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.

Thursday, April 18, 2024

The Blessedness of a Will Lost

If we truly believe in God as a being possessed of every natural excellence, if we believe in him as a God present in all his providences, and ever watchful and faithful for the good of his people, and if at the same time we fully believe that in all his actions he is right and that in all his claims upon us he is right, there remains no reason, no possible consideration, no motive, why we should either desire on natural principles, or should feel under obligation on moral principles to possess a will, an aim, a purpose adverse to his. All ground or basis of movement in such a direction entirely fails. But every thing stands firm and effective in the other direction. So that it will not only be unnatural not to give our wills to God; but it will be impossible, (that is to say, it will be psychologically or mentally impossible,) not to do it. All the motives, which can be conceived of, those which have relation to our moral duty, all combine in the same direction; so that the laws of his being must cease to be the laws of his being and man must cease to be man, if, having full faith in God, he does not fully yield his will to God.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

An Affectionate Submission to God

The subjection or submission of the will, for which we contend, is an affectionate submission, a submission which has some elements of the heart in it, a submission of love. We do not mean to say, that the submission of the will is, psychologically or mentally, the same thing, with love; but that it is a state of mind which implies love. And furthermore, the existence of love, as a necessary attendant upon it, gives to it one of its marked peculiarities, and a great share of its exceeding value. And it is this submission, therefore, the submission of the will in love, which God desires, and which he demands. But it is well understood, that the love of God, implies faith in God. To love him without having faith in his character as a good and holy being would be an impossibility. And, accordingly, looking at the subject in this point of view, we may confidently say the will is never truly subjected to God, is never subjected in that sense which alone God can accept, without faith.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Subjection of the Will by Faith

How is this great work, the subjection of the will, to be effected? 

And the answer must be repeated, which has already been so often given, that it can be done, so far as we can perceive, only by the operations and influence of FAITH. 

And in saying this, it can hardly be necessary to add, that we do not mean to exclude personal effort, in whatever form of resolve or of action it can properly be made; although it is true, and always will remain true, that personal effort here, as elsewhere in the things of religion, will be unavailing without faith. And this is so truly and emphatically the case, that we cannot hesitate to speak of faith as the cause, and as the one great and preeminent cause of a result so desirable and glorious.It is obvious, in the first place, that the man, who has no faith in God, can see no reason, and in the actual state of his views and feelings he has no reason, so far as he himself is concerned, why he should subject his will to God’s will. To subject our wills is to subject ourselves. If God has the control of the will, he has the control of the man. And no man, no rational being whatever, could be expected to subject his will, and thus to subject himself, to another being, however exalted he might be supposed to be, without faith in such being. It would obviously be against nature. That is to say, it is something, which in our apprehension is naturally impossible.

Monday, April 15, 2024

Keep The Eye Fixed on God's Order of Things

...the man, who has experienced the practical annihilation of his own will, does every thing and suffers every thing precisely in the order of God’s providence. It is the PRESENT MOMENT, considered as indicating the divine arrangement of things, which furnishes the truest and safest test of character. Holiness requires the fulfilment of our whole duty; and our duty necessarily has relation to the facts which God’s providence now presents before us. If our whole soul goes forth in obedience to what his holy providence now imposes on us, then, and not otherwise, are we acceptable in his sight. It is necessary, therefore, to keep our eye fixed upon God’s order of things. We must do this in relation to our place and situation in life, whatever it may be; not murmuring at our supposed ill lot; not giving way to any eager desires of change; but remaining quietly and humbly just where God has seen fit to place us.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Enduring Trials While Subjected in Will to God

