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.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Her New Benevolence

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

Reflections on her conversion.

But we ought to add, that her care was not limited to her family, to the exclusion of other appropriate objects of Christian benevolence. She had means of doing good, which she did not fail to employ. The income of her husband's property, or rather the property of which he had the control at this time, stated in the French currency, was about forty thousand livres annually. A very large income at that period, when money had relatively a higher value than it now has. Of this amount, a certain portion was placed in her hands by her husband, to be expended by her as she might think proper. And accordingly as God gave her opportunity, and in imitation of that Savior whom she now followed, she did what she could for the poor and the sick, discharging, without any hesitation, duties which would be exceedingly unpleasant and irksome to a mind not supported by Christian principle. She remarks in her Life,

I was very assiduous, in performing deeds of charity. I had feelings of strong compassion for the poor, and it would have been pleasing to me to have supplied all their wants. God, in his providence, had given me an abundance; and in the employment of what he had thus bestowed upon me, I wished to do all that I could to help them. I can truly say, that there were but few of the poor in the vicinity where I lived, who did not partake of my alms. I did not hesitate to distribute among then the very best which could be furnished from my own table. It seemed as if God had made me the only almoner in this neighborhood. Being refused by others, the poor and suffering came to me in great numbers. My benefactions were not all public. I employed a person, whose business it was to dispense alms privately, without letting it be known from whom they came. There were some families, who needed and received assistance, without being willing to accept of it as a gratuity. And I reconciled their feelings with their wants, by permitting them, in the reception of what was needful for them to incur the formality of a debt. I speak of giving; but looking at the subject in the religious light, I had nothing to give. My language to God was,  “Oh my Divine Love, it is thy substance:  I am only the steward of it; I ought to distribute it according to thy will.”

Her efforts for the good of others were not limited to gifts of food and clothing. Those who are acquainted with the state of things in France during the reign of Louis Fourteenth, know that ruinous vices prevailed at that period. The profligacy of the Court, though less intense than that which was exhibited subsequently in the time of the Regency of the Duke of Orleans and in the reign of Louis Fifteenth could hardly fail to find imitators among the people. This will help to explain some further statements which she makes in connection with her efforts to do good. In a number of instances, with a forethought creditable to her sound judgment as well as her piety, she informs us that she caused poor young girls, especially such as were particularly characterized by beauty of person, to be taught in some art or trade; to the end; that, having employment and means of subsistence they might not be under a temptation to adopt vicious courses, and thus throw themselves away. And this was not all. Inspired with the sentiments which animate the hearts of some pious females of later times, she did not consider it inconsistent with religion to endeavor to reclaim those of her sex who had fallen into the grossest sins. She says, that God made use of her to reclaim several females from their disorderly lives, one of whom was distinguished by her family connections as well as her beauty, who became not only reformed, but truly penitent and Christian in her dispositions, and died a happy death.

I went, to visit the sick, to comfort them, to make their beds. I made ointments, aided in dressing wounds, and paid the funeral expenses incurred in the interment of those who died.

And as one of her methods of doing good, she adds,

I sometimes privately furnished tradesmen and mechanics, who stood in need of assistance, with the means that were requisite to enable them to prosecute their business. 

It is very obvious, I think, if we may rely on her own statements, as undoubtedly we may, that in acts of outward charity she did much; perhaps all that could reasonably be expected.

— edited from The Life of Madame Guyon (1877) Volume 1, Chapter 8.

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