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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Meeting the "Queen of England"

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

At this period of her life [around eight years of age] an incident occurred, which seems to require some explanation.

The period of which we are now speaking, was subsequent in time to the great Civil War in England, which resulted in the death of Charles First, the establishment of a new government, and the expulsion of the surviving members of the royal family. Charles had married Henrietta Maria, the daughter of Henry Fourth, and sister of Lewis Thirteenth of France. In consequence of the unfavorable turn of the Civil War, she fled from England to her own country in 1644; residing for the most part, in sorrow and in poverty, in the Convent of Chaillot, at that time a village in the neighborhood of Paris, but now making a part of the city itself. She died in 1669; and it is worthy of notice, that her death furnished occasion for one of the most celebrated of the Funeral Orations of Bossuet.

Some years after her flight from England to France, this distinguished person visited the city of Montargis. And when we recollect, that the family of M. De La Mothe held a high rank in that city, and especially when we consider that there were probably some common grounds of religious sympathy and attachment, it will not be surprising that Henrietta Maria should have honored them with a visit. This statement will help to explain an incident which we find in her early life.

It is related in her Auto-biography, that, while she was at the Seminary of the Ursulines, she was frequently sent for by her father, who was desirous of seeing her from time to time at home. On one of these occasions she says that she found at her father's house the Queen of England; a circumstance which would seem very improbable, except in connection with the historical facts which have just now been mentioned. This seems to have been in the year 1655, or about that time. She was then near eight years of age.

My father told the Queen's Confessor, that, if he wanted a little amusement, he might entertain himself with me, and propound some questions to me. He tried me with several very difficult ones, to which I returned such correct answers, that he carried me to the Queen, and said to her, 'Your Majesty must have some diversion with this child.' She also tried me, and was so well satisfied and pleased with my lively answers and my manners, that she not only requested my father to place me with her, but urged her proposition with no small importunity, assuring him that she would take particular care of me, and going so far as to intimate, that she would make me Maid of Honor to the princess, her daughter. Her desire for me was so great, that the refusal of my father evidently disobliged her. Doubtless it was God who caused this refusal, and who in doing so turned off the stroke, which might have probably intercepted my salvation. Weak as I then was, how could I have withstood the temptations and distractions, incidental to a connection with persons so high in rank?
After this interview with a person, signalized by her rank and her misfortunes, she went, back as usual to the Ursuline Seminary, where her paternal half-sister, to whose kindness her father had particularly entrusted her continued her affectionate care.

But her authority was limited; she could not control, in all respects, the conduct of the other girls who boarded there, with whom the younger sister, Jeanne Marie, was sometimes obliged to associate, and from whom she acknowledges, in the account she has given of her life, that she contracted some bad habits. She ceased to be entirely strict and scrupulous in the utterance of the truth; she became in some degree peevish in her temper, and careless and undevout in her religious feelings, passing whole days without thinking of God. But happily she did not remain long under the power of such vicious tendencies and habits. Her sister's unwearied watchfulness and assiduity were the means, with the divine blessing, of recovering her from this temporary declension. And she remained at the Seminary some time longer, always making rapid improvement when she was in the enjoyment of good health, and conciliating the esteem of her associates and instructors, by her regular and virtuous deportment, as well as by her proficiency in knowledge.

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 2.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Instruction from a Sister

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

The parents of Mademoiselle De La Mothe had both sustained the marriage relation previously to their marriage with each other. And each of them had a daughter in their first marriage. These two daughters, acting on the principles and methods of personal consecration which are recognized in the Roman Catholic church, had devoted themselves to a religious life in the Ursuline Convent, and thus became associated in its system of instruction. After having been taken from the Benedictine Seminary, and spending some time at home in a manner not very profitable, Mademoiselle Jeanne Marie, their young half-sister, who had already spent a little time there in her early childhood, was once more placed at the Ursulines with them. She was now in the seventh year of her age. The father, who seems to have been sensible, from what had fallen under his own notice, that her education had hitherto failed to receive sufficient attention, commended her to the especial care of his own daughter, as the best qualified of the two half-sisters, by kindness of disposition as well as in other respects, to aid in the development of her mind and the formation of her manners.  In her after life, as she recalled with gratitude the dealings of God with her in her younger years, she spoke in affectionate terms of this sister, as a person characterized alike by good judgment and by religious sentiments, and as especially fitted to train up young girls.

