincere compunction. She laid aside all such reading as was incompatible with her present position, and confined her attention chiefly to the most devout works. One of these books, which, notwithstanding its Catholic origin, is much esteemed among Protestants, was the celebrated  Imitiation of Christ, by Thomas á Kempis; a work which is widely circulated and read among devout people of all denominations of Christians. Under a simple and unpretending exterior, corresponding in this respect, as we may well suppose, with the humble spirit of its author, whoever he may have been, it contains the highest principles of Christian experience. Some of the works of Francis de Sales also, which she mentions as having read at an early period of her life, were consulted by her at this time with great interest.

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 6.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

God Had Marked Her for God's Own

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





It  is easy to see, in the light of these various dispensations, that God, who builds his bow of promise in the cloud, had marked her for his own. He had followed her long, and warned her often; but He did not give up the pursuit. He stopped her pathway to the world; but He left it open to heaven. He drew around her the cords of His providence closely, that she might be separated, in heart and in life, from those unsatisfying objects, which, in her early days, presented to her so many attractions. She herself, as we have already had occasion to notice, was subsequently led to view everything in this manner. It was God who was present in all these events; it was God who, through an instrumentality of his own selection, was laying his hand painfully but effectually upon the idols which she had inwardly cherished, sometimes trying her by mercies, where mercy might be supposed to affect her heart, but still more frequently and effectually by the sterner discipline of outward disappointment and of inward anguish.

It was not in vain, that He who understands the nature of the human heart, and the difficulty of subjecting it, thus adjusted every thing in great wisdom, as well as in real kindness. The trials which He had sent, were among those which work out "the peaceable fruits of righteousness." It was the result of these various providences, afflicting as they generally were, that she was led to the determination, (a determination which from this time never was abandoned,) once more to seek God. She had sought him before, but she had not found him. But, in giving up the search and in turning from God to the world, she had found that which gave no satisfaction. Bitterly had she learned, that, if there is not rest in God, there is rest nowhere. Again, therefore, she formed the religious resolve, — a resolve which God enabled her not only to form, but to keep. Her feelings at this time seem to be well expressed in a well known religious hymn, which is designed to describe the state of a sinner, who has seen the fallacy and the unsatisfying nature of all situations and of all hopes out of Christ.

"Perhaps he will admit my plea;
Perhaps will hear my prayer;
But if I perish, I will pray,
And perish only there.

"I can but perish if I go;
I am resolved to try;
For if I stay away, I know
I must forever die."


— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 6.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Loss and Sickness and Death

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





God, in his dispensations, mingled judgments and mercies together.

Another circumstance, worthy of notice as occurring about this time, was the loss of a part of the property of the family. The revenues, accruing to the family from the Canal of Briare, which has already been mentioned, as having been completed by her husband's father, were very great. Louis Fourteenth, whose wars and domestic expenditures required large sums of money, took from them a part of the income arising from that source. The family, besides their usual place of residence in the country; had a valuable house in the city of Paris, in connection with which also a considerable sum of money was lost at this time; but in what way, or for what reason, is not stated. If the birth of a son tended to conciliate and to make things easy, the loss of property had a contrary effect. Her step-mother, who seems to have been an avaricious woman, was inconsolable at these losses; which, in the perversity of her mind, she made the occasion of new injuries and insults to her daughter-in-law, saying with great bitterness, that the family had been free from afflictions till she came among them, and that all their troubles and losses came with her.

Another circumstance worthy of notice, a little later in time, and having some bearing upon her religious tendencies, was a severe sickness which she had. This was in the second year of her marriage. The business of her husband kept him much in Paris; and at the time to which we now refer, the situation of his affairs was such as to require his presence there constantly. After much opposition on the part of her mother-in-law, she obtained her consent to leave their residence, which was a short distance out of the city, and to go for a time and reside there with him. But it is worthy of remark, that she did not obtain this consent, which could not well be withholden without an obvious violation of her rights, until she had called in the aid of her father, who insisted upon it.

She went to the Hotel de Longueville, where her husband staid. She was received with every demonstration of kindness from Madame de Longueville, and from the inmates of the house; and there were many things, notwithstanding the generally unpleasant position of her domestic relations, which tended to render her residence in the city agreeable.

While at the Hotel de Longueville she fell sick, and was reduced to great extremity. The prospect was, that she would soon die; and so far as the world was concerned, she felt that it had lost, in a great degree, its attractions, and she was willing to go. The priest who attended her, mistaking a spirit of deadness to the world, originating in part from her inability to enjoy it, for a true spirit of acquiescence in God's dispensations, thought well of her state. She seemed to him to be truly religious. But this was not her own opinion. She had merely begun to turn her eye, as it were, in the right direction.

"My sins were too present to my mind," she says, "and too painful to my heart, to permit me to indulge in a favorable opinion as to my acceptance with God. This sickness was of great benefit to me. Besides teaching me patience under violent pains, it served to give me newer and more correct views of the emptiness of worldly things. It had the tendency to detach me in some degree from self, and gave me new courage to suffer with more resignation than I had ever done."

