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, October 23, 2017

Domestic Sorrows

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





Reflections on her conversion.
 


The sorrow, therefore, which pained her life before her conversion, remained afterward. It was a wound of the heart, deep and terrible, but which cannot well be appreciated or expressed. To a woman who possesses those confiding and affectionate inclinations which characterize and adorn the sex, there is no compensation, there can be no compensation, for an absence of love, — least of all, in that sacred and ennobling relation, in which she gives up her heart, in the fond expectation of a heart's return. It is true, that it was a marriage, in the first instance, without much acquaintance; but still it was not without some degree of confidence, and still less without hope. But it ought to be said that Madame Guyon always refers to this painful subject with dignity and candor, — not condemning others with severity; and willing to take a full share of blame to herself. These trials would never have been known from her pen, had they not been written at the express and positive command of her Spiritual Director, whom she regarded it a religious duty to obey. At the time of her writing she had no expectation that her statements would be made public. We do not think it necessary to repeat every thing that is said on this subject in her Life; it is perhaps best, that it should pass away and be forgotten. Only one or two statements more will be given.

The waiting-maid, who had gained so much influence over her husband,

...became, every day more haughty. It seemed as if Satan were in her, to incite her to torment me. And what enraged her most of all was, that her vexatious treatment, her fretfulness, and her impertinent complaints and rebukes, had ceased to trouble me as they once did. Inwardly supported, I remained silent. It was then that she thought, that if she could hinder me from going to partake of the holy Sacrament, she would give me the greatest of all vexations. She was not mistaken, O divine Spouse of holy souls! since the only satisfaction of my life was to receive and honor Thee. The church at which I worshiped, was called the Magdalen Church. I loved to visit it. I had done something to ornament it, and to furnish it with the silver plates and chalices of the Communion service. It was there, when things were in such a situation at my house as to allow me to do it, that I retired and spent hours in prayer. It was there, with a heart filled with love, that I  partook of the holy Sacrament. This girl, who knew where my affections were and how to wound them, took it into her head to watch me daily. Sometimes I evaded her, and had my seasons of retirement .and prayer. Whenever it was otherwise, and she discovered my going thither, she immediately ran to tell my mother-in-law and my husband.
One of their alleged grounds of complaint was the length of time which I spent in religious services. Accordingly, when the maid servant informed them, that I had gone to the church, it was enough to excite their angry feelings. Whenever this took place, I had no rest from their reproofs and invectives that day. If I said anything in my own justification, it was enough to make them speak against me as guilty and sacrilegious, and to cry out against all devotion. If I remained silent and made no answer at all, the result was merely to heighten their indignation, and to make them say the most unpleasant things they could devise. If I were out of health, which was not unfrequently the case, they took occasion to come and quarrel with me at my bedside, saying that my prayers and my sacramental communions were the occasions of my sickness. As if there were nothing else which could make me ill, but my devotions to Thee, O my Lord!

The efforts of the step-mother were not limited to attempts to dissociate the affections of her husband; she endeavored also to alienate from her the respect and affections of her eldest son. And she too well succeeded; although there is reason to think that he came to better dispositions in after life. There was something in this, so deep and sacred is a mother's love, which seems to have affected the feelings of Madame Guyon more keenly than anything else in her domestic afflictions.

The heaviest cross, which I was called to bear, was the loss of my eldest son's affections and his open revolt against me. He exhibited so great disregard and contempt of me, that I could not see him without causing me severe grief.

She says, that she conversed with one of her pious friends in relation to this strange and heavy trial, whose advice was, that since she could not remedy it, she must suffer it patiently, and leave every thing to God.

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon (1877) Volume 1, Chapter 8.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Opposition in Her Family

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




Reflections on her conversion — and the opposition that arose.