She says:

This good sister employed her time in instructing me in piety, and in such branches of learning as were suitable to my age and capacity. She was possessed of good talents, which she improved well. She spent much time in prayer, and her faith seemed strong and pure. She denied herself of every other satisfaction, in order that she might be with me and give me instruction. So great was her affection for me, that she experienced, as she told me herself, more pleasure with me than anywhere else. Certain it is, that she thought herself well paid for her efforts in my behalf, whenever I made suitable answers on the studies in which I was engaged. Under her care I soon became mistress of most of those things which were suitable for me; so much so that many grown persons, of some rank and figure in the world, could not have exhibited such evidence of proficiency and knowledge as I did.

— edited from The Life of Madame Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 2.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Millenial Day

"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea." — Isa. 11. 9.

Upon God's Holy Mountain all is peace.
Of clanging arms and cries and wail, no sound
Goes up to mingle with the gentle breeze,
That bears its perfum'd whispers all around.
Beneath its trees that spread their blooming light,
The spotted leopard walks; the ox is there;
The yellow lion stands in conscious might,
Breathing the dewy and illumin'd air.
A little child doth take him by the mane,
And leads him forth, and plays beneath his breast.
Nought breaks the quiet of that blest domain,
Nought mars its harmony and heavenly rest:
Picture divine and emblem of that day,
When peace on earth and truth shall hold unbroken sway.

The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets XII.

Friday, January 27, 2017

God in the Darkness

He  sometimes walks behind the cloud;
And threatening storms His presence shroud;
His light is there; but all unseen,
Because the storm-cloud comes between.

From that dark cloud the bolts descend
The skies to cleave, the earth to rend;
But trusting hearts need not despair;
God guides the bolt; our God is there.

Oh transitory man and blind!
This consolation ever find;
That God, though shut from human view,
Is always present, always true.

As kind and faithful in the night,
As in the day-beam's cheerful light;
As kind and true, when storm-clouds hide,
As when the clouds are swept aside.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXXIV.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Subjection to God

"See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no God with me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; neither is there any that  can deliver out of my hand." — Deut. 32. 39.

Sometimes doth my uplifted heart suggest
It is not good Jehovah's yoke to bear;
Forgive, oh God, the thought, and teach my breast,
There's safety in thine arm, and only there.
If God be not my master, where's my place?
If I his kingdom leave, where shall I go?
E'en frighted Chaos bows before his face,
And Hell's dark world doth his dominion know.
May my poor will, O God, be bowed to thine,
Each thought, each purpose, feeling, as thine own,
Ever harmonious with thy great design,
And humbly circling round the central throne,
In thee I live, with thee move joyous on,
Without thy power am lost, extinct, and gone.

The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets XI.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Faith Can Make a New Heart

I suppose, that there may be, and that there probably is a sort of faith, either so general and unspecific in its nature, or so weak in its degree, that it does not produce love. A man, for instance, may believe in Jesus Christ as a mere man, as an inhabitant of Judea in the time of Pontius Pilate, and as a very remarkable and good man. But this belief, which does not seem to differ from that which we have in Confucius and Socrates, never is, and never can be the source of such feelings, as those which naturally follow our belief in Christ as one sent from God, as the beloved son of the Father, as an authorized teacher, and as an atoning sacrifice. And then, again, our faith, even if it be right in other respects, may be so weak, so vacillating, so closely allied to actual skepticism, as to fail of being followed by that love, which purifies the heart; the only love which can be acceptable to God. The faith of the heart, therefore, is that faith, which makes a new heart; in other words, which inspires new affections; such affections, as are conformable to God’s law and will.

And faith has power to do this. Faith can make a new heart; and nothing but faith can do it. In saying this, it will be naturally understood, that we speak of the mind and of mental sequence; in other words, of that which takes place in the mind and in the mental order, and not of any thing which takes place out of it and above it. We speak of secondary relations and agency; and not of him, who, in being the primary agent, is the life of the mind itself. We say, therefore, that, in the order of mental succession, and in the gradation of mental influence, faith stands first; first in time, and first in power; and that, in this view of the subject, we may properly speak of faith as having a creative agency, and as making a new heart. If faith be imperfect in degree, it will of course be followed by imperfect issues; it will make a heart imperfect as itself. But if it be strong, if it be assured, it will give a strong, an assured heart. If it be Abraham’s faith, it will give Abraham’s heart. If it be Paul’s faith, it will give Paul’s heart. If it be the faith which Christ had, a faith, which Satan’s arts could not shake, and man’s hostility could not perplex, and even the hiding of his Father’s countenance, could not discourage, we cannot hesitate to say with reverential gratitude, that it will give Christ’s consecrated heart; a heart which never falters in the cause of truth and duty; a heart that can be nailed to the Cross for God’s name and God’s glory.