Another mark or characteristic of the man, whose will has passed from his own unsafe keeping to the high custody of a divine direction, is this. He has no disposition to complain, when God, in the course of his providences, sees fit to send disappointments and afflictions upon him. This remark will apply not only to afflictions, which originate in the loss of health, of property, and of friends, but to all others of whatever nature, and coming from whatever source. We have sometimes thought, that the entire subjection of the will is seen particularly in the quietness and silence of spirit, with which misrepresentations and persecutions are endured. That the people of the world should be greatly agitated, and should find in themselves the movings of a rebellious and belligerent spirit, when their motives are aspersed and their characters injured, is entirely natural. And, unhappily, when persecution arises, we see too much of this unquiet and rebellious spirit, even in those whom charity requires us to recognize as Christians. Not so with those Christians of a higher grade, whose wills act in perfect harmony with the divine will. That they are afflicted, when they are subject to unjust persecutions, is true; but they are not rebellious; they are not disquieted; and although they are afflicted, it cannot be said with truth that they are destitute of happiness. Connecting with the instrument which troubles them, the hand of God, which permits the agency of that instrument, they regard the persecutions they endure as the lot which God has appointed them; and as such they rejoice in it. But this could not be, if their wills, renouncing all private and selfish modes of action, did not move harmoniously with the divine will.

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Being Only God's Instrument

It would be interesting to delay here and to illustrate some of the more specific results and evidences of a will subdued. One result is, that the man, who has lost his will, in the sense which has been explained, namely, by an union of his will with God’s will, HAS NO PLANS OF HIS OWN; his own plans, if in any sense we may call them such, being merged and lost in the general conception of the plan, whatever it may be, of God’s overruling providence. He regards himself as merely an instrument; God’s instrument; and he does not, and cannot feel, that his plans are so much his, as God’s. We do not mean, in saying this, that he has no thought, no foresight; nothing “considerative” and prudential; but that in laying his plans, he asks the divine direction; and that, in the prosecution of them, he still asks the divine direction; and that, in the entire submission of his will, holding as he does the thread of his purpose as a divine gift moment by moment, his plans can be regarded as nothing more nor less than God’s plans, begun, prosecuted, and either continued or abandoned as God chooses.

— from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 9.

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Ralph Cudworth (1618-1688): Obedience to the Divine Will

The learned and pious Dr. Cudworth says:

 “The highest mystery of a divine life here and of perfect happiness hereafter, consisteth in nothing but mere obedience to the divine will. Happiness is nothing but that inward sweet delight that will arise from the harmonious agreement between our wills and God’s will. There is nothing contrary to God in the whole world, nothing that fights against him, but SELF-WILL. This is the strong castle that we all keep garrisoned against heaven in every one of our hearts, which God continually layeth siege unto; and it must be conquered and demolished before we can conquer heaven. It was by reason of this self-will that Adam fell in Paradise; that those glorious angels, those morning stars, kept not their first station, but dropped down from heaven like falling stars, and sunk into this condition of bitterness, anxiety, and wretchedness, in which they now are. They all entangled themselves with the length of their own wings; they would needs will more and otherwise, than God would will in them. And going about to make their wills wider, and to enlarge them into greater amplitude, the more they struggled they found themselves the faster pinioned, and crowded up into narrowness and servility, insomuch that now they are not able to use any wings at all; but inheriting the serpent’s curse, can only creep with their bellies on the earth. Now our only way to recover God and happiness again, is, not to soar up with our understandings, but to destroy this self-will of ours. And then we shall find our wings to grow again, our plumes fairly spread, and ourselves raised aloft into the free air of perfect liberty, which is perfect happiness.”

— From Cudworth’s Criterion of the true knowledge of Christ; a sermon preached before the English House of Commons, March 31, 1647 quoted in The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 9.

Monday, April 8, 2024

The Loss of Our Own Will

It is not sufficient, that the lower principles of our nature are brought into subjection; it is not sufficient to possess affections purified and sanctified; God requires, in addition to these results and evidences of the rectification of our inward nature, the subjection of the will; an equally important and perhaps still more difficult work. One of the results of the highest Christianity, a Christianity far different from and far above that which is merely nominal, or which is but little better than nominal, is the LOSS OF OUR OWN WILLS. It is not meant by this, that we may not have a will different from that of our fellow-men, nor is it meant, that we may not have a strong, energetic will; but that we ought not to have, and that as Christians, who aim at the highest results of the divine life, we cannot have a will of our own, in distinction from and at variance with the divine will.