But this was not all. Death had begun to make inroads in her family circle. Her paternal half-sister, who resided at the Ursuline Convent in Montargis, died, she informs us, two months before her marriage. To this sister, to whom she was exceedingly attached, she makes repeated references. Perhaps we know too little of her to speak with entire confidence. But she seems to have been a woman gentle in spirit and strong in faith, who lived in the world as those who are not of the world; and who, we may naturally suppose, died in the beauty and simplicity of Christian peace.

The loss of a sister, so deservedly esteemed and loved by Madame Guyon, could not possibly be experienced without making the earth less dear, and heaven more precious. And at the time of which we are now speaking, the second year of her marriage and the eighteenth year of her age, she experienced the separation of another strong tie to earth, by the loss of her mother.

“My mother departed this life," she remarks, "in great tranquillity of spirit, having, besides other virtues, been in particular very charitable to the poor. God, who seems to have regarded with favor her benevolent disposition, was pleased to reward her, even in this life, with such a spirit of resignation, that, though she was but twenty-four hours sick, she was made perfectly easy about everything that was near and dear to her in this world."

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 6,

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Birth of Her First Child

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





She had now been married about a year. A number of things occurred about this time, which are worthy of notice. They tend to illustrate what I have remarked, in the preceding chapter, on the operations of grace in connection
with the position in which we are placed in Providence. If it is not strictly true, that God saves us by his providences, a remark which is sometimes made,— I think we may regard it as essentially true, that he saves us by his grace, dispensed and operating in connection with his providences. Providences test the disposition of the mind; they not only test it, but alter it and control it to some extent; and may be the means of placing it in a position the most favorable for the reception of inward divine teaching.

One circumstance, which was calculated to have a favorable effect upon the mind of Madame Guyon, at the time of which we are now speaking, was the birth of her first child. God was pleased to give her a son, to whom she gave the name of Armand Jaques Guyon. This event, appealing so strongly to family sympathies, was naturally calculated to interest and soften the feelings of those who had afflicted her. And we learn from what she has said on the subject, that this was the case. But this was not all. It brought with it such new relations; it opened such new views of employment and happiness, and imposed such increased responsibilities, that it could hardly fail to strengthen the renewed religious tendency, which had already begun to develop itself. Under the responsibility of a new life added to her own, she began to realize that, if it were possible for her not to need God for herself, she might need him for her child.

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 6.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Turning to God Anew

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





Her statement of some of her early trials:

"It was then I began to eat the bread of sorrow, and mingle my drink with tears."

Such are the expressions which convey to us her sense of her trials. It was in this extremity that it occurred to her, (alas, that we learn this lesson so often from sorrows alone,) that, in the deficiency of all hope in creatures, there might be hope and help in God. It is true, that she had turned away from him; and having sought for solace where she had not found it, and where she ought not to have sought it, she felt ashamed to go back.

But borne down by the burdens of a hidden providence, (a providence which she did not then love because she did not then understand it,) she yielded to the pressure that was upon her, and began to look to him, in whom alone there is true assistance.

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 6.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The Fruits of Suffering

Oh LET ME SUFFER, till I know
The good that cometh from the pain,
Like seeds beneath the wintry snow.
That wake in flowers and golden grain.

Oh LET ME SUFFER, till I find
What plants of sorrow can impart,
Some gift, some triumph of the mind,
Some flower, some fruitage of the heart.

The hour of anguish passes by;
But in the spirit there remains
The outgrowth of its agony.
The compensation of its pains;

In meekness, which suspects no wrong,
In patience, which endures control.
In faith, which makes the spirit strong,
In peace and purity of soul.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXXIX.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Going Home

How pleasant 'tis, when life is run,
And never more our steps shall roam,
To say with joy, our work is done,
And we are going home.

How pleasant 'tis, our sorrows past,
With better, brighter worlds in view,
To give one parting look, the last.
And say with joy, Adieu!

The sting of death hath lost its power
To him who lives and never dies;
And death is the transition hour
Which leads him to the skies.

Oh live, oh reign, departing one!
Though gone from earth, to thee 'tis given,
With trials past, and victory won.
To gain the life of heaven.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXXVIII.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

On Religious Emotions

Religious emotions, whenever they make their appearance, should be so kept under control, as never to disturb the calmness of the perceptive and rational action of the mind. And the reason of the remark is this. True religion always has relation to the will of God. It implies conformity to the will of God; and conformity implies a knowledge of such will. But it is very obvious, that, considered as rational and accountable beings, we cannot be supposed to know, and that we cannot by any possibility know the divine will by means of mere instinct, by means of mere impulse, or of some strong and unregulated feeling. By such means merely it would be impossible for us to learn even the letters and the simple narratives of a child’s spelling book; much less the moral and religious facts and relations, upon which hang the results of an eternal existence. The will of God can be known by the human soul only in connection with the exercise of the judgment; in other words, by means of those perceptive and rational powers, which are a part of our nature. Powers, which cannot act clearly, efficiently, and satisfactorily, in connection with a violent and agitated state of the emotions. Hence, when God dwells in the soul by the proper possession and regulation of its powers, it will be peaceful.