And this takes place, as we have already intimated, not accidentally, but by an immutable law. Eternal law is at the bottom; and, therefore, eternal truth is in it. It is the law of men, the law of angels; and we might add, with the simple modification that what is faith in the human mind becomes knowledge in the divine mind, that it is the law of God. God loves, and he can love, only what he knows to be a proper object of love. In men, who are not the subjects of absolute knowledge, faith takes the place of such knowledge; and they love, and can love, only as they believe. “Believe,” says Archbishop Leighton, “and you shall love. Believe much, and you shall love much.” And carrying out the principle to its legitimate issues, I think we may add with safety, Believe with all your powers of belief, and you will love with all your powers of love. Believe with assurance of faith, and you will love with assurance of love. In other words, believe perfectly, and you will love perfectly.

— from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 6.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Love Requires Faith as Its Basis

Love not only requires faith as its basis, but it is equally obvious and equally certain, that our love will rise and fall, just in proportion to our faith. If, for instance, our hearts are full of love to God at the present moment, and we should the next moment cease to believe in him as a God of truth, goodness, and justice, our love would necessarily terminate at once. Or if our faith should not cease entirely, but should merely become perplexed and weakened for some reasons, our love would become perplexed and weakened just in the same degree. Such is the great law of our intellectual and moral being; and such is the doctrine of the Scriptures.

These principles help us to understand what is meant by the faith of the heart; a form of expression which we frequently hear. Properly speaking, or perhaps we should say, speaking psychologically or mentally, faith seems to be an attribute of the intellect, rather than of the heart; an act or state of the understanding rather than of the sensibilities. And yet it must be admitted, that, in the order of mental sequence, it is a state of mind, which, in consequence of being subsequent to perceptions, lays nearer the heart, is in much closer proximity with it, than some other intellectual states or acts. But this is not the only or the most important particular to be considered here. The important fact, and the only one which can give a satisfactory explanation of what is denominated the faith of the heart, is the law of mental relation and action just now stated, viz.: that religious affection is consequent on religious faith, and that they correspond to each other in degree. A faith of the heart, then, is a faith, which affects the heart. A faith of the heart is a faith, which works by love. “In Jesus Christ,” says the Apostle, “neither circumcision availeth any thing nor uncircumcision, but faith which worketh by love.” Galatians 5:6.

— from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 6.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Faith is the Source of All True Feeling

Faith is the source, the parent of all true feeling. And in saying this, we ought to add, that we use the term feeling in a general sense; meaning by it not merely the emotions, to which it is sometimes limited, but those other modifications of our sensibilities, which we include under the denomination of the desires and affections.

And it is proper to say here, that faith is the source, the parent of all true feeling and affection in the natural sense, as well as in the religious sense. Certain it is, that this statement admits of an easy and a satisfactory illustration in the case of the affection of love. It requires no proof to sustain the assertion, that natural love is based upon natural faith. If we have entire confidence in another, if we believe him to be amiable and pure in feeling, and upright in principle, it is the natural result of such confidence, that we shall love him. And on the other hand, it will be very difficult, and I think we may say, it will be found naturally impossible for a person to love another, (except, perhaps, with that lower form of love, which is synonymous with pity or sympathy,) in whom he has no faith. And the same confidence, the same faith, which inspires the affection of love in the first instance, gives it permanency in time to come. The one perpetuates itself in company with the other. Suggestions may arise, and temptations may assail us, but love will live, if confidence does not perish. But how soon does our love to a person, to whom we were once devotedly attached, cease, when our faith in him ceases! No sooner is the confidence, which we reposed in his amiability, in his truth and honor, and other estimable qualities, taken away; in other words, no sooner is our faith in the existence of these traits taken away, than the love, which rested upon it, falls at once to the ground.

The law of the religious affections is the same. They always imply the antecedent existence of faith. Religious faith, sustained by the Holy Spirit, but operating in a manner entirely analogous to the operations of natural faith, is undoubtedly the true basis of religious love. Without the key of faith the foundation of divine love, which refreshes and gives beauty to the whole soul, would never be opened within us. It would be impossible; because it would obviously be a result, not only without reason, but against reason. It is because we believe or have faith in God as just, benevolent and holy, as possessed of every possible perfection calculated to attract and secure our love, that we love him.

