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, February 28, 2017

Young Madam Guyon's Trials

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

Her statement of some of her trials continues:

The place, which was assigned for my residence in my husband's house, was the room which properly belonged to my step-mother. I had no place into which I could retire as my own; and if it had been otherwise, I could not have remained alone in it for any length of time without offense. Kept thus continually in her presence, she took the opportunity to cast unkind reflections upon me before many persons who came to see us. And to complete my affliction, the person who was chosen to act as nurse to my husband in his sicknesses, and who at other times was expected to perform the offices of waiting-maid to myself, entered into all the plans of those who persecuted me. She kept me in sight like a governess, and treated me in a very singular manner, considering the relations actually existing between us. For the most part I bore with patience these evils, which I had no way to avoid; but sometimes I let some hasty answer escape me, which was to me a source of grievous crosses and violent reproaches for a long time together. And when I was permitted to go out of doors, my absence added but little to my liberty. The footman had orders to give an account of everything I did. And what contributed to aggravate my afflictions, was the remembrance of my former situation, and of what I might have enjoyed under other circumstances. I could not easily forget the persons who had sought my affections, dwelling, by a contrasted operation of mind, on their agreeable manners, on the love they had for me, and on the dispositions they manifested,— so different from what I now had before me. All this made my present situation very gloomy, and my burthen intolerable."

It was then I began to eat the bread of sorrow, and mingle my drink with tears. But my tears, which I could not forbear shedding, only furnished new occasion for attack and reproach. In regard to my husband, I ought perhaps to say, that it was not from any natural cruelty that he treated me as he did. He seems to have had a real affection for me, but being naturally hasty in his temper, his mother found the art of continually irritating him against me. Certain it is, that when I was sick, he was very much afflicted. Had it not been for the influence of his mother and of the waiting maid whom I have mentioned, we might have lived happily together.

As it was, my condition was every way deplorable. My step-mother secured her object. My proud spirit broke under her system of coercion. Married to a person of rank and wealth, I found myself a slave in my own dwelling, rather than a free person. The treatment which I received so impaired the vivacity of my nature, that I became dumb, like 'the lamb that is shearing.' The expression of thought and feeling which was natural to me, faded from my countenance. Terror took possession of my mind. I lost all power of resistance. Under the rod of my despotic mistress, I sat dumb and almost idiotic. Those who had heard of me, but had never seen me before, said one to another, ‘Is this the person who sits thus silent like a piece of statuary, that was famed for such an abundance of wit?’ In this situation, I looked in various directions for help; but I found no one with whom I could communicate my unhappiness; no one who might share my grief, and help me to bear it. To have made known my feelings and trials to my parents, would only have occasioned new crosses. I was alone and helpless in my grief.

— from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 5.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Young Madam Guyon and Her Step-Mother

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

Her statement of some of her trials, I shall endeavor to give in a very abridged form, adjusting anew in some cases the arrangement of the facts where the narrative is confused, and giving the statement with more regard to the precise sentiment or idea, which she obviously means to convey, than to the specific form of expression.

The great fault of my step-mother, who was not without sense and merit, was, that she possessed an ungovernable self-will. This trait was extraordinary in her; it had never been surmounted in her youth, and had become so much a fixed, inflexible trait of her character, that she could scarcely live with anybody. Add to this, that from the beginning she had conceived a strong aversion to me, so much so, that she compelled me to do the most humiliating things. I was made the constant victim of her humors. Her great occupation was to thwart me continually; and she had the. art and the cruelty to inspire my husband with the like unfavorable sentiments.

For instance, in situations where it was proper to have some regard to rank or station in life, they would make persons who were far below me in that respect, take precedence over me,— a thing which was often very trying to my feelings, — and especially so on account of my mother, who was very tenacious of what was due to honorable station in life, and who, when she heard of it from other persons, (for I was careful not to say anything about it myself,) rebuked me for want of spirit in not being able to maintain my rank. Another source of unhappiness was the disposition, on the part of my husband's family, [which resided a short distance out of the city of Paris,] to prevent my visiting my father' s family, [which still continued to reside within the city limits.] My parents, whom I tenderly loved, complained that I came to see them so seldom,— little knowing the obstacles I had to encounter. I never went to see them, without having some bitter speeches to bear at my return. My step-mother, knowing how tenderly I felt on that point, found means to upbraid me in regard to my family, and spoke to me incessantly to the disadvantage of my father and mother.

— from The Life of Madame Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 5.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Endeavor to Behold the Hand of God

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

Viewed in the light of subsequent events, she saw that everything had been ordered in mercy. Addressing the person at whose suggestion and under whose direction she wrote her Life, she says, in relation to the trials and persecutions she endured,

I should have some difficulty in writing these things to you, which cannot be done without apparently giving offense to charity, if you had not required me to give a full account, without omitting anything. But there is one thing which I feel it a duty to request. And that is, that in these things, which thus took place, we must endeavor to behold the hand of God, and not look at them merely on the side of the creature. I would not give any undue or exaggerated idea of the defects of those persons by whom God had permitted me to be afflicted. My mother-in-law was not destitute of moral principles; my husband appeared to have some religious sentiments, and certainly was not addicted to open vices. It is necessary to look at everything on the side of God, who permitted these things only because they were connected with my salvation, and because he would not have me perish. Such was the strength of my natural pride, that nothing but some dispensation of sorrow would have broken down my spirit, and turned me to God.
 And again she says, near the conclusion of the same chapter in her Life,

Thou hast ordered these things, oh my God, for my salvation! In goodness thou hast afflicted me. Enlightened by the result, I have since clearly seen, that these dealings of thy providence were necessary, in order to make me die to my vain and haughty nature. I had not power in myself to extirpate the evils within me. It was thy providence that subdued them.

— from The Life of Madame Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 5.