The emotional part of religion, in distinction from that part of it, which consists in entire consecration and unwavering faith, often occasions a degree of perplexity even to very devout minds. Brainerd, the celebrated missionary among the North American Indians, was out of health at a certain time; so much so as to be very weak, and “unable to do his work.” Remarking in his Diary upon his feelings at this time, he says, “As I was able to do little or nothing, so I enjoyed not much spirituality, or lively religious affection.”

What shall we say of such an instance as this. It seems to me we should say, and we cannot very safely say either more or less, that he was afflicted, but not cast off; in sorrow, but not forgotten. In other words, that being wearied and sick in body, and overwhelmed in mind with the responsibilities of his situation, he had less of joyful emotions than at other times, emotions which vary very much with our physical and mental trials, but not that he really had less spirituality, less religion, or that he was less the subject of God’s love.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 11.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Faith — Not Emotion

There is another class of persons, whose experience is something more than intellectual; but which, just so far as it exists independently of faith as its basis, cannot safely or justly be regarded, as a true religious experience. We refer to those, whose religious life is characterized chiefly or exclusively by strong emotions. These cases are in some respects more difficult to be rightly estimated than those which have just been mentioned. It is well known, that many persons find it difficult to form an idea of religion separate from feeling; and they are very apt to consider great feeling and great religion as very much the same thing. In many minds religion and feeling are almost identical. But it will be noticed in the proposition, which we have laid down, that we do not condemn feeling, that we do not exclude feeling as a part of religious experience, but only that we condemn and exclude from religious experience all that feeling, which exists independently of faith as its basis. 

I have somewhere seen the remark, and it seems to me that there is a foundation for it, although it is obviously liable to be misunderstood, that we are not saved by feeling, but by faith. A proposition, which implies, that the primary element, the foundation of salvation, so far as the human mind is concerned, is faith, without excluding feeling in its appropriate place, viz. as sometimes antecedent and preparatory, and more frequently as a subsequent and accessory state of mind. As a general rule, the order of sequence is, faith first, and feeling afterwards. Religious faith will not only give religious feeling on its appropriate occasions; but it will give the right form or modification of feeling; in other words, precisely that modification of feeling, which the occasion requires.

We should be sorry to have it understood, as implied in these remarks, that we object absolutely and in all respects to what may be denominated emotional religion, or rather to emotions as involved in and considered as a part of religion. Emotions, excited states of feeling, even of mere natural or animal feeling, may precede faith, and may be valuable in preparing the way for it; or they may be subsequent to it, and may oftentimes result from it. The emotions in their various kinds, both joyous and sorrowful, arise on many occasions very different from each other; and oftentimes have nothing to do with religion; and at their best estate may be regarded merely as the attendants and accessories of religion.

The true view, therefore, is, that emotional states, or mere temporary feelings of joy and sorrow in distinction from the permanent state of love, may or may not involve the fact of religion. The man, who has them, may possess religion, or he may be destitute of it. In forming a judgment, therefore, of a man’s religious character from his joys or his sorrows, however excited and raised they may be, (for it is to joys and sorrows that we have special reference when we speak of emotional states,) it is necessary to be very careful. But no man need be solicitous in respect to the reality and truth of his religion, whether his joys or his sorrows be more or less, who, having entirely renounced himself, has that faith in God, which works by love and purifies the heart.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 11.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

False Prophets

The statements of ecclesiastical history furnish evidence, conclusive as it is melancholy, that, in almost every age since the time of the Apostles, there have been individuals, who have professed to be the subjects of revelations; persons, to whom God, according to their own ideas of things, has made special communications, and who, accordingly, have assumed, in a greater or less degree, the prophetic character. The age, in which we live, distinguished as it is, by philosophic advancement and by enlightened views on the subject of religion, has been, as it seems to us, distinguished also by the multiplication of instances of this kind. On every side, and in almost all Christian denominations, persons have made their appearance, who have regarded themselves as the subjects of special divine communications. Not the mere subjects of things religiously experienced in the heart; that is not what we mean; but of things supernaturally communicated to the intellect; not the mere subjects of holiness in exercise, but of revelations exteriorly imparted. We do not mean to imply, that these persons were not Christians; we have no doubt that in some cases they were; but we do mean to imply and to say, that their Christianity, their religion, existed, and must have existed independently of their gift or supposed gift of revelations.

