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.

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,

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