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.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Influence of M. De Toissi

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

Another individual, besides the lady whose conversation and influence have just now been stated, had a share in that series of providences, which God saw to be necessary, in order to turn the mind of Madame Guyon from the world to himself. This was a pious person, who has already been mentioned, M. De Toissi, the nephew of M. De La Mothe. He had been to Cochin China as a sharer in the religious enterprises which were carried on there, and after an absence of about four years, had returned on business connected with the Mission with which he was associated. 

He visited the house of M. De La Mothe, where his cousin, Madame Guyon, was exceedingly glad to see him. She knew his character. She remembered what was said of his conversation and his appearance, when he visited her father's house some years before, just  before his departure for the East. And, in her present state of mind, groping about as she was in solitude and desolation of spirit, she eagerly sought interviews and conversations with pious persons. This pious cousin, impelled by natural affection as well as by a regard for the interests of religion, did all that he could to encourage her in her search after God. There were other things which gave him an increased interest in the case, such as her personal accomplishments, her great talents, the wealth of her family, her position in society, and her comparative youth, — circumstances, which, in that age of worldly splendor and enjoyment, were particularly adverse to the humble and pure spirit of religion. And it was not easy for one to see the possessor of them seeking religion, with a full determination to be satisfied with nothing else, without feeling a deep interest in the result, — much more so, probably, than would be felt in ordinary cases. Madame Guyon very freely and ingenuously stated her views of her inward state to her cousin, — the faults of her character, her inward sense of her alienation from God, the efforts she had made, and the discouragements she had met with. He expressed the deepest interest in her case. He prayed for her. He gave such advice as he was able. With earnest exhortations he cheered her onward, not doubting that God's wisdom and goodness would bring all well in the end.

Her interviews with this good man had an encouraging effect. His spiritual habits, as well as his conversation, affected her. Among other things she gives us to understand, that he was in a state of inward and continual communion with God; that state of mind, probably, which, in accordance with the nomenclature of the higher experimental writers, she variously denominates, in her religious works, as the state of "Recollection," or of "Recollection in God;" and which I think may be properly denominated the Prayer of Recollection. This state of continual prayer affected her much, although she was unable at that time, as she expressly admits, to understand its nature. She also noticed, with interest and profit, the conversation which passed between him and the exiled lady resident at her father's, who has already been mentioned. As is the case with all truly religious people, they seemed to understand each others' hearts. "They conversed together," she says, "in a spiritual language.”  They had that to speak of, which souls unconverted can never know,— a Savior "who was no longer as a root sprung out of the dry ground," sins forgiven, and joy and peace in believing. 

The example and the exhortations of her cousin, De Toissi,  could not fail to make a deep impression. Many were the tears she shed when he departed. She renewed her solemn resolutions. She endeavored to imitate him in his state of continual prayer, by offering up to God ejaculations, either silent or spoken, moment by moment. On the system of making resolutions and of mere human effort, she seems to have done all that she could do. But still she did not understand; a cloud hung over one of the brightest intellects when left to itself, — so perplexing to human wisdom, and so adverse to the natural heart is the way of forgiveness and justification by faith alone. Those know it who experience it, and those only; but her hour had not yet come. 

More than a year had passed in this state of mind, and with such efforts, —  but apparently in vain. With all these appliances which have been mentioned, with afflictions on the one hand to separate her from earthly objects, and encouragements on the other to allure her to heaven, she still seems to have remained without God and without hope in the world. So much does it cost, in a fallen world like this, to detach a soul from its bondage and to bring it to God! God has not only spread the feast, in the salvation which he has offered through his Son, but, by means of ministers, both providential and personal, he goes out into the highways, and compels them to come in. 

— edited from The Life of Madam Guyon Volume 1, Chapter 6.

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