Happy would it have been, if she had been exposed only to the ridicule and the opposition of those who were without. Among the members and relatives of her own family still less than ever, with the exception of her father, did she find any heart that corresponded fully to her own. It seems to have been the great object of her step-mother, who was exceedingly desirous to retain the influence over her son which she had exercised previous to his marriage, to weaken and destroy his affections for his wife. Her object was cruel as it was wicked, although she probably justified herself in it, from the fear that the benevolent disposition of Madame Guyon, both before and after experienc­ing religion, might result in a waste of the property of the family, if she should possess all that influence with her hus­band, to which such a wife was entitled. "My mother-in-law," she says, "persuaded my husband that I let everything go to wreck, and that, if she did not take care, he would be ruined." The step-mother's plan of alienating her son's affections from his wife, was seconded by the maid-servant, who has been mentioned,— a laborious and artful woman, who had rendered herself almost absolutely necessary to her master in those seasons of sickness and physical suffering of which he had a large share. The result of their combined efforts was, that he became unsettled and vacillating in his affections, — not constant in his love; sometimes and perhaps we may say, always, when separated from their influence. truly and even passionately affectionate; at other times, and more frequently, he was distrustful and cruel.

In this perplexed and conflicting state of mind, it is not surprising that we find his language and his conduct equally conflicting, equally inconsistent. Sometimes he speaks to her in the language of violence and abuse, sometimes in a relenting spirit and with affection. He was not pleased with the religious change which appeared in his wife. "My husband," she says, "was out of humor with my devotion; it became insupportable to him.  'What!' says he, 'you love God so much that you love me no longer.' So little did he comprehend that the true conjugal love is that which is regulated by religious sentiment, and which God himself forms in the heart that loves him."  At  other times, when left to his better nature, he insisted much on her being present with him; and frankly recognizing what he saw was very evident, he said to her,  "One sees plainly, that you never lose the presence of God." 

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon (1877) Volume 1, Chapter 8.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Opposition to Her New Faith

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





Reflections on her conversion.



Religion is the same in the Catholic and in the Protestant. I speak now of the substance, and not of the form; of the  internal and not of the external. Religion, so far as it is religion, is always the same; the same in all lands and in all ages; the same in its nature, the same in its results; always allied to angels and God, and always meeting with the opposition of that which is not angelic and is not God. It is not surprising, therefore, that Madame Guyon's new heart should meet with opposition from the world's old one.

When the world saw that I had quitted it, it persecuted me, and turned me into ridicule. I became the subject of its conversation, of its fabulous stories, and of its amusement. Given up to its irreligion and pleasures, it could not bear that a woman who was little more than twenty years of age, should thus make war against it, and overcome it.

Her age was not the only circumstance that was remembered. That youth should quit the world was something, but that wealth, intelligence, and beauty, combined with youth, in the same person, should quit it, was much more. On merely human principles it could not well be explained. Some were offended; some spoke of her as a person under some species of mental delusion; some attributed her conduct to stupidity, inquiring very significantly, "What can all this mean? This lady has the reputation of knowledge and talent. But we see nothing of it."

But God was with her. She relates that, about this time, she and her husband went into the country on some business. She did not leave her religion on leaving her home. The river Seine flowed near the place where they staid. "On the banks  of the river,"  she says, "finding a dry and solitary place, I sought intercourse with my God." Her husband had gone with her into the country; but he did not accompany her there. There is something impressive in this little incident. She went alone to the banks of the Seine, to the waters of the beautiful river, and into the dry and solitary place. It was indeed a solitary place; but can we say that she who went there, went alone? God was with her. God, who made the woods and the waters, and who, in the beginning, walked with his holy ones amid the trees of the garden. "The communications of Divine Love," she adds, "were unutterably sweet to my soul in that retirement." And thus, with God for her portion, she was happy in the loss of that portion which was taken away from her.

"Let the world despise and leave me;
They have left my Savior too;
Human hearts and looks deceive me
Thou art not, like them, untrue.

"Man may trouble and distress me,
'Twill but drive me to Thy breast;
Life with trials hard may press me;
Heaven will bring me sweeter rest."

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon (1877) Volume 1, Chapter 8.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

To Teach All the World the Love of God

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





Reflections on her conversion.