Friday, February 24, 2017

God Works by Grace and by Position

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

But there she was, and she felt and knew that her earthly hopes were blasted. But she did not then perceive what she afterwards knew, that God placed her there in his providence, as he made Joseph a slave in Egypt, "for her good." God had formed her for himself. He loved her too much to permit her to remain long in harmony with a world, which, in its vanity and its corruption, He could not love. He knew what was requisite in order to accomplish his own work; He knew under what providences the natural life would retain its ascendency, and the soul would be lost; and under what providences grace would be rendered effectual, and the soul would be saved.

I have sometimes thought that God, who always respects man's moral freedom, carries on and completes the great work of his salvation, not only by grace, but by position. I use the word position here as nearly synonymous with external providences; and in laying down this proposition, I mean to say, it seems to me, although I would not speak with much confidence, to be a law of the divine action. Such are the relations between mind and place, that no man ever is what he is, independently of his situation. The mind has no power of acting in entire separation from the relations it sustains; it knows nothing where there are no objects to be known; loves nothing where there are no objects to be loved; does nothing where there is nothing to be done. Its powers of perception, its capabilities of affectionate or malevolent feeling, its resources of "volitional" or voluntary determination, develop their strength and their moral character in connection with the occasions which call them forth. Let any man read the Life of St. Augustine, particularly in connection with what he has himself said in his Confessions, or the Life of Francis Xavier, of Archbishop Leighton, of George Fox, of Baxter, of Wesley, of Brainerd, of Henry Martyn, — and then say, if different circumstances, (a situation, for instance, comparatively exempt from temptation and toil,) would have developed the same men, the same strength of purpose, the same faith in God, the same purity of life. This illustrates what we mean when we say that in the religious life we are the creatures, not only of grace, but of position, or more strictly and truly, of grace acting by position. If this doctrine be true, it throws light and beauty over the broad field of God's providences, and shows us why many have passed to glory through great tribulation. Tribulation was necessary to bring them, if not to the true life of God in the first instance, to that fulness and brightness of the inward life which they have experienced. So that those, who grow in grace by suffering, may do well to remember, that probably nothing but the seasons of trial which they have been called to pass through, would have fitted them for the reception and effectual action of that grace which is their consolation and their hope.

This was the view which Madame Guyon herself subsequently took of the subject.

— from The Life of Madame Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 5.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Marriage Places Her in a Wrong Position

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

The truth is, that she was placed by her marriage in a wrong position; a position untrue to the structure of her mind and unfavorable to her happiness. Nothing else could reasonably have been expected from an arrangement, in which so little regard had been paid to the mutual relations of the parties, in respect to years, early habits, and mental qualities. When considerable unhappiness is experienced in married life, it naturally implies a very considerable diversity in the relative situation and in the character of the parties. But this is not always the case. Sometimes a little diversity in views and a little want of correspondence and sympathy in feelings, furnishing occasion for an irritation which is not great but constant, may be the means of very seriously embittering life. It is very obvious that the mind of Madame Guyon was not in harmony with her situation; and whether we consider the actual discordance as greater or less, the results could not well be otherwise than unfavorable. Other persons, it is true, with less experience of past domestic happiness, and with less talent and refinement, might, perhaps, have reconciled themselves to the situation in which she was placed, and have regarded it as in many respects a desirable one. Her husband was not without some good qualities. What his personal appearance was, we have no record. But whether it was owing to his traits as a man, or to the consideration naturally resulting from his great wealth, it is obvious, that he secured a degree of respect in the circle in which he moved. I think it is evident also, that he had a degree of affection for his wife, which, under favorable circumstances, might have increased, and have rendered their union happy. But his good feelings, which from time to time showed themselves, were perverted by the physical infirmities and sufferings to which he was subject, and by the influence of his mother, — a woman without education, and apparently possessed of but little liberality of natural feeling, — who retained in old age, and in the season of her wealth, those habits of labor and of penurious prudence, which were formed in her youth. Among other things which have a relation to the real position of Madame Guyon at this time, it is proper to notice, that the ill health of her husband, to which we have just alluded, rendered it necessary for him to keep in his employ a woman who attended upon him as a nurse, and who by her assiduity and skill, in seasons of sickness and suffering, gained a considerable control over his mind. This woman sympathized with the views and feelings of the mother-in-law, and contributed all in her power, to render the situation of the young wife, now in the bloom of youth and in the fullness of her fresh and warm affections, as unpleasant as possible.

We cannot but repeat, therefore, that Madame Guyon, as it seems to us, was both mentally and morally out of her true position. The individuals into whose immediate society she was introduced, and with whom she was constantly in contact, were characterized by a want of intellect and of scientific and literary culture, which was not compensated either by moral and religious excellences, or by the natural virtues of the heart. They not only did not appreciate her, but practically, if not always intentionally, they set themselves against her. They were not only blind to her merits, but rude to her sympathies and hopes, and negligent of her happiness. Certainly this was not the situation for a woman of great intellect and great sensibility; a woman who was subsequently admitted into the most distinguished circles in France; a woman who honorably sustained a controversy with the learning and genius of Bossuet, and who gave a strong and controlling impulse to the mind of Fenelon; a woman, whose moral and religious influence was such, that Louis the Fourteenth, in his solicitude for the extirpation of what he deemed heresy, thought it necessary to imprison her for years in the Bastile and the prison of Vincennes; who wrote poems in her imprisonment, which Cowper thought it no dishonor to translate; and who has exerted an influence which has never ceased to be felt, either in Europe or in America.

— from The Life of Madame Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 5.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

An Unhappy Marriage

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

It is but reasonable to anticipate, that the union of the sexes and the establishment of families, authorized as they are by nature and by religion, will contribute to happiness. But this propitious result often depends on adjustments of age, of position in life, and of personal character, which are not always properly regarded. In the case before us, the circumstance of great wealth and of noble rank did not compensate for diversity of disposition and for great disparity of age. It could hardly be expected, that Madame Guyon, (as we shall hereafter designate her,) with all her advantages of beauty, talent, and honorable position in society, could be entirely satisfied, at sixteen years of age, with a husband twenty-two years older than herself, whom she had seen but three days before her marriage, and who had obtained her through the principle of filial obedience, rather than through that of warm and voluntary affection.