In this last sense, he, who approaches nearest to an annihilation of his own will, approaches nearest to the state of entire sympathy and harmony with the Divine Mind. The prostration of our own will, in such a sense that it shall not in any respect oppose itself to the will of God, seems to be the completion or consummation of those various processes, by which the inward spirit is purified. When the will in its personal or self-interested operation is entirely prostrated, so that we can say with the Savior, “Lo, I come to do thy will,” then the wall of spiritual separation is taken away, and the soul may be said, through the open entrance, to find a passage, as it were, into God himself, and to become one with Him, in a mysterious but holy and glorious union. Then and not till then, can it be truly said that the warfare against God has ceased, and a perfect reconciliation taken place, enabling those who have arrived at this blessed state to exclaim with the Savior, (perhaps in a modified but still in a true and most important sense,) “I AND MY FATHER ARE ONE.”

— from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 9.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

The Inward Christ

The outward word is good and true,
But inward power alone makes new;
Not even Christ can cleanse from sin,
Until He comes and works within.

It was for this HE could not stay,
But hasten'd up the starry way;
And keeps from outward sight apart,
That men may seek him in the heart.

CHRIST IN THE HEART! If absent there,
Thou canst not find Him anywhere;
CHRIST IN THE HEART! Oh friends, begin,
And build the throne of Christ within.

And know from this, that He is thine,
And that thy life is made divine,
When Holy Love shall have control,
And rule supremely in the soul.

Christ in the Soul (1872)  LXXXIII.

Friday, April 5, 2024

Poetry: Divine Justice Amiable

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

Her poetical writings. Justice of God amiable.

It is about this time that we find the first mention of her attempts at poetry. Poetry is the natural expression of strong feeling. She felt, and she wrote. It is possible that she had made attempts of this kind before; but I find nothing said of it. Voltaire, who goes out of his appropriate sphere of judgment in discrediting her religious pretensions, speaks lightly also of her effusions in verse. It would require a more intimate knowledge of French poetical diction than I profess to have, to give an opinion of her poetry, so far as the expression is concerned. But I do not hesitate to say, with great confidence, that this portion of her writings, with some variations; undoubtedly, exhibits in a high degree the spirit of poetry. There is thought in it; there is feeling. The highest kind of thought, the deepest feeling. The following poem, translated by Mr. Cowper, whom some critics, I think, would not place below Voltaire, either as a writer or judge of poetry, may be regarded as expressive, in some particulars, of her religious experience at this time ; and is probably to be referred, in its origin, to this period of her life. It indicates a deep sense of her unworthiness, and a humble and approving resignation to God's will, under the heaviest inflictions of His providence.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Smallpox & Sorrow

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

Attacked by the smallpox. Treatment experienced from her stepmother. Death of her youngest son. Her feelings.

The first thing [God] did was to smite her beauty with that dreadful scourge of the human race, the small-pox. The summer was over; her ear no longer listened to the waters of the Loire; the festivities of St Cloud and Paris had passed away. On the 4th of October, 1670, (she is particular to mark the month and the day,) the blow came upon her like lightning from heaven. This dreadful disease was not then shorn of its terrors by that merciful Providence, which directed the philosophic mind of Jenner in the discovery of its wonderful preventive. And she was thus smitten when she was a little-more than twenty-two years of age, — a period of life when beauty of person does not cease to be prized. When it was discovered that the hand of the Lord was thus upon her, her friends, not excluding those in all probability who had endeavored to lead her into the follies of fashionable life, exhibited great emotion. They came around her bedside, and almost forgetting that her life was in danger, deplored in feeling language the mysterious and fatal attack, which was thus made upon charms which had been so much celebrated.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Full Consecration: The Second Death

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

Renewed consecration, in which she gives up all without reserve.

And here, I think, we may mark a distinct and very important crisis in the history of her spiritual being. Taught by sad experience, she saw the utter impossibility of combining the love of the world with the love of God. "From this day, this hour, if it be possible, I will be wholly the Lord's. The world shall have no portion in me." Such was the language of her heart ; such her solemn determination. She formed her resolution after counting the cost, — a resolution wbich was made in God's strength and not in her own; which, in after life, was often smitten by the storm and tried in the fire; but, from this time onward, so far as we know anything of her history, was never consumed, — was never broken. She gave herself to the Lord, Not only to be his in the ordinary and mitigated sense of the terms, but to be his wholly, and to be his forever; to be his in body and in spirit; to be his in personal efforts and influence; to be his in all that she was and in all that it was possible for her to be. There was no reserve.

