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.
[TO BE CONTINUED]
— from The life of Madame Guyon (1877) Volume 1. Chapter 1.