She says:

No sooner, was I at the house of my husband, than I perceived it would be for me a house of mourning. In my father's house every attention had been paid to my manners. In order to cultivate propriety of speech and command of language, I had been encouraged to speak freely on the various questions which were started in our family circle. There everything was set off in full view; everything was characterized by elegance. But it was very different in the house of my husband, which was chiefly under the direction of his mother, who had long been a widow, and who regarded nothing else but saving. The elegance of my father's house, which I regarded as the result of polite dispositions, they sneered at as pride. In my father's house whatever I said was listened to with attention, and often with applause; but here, if I had occasion to speak, I was listened to only to be contradicted and reproved. If I spoke well, they said I was endeavoring to give them a lesson in good speaking. If I uttered my opinions on any subject of discussion which came up, I was charged with desiring to enter into a dispute; and instead of being applauded, I was simply told to hold my tongue, and was scolded from morning till night. I was very much surprised at this change, and the more so as the vain dreams of my youth anticipated an increase, rather than a diminution of the happiness and the consideration which I had enjoyed.
— from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 5.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Marriage Proposal

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

It was under these circumstances that her future husband, M. Jaques Guyon, a man of great wealth, sought her in marriage. He was not the only person whose attention, in this new state of things, was directed to her. "Several apparently advantageous offers of marriage," she says, " were made for me; but God, unwilling to have me lost, did not permit them to succeed."

In accordance with the custom of the time and country, (a custom oftentimes but little propitious to those who are most deeply concerned,) the arrangements in this important business were made by her father and her suitor with but little regard to the opinions and feelings of Mademoiselle De La Mothe. She did not see her designated husband, till a few days before her marriage; and when she did see him, she did not find her affections united to him. She gives us distinctly to understand in her Autobiography, that there were other individuals who sought her, with whom she could have more fully sympathized, and could have been more happy. But a regard for the opinions of her father, in whom she had the greatest confidence, (although in this case he seems to have been influenced too much by the circumstance of the great wealth of M. Guyon,) overruled every other consideration. She signed the articles of marriage, but without being permitted to know what they were. She states that the articles were drawn up on the 28th of January, 1664; but it would seem, from a comparison of statements subsequently made, that she was not married till the twenty-first of March of the same year.3 She had then nearly completed her sixteenth year. Her husband was thirty-eight.

Of the family of her husband we know but little. His father, a man of activity and talent, acquired considerable celebrity by completing the canal of Briare, which connects the Loire with the Seine. This great work, (a work the more remarkable for being the first important one of the kind that was undertaken in France,) was commenced in the reign of Henry Fourth, under the auspices of his distinguished minister, the Duke of Sully. After the death of Henry, and the retirement of Sully from the administration of affairs, the work was suspended till 1638, when Louis Thirteenth made arrangements, on liberal terms, with two individuals, Messrs. Jacques Guyon and another individual by the name of Bouteroue, to complete it. In this way Guyon, who was entirely successful in an undertaking beset with difficulties, was not only brought into public notice, but became very wealthy. He was also rewarded with a patent of nobility at the hands of Cardinal Richelieu, the then leading minister. His wealth, as well as an honorable and noble position in society, seems to have been inherited by his only son, the individual to whom Mademoiselle De La Mothe was thus united in marriage.

— from The Life of Madame Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 4.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The De La Mothe Family Moves to Paris

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

Sometime in the year 1663, M. De La Mothe removed his family from Montargis to the city of Paris, — a step which obviously was not calculated to benefit his daughter, in the religious sense of the term.  Paris  was at that time, as  it is now, the center of scientific culture and of the arts, of refinement of manners and of fashionable Gaye. Louis the Fourteenth was then the reigning sovereign of France, — a man of considerable powers of intellect, and of great energy of will,— in whom two leading desires predominated — the one to make France great, the other to make himself the source and center of her greatness. The greatness of France, sustained and illustrated in the wisdom and splendor of her great monarch — this, it is very obvious, was the central and powerful element of his system of action. Hence the expense and labor which he bestowed upon the royal palaces, and upon all the great public works which could be considered as having a national character; hence his vast efforts to enrich and beautify the city of Versailles, which he had selected as the principal seat of his residence; hence his desire to attach to his person, and to rank among the attendants of his Court, the most distinguished of his nobles. His munificence to men of literature, his patronage of the arts, the pomp and ceremony which characterized all great public occasions, all sprung from the same source.

All France, and particularly the city of Paris, felt an influence so well adapted to harmonize with the tendencies of the human heart. If it was an age that was characterized by many noble efforts in literature and the arts, it was an age also that was equally characterized by its unfounded pretensions, its vanity, and its voluptuousness. Almost everything, especially in the capital of France, was calculated to dispossess the sentiment of humility, and to impart an exaggerated turn of mind. The sights and sounds which were presented to notice; the displays of wealth, which were made in every street; the crowded populace, intoxicated with the celebrity of their sovereign and of their nation; the vulgar and the fashionable amusements, which were without end; all were calculated to divert the mind from serious reflection — to lead it to sympathize with the senses, and to dissociate it from its own inward center; a state of things which would have been a severe trial even to established piety.

It is not surprising that this unpropitious state of things, which developed itself to its full extent in the proud city to which her parents had removed, should have had an unfavorable effect upon the mind of Mademoiselle De La Mothe; and accordingly she intimates, in the record of her feelings, as she remembered them to have been in this part of her life, that she began to entertain exaggerated ideas of herself, and that her vanity increased.  This was the natural result of her new position. Her parents, as well as herself, led astray by the new state of society in which they found themselves, spared no cost in obtaining whatever might make her appear to advantage. The world, illuminated with false lights to her young vision, seemed to be in reality what it, was chiefly in appearance, and consequently presented itself as an object worth conquering and possessing. It was at this period that she gave to it, more warmly and unreservedly than at any other, that kindling heart and expanded intellect, which she afterwards gave to religion. She was tall and well made in her person; refined and prepossessing in her manners, and possessed of remarkable powers of conversation. Her countenance, formed upon the Grecian model, and characterized by a brilliant eye and expansive forehead, had in it a natural majesty, which impressed the beholder with a sentiment of deep respect, while it attracted by its sweetness. Her great powers of mind, (a mind which in the language of one of the writers of the French Encyclopedic was formed for the world, "fait pour le monde,")  added to the impression which she made on her entrance into Parisian society.