Monday, April 1, 2024

Advice from a Stranger

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

[She attends] religious services at the church of Notre Dame in Paris. On her way thither she has an extraordinary interview with a person unknown. His advice to her.

It was at this period of her personal history, that [Madame Guyon] began to have a more distinct and realizing perception of what is implied in a sanctified life. Some portions of her reading, as well as her personal experience, had been favorable to this result. In the Life of Madame de Chantal, which she had read with great interest, she found the doctrine of holiness, so far as it may be supposed to consist in a will subjected to God, and in a heart filled with love, illustrated in daily living and practice, as well as asserted as a doctrine. The writings of Francis de Sales are characterized, in distinction from many other devout writings of the period in which he lived, by insisting on continual walking with God, on the entire surrender of the human will to the divine, and on the existence of pure love. The writings of this devout and learned man seem to have been her constant companions through life. The Imitation of Christy generally ascribed to Thomas a Kempis, Another of the works with which she was familiar, is animated by the same spirit of high Christian attainment. All these writers, in different ways and under different forms of expression, agree in strenuously teaching, that the whole heart, the whole life should be given to God; and that in some true sense this entire surrender, not excluding, however, a constant sense of demerit and of dependence on God, and the constant need of the application of Christ's blood, is in reality not less practicable than it is obligatory. 

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Madame Guyon Seeks Spiritual Advice

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

Reference to her early views of her Christian state. Her surprise at the discovery of the remains of sin in herself. Seeks assistance and advice from others. Remarks on the religious character of that age. Consults with Genevieve Granger, the Prioress of the Benedictines.

In this season of temptation and penitence, of trial and of comparative despondency, she looked around for advice and assistance. Not fully informed, as she herself expressly states, in respect to the nature of the inward life, she felt perplexed and confounded at the knowledge of her own situation. In the first joy of her spiritual espousals, she seems to have looked upon herself, as is frequently the case at that period of religious experience, not only as a sinner forgiven for the sins which are past; but what is a very different thing, as a sinner saved from the commission of sin for the present, and in all future time. Looking at the subject in the excited state of her young love, when the turbulent emotions perplex the calm exercises of the judgment, she appears to have regarded the victory which God had given her, as one which would stand against all possible assaults; the greatness of her triumph for to-day, scarcely exceeding the strength of her confidence for to-moirow. She felt no sting in her conscience; she bore no cloud on her brow.  

Monday, March 18, 2024

A Faith that Overcomes Anger

Holy anger implies a strong faith.

Again, God has promised in many passages of his holy Word, his aid and protection to those, who endeavor to fulfill his purposes by obeying his will. “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.” The man, who truly believes in God’s veracity, and of course who believes in his promises of assistance, will find his purposes and efforts much strengthened by such belief. This, as is well known, is the result of a law of our nature, which is universal in its operation, namely, that we shall find our purposes strengthened and shall put forth the stronger effort, where we have some hope and expectation of succeeding. The man, therefore, who has this faith in God, will be much more likely to succeed in his attempts at keeping the angry passions under control, than one who is without faith.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Wickedness and the Plan of God

Holy anger implies a strong faith:

In the first place, God teaches us, or rather it is one of the received principles or doctrines of Christian faith, that it is a part of God’s plan, in the operations of his mysterious providence, to let wicked men manifest their wickedness. On the supposition that sin exists in the universe, of which we have such clear and melancholy evidence, God is willing, for purposes which are best known to his own infinite wisdom, that those, who have sin in their hearts, should manifest it in their conduct, in order that their condemnation, which follows in its own appointed hour, may be seen and known to be just. He is willing also, that those, who do not sin or whom he desires should be kept from sin, should see, in the lives of unholy men, the odiousness of sin. The Savior has himself said in language which has a significant and awful import, “It is impossible but that offenses will come.” [Luke 17:1.] The man of faith, therefore, knowing that sin develops itself in these relations and with these results, does not lose his confidence in God. He remains unshaken.