It is a matter of notoriety, that the persons, to whom we now refer, have been in the habit not only of uttering predictions of future events; but have also undertaken to pronounce authoritatively upon some things in present existence, which are ordinarily withdrawn from notice; such as the present state of the inward moral and religious character of individuals, and their acceptance with God or their rejection. In many instances the results of their confident anticipations and predictions have shown, that the remarkable visitations and revelations, which they professed to have, and which it is possible that they very sincerely professed to have, were not from God. But if it had been otherwise, in other words if their statements and predictions had been fulfilled, it would not alter the general truth of our proposition. God if he chooses may select those, who are his enemies, to be the depository of his revelations; but their designation to this office, although it is perhaps out of the ordinary course of his proceedings, does not necessarily make them his friends. Saul was at one time numbered among the prophets. And Balaam, the son of Beor, “fell into a trance, having his eyes open;” and the declarations, which he then heard, he seems to have been authorized to utter as the predictions of the Most High.

We might enter into the question of the origin of these rather remarkable states of mind, and institute the inquiry, whether we are to regard them, in the present age of the world, as having their origin in the inspirations of God, or in the suggestions of Satan, or in the movements of a strongly disordered physical system operating upon, or in connection with, a highly excited state of the intellect and the feelings. But without entering into this inquiry, which, interesting and important as it undoubtedly is, would occupy too much time, what we have to remark here is, that the decisive circumstance, unfavorable to this form of Christian experience, if by courtesy we may call it such, is this: that, in itself considered, it is wholly intellectual. Visions, trances, revelations, and all other things, which are exteriorly imparted without being inwardly and operatively experienced, communicating new and perhaps remarkable views without changing the dispositions of the heart, are just what they are and just what their names indicate; but they are not religion. They may be regarded, if any one chooses so to regard them, as constituting an intellectual experience, or still more definitely as constituting an “apparitional” experience  but we repeat, that, in themselves considered, they do not and cannot constitute religion. If a man has a trance, a vision, and especially if he has a revelation, and can sustain it by such miracles as sustained the divine messages of Christ and the Apostles, we readily admit, that he is entitled to a hearing. But, in the first place, we know of no such cases. And in the second place, if we did, it would furnish no decisive grounds of inference in favor of the piety of such persons. It leaves the case just where it found it. And simply for the reason already indicated, viz. that these things are “apparitional” and intellectual, are addressed to the senses and the external perceptions, and do not penetrate the region of the heart.

Isaiah, and Ezekiel, and Daniel, and Peter, and John, and Paul, experienced God’s favor and were his beloved and adopted children, not exclusively or chiefly because they had visions and proclaimed God’s revealed messages and wrought God’s miracles; (missions and attributes, which, so far as we can perceive, might have been assigned to other less holy persons or even to unholy persons,) but because, they had given themselves to God in consecration and in faith, because their hearts were sanctified and their wills were subdued.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 11.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Faith — Not Visions

If the life of faith is the true life, if in its results it develops and explains every thing that is true, good, and lovely in the characters and actions of holy men, it would seem to be a matter of course, that every thing else, which claims to be religion independently of faith as its basis, must be regarded as setting up claims or pretensions, that are false or unfounded.

Those things, whether experienced in a greater or less degree, which are of the nature of visions, trances, revelations of the heavenly world or of the world of woe, revelations of future things, and the like, do not, and cannot, in themselves considered, constitute religion.

About the year 1688, a religious sect appeared in Dauphiny and Vivarais in France, and afterwards, about the year 1700, the same sect made its appearance in England, whose religious experience, in addition to, or perhaps we should rather say, in distinction from the common traits of religious experience, was characterized by trances, as they were called, in which they alleged that they saw the heavens open, and saw the angels of heaven, and saw paradise, and hell, and other things equally wonderful. Nor was this all. Their experience, in the case of a considerable number of persons, was distinguished also by prophetic views or foresights of future things. The state of trance, which can easily be explained, to a considerable degree at least, on purely natural principles, and also other states which were characterized by great physical agitation, were frequently followed by prophetic paroxysms, which when they came to the utterance, resulted either in strong and terrible denunciations, or in predictions of future events. Some interesting specimens of these prophecies are found in the Work, entitled the Prophecies of Sir John Lacy, a worthy man of some education and of irreproachable character, who was subject, in a remarkable degree, to all these forms of experience.

A similar sect sprang up in certain parts of Germany about the year 1730, called the Church or Congregation of the Inspired. It is related of Count Zinzendorf, the founder of the Church of the United Brethren or the Moravian Church, as it is more usually called, that he made a visit to the Church of the Inspired in the principality of Isenberg, and obviously for the purpose of ascertaining the nature of their doctrines and exercises.