— from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 4.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Inward Burning

Be PATIENT, let the fire consume,
Give God's interior burning room.
Make no resistance, let it blaze.
And self, in root and branch, erase.

The life of self hath long annoyed;
Thy hopes assail'd, thy joys destroy'd;
It poisons every inward sense ;
And FIRE alone can drive it thence.

The fiery trial gives distress;
But never wish its anguish less;
The pain thou feelest is a sign
Of flames from heaven, of fire divine.

Oh let it burn, till pride and lust,
And envy, creeping in the dust,
And wrong and crime, of every name,
Shall perish in the heavenly flame.

— from Christ in the Soul (1872) LXXVII.

Friday, February 17, 2017

He Standeth at the Door

"My head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night." — Cant. 5.2.

The stars are shining from the depths of blue,
And one is standing at the door and knocks;
He knocks to enter in. His raven locks
Are heavy with the midnight's glittering dew.
He is our FRIEND; and great his griefs have been,
The thorns, the cross, the garden's deep distress,
Which he hath  suff'ered  for our happiness;
And shall we not arise, and let him in?
All hail, thou chosen one, thou source of bliss!
Come with thy bleeding feet, thy wounded side;
Alas, for us Thou hast endured all this;
Enter our doors, and at our hearth abide!
Chill are the midnight dews, the midnight air;
Come to our hearts and homes, and make thy dwelling there.

— from The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets XIV.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Sovereign Will

"Thou hast a mighty arm; strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand." — Psalm 89. 13.

There is one ruling power, one sovereign will,
One sum and center of efficiency.
'Tis like the mystic wheel within the wheel
The prophet saw at Chebar. Its decree
Goes from the center to the utmost bounds
Of universal nature. Its embrace
And penetrating touch pervades, surrounds
Whate'er has life or form or time or place.
It garnishes the heavens, and it gives
A terror and a voice to ocean's wave.
In all the pure and gilded heights it lives,
Nor less in earth's obscurest, deepest cave.
Around, above, below its might is known,
Encircling great and small, the footstool and the throne.

— from The Religious Offering (1835) Scripture Sonnets XIII.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Justification and Self-Renunciation

But justification by faith involves one important mental element, which has sometimes been overlooked. We cannot better describe it, than by calling it the feeling of self-renunciation. A willingness to acknowledge our nakedness, blindness, and want; and to receive, with the helplessness of little children, whatever may be necessary for us from another. This feeling of self-renunciation is involved in the act of faith; or more properly and truly, it is antecedent and prerequisite to it. In other words, we must cease to believe in ourselves as a ground of hope, we must cease to believe in our own merits and our own strength as a source of salvation, before it is possible for us to believe, in a scriptural manner, in Christ as a source of salvation and as a ground of hope.

The feeling of personal renunciation is a mental element in the process of justification, which, as we have already intimated, has sometimes been overlooked. But we cannot hesitate in saying, that it is an element, which cannot be dispensed with, consistently with realizing the great spiritual result, which the term justification expresses. It is of the nature of a contradiction in terms, to say that a man can be justified by faith, and at the same time be justified by any way or method besides faith. Justification by faith negatives and denies, in the necessary import of the expressions themselves, any and every other method of justification. When we are justified by faith, we not only have faith in Christ, as the propitiation for sins in general; but, appropriating this propitiation to our own necessities, we believe in him as a Savior from our own sins. But it is obvious, that, if we believe in Christ as our Savior, we do not believe in ourselves as our Savior, nor in our own efforts as our Savior, nor in any system of human effort and instrumentality, nor in any saving efficacy whatever out of him. That is to say, it is obviously implied in the very act of faith, that we renounce ourselves; that we feel, in respect to our salvation, that in ourselves we are nothing.

And this feeling of self-renunciation, as we shall have occasion to notice more particularly in the succeeding chapter, which is antecedent to the faith that justifies, is also antecedent and prerequisite to the faith which sanctifies; and perhaps we may add, is prerequisite to every gracious exercise, which is involved in sanctification. The truly holy soul, that has renounced the falsity and the bitterness of self-reliance, understands this. Such a soul feels itself to be, because it is so in fact, under the inspiration and movement of a power out of itself and above itself; although it may be said, at the same time, to be a power dwelling within it. In the spirit and in the language of a devout person, who had known what it was to renounce self in order to receive God, it would rather be lost than be saved, would rather be cast out than received into favor, by any means which would exclude the divine operation, and which would not give God all the glory.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 8.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Justification by Faith

Faith is a principle which does not stand alone. It always has an object; and always has results.

In connection, therefore, with our general doctrine, that faith is the source of feeling both natural and religious, and that it is the great foundation of the religious life, we proceed to say further, that one of the remarkable results of faith, considered as the means of spiritual restoration and renovation, is, that it frees us from that condemnation, which is brought upon us by reason of sin. In other words, we are JUSTIFIED by faith.

Believing themselves to be sinners, believing Jesus Christ to be the propitiation for sins, and accepting salvation through his merits alone, men are forgiven, and are treated, in reference to the law of God, as if they had not sinned against it. In other words, they are justified. The creature, who has violated the divine law, is the subject of justification; God, in connection with the administration of his government and the arrangement of his providences, is the author of it; but still, being justified in the manner which has been mentioned, viz.: by trusting in Christ alone, men are properly said to be justified by faith.

