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

Friday, July 21, 2017

Editior's Note: My Break From This Continues

As you will see from the archives, I have been positing regularly here since November 2013.

This spring I look a hiatus and it is continuing. Thomas Upham wrote voluminously and there is more material to work through, but I needed a break from this and I really don't know when I'll pick it up again.

Besides The Life of Faith, the main other important books that Upham wrote about the spiritual life are the spiritual biographies of Madame Guyon and Catherine of Genoa.

The edition of the Guyon biography that I have been editing has small type. This means that the Optical Character Recognition errors are are far more numerous in text extracted from this book than in the others I have edited. The work is slow, the chapters are long, and the sentences — of course — are (characteristically) long and complex.

I just got tired of it. It doesn't mean I've given up on this project. It just means that I need a break.

And, I am glad I took one.

I will get back to this at some point.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Strength from the Cross

"But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." — Gal. 6.14.

Oh, who shall sing the joyful song at last?
Oh, who shall raise in heaven the conqueror's strain,
O'er foes subdued, and inward vices slain,
And seasons of temptation safely pass'd?
'Tis he, who counts all other things but dross,
When put into the scale with God's dear Son;
Who willingly the Christian race doth run,
And fights and toils and conquers in the cross.
The cross imparts perennial peace within;
The cross resists and scatters outward foes;
'Tis by the cross the saints their victories win,
And rise to glory, as their Savior rose.
Then heed not earthly shame nor earthly loss,
But count it all for good, if thou may'st bear the cross.

The Religious Offering, Scripture Sonnets XXII.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Immersion in God

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

When at a certain time the pious Franciscan, who had been under God the instrument of her conversion, and who now, in accordance with the practice of the church to which she belonged, acted as her spiritual Director, questioned her in relation to her feelings towards God, she answered:

I love God far more than the most affectionate lover among men loves the object of his earthly attachment. I make this statement as an illustration, because it is not easy to convey my meaning in any other way. But this comparison, if it furnishes an approximation to the truth, fails to discover the truth itself. It is merely an illustration, which may enable one imperfectly to conceive the strength of that love which exists in me, but is not, and cannot be, a true measurement of it.

She adds:

This love of God occupied my heart so constantly and strongly, that it was very difficult for me to think of anything else. Nothing else seemed worthy of my attention. So much was my soul absorbed in God, that my eyes and ears seemed to close of themselves to outward objects, and to leave the soul under the exclusive influence of the inward attraction. My lips also were closed. Not unfrequently vocal prayer, that form of it which deals in particulars, ceased to utter itself, because my mind could not so far detach itself from this one great object as to consider anything else. When the good Father, the Franciscan, preached at the Magdalen Church at which I attended, notwithstanding the importance and interest which attached to his religious addresses, I found it difficult for me, and almost impossible, to retain any definite idea of what he said. He preached there on three successive occasions about this time; and the result was always the same. I found that Thy truth, O my God, springing from the original source, as if Thy divine and eternal voice were speaking truly, yet inaudibly in the soul, made its impression on my heart and there had its effect, without the mediation of words.

This immersion in God absorbed all things, that is to say, seemed to place all things in a new position relatively to God. Formerly I had contemplated things as dissociated from God; but now I beheld all things in the Divine Union. [I could no more separate holy creatures from God, regarded as the source of their holiness, than I could consider the sun's rays' as existing distinct from the sun itself, and living and shining by virtue of their own power of life. ] This was true of the greatest saints. I could not see the saints, Peter, and Paul, and the Virgin Mary; and others, as separate from God, but as being all that they are, from Him and in Him, in oneness. I could not behold them out of God; but I beheld them all in Him.

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon, Volume 1, Chapter 7.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Union with the Divine Will

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

Further reflections on Jean Guyon's conversion experience:

The leading and decisive characteristic of her religious experience... was, as she informs us, the subjection and loss of her own will in its union with the Divine will. It may be expressed in a single term,— union. “As Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be ONE in us."

We proceed to give some of her views, and shall introduce others hereafter, as occasion may present itself.
The union between the soul and God may exist in various respects. There may be a union of the human and the divine perceptions. There may be a union of the desires and affections to some extent and in various particulars. But the most perfect union, that  which includes whatever is most important in the others, is the union of the human and the divine will. A union of the affections, independently of that of the will, if we can  suppose such a thing, must necessarily be imperfect. When the will, which sustains a preeminent and controlling relation, is in the state of entire union with God, it necessarily brings the whole soul into subjection; it implies necessarily the extinction of any selfish action, and brings the mind into harmony with itself, and into harmony with everything else. From that moment, our powers cease to act from any private or selfish regards. They are annihilated to self, and act only in reference to God. Nor do they act in reference to God in their own way and from their own impulse; but move as they are moved upon, being gradually detached from every motion of their own.