But it is to be noticed further, that under the influences of her new life, which required her to go about doing good, she labored for the spiritual, as well as the temporal benefit of others, — for the good of their souls, as well as for that of their bodies. Before the day dawned, prayers ascended from her new heart of love; "So strong, almost insatiable, was my desire for communion with God, that I arose at four o’clock to pray.” Her greatest pleasure, and, comparatively speaking, her only pleasure, was to be alone with God, to pray to him; and to commune with him. She prayed for others as well as herself. She says, "I could have wished to teach all the world to love God." Her feelings were not inoperative. Her efforts corresponded, if not absolutely, which would perhaps have been impossible, yet in a very high degree, with her desires. She says that God made use of her as an instrument in gaining many souls to himself. Her labors however, were more successful in some cases than in others, as would naturally be expected. Speaking of one of the female relatives of her husband, who was very thoughtless on religious subjects, she remarks,

I wanted her to seek the religious state, and to practice prayer. Instead of complying with my request, she expressed the opinion that I was entirely destitute of all sense and wisdom, in thus depriving myself, when I had the means of enjoying them, of all the amusements of the age; but the Lord has since opened her eyes to make her despise them.

She relates among some other incidents,

There was a lady of rank, whom I sometimes visited. She took a particular liking to me, because, as she was pleased to say, my person and manners were agreeable to her. She said, that she observed in me something extraordinary and uncommon. My impression is, that my spiritual taste reacted upon my physical nature, and that the inward attraction of my soul appeared on my very countenance. And one reason of this opinion is, that a gentleman of fashion one day said to my husband's aunt, 'I saw the lady your niece, and it is very visible that she lives in the presence of God!' I was surprised at hearing this, as I did not suppose that a person so much addicted to the world, could have any very distinct idea of God's presence, even in the hearts of his own people, This lady, I say, began to be touched with the sense of God.

The circumstances were these. At a certain time she proposed to me to go with her to the theater. I refused to go, as, independently of my religious principles and feelings, I had never been in the habit of going to such places. The reason, which I first gave to her for not acceding to her proposition, was of a domestic nature, namely, that my husband's continual indisposition rendered it inconvenient and improper for me. Not satisfied with this, she continued to press me very earnestly to go with her. She said, that I ought not to be prevented by my husband's indispositions from taking some amusement; that the business of nursing the sick was more appropriate to older persons, and that I was too young to be thus confined to them. This led to more particular conversation. I gave her my reasons for being particularly attentive to my husband in his seasons of ill health. But this was not all. I told her that I entirely disapproved of theatrical amusements; and that I regarded them as especially inconsistent with the duties of a Christian woman. The lady was far more advanced in years than I was; but whether it was owing in part to this circumstance or not, my remarks made such an impression on her, that she never visited such places afterwards."

But our intercourse with each other did not end here. I was once in company with her and another lady, who was fond of talking, and had read the writings of the Christian Fathers. They had much conversation with each other in relation to God. The learned lady, as might be expected, talked very learnedly of him. I must confess that this sort of merely intellectual and speculative conversation, in relation to the Supreme Being, was not much to my taste. I scarcely said anything; my mind being drawn inwardly to silent and inward communion with the great and good Being, about whom my friends were speculating. They at length left me. The next day the lady, with whom I had previously had some conversation, came to see me. The Lord had touched her heart; she came as a penitent, as a seeker after religion; she could hold out in her opposition no longer. But I at once attributed this remarkable and sudden change, as I did not converse with her the day previous, to the conversation of our learned and speculative acquaintance. But she assured me it was otherwise. She said, it was not the other's conversation which affected her, but my silence; adding the remark, that my silence had something in it which penetrated to the bottom of her soul, and that she could not relish the other’s discourse. After that time we spoke to each other with open hearts on the great subject.

It was then that God left indelible impressions of grace on her soul; and she continued so athirst for him, that she could scarcely endure to converse on any other subject. That she might be wholly his, God deprived her of a most affectionate husband. He also visited her with other severe crosses. At the same time he poured his grace so abundantly into her heart that he soon conquered it, and became its sole master. After the death of her husband and the loss of most of her fortune, she went to reside on a small estate which yet remained to her, situated at the distance of about twelve miles from our house. She obtained my husband's consent to my going to pass a week with her, for the purpose of consoling her under her afflictions. The visit was attended with beneficial results. God was pleased to make me an instrument of spiritual good to her. I conversed much with her on religious subjects. She possessed knowledge, and was a woman of uncommon intellectual power; but being introduced into a world of new thought as well as new feeling, she was surprised at my expressing things to her so much above what is considered the ordinary range of woman's capacity. I should have been surprised at it myself, had I reflected on it. But it was God, who gave me the gift of perception and utterance, for her sake; he made me the instrument, diffusing a flood of grace into her soul, without regarding the unworthiness of the channel he was pleased to make use of. Since that time her soul has been the temple of the Holy Ghost, and our hearts have been indissolubly united.

