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 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."

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