In such a soul the principle of faith is very strong; so much so as to require nothing of the nature of visions and revelations to sustain it, and to be equally independent of that false support which is derived from human reasonings. That faith which annihilates all our powers, or rather the action of all our powers, in regard to self, making the principle of holy love predominant, and bringing the human will into subjection to the divine, is a light in the soul, which is necessarily inconsistent with, and which extinguishes every other light. That is to say, if we go by any other light, the light of mere human reason, the guidance of inward visions and voices, or of strong emotions, which may be called the lights of sense, or by any other light whatever, distinct and separate from that of faith, of course we do not go by the light of faith. In the presence of the light of faith, every other light necessarily grows dim and passes away; as the light of the moon and stars gradually passes away, and is extinguished in the broader and purer illumination of the rising sun. This light now arose in my heart. Believing with this faith, the fountains of the heart were opened, and I loved God with a strength of love corresponding to the strength of faith. Love existed in the soul; and throwing its influence around every  other  principle of action, constituted, as it were, the soul's dwelling place. God was there. According to the words of  St.  John, ‘He, that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God. God is love.’

— edited from The Life of Madame Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 7. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Spiritual Joy

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

Further reflections on Jean Guyon's conversion experience:

It is very obvious from her statements, that, in her first experience of the new life, she had great joy. Joy was a marked characteristic of it. But taught by the great inward Teacher, she was enabled to perceive from the first, that it would not be safe for her to estimate either the reality or the degree of her reli­gion by the amount, of her happiness.

It is true there is not only such a thing as joy, but such a thing as religious joy, or joy attendant on religion, and which, therefore, may properly be described, in the language of the Scriptures, as "joy in the Holy Ghost." But this is a very different thing from saying, that joy and religion are the same thing. Joy is not only not religion, but it does not always arise from religious causes. The grounds or causes of its origin are numerous, and sometimes very diverse. A new speculative truth, new views which are at variance with the truth, or even the pleasant intimations of a dream or vision, whether more or less remarkable, (to say nothing of physical causes, and of providential causes,— causes connected with the state of our health and with our situation in life,) may be followed by a pleasurable excitement of the emotional part of our nature, which may be mistaken for true religion.

Certain it is, however, that no joys can be regarded as really of a religious nature and as involving the fact of religion, which are not attended with repentance for sin and faith in Jesus Christ, with the renovation of the desires and with the subjection of the will.

The views of Madame Guyon on this subject were distinct and decided. She took the Savior for her example, who was not the less a religious man, because he was a man of "sorrows and acquainted with grief." She did not seek joy, but God. God first,  and what God sees fit to give, afterwards. She believed and knew, (so far as she thought it necessary to give attention to the subject of her own personal enjoyments at all,) if she gave herself to God wholly, without reserve, God would not be slow to take care of her happiness. 

edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 7.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Not an Apparitional Expereince

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

Further reflections on Jean Guyon's conversion experience:

There is a sort of inward experience, which is not only intellectual, but which, to indicate to what part of the intellect it belongs, may be described more specifically as "apparitional." It is generally found among uneducated persons, but not exclusively; and it is so frequent in its occurrence, as well as important in its results and relations, as to authorize some notice. It consists, for the most part, in sights seen and sounds heard, not excluding anything which is addressed to the intellect through the external  senses;  and can justly be regarded as especially liable to illusion. It is here, perhaps, more than anywhere else, although all such experience may be accounted for to a considerable extent on natural principles, that Satan "transforms himself into an angel of light."

So far as this form of experience is concerned, the kingdom of God was erected within her “without observation."  No sound was heard but that of the "still small voice," which speaks inwardly and effectually. There was no dream, no vision, no audible message. Her change was characterized, not by things seen, but by operations experienced; not by revelations imparted from without, and known only as existing without, but by affections inspired by the Holy Ghost from within, and constituting, from the time of their origin, a part of the inward consciousness.

— edited from The Life of Madame Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 7.

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Change of Heart

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

Further reflections on Jean Guyon's conversion experience:

 Madam Guyon, in her Autobiography, makes a number of practical remarks on the nature of her religious experience at this time.

Recognizing a distinction, which is important in the analysis of inward experience, she regarded the change which she underwent at this period, as not merely an intellectual illumination, but as truly a change of the heart. It is true, undoubtedly, that she had received new light. She had been led to see more distinctly than ever before the extreme perversity and blindness of the natural mind. She had now a clearer perception both of what God is, and of what he requires; and especially of the way of forgiveness and salvation by faith in Christ alone.

But perception is not love. The righting of the understanding is not necessarily identical with the rectification of the sensibilities. The understanding, enlightened of God, will sometimes dictate what the heart, in its opposition to God, will be slow to follow. This was not her case. Her under­standing was not only enlightened, but her heart was renewed.

— edited from The Life of Madame Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 7.

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.