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon (1877) Volume 1, Chapter 8.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Her New Benevolence

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





Reflections on her conversion.



But we ought to add, that her care was not limited to her family, to the exclusion of other appropriate objects of Christian benevolence. She had means of doing good, which she did not fail to employ. The income of her husband's property, or rather the property of which he had the control at this time, stated in the French currency, was about forty thousand livres annually. A very large income at that period, when money had relatively a higher value than it now has. Of this amount, a certain portion was placed in her hands by her husband, to be expended by her as she might think proper. And accordingly as God gave her opportunity, and in imitation of that Savior whom she now followed, she did what she could for the poor and the sick, discharging, without any hesitation, duties which would be exceedingly unpleasant and irksome to a mind not supported by Christian principle. She remarks in her Life,

I was very assiduous, in performing deeds of charity. I had feelings of strong compassion for the poor, and it would have been pleasing to me to have supplied all their wants. God, in his providence, had given me an abundance; and in the employment of what he had thus bestowed upon me, I wished to do all that I could to help them. I can truly say, that there were but few of the poor in the vicinity where I lived, who did not partake of my alms. I did not hesitate to distribute among then the very best which could be furnished from my own table. It seemed as if God had made me the only almoner in this neighborhood. Being refused by others, the poor and suffering came to me in great numbers. My benefactions were not all public. I employed a person, whose business it was to dispense alms privately, without letting it be known from whom they came. There were some families, who needed and received assistance, without being willing to accept of it as a gratuity. And I reconciled their feelings with their wants, by permitting them, in the reception of what was needful for them to incur the formality of a debt. I speak of giving; but looking at the subject in the religious light, I had nothing to give. My language to God was,  “Oh my Divine Love, it is thy substance:  I am only the steward of it; I ought to distribute it according to thy will.”

Her efforts for the good of others were not limited to gifts of food and clothing. Those who are acquainted with the state of things in France during the reign of Louis Fourteenth, know that ruinous vices prevailed at that period. The profligacy of the Court, though less intense than that which was exhibited subsequently in the time of the Regency of the Duke of Orleans and in the reign of Louis Fifteenth could hardly fail to find imitators among the people. This will help to explain some further statements which she makes in connection with her efforts to do good. In a number of instances, with a forethought creditable to her sound judgment as well as her piety, she informs us that she caused poor young girls, especially such as were particularly characterized by beauty of person, to be taught in some art or trade; to the end; that, having employment and means of subsistence they might not be under a temptation to adopt vicious courses, and thus throw themselves away. And this was not all. Inspired with the sentiments which animate the hearts of some pious females of later times, she did not consider it inconsistent with religion to endeavor to reclaim those of her sex who had fallen into the grossest sins. She says, that God made use of her to reclaim several females from their disorderly lives, one of whom was distinguished by her family connections as well as her beauty, who became not only reformed, but truly penitent and Christian in her dispositions, and died a happy death.

I went, to visit the sick, to comfort them, to make their beds. I made ointments, aided in dressing wounds, and paid the funeral expenses incurred in the interment of those who died.

And as one of her methods of doing good, she adds,

I sometimes privately furnished tradesmen and mechanics, who stood in need of assistance, with the means that were requisite to enable them to prosecute their business. 

It is very obvious, I think, if we may rely on her own statements, as undoubtedly we may, that in acts of outward charity she did much; perhaps all that could reasonably be expected.

— edited from The Life of Madame Guyon (1877) Volume 1, Chapter 8.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

She Now Sees God in All Things

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





Reflections of her conversion.