Nor is there any other way of its being done. Justification, in the scripture sense of the term, always implies forgiveness or pardon. Forgiveness or pardon, as the terms themselves imply, is a free gift. At the same time, such are the relations existing among moral beings, that such forgiveness cannot, in the spiritual sense, be made available to the subject or recipient of it without confidence or faith existing on the part of such subject towards the author. A pardon, which is spiritually available, one which is desirable and valuable in the spiritual or religious sense, is a pardon, which results in entire reconciliation between the parties. But it is self-evident, if we could suppose forgiveness or pardon to exist without faith or confidence on the part of the subject of it, (for instance, without faith in the kind intentions of the being offering the pardon and without faith in his power of making it good,) that it would fail to result in mutual reconciliation, in the reciprocation of benevolent feelings, and in true happiness. On a favorable construction of it, it would be merely forgiveness intentional and inchoate; existing exclusively in the mind of the author; without counterpart, and without completion. From the nature of the case, therefore, a man cannot be pardoned or forgiven, to any available spiritual purpose, without faith; and consequently he cannot be justified without faith.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 8.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Hour of Prayer

It is the place and hour of prayer;
Oh, haste and meet together there.
Inspr'd with faith, relieved from care,
How sweet, how blest the hour of prayer!
Sweet hour of prayer!

At that dear hour distrust retires;
The earth withdraws its vain desires;
And God, the Holy Ghost, inspires
The flame of heaven's celestial fires;
Sweet hour of prayer!

'Tis then that truth shall guide thy ways;
'Tis then that prayer shall change to praise;
'Tis then that hearts and tongues shall raise
The song of heaven's unending days.
Sweet hour of prayer!

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXXVI.

Saturday, February 11, 2017


Departed ones, that shine afar,
My earthly life is hasting through;
And soon, beyond the circling star,
Shall wing its raptured way to you.

Oh come, and meet me in my flight,
Oh come, and take me by the hand,
When first I greet celestial light,
And tread the new, the heavenly land.

Long years have worn my furrow'd brow,
And stained my cheek with many a tear;
But that is past, and brightly now
I see the land of glory near.

Dear sharers of my joys and tears,
Not dead, but only gone before!
Friends of my past, my early years,
Oh, meet me on the shining shore.

Christ in the Soul (1872) LXXV.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Hidden Spiritual Decline

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

The account which she gives of her inward state at this time, is an exceedingly painful one.

I readily gave way, to sallies of passion. I failed in being strictly conscientious and careful in the utterance of the truth. I became not only vain, but corrupt in heart. Although I kept up some outward religious appearances, religion itself, as a matter of inward experience, had become to me a matter of indifference. I spent much time, both day and night, in reading romances, those strange inventions to destroy youth. I was proud of my personal appearance, so much so that, contrary to my former practices, I began to pass a good deal of my time before the mirror. I found so much pleasure in viewing myself in it, that I thought others were in the right, who practiced the same. Instead of making use of this exterior, which God gave me as a means of loving him more, it, became to me the unhappy source of a vain and sinful self-complacency. All seemed to me to look beautiful in my person; but in my declension and darkness I did not then perceive, that the outward beauty covered a sinful and fallen soul.
But this was not the judgment which the world then passed upon her; the world so severe in the exaction of its own claims, but so indulgent in mitigating the claims of God. Under a form that was outwardly beautiful, and veiled by manners that had received the most correct and advanta­geous culture, it was not easy for man to perceive the elements and workings of a heart which harbored moral and religious rebellion. In the eye of the world, therefore, which is but imperfectly capable of penetrating beyond the exterior, and which delights in elegance of form and perfection of manners, there was but little to blame, and much to praise; but in the eye of God, which sees and estimates the inmost motive, it was not possible for outward beauty to furnish a compensation for inward deformity. And in using the phrase inward deformity, we do not necessarily mean, that she was worse than many others who have a reputation for good morals. Estimating her by the world's standard, she had her good qualities, as well as those of an opposite character, her excellences as well as her defects. Nevertheless, there was that wanting which constitutes the soul's true light, without which all other beauty fades, and all other excellence is but excellence in name, — the love of God in the heart.

 — edited from The Life of Madam Guyon (1847) Volume 1, Chapter 3.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Seeking in the Creature What Can Only Be Found in God

Mademoiselle De La Mothe continued in the state of mind which we have described, about a year. But this strong religious tendency also had its end.

What it was which led to the termination of religious prospects so flattering, it is difficult to state with entire confidence. There is some reason for thinking, however, that the love of God, not far from this time, began to be disturbed by the accession and influence of a love, which was more mixed and earthly in its origin. She relates that her father with his family left the city of Montargis, in order to spend some days in the country; and that he took with him a very accomplished young gentleman, one of his near relations. This young man, of whom she speaks in high terms for his religious sentiments, as well as his intellectual and other accomplishments, became much attached to her. She was still young, being only in her fourteenth year. She gives us to understand, that this individual, notwithstanding the circumstance of her immature age, made propositions of marriage. And this, after a suitable time, would probably have been the result, with the cordial consent of all the parties concerned, if it had not been met by the obstacle, that their relationship was so near as to bring them within the degrees of consanguinity, in which marriage is prohibited in the Catholic Church. This obstacle, it is true, could have been removed by a dispensation from the Papal See; but, still it was one of so serious a nature, that her father did not think it proper to give his consent. Still they were mutually pleased, and spent much time in each other's company. It was at the time of this attachment, that she says significantly and penitently, that she "began to seek in the creature what she had previously found in God." But we will let her describe her spiritual declension in her own language.