The Count, speaking of what he himself witnessed in one of their leading men, whose character and exercises he had an opportunity of studying, both at Isenberg and elsewhere, says, that “he fell into one of his inspired fits in Budingen, which I thought dreadful. The manner was this. He suddenly became violently convulsed, and at the same time he moved his head backwards and forwards with incredible rapidity. In this state he spoke certain words in a prophetic style, which were termed inspirations. They were written down, and sent to the people to whom they referred.” The Count, after having examined the doctrine in connection with the commentary of its practical exhibitions and results, says, “I had no occasion to hesitate any longer, in entirely rejecting the inspiration.”

 — edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 11.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

God Angry with the Rebellious Nations

"Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hail-stones in my fury to consume it." — Ezek. 13.13.

Oh, God! when nations rise against thy power,
And stand with haughty and rebellious eye;
Then do the angry, muttering thunders lower,
And stormy lightnings cleave the trembling sky.
Oh, who, unscath'd, thy vengeance shall defy,
Thy day of desolation, blood, and flame?
Jehovah is not man, that he should lie,
And see dishonor put upon his name.
He buried haughty Babylon in dust,
E'en his beloved Zion felt the rod;
There is no hope, no confidence, no trust,
But in the favor and the arm of God.
His friends are safe, secure from every foe,
His enemies shall bow, and fall beneath his blow.

The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets XVIII.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Meekness of Spirit

"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the peace-makers: for they shall be called the children of God." Mat. 5.5, 9.

When there are clouds and tempests in the mind,
And peace and mercy are by wrath displaced,
It  breaks the plan of love which heaven designed,
And turns the blooming garden to a waste.
Then keep thy soul in peace and quietness,
And strive each evil passion to restrain,
And God will smile upon thee, and will bless,
And his bright image in thy breast maintain,
He, who did bow his blessed head in woe,
The Savior of the meek and lowly heart,
Did he not pray for those who struck the blow,
And bless the ruffian hand that aim'd the dart?
Oh, be like Him, calm, patient, self-controll'd,
He, who can rule himself, has richer wealth than gold.


The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets XVII.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

God Deals With Us as Individuals

God deals with us, (certainly for the most part,) as individuals, and not in masses. When he requires men to repent of sin, to exercise gratitude, to love, and the like, the requisition is obviously made upon them as individuals, as separate from and as independent of others. It is not possible to conceive of any other way, in which obedience to the requisition can be rendered. Nor is it conceivable that the remedial effect of the atonement should be realized in any other way than this. How is it possible, if I, in my own person, have suffered the wound of sin, that a remedy, which is general and does not admit of any specific and personal appropriation, should answer my purpose? Furthermore, in dying for all, in other words, in furnishing a common salvation, available to all on their acceptance of the same, Christ necessarily died for me as an individual, since the common mass or race of men is made up of individuals, and since I am one of that common mass or race. And indeed we can have no idea of a community or mass of men, except as a congregation or collection of separate persons. In dying for the whole on certain conditions, he necessarily, therefore, on the same conditions, died for the individuals composing that whole.

It would seem to follow, then, from what has been said, that the faith, which we especially need, is a personal or appropriating faith; a faith which will disintegrate us from the mass, and will enable us to take Christ home in all his offices to our own business and our own bosoms. We must be enabled to say, if we would realize the astonishing cleansing and healing efficacy there is in the gospel, of God that he is MY God, of the Savior that he is MY Savior. We must be enabled to lay hold of the blessed promises, and exclaim, these are the gift of MY Father, these are the purchase of MY Savior, these are meant for me.

It was thus, that patriarchs, prophets, and apostles believed. This was the faith of those consecrated ones, of whom the world was not worthy, recorded in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. Hear the language of the Psalmist as an illustration of what is to be found frequently in the Scriptures. How precise, how personal, how remote from unmeaning generalities. “I will love thee, O Lord, MY strength. The Lord is MY rock, and MY fortress, and MY deliverer; MY God, MY strength, in whom I will trust; MY buckler and the horn of MY salvation, and MY high tower.” And it is worthy of notice, that the first word of the Lord’s prayer has this appropriating character: “OUR Father, who art in heaven.”

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 10.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Necessity of Appropriating Faith

A third form or modification of the great principle of faith, is what may be called APPROPRIATING FAITH. The necessity of this form of faith is evident from even a slight consideration of the subject. The usual understanding is, with the exception of those who hold strictly to a limited atonement, that our Savior has provided a common salvation, adequate to the wants of all; but available only in the case of those who exercise faith. How far this salvation will practically extend; how many individuals will avail themselves of it; why some are taken and others are left, we cannot tell; nor is it very obvious, that it is important for us to know. But certain it is, that no one will accept of the provision which is made, without faith. But what sort of faith? The answer is, It is that which can speak in the first person; that which has an appropriating power; that which can say I have sinned; I have need of this salvation; I take it home to myself. It is not enough for me to say, I believe that Christ died for others; I must also believe that he died for me individually, and accept of him as my Savior. It is not meant by this, that previous to the exercise of appropriating faith, and independently of such exercise, we have a special or particular interest in Christ, separate from and above that of others; and that appropriating faith consists in believing in this special or particular interest. An appropriating faith of this kind, and operating in this manner, might be very dangerous. It is merely meant, that out of the common interest, which is broad as the human race, we may, by means of faith, take individually that which the gospel permits us to receive and regard as our own; and that we can avail ourselves of this common interest, so as to make it personally our own, in no other way.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 10.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