Sustaining the relations of a wife, a mother, and a daughter, and seeing now more clearly into the ways and requisitions of Providence, she endeavored, from higher motives and in a better manner than ever before, to discharge the duties which she owed to her father, her husband, and her children. I speak of her duties to her children, because, previously to the time of which we are now speaking, God had been pleased to give her another son. The birth of her first son, — whom she frequently names as being made, through the perverting influence of her step-mother, a son of trial and sorrow, — has already been mentioned. The second son, who gave better promise both for himself and others, was born in 1667. We shall have occasion to recur to him again, although we have scarcely anything recorded of him, except the few painful incidents of his early death. These new and expanding relations furnished opportunities of duty and occasions of trial, which ceased from this time, at least in a great degree, to be met in the strength of worldly motives or in the arts of worldly wisdom. God, in whom alone she felt she could trust, became her wisdom and strength, as well as her consolation.

We may well and truly say, whatever allowance it may be necessary to make for human infirmity, that God was her portion. She could say with the Psalmist, "The Lord is my fortress and deliverer,— my strength in whom I will trust." The views, which she took of religious truth and duty, were of an elevated character, without being mixed and perverted, so far as we can perceive, with elements that are false and fanatical. It is true, that, even at this early period of her experience, the religious impulse, as if it had an instinctive conviction of the end to which it was tending, took a higher position than is ordinary, but without failing to be guided by the spirit of sound wisdom. If she was a woman, who both by nature and grace felt deeply, she was also a woman who thought dearly and strongly.

Among other things it is worthy of notice, that she distinctly recognized, not only intellectually, but, what is far more important, she recognized practically, that God orders and pervades our allotment in life; that God is in life, not in the mitigated and merely speculative sense of the term, but really and fully; not merely as a passive spectator, but as the inspiring impulse and soul of all that is not sin; in life, in all life, in all the situations and modifications of life, for joy or for sorrow, for good or for evil. The practical as well as speculative recognition of this principle, may be regarded as a sort of first  step towards a thorough walking with God. A heart, unsubdued, a heart in which worldly principles predominate, does not like to see God in all things, and tries unceasingly to shake off the yoke of divine providence. To the subdued heart, on the contrary,— to the heart, in which christian principles predominate, — that yoke always is, and of necessity always must be, just in proportion as such principles predominate, "the yoke which is easy and the burden which is light." Early did this Heaven-taught woman learn this. And she was willing to apply to her own situation, and to her own responsible relations, what she had thus learned.

It is one thing to have the charge of a family, and another to know and to feel, that this responsible position is the arrangement and the gift of Providence. Providence, whose eye is unerring, had placed her in that relation; and whatever cares or sorrows might attend her position, she felt that, as a woman and emphatically as a Christian woman, she must recognize it as the place which God had appointed, and as involving the sphere of duty which God had imposed.

— edited from The Life of Madame Guyon (1877) Volume 1, Chapter 8.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Effects of Her Conversion

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





Reflections on Madame Guyon's conversion.



Madame Guyon dates this great change as taking place on Magdalen's day, as it is termed in the Catholic church, the 22d of July; 1668.1 She was then a little more than twenty years of age.

It  is hardly necessary to say, that the change which persons experience in their transition from the life of nature to the life of God in the soul, are very different, in their commencement, in different persons, being much more marked in some cases than in others.  In the case of Madame Guyon, although slowly progressive in its preparatory steps, it seems to have been very decisive and marked at the time of its actually taking place. It was obviously a great crisis in her moral and religious being, — one in which the pride and obstinacy of the natural heart were broken down, and in which, for the first time, she became truly willing to receive Christ alone as her hope of salvation.