In connection with a reference to her daily interviews with this young relative, she says:

I left off prayer. I became as a vineyard exposed to pillage, whose hedges, torn down, give liberty to all the creatures to ravage it.  I began to seek in the creature what I had found in God.  And thou, oh my God! didst leave me to myself, because I left the first and wast pleased, in permitting me to sink into the horrible pit, to make me see and feel the necessity of maintaining a state of continual watchfulness and communion with thyself. Thou hast taught thy people, that thou wilt destroy those who, by indulging wrongly-placed affections, depart from thee. Alas! their departure alone causes their destruction; since in departing from Thee, the Sun of Righteousness, they enter into the region of darkness and the shadow of death. And there, bereft of all true strength, they will remain. It is not possible that they should ever arise again, unless Thou shalt revisit them; unless Thou shalt restore them to light and life, by illuminating their darkness, and by melting their icy hearts. Thou didst leave me to myself, because I left Thee first. But such was Thy goodness, that it seemed to  me, that Thou didst leave me with regret.

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon (1847) Volume 1, Chapter 3.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Missed Visit

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

About this time the Catholic church of France, desirous to spread abroad the Christian religion where it was yet unknown, was enlarging its missions in the East. Among the individuals whose piety led them to engage in this  benevolent  work, was a nephew of M. De La Mothe. His name was De Toissi; the same individual, of whom some account is given in the History of Foreign Missions, Relation des Missions EtrangĂ©res,  under the name of De Chamesson. This young man, in company with one of the French bishops, the titular bishop of Heliopolis, had commenced his journey to the place of his labors in Cochin China; and in passing through Montargis, had called at the residence of his uncle. His visit was short; but characterized as it was by the circumstance, that he was about to leave his native land perhaps forever, and on business too that was infinitely dear to the heart of humanity and religion, it was full of interest. He was one of those, who could say in the sweet language of the subject of this Memoir, when in after life she suffered in prison and its exile,

“My  country, Lord, art Thou alone;
No other can I claim or own;
The point, where all my wishes meet,
My Law, my Love, life's only sweet."

Mademoiselle De La Mothe had gone out at, the time of this short but deeply interesting visit of her pious cousin; a visit incidental to a journey undertaken from religious considerations, and which, therefore, could not well be delayed from purely worldly motives. "I happened," she says, "at that time to be gone a-walking with my companions, which I seldom did. At my return he was gone. They gave me an account of his sanctity, and of the things he had said. I was so touched with it, that I was overcome with sorrow. I cried all the rest of the day and of the night."

This was one of those incidents in the Providence of God, which come home to the heart. How often has the mere sight of a truly pious man brought the hardened sinner under conviction! How often have those who have been unmoved by the most eloquent religious appeals, been deeply affected by the most simple and unpretending words, when uttered under circumstances favorable to such a result. When she heard the statement of the deep and devoted piety of her cousin De Toissi, the thoughts of Mademoiselle De La Mothe, on the principle of contrast rather than of resemblance, naturally reverted to herself. She remembered how often God had called her to himself; and how often she had listened without obeying, or had obeyed without persevering in obedience. "What!" she exclaimed to a pious person, who acted as her Confessor and religious teacher, "am I the only person in our family to be lost! Alas! Help me in my salvation." Her whole soul was roused to a sense of her situation. She recalled with deep compunction her repeated seasons of seriousness and religious inquiry, and of subsequent declension. "Alas!" she exclaimed, "what grief I now sustained for having displeased God! What regrets! What exclamations! What tears of sorrow!" Once more she endeavored to bring her mind to a religious frame.

Once more she applied herself to the task of her soul's salvation, apparently with great sincerity and earnestness; but without being able to find the simple way of acceptance by  faith.  She resisted her passions, which were liable to be strongly moved; and her efforts were attended with a considerable degree of success. She asked the forgiveness of those, whom she was so unhappy as to have displeased. Appreciating, in some degree, the relation between religion and practical benevolence, she visited the poor, gave them food and clothing, and taught them the catechism. She spent much time in private reading and praying. She purchased and read some of the practical and devotional books which were most highly valued among her people, such as the Life of Madame de Chantal and the works of St. Francis de Sales. She inscribed the name of the Savior in large characters upon a piece of paper; and so attached it, to her person as to be continually reminded of him. With an erroneous notion of expiating her sin by her own suffering, she voluntarily subjected herself to various bodily austerities. Determining to leave nothing undone which seemed to furnish any hope of spiritual improvement, it is worthy of notice that she made a vow, in imitation of the devout Madame de Chantal, of ever aiming at the highest perfection, and of doing the will of God in everything. This undoubtedly was an important resolution, which, we may reasonably suppose, would have been followed by the happiest consequences, if it had not been made too much in her own strength, and in ignorance of the great renovating principle, that all true strength is derived from God through Christ by faith.  Among other things which characterized her mental exercises and her efforts at this time, it appears that she came to the resolution, if Providence should permit, to enter into a Convent, and in the apparent hopelessness of aid from any other source, to secure her spiritual interests and her salvation by becoming a Nun. This part of her plan, which showed the depth of her feeling on the subject which now occupied her mind, was frustrated by her father, who was tenderly attached to her, and who, while he was earnestly desirous that his daughter might become truly religious, supposed that she might possess religion without separating from her family, and without an entire seclusion from the world.

The Infinite Mind, no doubt, beheld and sympathized in the anxiety which she felt, and in the efforts she made. God is not, indifferent, he never can be indifferent, to those who strive to enter in. He numbers all their tears; he registers all their resolves. How can it be otherwise? If the state of mind be that of true striving after God, he himself has inspired it. Has he no feeling, no sympathy for his own work? It is true that he sometimes permits those whom he determines eventually to bless, to strive long, and perhaps to wander in erroneous ways. But the result of this painful experience will be, that, they will ultimately understand much better than they otherwise would have done, the direction and the issue of the true path. They have a lesson to learn which cannot well be dispensed with; and God therefore is willing that they should learn it. What that lesson is, it is not always easy to say, in individual cases. Perhaps the remains of self-confidence exist within them, which can be  removed only by the experience of the sorrows which are attendant upon the errors it invariably commits. And accordingly God leaves them to test the value of human wisdom. They try it; they fall into mistakes; they are overwhelmed with confusion; and then, and not till then, they see the necessity and importance of reposing all their confidence in Him, who alone can guide them in safety.