In the second place, it is one of the received principles of Christian faith, that God sometimes uses the wicked as instruments in the discipline of his own people. Perhaps the wrong doing of others manifests itself in injuries, of which we ourselves are the subjects. Seeing the agency of God, not in the sin but in the direction, which the sin is permitted to take in its relation to ourselves, the doctrine of faith in its inward operation would require us to be humble, to be patient, as those whom God, for wise reasons, sees fit to afflict. It is God’s will, that we should be afflicted in this manner. The principle of faith, existing practically in our hearts, will enable us to receive this affliction humbly and patiently, as we do other afflictions.

 — from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 8.


Saturday, March 16, 2024

How Could Godly Anger be Possible?

But taking the ground as we do, that no feeling of displeasure or anger is allowed to exist in a holy bosom but such as God approves and such as is analogous to his own holy anger, the question now presents itself, How is it possible for us to be angry in this manner? How is it possible for us, knowing the nature of the feeling as we do in our own consciousness, to be angry without being agitated; to feel deeply and at the same time to perceive calmly and clearly? And still more, how is it possible to have feelings of displeasure and anger, and at the same time to be in the spirit of prayer, and also to have kind feelings towards the subject of our anger?

We are aware, that this is a difficult problem for unsanctified nature to solve; but it is not beyond the reach and power of a vital Christianity. The answer is, as every one, who knows what it is to live to God and to God alone, will anticipate, WE MUST HAVE FAITH. Human discipline, standing by itself, may perhaps do something; but faith will do more. Faith, aided by human discipline not as a principle but as a humble and dependent auxiliary, will do all.

— from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 8.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Godly Anger? — or Not.

"Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:" — Ephesians 4:26 (King James Version).

One of the characteristics of that anger, which is like God’s anger and is holy, is, that it leaves the intellectual perception unagitated and clear. Another mark is this. If our anger is like God’s anger, we shall be in that state of mind, which will enable us to bring our displeasure, and all that relates to it, to God for his direction and assistance. In other words, if we are so displeased, so angry, that we cannot calmly bring the matter before God and ask his direction and blessing in relation to it, we may be certain, that there is something wrong in it. There is nothing, as it seems to us, in joy or in sorrow, nothing in friendship or in enmity, nothing in any state of mind or in any situation of life, which authorizes the omission of prayer. And if we need it at any one time more than another, it must be in a state of mind so full of uncertainty and hazard as that which we are now considering. If, therefore, we are so displeased, so angry that we cannot pray, we may be assured that our anger is not like God’s anger, and is wrong.

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Instinctive Resentment

 Perhaps we ought to add here, that in these remarks [concerning resentments] we have more especial reference to deliberate and voluntary displeasure or anger, than to that modification of anger, which, in order to distinguish it, is termed instinctive

There is at times in man an instinctive resentment, arising very suddenly, but continuing only till the laws of the mind will permit the perceptive and reasoning powers to come to our aid, which during the brief time of its continuance is obviously beyond the control of reason and the will; and which, therefore, may cause a momentary agitation of the physical system and a momentary confusion of the intellect, without our being able to prevent it. To this form of resentment, so far as it is truly and absolutely instinctive, it will be naturally understood, that the remarks, which have [previously] been made, will not fully apply. And the exception, which is interposed here in regard to the Malevolent affections, might very properly be made in respect to those of a different character, which have already been considered. 

When it was held that the benevolent affections should be subjected to the control of the will and to the law of right reason, it obviously could not be meant, that the obligation thus to control them extends to that very sudden and momentary action, which is purely instinctive; and which, in being such, is never reached by the reason and the will, and never has and never can have a moral character. And this can be said, we think, with safety to the suggestion, that if our instincts, as well as other parts of our nature, have become perverted and depraved in the Fall of Adam, so much so as properly to be described as fallen and depraved instincts, they have an indirect relation to the Atonement, and furnish grounds of humiliation and confession.

 — from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 8.