General Religious Faith

There is also a general religious faith. “A person may not only believe,” repeating here the brief exposition of this subject which we have found it necessary to give in another Work, “with those, who possess an historical faith, that there was such a man as Jesus Christ; but may also believe, that he died for the salvation of men in general. This form of faith, it is true, is important; but it does not and cannot secure all those objects which are ascribed to faith in the Bible. I suppose it may be said with truth, that the devils believe and know, not only that there was such a being as Jesus Christ, but that he died upon the cross for sinners. It obviously does not commend itself to human reason, and still less to the Word of God, to say that a man has saving faith, who merely believes in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, so far as the world receives him in that capacity; but without receiving and believing in him as a Savior in his own case.

A faith of this kind, and which goes no further than this, is practically DEAD. And perhaps it may be said here, that the great sin of the people of our own age is, not that they have merely an historical faith and stop in that, as in some former corrupt periods; but that they too often rest satisfied with a general and abstract faith, which is theoretically applicable to the world at large, without bringing it home to themselves. They believe in the general truth, without making a specific and personal application; and thus serve Satan as effectually, as far as they are personally concerned, as if they had only an historical faith.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 10.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Historical Faith

Historical faith, as that phrase is usually employed by theologians, is faith in the facts, persons, and events, which are mentioned in the Bible, considered merely as matters or subjects of history. The Bible has a historical, as well as a religious value. No reason can be given, so far as we can perceive, why the Bible, in its purely historical parts, should not be placed upon the same footing with the other historical narrations of antiquity. Statements, for instance, which are made in the Bible, and which are as well authenticated as other historical statements, furnish us with an account of Jesus Christ, gravely and specifically, much as is done in other historical narrations. And the person, who has faith in the historical narrations of profane antiquity, who believes in the existence of such men as Hannibal and the Scipios and in other historical personages, cannot well doubt, certainly not with any obvious consistency, the truth and facts of the evangelical statements.

An historical faith in the Savior, in accordance with the view just given, is a faith or belief, that such a man as Jesus Christ, possessing many of the virtuous traits, which his biographers have ascribed to him, appeared in Palestine at the commencement of the Christian era. It is the same species of faith, with which we believe in the existence of the Tituses, Vespasians, and other distinguished historical personages of the same period. This sort of faith, however, which has reference merely to the fact of his existence and to his general character, does not necessarily involve the existence of religion, or even of good morals. A man may be vicious in his character, or without being an immoral man, he may entirely reject Christ in his more important religious aspects and relations, and at the same time believe in him historically. And this was the case, as is well known, with Voltaire, with Diderot, and other distinguished opponents of the Christian system, who readily yielded their assent to the historical matter of fact, that Jesus Christ lived at a certain period of the world, that he was a wise and virtuous man, and that he was put to death by the Jews under the procurate of Pontius Pilate. But a faith, which stops at the historical facts, without recognizing the moral and religious relations and issues involved in them, (and this is always the case with the mere historical faith,) is obviously of no religious value.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 10.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Appropriating Faith

There is a form or modification of faith, which may properly be termed appropriating faith. In giving an account of the principles and doctrines of faith, we could not well omit saying something of this form of its action.

The phrase, appropriating faith, does not indicate a faith, which is different in its kind or nature from any other faith. Faith, in its nature, is always the same. It indicates a form or modification of faith, however, which should not be confounded with other forms.

Appropriating faith is a faith, which considers the object of faith, the thing believed in, whatever it may be, in its relation to ourselves.

But in order more fully to understand this statement, perhaps we should say here, that there are three distinct modifications of faith, which may properly be noticed, in connection with each other, viz.: historical faith, a general religious faith, and that more specific or appropriating faith, which we have at present under consideration.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 10.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Light of Faith

"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." — Heb. 11.13.
 

The light of FAITH doth guide us kindly on,
Like Israel's cloud by day and fire by night.
High o'er our heads, its splendor waxes bright,
When every other blaze is dark and gone.
By FAITH did Noah sail upon the flood,
By FAITH did Abraham offer up his son;
By FAITH the prophets and apostles won
A crown in heaven, on earth a crown of blood.
Their journey here was through a sea of flame;
They trode it fearless, for before their eye
The star of faith shone brightly in the sky,
And showed upon each beam Christ's blessed name.
Oh, let it shine for us, till we, as they,
Shall climb these rugged cliffs, and reach the hills of day.


The Religious Offering XVI.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Confidence in God in Bereavements

"A  voice was beard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping  for  her children, refused to be comforted for her children because they were not." — Jer. 31.15.