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon (1877) Volume 1, Chapter 3.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Like a Beggar...

A beggar at a certain time, hungry and destitute of clothing, went and asked aid from another person. He asked in faith; that is to say, he asked in the exercise of entire confidence both in the ability and in the benevolent disposition of the person, to whom the application was made. And his faith being rightly placed, he received in accordance with his faith. But in thus placing himself in harmonious relation with the donor, viz.: in corresponding, in his sense of need, in his willingness to receive, and in the exercise of faith, with the donor’s generous disposition, no one can suppose that he ceased to exercise his own agency or to possess moral responsibility; and at the same time, being a mere recipient, no one can suppose, that he had any merit, which could detract from the fullness and freeness of the gift, or which could entitle him to reward. And so in the relations existing between man and God. If our own minds, in the sense of want and in the exercise of faith, are put into harmony and union with the Divine Mind, we shall receive what we need; but, being recipients and not the donor, we shall feel, as the beggar did, that the merit of all our mercies is in the giver of them; and at the same time it will be true, that we shall receive them without any infringement or loss of personal agency and accountability.

It is desirable, that these views and principles should be remembered. They aid in justifying the representations of Scripture, which every where and most emphatically ascribe man’s spiritual restoration to faith. Nor can any other principle, considered as standing first and standing alone, take its place. Even the principle of love, noble and divine as it is, could not unite the soul to God, and could not even be pleasing to God, without faith as its antecedent and basis. In the full possession of faith, we at once enter into harmony with God, and we necessarily exercise, on their appropriate occasions, all those affections which are desirable. By a law of its own nature it propagates every thing else from its own bosom. Having once come into existence under the divine inspiration, it may be said instrumentally and in the natural filiation of the mental exercises, to make all, to secure all. But without faith, whatever else he may have, man is left of God and left of happiness.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 7.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Faith Alone Binds Us With God — Not Human Merit

Faith, then, is the tie, which binds us to our Maker. It does it effectually; and no other principle can take its place, or fulfill its office.

And there is one reason for this remark, which should be noticed here. Faith can harmonize man with his Maker, and make him the recipient of what is necessary for the restoration and perfection of his nature, without involving the idea or the fact of moral merit on man’s part. That is to say, having strength, having wisdom, or any other inward and Christian grace from God in the exercise of faith, we cannot, as Christians, speak of it as our own wisdom and our own strength, and consequently cannot appropriate to ourselves any merit nor lay claim to any reward. And yet, in renouncing ourselves and in harmonizing with God in the exercise of faith, simple as these mental operations appear to be, and as they are in fact, there is obviously so much of free and of positive action as to involve and to secure our moral responsibility.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 7.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Renouncing Our Own Strength

In renouncing our own strength and any thing else which may be regarded as pertaining to ourselves, it is not meant, that we should be inactive and not employ those powers which God has given us; but that in their exercise, we should have no hope, no confidence in them, except so far as they exist in co-operation with an inward divine guidance, and are attended with the divine blessing; in other words, we should have no confidence in them, except so far as the human operation is one with the divine operation.

Or to express the same thing again, in another shape, the great business of the creature is, not to be without action, but to act in concurrence with God, to harmonize with God. This was the prayer of the Savior, “as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us.” To express the whole as simply and briefly as possible, the sum of religion is unity with God. And this unity, which cannot exist without the concurrence of the creature, is secured by faith. It is not possible for God to be in union with any being, that has not confidence in him. A want of confidence, which is the same thing as a want of faith, is itself disunion.

— edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 7.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Faith is the Bond of Union with God

It is faith, more than any thing else, which constitutes the true bond of union between God and man.

If God in his supremacy is first in time and first in power, if the true and only source of existence of power to all other beings resides in himself as necessarily involved in his own infinite nature; in other words, if God is God, then all other beings and all other things, sin only excepted, are from him and by him. It becomes, then, a great problem, in what way this supremacy, without which God cannot be God, shall exist and operate in God’s moral creatures, giving them life and power, and sustaining the life and power which it gives, and yet without a violation of their moral responsibility. In other words, the question or problem is, in what way shall men, consistently with their moral identity and responsibility, enter, (as all Christians who experience the highest results of religion do enter,) into the state of entire moral union or oneness with God.

Men may be said to have a life in themselves. And it may be said further, with great truth undoubtedly, that they may not only have a life in themselves, but that they may be free in it, and that they may be responsible for it. But if this life in themselves is a life self-originated, if it be a life out of God and independent of God, as the terms seem to imply, then the stream is severed from its fountain, the bond of spiritual filiation is broken, and there is, and can be no real, no essential union. Such a life is not what the pious Scougal calls the “life of God in the soul of man.” And we cannot hesitate to say, that all moral life, wherever it may exist, is no better and no other, than moral and spiritual death, which is not drawn, moment by moment, from a divine source.

But if there is a life, which is no better than spiritual death, there is also another life of higher and divine origin. This life, which is God’s power, God’s wisdom, and God’s heart of love, existing and operating in the very nature, and amid, if we may so express it, the very responsibilities of the human soul, exists and operates by faith. If, renouncing our own strength and wisdom, we give ourselves to God, believing that he will be our strength, our wisdom, and our righteousness, according to the promise he has given, we may be assured that the result in our inward experience will correspond to the faith we exercise. But a soul, which combines righteousness or entire uprightness and purity of feeling with a divinely enlightened wisdom and a strength of purpose that aims unceasingly to do what the inward divine teaching imposes, is a soul that is stamped with the divine image, and has entered into true unity with God.

Therefore, that we assert the proposition that faith is the true bond of union between God and man.

edited from The Life of Faith (1852) Part 1, Chapter 7.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Receiving The Sacrament

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

When she entered upon the twelfth year of her age, she proposed to partake of the sacrament of the Eucharist.