Saturday, March 9, 2024


It is hardly necessary to say, that the feeling of displeasure, which is but another name for the feeling of resentment, when it exists in its milder or mitigated form, is a state of mind, which by the laws of our nature, is appropriate to wrong-doing. Of the nature of this feeling, it is not necessary to attempt to give any explanation, as it is too well understood in the consciousness of every one; although it may properly be said, that the natural law of its origin and action requires it to be more or less intense, in accordance with the nature and degree of the wrong-doing. Such are the facts and relations of things, and such is the obvious and precise adaptation of the human mind to such facts and relations, that displeased or angry feelings not only come into existence by their own natural laws of origin; but if they arise on their appropriate occasions, and in their appropriate degree, they seem to be justly regarded as right feelings. To look on wrong-doing, knowing it to be truly and deliberately such, without disapprobation and without feeling displeased, would itself be as really a crime, as the wrongdoing which is witnessed. And accordingly the Scriptures, if we rightly understand them, allow of displeased or angry feelings under some circumstances. God himself is represented as being displeased or angry, and as having abundant reason to be displeased or angry, on certain occasions. And there are statements in the Gospel, which either assert or imply the same thing in relation to the Savior.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

The Divine Life

Oh, sacred union with the Perfect Mind!
Transcendent bliss, which Thou alone canst give!
How blest are they, this pearl of price who find,
And dead to earth have learnt in Thee to live.

Thus, in thine arms of love, Oh God, I lie,
Lost, and forever lost, to all but Thee.
My happy soul, since it hath learnt to die,
Hath found new life in thine Infinity.

Oh, go and learn this lesson of the Cross;
And tread the way which saints and prophets trod,
Who, counting life, and self, and all things loss,
Have found in inward death the life of God.

Religious Maxims (1846).

Remarks on Holy Living

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

Inquiries on holy living

There is but one way for the Christian to walk in. It is not possible that there should be any other. "A strait and narrow way" it is true; but still, properly speaking, not a difficult way. Undoubtedly it is difficult to a heart naturally averse to it, to enter into it, and to become entirely naturalized to it. Sometimes the difficulty is very great; but when once the process is fairly begun, and the influence of old habits is broken, the difficulty is, in a great degree, removed; and it becomes true, as the Saviour has said, that His "yoke is easy, and His burden is light." 

Friday, March 1, 2024

A Visit to St. Cloud

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

Visit to St. Cloud — Sorrow

If, under the impulse of an unsanctified curiosity, she gave an unguarded look, — if in a moment of temptation she uttered a hasty reply to the rebukes and accusations of others, (moral delinquencies which some might not regard as very great,) — she found that it cost her bitter tears. Even when she dispensed her munificent charity; which brought consolation to the poor and suffering, she sometimes found, with sorrow of heart, that the donation which ought to have been made with "a single  eye," was corrupted by a glance at the rewards of self-complacency and of worldly applause.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

A Journey to Orleans and Touraine

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

Journey to Orleans and Touraine — Temptations and religious infidelities and falls repeated

Her husband, with the keen eye of one, who did not consider the value of her natural character as enhanced at all by her religious traits, saw her position [of spiritual conflict], and we may well suppose secretly rejoiced at it. It was no disquiet to him, looking at the matter in the worldly light, that she had made her appearance in the fashionable companies of the most gay and fashionable city in the world. And still he could not but see that the snare, which was thus laid for the faith and piety of his wife, in the attractions and assemblies of Paris, had in some degree failed. He was not ignorant that she had both seen her danger, and had exhibited the wisdom and the decision to flee from it. But certainly, if her religious principle was thus severely tested at Paris, there could be no hazard to it, in her making an excursion into the country, among mountains and rivers, and others of  God's great works. This, obviously, was a very natural suggestion. It was proposed, therefore, that she should take a distant journey. Her husband could go with her, and was ready to do it. His state of health was such, that it could hardly fail to be beneficial And if her own health should not be improved, as it would be very likely to be, it would certainly contribute to her happiness. And it was an incidental consideration which had its weight, that her parents came from Montargis, the place of her early life and recollections, which could be visited in the way. Orleans, too, which it was contemplated to visit in the tour was a celebrated and beautiful city. Nor was it a small thing to an imaginative mind like hers, to tread the banks and to behold the scenery of the magnificent Loire. With that great river there were some interesting recollections connected. Not many years before, its waters had been wedded to those of the Seine by the Canal of Briare — an astonishing work, a monument of the enterprise of her husband’s father, and the principal source of the wealth of her family. Hence arose the journey to the distant province of Touraine, in the spring or summer of 1670.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