A gospel change implies the existence of a new nature. A nature which has life in it; and which, having the principle of life in itself, puts forth the acts of life. And it is thus that the fact, both of its existence and of its character, is verified. The true life always shows itself outwardly, in its appropriate time and way. “By their fruits,” says the Savior, “ye shall know them.” No other evidence will compensate, or ought to compensate for the absence of this. This evidence Madame Guyon gave. From the moment that she gave herself to the Lord to be his, in the inner spirit as well as the outward action, and in the action corresponding to the spirit, the language of her heart, like that of the Apostle Paul was, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? ”

“I bade farewell forever" she says “to assemblies which I had visited, to plays and diversions, to dancing, to unprofitable walks, and to parties of pleasure. The amusements and pleasures which are so much prized and esteemed by the world, now appeared to me dull and insipid,— so much so, that I wondered how I ever could have enjoyed them." She adds the remark, that for two years previously she had left off the curling of her hair,— a very general and favorite practice at that time, and which, — if we may believe the Maquis De Dangeau, although his statements strictly apply to a somewhat later period,— was sometimes carried to an injurious and unseemly extent. And in connection with doing this she expresses an opinion,— which others, who wish to honor the Savior in a Christian life, might do well to remember, — that she abandoned a practice, which, in the judgment of a correct taste, does not in reality contribute to the attractions of personal appearance; and the abandonment of which, therefore, if rightly considered, cannot be supposed to involve any great personal sacrifice.

Without going into particulars, it may perhaps be sufficient to say, that from this time it became her object, in her dress, in her modes of living, and in her personal habits generally, as well as in her interior dispositions, to conform to the requisitions of the Inward Monitor, the Comforter and Guide of holy souls, who now began to speak in her heart.

— edited from The Life of Madame Guyon (1877) Volume 1,  Chapter 8.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Consecration and Grace

Consecration therefore, as it seems to us, consecration without reserve either as to time or object, is the indispensable condition of inward religious advancement.

But it will be inquired perhaps with some solicitude, whether this doctrine, which denies advancement in religion without consecration, and which thus implies an act of the creature, does not exclude grace? In replying to this question, we feel obliged to say, that we cannot perceive any reasonable grounds of distrust and anxiety here. It is certainly difficult to see, how an act of correspondence on the part of the creature to God’s intentions and acts of mercy, is inconsistent with what we variously denominate grace, free-ness, or gratuity on God’s part. Man, considered as a moral and responsible being, could not do less than what is implied in such correspondence, without rejecting God. There is, and can be no alternative. He must either correspond with God by a reception of what God proposes to give and by a full and harmonious cooperation, or he must reject. And it is virtually impossible, as it seems to us, for God, while the creature rejects what he offers, to give more, or to continue for any length of time that which he has already given. But the act of correspondence, which is thus rendered indispensable on man’s part, if he would experience the continuance and the increase of the divine favor, being obviously nothing more than an act accepting what God offers, or perhaps more definitely and truly an act of consent to enter into harmony with the divine operation, it does not, and cannot detract from the free and gratuitous nature of the divine gifts. It is self-evident, that the mere reception of a gift, by an intelligent approval and cooperation on the part of the recipient, can never alter its nature as a gift.

What a motive is presented by these views, to a full correspondence with God; in other words, to a consecration, immediate, unreserved, and perpetual. An act so obviously necessary, and yet which so few are ready and willing to perform; the omission of which so fully accounts for the prevalence of inward darkness and the want of inward growth. Give yourself to God in all things, if you would have God give himself to you. True, the act of consecration, in its relation to the world, and the things of the world, may be like the cutting off of the right hand or the plucking out of the right eye; it may be attended, as it undoubtedly will be, with the painful sundering of earthly ties, but it is the only condition, so far as we can perceive, on which we are able to advance from the lower to the higher degrees of faith and love, and ultimately to possess the fullness of God, as our present and everlasting portion.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 15.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Consecration is the Condition of Advancement in Faith

The human ability must correspond without reserve, and to its utmost extent, to the divine light, whether it be more or less. Knowledge to the extent, in which we are able to conform to what we know, furnishes the basis of obligation. It is a principle of moral philosophy, which is well understood and is considered as very obvious, that our obligations can never be less than our ability and our knowledge. “He, who knoweth his master’s will, and doeth it not, shall be beaten with many stripes.” In other words, the person, who does not correspond to God in accordance with the obligation which God imposes, will not be likely to have the disposition, and certainly will not have the right, to plead the divine promises, and is clearly the subject of God’s marked disapprobation. But to correspond, in the utmost extent of our ability, to all that we actually know and to all that we are now able to know of our duty, is essentially the same thing, perhaps we may say, is precisely the same thing, as to consecrate ourselves entirely to God.