Why has my child, my darling child departed?
Why has my God in wrath that lov'd one taken?
Leaving me desolate and broken-hearted,
0'erwhelmed and prostrate, hopeless and forsaken.
And is it all in wrath that I am smitten,
And pressed with burdens heavy to be borne?
Hope yet, my soul, in God, for he hath written
With his own finger,  bless'd are they who mourn.
Perhaps I loved my child more than my God,
Neglecting and forgetting every other,
And He in mercy sent the chastening rod,
And took away the child to save the mother.
Farewell, then, earth! Why should I look below?
I too will take my staff; and weeping heavenward go.

The Religious Offering Scripture Sonnets XV.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Consenting to Receive What God Bestows

The regenerated soul does not, by any physical union with God, cease to exist as a soul; nor do its acts cease to exist as the soul’s acts; but it differs from the unregenerated and the unsanctified soul in this respect, that it exists and acts in harmonious cooperation with divine grace imparted; consenting to receive what God chooses to bestow; consenting to be nothing, that God may be all. But we ought to add, (a circumstance which will perhaps meet a difficulty existing in the minds of some,) that this consent is not very explicit, not very formal. It is an act of the soul, so quiet, so remote from general notice, so comparatively indistinct in our consciousness, that it might almost be said to exist by implication merely. In truth, however, the act is something more than implied; it has a positive existence, whether we have a distinct perception of it or not. And it is comparatively lost to our notice, and ceases in a great degree to occupy our attention, only because our attention is taken up with the divine visitant who has entered.

The doctrine, which is proposed in these remarks, is not a new one. It is hardly necessary to say, that it is the ancient, and to the holy soul the cherished doctrine of antecedent or “preventing” grace. A doctrine, there is some reason to fear, better understood formerly than at present; and always, it is to be lamented, more distinctly recognized in theological speculation, than thoroughly applied in Christian practice. It cannot be too often brought to notice, that the great business of man, as it is of all moral beings, is, not a cessation of action; and still less is it an independent action; but is an action in cooperation with God. And this may be said, (so great is the condescension of our heavenly Father,) to make the work of man with God a sort of partnership. But still it should ever be remembered, that it is a species of partnership, existing on the condition, (the only condition which God can ever recognize,) that it shall be God’s part to give, and man’s part to receive.

— edited from The Life of Faith Part 1, Chapter 9.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

We Live by Faith, We Continue in Faith

As we begin to live by faith, so we must continue to live by faith. Of the truth of this general view, established as it is by the experience of holy men in all ages of the church, there can be no reasonable doubt. If we need wisdom, for instance, (as every person, who strives to live the divine life, does need it,) we can obtain it in no other way, than by asking for it in the exercise of FAITH; that is to say, believing that God, in accordance with his promise, a promise which has its foundation in the atoning merits of Christ, will give all that wisdom which is necessary for us. If we need support in temptation, (as every person in the present state of existence does need it,) we must ask for such support in the same spirit of filial confidence, without any of those misgivings and doubts, which are the opposites of faith, and we shall have it. If we need a will resigned to God in the endurance of trial or a will conformed to God’s will in the discharge of duty, and will only look to God for it, fully believing in him as true to his own character and declarations, he cannot, and will not disappoint us. There is no mistake, no uncertainty. It is not a result which is accidental or contingent, which may be or may not be; it is just as certain as it is, that God is infinite; and that being what he is, he exists in order to communicate the blessedness of his own nature to others, and that all subordinate beings exist, and can exist, so far as they exist in the divine image, only by receiving from him.

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

Friday, March 3, 2017

Human Moral Freedom

But what is to be said of human freedom and human responsibility?

If our dependence upon God is to be so strict, and our self-renunciation is to be so entire, is there good reason for regarding man as a being, either possessed of the elements, or responsible for the fact of moral accountability?

The simple truth is, that God never has violated; he never will violate; and while he remains what he is, he never can violate the moral freedom of his creatures. He gave them moral freedom; and the gift itself is the pledge of its protection. This freedom he is bound by the very elements of his nature to respect sacredly and to respect always. Being what he is, he is not so weak in principle as to violate his own implied promise; nor, considered as the superior, and man as the dependent, is he so poor in character as to be satisfied with a homage, which is not voluntarily rendered.

To be saved from sin and to be brought into moral harmony with the Divine Mind, without a recognition of moral freedom, would in our apprehension, be in the nature of a contradiction in terms; and would, in reality, be neither salvation to men nor honor to God. It is, therefore, left to men, and left to all moral beings throughout the universe, to decide, (and it is a question which is always and necessarily decided one way or the other,) whether they will be saved by the divine operation alone, or will attempt to save themselves by their own efforts. If they consent to be thus saved, in other words if they give themselves up to God to be saved in his own way and manner, then they live by the presence and the agency of the divine operation; or in the expression of the Scriptures by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost; but if they do not consent, they live, as Satan and all other rebellious spirits do, by the operation of unavailing and destructive efforts generated out of self. But where consent is given, so that the divine operation may be in harmony with the mental laws, moral freedom is unimpaired.