A Visit to Paris

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

Visit to Paris — The errors committed there — Grief

Man, under the influence of the natural life, is disposed to diffuse himself — to overleap the humbling barriers of God's providence, and to mingle in what is not his own. The principle of curiosity, always strong, but especially so in a mind like hers, was not only not dead, but what is still more important, it ceased to be properly regulated. It was still a matter of interest with her to see and be seen, and to experience the pleasures of worldly intercourse and conversation.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

On Austerities

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

The inordinate action of all parts of the mind to be subdued — Austerities may be practiced without the idea of expiation — The monks of La Trappe — Temptations to go back to the world

I doubt not that the distinction which separates the idea of expiation from austere and self-mortifying acts, and makes them merely disciplinary, would be found to hold good in many instances; but, without pretending to say how far this may be the case, I will relate here a single incident which will illustrate what I mean. 

Monday, February 26, 2024

Wholly Devoted to God: Mortifications

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

We are to consult our own improvement and good, as well as of others — Desires to be wholly the Lord’s — Efforts to keep the outward appetites in subjection

“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” Our own vineyard is not to be neglected. True Christianity verifies its existence and its character, not merely in doing good to others, but partly, at least, in the regulation of our own inward nature. It is not enough to visit the sick and teach the ignorant, to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, while we leave our own appetites and passions unsubdued, unregulated.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Rest From Condemnation

"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
" — John 14:27 (KJV)

In analyzing and explaining the elements of that pure and heavenly peace, which our Savior has left both as the inheritance and the characteristic of truly holy souls, we proceed to remark, further, that they are at rest from the reproofs of conscience.

This is a state of things very different from that which is experienced by souls that are only partially united with God. The latter, as they are going through the transition state from love commencing to love completed, have a constant conflict in themselves. Their inward good and evil are arrayed in opposition to each other. They see the right; but they continue, in some degree at least, to follow the wrong. And just so far as this is the case, they are under condemnation. And under such circumstances, they cannot fail to be uneasy and unhappy.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Liberty of Spirit

That devout condition of mind, which is expressed by the term holiness, requires, that we should do the will of God in all things; or what amounts to the same thing, that we should do right in all things. But it is obvious, that partialities, inordinate attachments, loving one more than another without any reasonable grounds for making a distinction, perplex both our perceptions of right and our ability to do what is right. It is important, therefore, to keep our minds in that desirable state, so often mentioned by spiritual writers, which is denominated liberty of spirit; a state of mind, in which there are no disturbing influences, originating either from inordinate hatred or inordinate love, and in which the soul, acting under a divine guidance, may be moved with the greatest possible ease in any direction.

 When, in the exercise of our naturally kind feelings, we strive to do good to our fellow-men, by soothing their sorrows, by healing their dissentions, or in any other way, if we do it without a humble and serious eye to God’s providences, we shall always find on a careful examination, that we do it in a considerable degree, if not entirely, without a believing regard to God himself. And accordingly, in attempting to do good in this way, viz., from the mere impulse of nature, without a regard to God and his providences, it will not be surprising, if, in many cases, we fail of our object, and do evil rather than good. God is present in time, as well as in events. There is always the right time, as well as the right thing; the right time, as well as the right action. The man of true faith feels it to be necessary to act at the right time, to act in God’s time, even in doing those things, which are clearly of a benevolent nature. God holds the remedy of the evils, which exist in the world, in his own hands. His people are the instruments, which he employs, in applying this remedy. But the application is never made beneficially either to the subject or the agent, except when it is made under his own superintendence, in his own time and manner.