Consecration therefore, as it seems to us, consecration without reserve either as to time or object, is the indispensable condition of inward religious advancement.

Whether, therefore, you have much religion, or little religion, or none at all, follow the divine light; whether it be the light of nature, which only shows us our state of condemnation; or the light of restoring and redeeming grace, which leads us to the Cross, that we may be pardoned there; or the light of that grace, which sanctifies the heart, by exploring its secret recesses and by bringing all into subjection; be it each or all, be it more or less, correspond with all your powers to all that is given, and God will give more. This, if we rightly understand it, is the law of increase in spiritual things, the law of light added to light, of grace, added to grace, of glory brightening in the front of glory.

We find here an answer to the question, often proposed with intense interest, why is it that there are so few cases of assured faith and hope? why is it that there are so few persons, who, under the influences of sanctifying grace, have reached the state of assured or perfected love, and of constant communion with God? The answer is, it is because by not corresponding to the light and grace which they had, they lost that, which they might have had. They would not take the cup of consecration, which they knew to be bitter to the natural taste, and therefore they did not, and could not receive the inward healing, which, in connection with God’s plan of operation, it might have imparted. It is impossible in the nature of things, that a person can have strong faith in God as a father and friend, or that he can love him with unmixed love, when he is conscious that by not consecrating himself he is violating a religious duty. Belief will always sink, and consequently love, which has its foundation in belief, will always sink in proportion to the weakness or defect of the consecrating act.

The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 15.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

With What You Have, Obtain More

If we are so constituted, that we naturally and necessarily know something of God, it is still true, that we may know him more. If it is a conceded fact, that we know him in a small degree, it is equally true that we may also know him much. If we may know him as the God of nature, we may also know him as the God of the Bible, as the God of providence, as the God of the New Covenant, as the God of the promises. We may know him as our own God and Father, as ours in prosperity and adversity, as ours in life and death, as ours to-day, to-morrow, and forever.

But let us notice this in particular. The belief in God, which we have from nature, valuable as it undoubtedly is, has the effect merely to bring men under condemnation, unless it is followed by something further. And this is essentially true also of the incipient steps, the beginnings of a really gracious experience. On what principle, therefore, or in what way is it, that having but little light, whether it be the light of nature or the light of grace, we may reasonably expect to get more? I know of no principle and of no way or method, but that of spiritual correspondence with God according to what we now have; in other words, the way of humbly and unreservedly giving ourselves to God to be his, according to our present light; trusting in him for wisdom and strength, and for all that we need. Every thing, which has relation to our progress in the divine life, seems to depend upon the position which we here take, viz. upon our conformity to this rule on the one hand, or our rejection of it on the other. If we do not give ourselves to God in correspondence with what he has imparted to us, but on the contrary, rejoice in the light which we have as our own light, which is the same thing as to rejoice in ourselves, and thus turn away from God, we can make no advancement. But if, entirely renouncing our own strength and wisdom, and giving ourselves wholly to God, we receive and rejoice in the light which we have as God’s light, and in the deep feeling of our dependence look to God for more, we are in the way of increased light and of true salvation.

This, therefore, seems to be the law of inward progress, viz. WITH WHAT YOU HAVE, OBTAIN MORE. Be faithful to what is given, and the giver will add to his gifts. A law, enforced by the penalty already alluded to, viz. that the gifts of nature without the additions of grace, and the incipient gifts of grace without grace super-added, so far from essentially benefiting us, will only add to our condemnation. Or, as the Scriptures express it, “whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”

We will suppose, that the reader of these pages is a Christian. God has given you, in addition to the unavailing light of nature, (unavailing if it remain merely what it is,) the light of grace; so that you can say that you have some faith in God and some communion with him. It is an interesting inquiry, how you shall increase it? The Savior has given the answer on various occasions and in various forms of expression; but all to the same import, viz., improve what you have, and you shall have more. Just in proportion as ye seek not honor, one from another, but the honor which cometh from God only, ye shall have faith, and shall find that faith increasing. “If any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth,” John 9:31. “Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.” Matthew 25:23. Be all to me according to the light, which I have condescended to give you; and I will be all to you in return.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 15.