And this is especially true, when it is considered, that the act of consent is not the same thing as a cessation or annihilation of action; it is not a mere absence or negation of mental movement; but is a real or positive act on the part of the creature; one which may be specifically described as an act of harmonious concurrence and cooperation, with the divine act. And what is worthy of notice, and is especially important here, this consentient and concurrent act is repeated in all time to come; existing always in immediate consecution with the divine influence, moment by moment. It is in this position of the two minds, the Divine Mind, and created minds, (a position which reconciles the two otherwise antagonistical ideas of God’s gift and man’s free reception,) that grace is communicated. The idea of grace imparted or infused in any other manner, the idea of grace enforced, the idea of saving men against their own consent, involves an absurdity. Salvation is nothing else, and can be nothing else, than harmony with God. But harmony without consent would be an adjustment of conceptions not more free from absurdity, than that of love without affection.

— edited from The Life of Faith Part 1, Chapter 9.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Common Mental Elements Of Justification and Sanctification

The states of justification and sanctification agree with each other not only in being sustained by faith, but by being characterized by the same mental elements in other respects. If, for instance, it is true, as it undoubtedly is, that, in experiencing the state of justification, we are brought to feel, that we cannot obtain forgiveness without self-renunciation, it is equally true, that in sanctification we must have the same feeling in reference to every thing that is necessary for us; in other words, we must feel, that we cannot seek any thing and cannot obtain any thing from God, so long as we cherish the secret expectation of aid from some other source; and that reliance upon God necessarily implies the renouncement of ourselves.

Another mental element, which is involved in sanctification, as well as in justification, is a willingness to receive. We may suppose a person, although perhaps it is not likely to be the case, willing to renounce himself and his own efforts as a ground of hope; and still not willing to receive all from God. It is impossible, that such a soul should exercise that faith, which results in forgiveness and reconciliation. It is necessary that he should not only renounce himself as a ground of hope, but every thing else besides God and out of God; and be willing to be saved, both from the guilt of the past and from present sin, by God’s grace and in God’s way. To renounce ourselves, therefore, in every thing, our merit, our wisdom, our strength, and whatever else we had called and valued as our own, to renounce all other created and subordinate grounds of hope, and humbly, and willingly to receive every thing, our salvation, our Christian graces, our temporal and spiritual guidance, and whatever else may be necessary for us, from God alone in the exercise of simple faith; it is this, as it seems to us, and nothing different from this, and nothing short of this, which constitutes, both in its commencement and progress, the life of the children of God.

— edited from The Life of Faith Part 1, Chapter 9.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Justification and Sanctification — Both by Faith!

Justification and sanctification, although they have some things in common, are, nevertheless, to be regarded, as different from each other. Justification, while it does not exclude the present, has special reference to the past. Sanctification, on the contrary, taking up the work, which justification has begun, has a more distinct reference to the present and the future. And accordingly, the one may be supposed to inquire, how the sins, which have been committed in times past, shall be forgiven; while it is the office of the other to inquire, how we shall be kept from sin at the present moment and in time to come. Or, stating the distinction between them in a little different manner, we may perhaps say, that justification removes the condemnatory power or guilt of sin, while sanctification removes the power of sin itself. The one pardons; the other purifies. The one takes away guilt; the other takes away transgression. The one commences the union with God by forgiveness; the other continues it by securing conformity to the divine will. The one is incipient, and terminates in a particular result; the other may be said to be progressive without end.

There can be no doubt, therefore, that justification and sanctification differ from each other. At the same time, it seems to be equally true that in some respects they are closely allied, and sustain a near resemblance. And in particular, they both come into existence, and are both sustained, in connection with the same mighty principle, viz.: by faith. The doctrine of justification by faith may be regarded as a doctrine generally conceded and settled. And when the subject has been fully examined, we cannot well doubt, that the doctrine of sanctification in the same manner, viz.  by faith, will be conceded and established with equal weight of evidence, and with equal unanimity of opinion. We begin to live by faith; and we continue to live in the same methods, which made the beginning. We received forgiveness in the first instance by faith; and in the reception of any and every spiritual favor, which may be necessary in our further progress, and which may properly be included under the general grace of sanctification, we need the same faith.

“Christ has truly loved me,” says Hermann Francke, “and washed me in his blood, so that my salvation is rendered sure, through grace. My beginning, progress, and ending, is by FAITH in Jesus Christ. When I feel my utter inability, and acknowledge that I can do nothing of myself, and cast myself upon his mercy alone, I feel a new power of communication to my soul. I do not seek to be justified in one way, and sanctified in another.” [Memoirs of Augustus Hermann Francke, Chap. 2d.]

— edited from The Life of Faith Part 1, Chapter 9.