She acknowledges that for some time previous she had been remiss in religious duties. Some jealousies and disaffections, as is not unfrequently the case, had sprung up among the younger members of her father's family. A feeling of dissatisfaction and melancholy seems to have entered her mind. And as if weary of God, she gave up what little religious inclination and feeling she had, saying, "she was none the better for it," and wickedly implying in the remark, that the troubles connected with religion exceeded the benefit resulting from it. I think it would not be correct to say, that she had given up religion; but rather had given up many favorable feelings and many outward practices, which have a connection with religion. And this remark will perhaps be the better understood, when we say in explanation, that, although she had been interested in religion, it does not appear that she possessed those traits or qualities which really constitute it. Prompted, partly by example, and partly by serious impressions, she had sought it, but had not found it. Her religious interest, as we have already had occasion to notice, varied at different times. At one time, in particular, it seems to have been very great. She seems to have had convictions of sin; she had some desires to live in God's guidance and favor; she formed good resolutions; she had a degree of inward consolation. But when we examine these experiences closely, I think we shall find reason for saying, that such desires, convictions, and resolutions, which often lay near the surface of the mind without stirring very much its inward depths, were, in her case at least, the incidents and preparatives of religion, rather than religion itself. The great inward Teacher, the Holy Ghost, had not as yet dispossessed the natural life, and given a new life in Christ. She herself intimates that her religion was chiefly in appearance; and that self, and not the love of God, was at the bottom.

The suggestion to partake of the sacrament of the Supper, and thus by an outward act at least, to array herself more distinctly on the Lord's side, seems to have originated with her father. In order to bring about what he had near at heart, and which was in accordance with the principles of the church of which he was a member, he placed her again at the Ursuline Seminary. Her paternal half-sister, who still resided there, and who appears to have had some increased and leading responsibility as an instructress, pleased with the suggestion, but at the same time aware of her unfortunate state of mind, labored assiduously to give rise to better inward dispositions. The labors of this patient and affectionate sister, who knew what it was both to believe and to pray, and for whom religion seems to have had a charm above every thing else, were so effectual, that Jeanne Marie now thought, as she expresses it,  "of giving herself to God in good earnest."  The day at length arrived; she felt that the occasion was too important to be trifled with; she made an outward confession of her sins, with apparent sincerity and devoutness, and partook of the sacramental element for the first time with a considerable degree of satisfaction. But the result showed that the heart was not reached. The day of her redemption had not come. The season and its solemnity passed away, without leaving an effectual impression. The sleeping passions were again awaked. "My faults and failings," she says, "were soon repeated, and drew me off from the care and the duties of religion." She grew tall; her features began to develop themselves into that beauty which afterwards distinguished her. Her mother, pleased with her appearance, indulged her in dress.. The combined power of her personal and mental attractions were felt in the young and unreflecting attachments of persons of the other sex. The world resumed its influence, and Christ was in a great degree forgotten.

Such are the changes which often take place in the early history of religious experience. To-day there are serious thoughts, awakened and quickened feelings, and good resolutions; everything wears a propitious aspect. To-morrow, purposes are abandoned, feelings vanish; and the reality of the world takes the place of the anticipations of religion. Today the hearts of mothers and sisters, and of other friends, who have labored long and prayed earnestly for the salvation of those who are dear to them, are cheered and gladdened. To-morrow they find the solicitations to pleasure prevailing over the exhortations to virtue; and those who had been serious and humble for a time, returning again to the world. But it is often the case, that these alternations of feeling, which it is not easy always to explain, have an important connection, under the administration of a higher and divine providence, with the most favorable results.

They may, in many cases, be regarded as constituting a necessary part of that inward training, which the soul must pass through, before it reaches the position of true submission and of permanent love. They show us the great strength of that attachment which binds us to attractions which perish, the things of time and sense. They leave a deep impression of the forbearance and long-suffering of God. They teach the necessity of the special and powerful operations of divine grace, without which the heart, naturally alienated from all attachment to the true object of its love, would perish in its worldly idolatry.

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

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Finding a Bible

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

At ten years of age she was taken home again. After a short residence at home, she was placed at the Dominican Convent, probably the same of which De La Force gives so particular an account in his work, entitled Nouvelle Description De La France. It was founded in 1242.

She says:

I stayed, only a little while at home. The reason of my remaining so short a time was this: a nun of the Dominican Order, who belonged to a distinguished family, and was an intimate friend of my father, solicited him to place me in her Convent, of which she was Prioress. This lady had conceived a great affection for me; and she promised my father, that she would take care of me herself, and would make me lodge in her own chamber. But circumstances occurred, which prevented her from fulfilling her intentions. Various troubles arose in the Religious Community, of which she had the charge, which necessarily occupied her attention; so that she was not in a situation to take much care of me.

Her opportunities for intellectual improvement, during her residence in the Dominican Convent, where she continued during eight months, were interrupted in some degree by sickness. But with a mind of naturally enlarged capacity, and which seemed to have an instinct for knowledge, she could hardly fail to improve.

During her residence at this place, she was left more with herself than had been customary with her. But her solitary hours, secluded as she was in a great degree from objects that might have distracted her attention, were not unprofitable ones.

One circumstance which occurred at this time, is worthy of particular notice. The pupils of the Convent, although they received religious instruction in other ways, do not appear to have been put in possession of the Bible, and to have had the use of it in private. A Bible, however, had been providentially left, by whose instrumentality or from what motive is unknown, in the chamber which was assigned to Mademoiselle De La Mothe. Young as she was, she seems to have had a heart to appreciate, in some degree, the value of this heaven-sent gift. "I spent whole days," she says, "in reading it; giving no attention to other books or other subjects from morning to night. And having great powers of recollection, I committed to memory the historical parts entirely."  It is certainly not improbable that these solitary perusals of the Bible had an influence on her mind through life, not only in enlarging its sphere of thought and activity, but by teaching her to look to God alone for direction, and by laying deep and broad the foundations of that piety which she subsequently experienced.

She remained at the Convent of the Dominicans eight months, after which she returned home. 

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