— from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 7.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Avoid Inordinate Partialities

We may love wrongly also, when we knowingly place our love upon wrong objects; or perhaps we should rather say in this case, upon wrong persons. And accordingly it is a part of Christian duty to avoid wrongly placed and inordinate partialities; those particular attachments to certain persons, which generally exist without adequate reason, and which are apt to be attended with corresponding dislikes to other persons. We do not mean to say, that we are bound to bestow an equal confidence and an equal affection upon all persons alike; but true Christianity requires, that, where we make a difference, we should do it for reasons and on grounds, which God can approve. It ought to be more generally remembered than it is, that we have no more right to place our affections on objects or persons, irrespective of God’s will, than we have to regulate and control our outward actions in disregard of his will. And it is implied in regarding his will in this case as well as in others, that we must have a heart humbly acquiescent in his providences, and must look to him in the exercise of faith, in order that we may be guided right. It is proper, therefore, to say to all, who desire to do what God would have them do, choose your friends in the Lord. Or rather look to the Lord, to choose them for you. And then you will be likely, not only to choose them right, but to keep them long. And what otherwise would fail to be the case, it will be a friendship hallowed by the divine blessing.

— from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 7.

The Love of God as Example

It is obvious, that love can never exist in any higher degree than in the Divine Mind; but it is certain that it never exists there in such a degree as to perplex, even to the smallest extent, the action of God’s percipient or intellectual nature. God loves deeply and perfectly, for the very reason that he perceives clearly and perfectly. To love an object, without a clear perception of the nature of the object and of its claims to love, would involve the hazard of loving imperfectly or wrongly; a risk which can never, by any possibility, exist on the part of a perfect and holy being. Now it must be obvious, that love, in those who bear the divine image, will sustain the same relation to other acts and affections of the mind, as it does in God. To be born in the divine image always implies this, and implies it in the real and strict sense. If we love like God, our love will operate by the same law, which regulates God’s love; that is to say, we shall love both in such a manner and such degree as to leave the intellect unembarrassed and clear in the perception and estimate of the character of the object and of its claims to our love. When, therefore, in the exercise of our benevolent affections, the actual affection exists in such a degree as to perplex the perceptive and intellectual action, and to render our appreciation of the merits or demerits of the object confused and doubtful, we may be certain that we are wrong, that we are jostled out of the true centre, and that we have not God with us.

 — from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 7.

Friday, February 2, 2024

Love and Righteousness

We think it of some consequence to mention here one rule, which may aid us in determining, whether our affections, those of the most benevolent kind as well as others, are properly regulated or not. When our affections to any persons, however near and dear they may be to us, are found to be so strong at any given time or on any occasion as to disturb the clearness and precision of the intellectual action, we may be assured, that such love has become inordinate, and has some vicious element in it. A number of considerations go to show this. 

We may argue, in confirmation of what has been said, from the nature and operations of that love, which we are required to exercise towards God. It is the tendency of the true love of God, which is the same as the pure love of God, always to accommodate itself to what is right. Rectitude is the ultimate and unchangeable law of its operation. At this, by a tendency inherent in its own nature, it always aims, viz., to love rightly, to love just as it ought to love, not only the right object, but in the right degree. The right and wrong of things, the ought and the ought not, is made known to us, in connection with, and by means of the action of an enlightened moral sense. The moral sense, by a well known law of our mental constitution, demands, as the condition of its own correct action, a clear intellectual perception. The action of the intellect must be undisturbed. The pure love of God, that is to say, the love which we exercise towards God, when it is unmixed with any merely human or selfish element, never causes disturbance in the intellectual action; but, on the contrary, is highly favorable to the opposite state. Where such pure affection exists, therefore, the right or rectitude of things may be expected to be clearly perceived, as well as strongly loved. But if the love of God, (that unmixed and pure love which alone can be acceptable to him,) does not disturb the perceptive or intellectual action, but on the contrary if its very nature requires a clear and calm perception of things, then it is very obvious, that the love of our earthly friends, the love of our neighbor, cannot safely be exercised on other principles, and cannot require less.

— from The Life of Faith, Part 2, Chapter 7.