— from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 6.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

True Rectitude

"And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense towards God and towards man." — Acts 24. 16.

What constitutes the true nobility?
Not wealth, nor name, nor outward pomp, nor power;
Fools have them all; and vicious men may be
The idols and the pageants of an hour.
But 'tis to have a good and honest heart,
Above all meanness and above all crime,
And act the right and honorable part
In  every circumstance of place and time.
He, who is thus, from God his patent takes,
His Maker form'd him the true nobleman;
Whate'er is low and vicious he forsakes,
And acts on rectitude's unchanging plan.
Things change around him; changes touch not him;
The star, that guides his path, fails not, nor waxes dim.

The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets X.

Friday, January 20, 2017

A Time of Neglect and Poor Health

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

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

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

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

Childish Mockery of Her Faith

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

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

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

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

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


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

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A Young Girl Among the Nuns

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Birth and Infancy of Jean de la Mothe

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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Aids to the Biography of Madame Guyon

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, January 16, 2017

Reading the Life and Writings of Madame Guyon

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

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

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

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

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


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

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Blessed Name of Christ

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

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

The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets IX.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Faith Revives All the Christian Graces

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

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

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

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Faith is the Foundation of the Religious Life

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Prominence of Faith in the Bible

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Faith in God is the Foundation of all Knowledge

It is a singular fact, and one which has not been often noticed, that faith in God is not only the foundation of all religion, but is also the foundation of all knowledge. If we do not believe in the credibility of those powers, which God has given us, and consequently if we do not believe in the goodness and truth of God as the author of those powers, we cannot believe in any thing. All knowledge, on this supposition, necessarily fails, because it is destitute of an adequate basis. But while we assert, that there can be no well established knowledge without faith in God, we can assert with still greater confidence, that there can be no religion without it. Religion, without faith in God as its basis, is an impossibility. At the same time in taking the position, that Faith is, and must be the foundation of religion, we ask as religious men, no more for religion, than philosophers ask, and are obliged to ask, for philosophy.

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

Monday, January 9, 2017

Faith is the Foremost Religious Principle

It would be a natural view of the subject, independently of any thing said in the Scriptures, that some principles of the religious life have greater influence, and are more fundamental in their character, than others. Such a view would be natural, because we find this relation of comparative priority and influence existing in all other cases. In the external world, for instance, in the forms and operations of outward things, the great principles, which originate and sustain  the life of nature, have their relations of time, place, and influence in the economy of the human mind also, it is easy to see, that its principles exist and operate in gradations of subordination and ascendency; and that those, which are subsequent in origin and inferior in position, will depend for their action upon those, which are first in time, or first in efficacy.

It is thus in religion. It will be found to be true, as we have already alleged, that some principles of the religious life have greater influence, and are more fundamental in their character than others. And of this important class of religious principles, it is equally true, that some one will be found to take the precedence, in place and in influence, of all the rest; not only belonging to what may be denominated the first series or class; but, as compared with all the others, being the first in it. And this principle is Faith. It is faith, which stands foremost in place, and foremost in influence; a principle upon which all other principles rest, as upon their true, natural, and strong foundation.

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

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Restoration to the Divine Image

"We are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." — 2 Cor. 3.18.

Upon the morning flower the dew's small drop,
So small as scarcely to arrest the eye,
Receives the rays from all of heaven's wide cope,
And images the bright and boundless sky.
And thus the heart, when 'tis renewed by grace,
Recalled from error, purified, erect,
Receives the image of Jehovah's face,
And though a drop, the Godhead doth reflect.
It hath new light, new truth, new purity,
A rectitude unknown in former time,
A love, that in its arms of charity
Encircles every land and every clime;
Submission, and in God a humble trust,
And quickened life to all that's pure and kind and just.

The Religious Offering (1835) VIII.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Necessity of Divine Illumination

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." — 1 Cor. 2.14.

Oh, send one ray into my sightless ball,
Transmit one beam into my darkened heart!
On Thee, Almighty God, on Thee I call,
Incline thy listening ear, thine aid impart!
In vain the natural sun his beams doth yield,
In vain the moon illumes the fields of air;
The eye-sight of my soul is quenched and sealed,
And what is other light, if shades are there!
Beyond the sun and moon I lift my gaze,
Where round thy throne a purer light is spread,
Where seraphs fill their urns from that bright blaze,
And angels' souls with holy fires are fed.
Oh, send from that pure fount one quickening ray,
And change these inward shades to bright and glorious day.

The Religious Offering (1835) VII.