« AnteriorContinuar »
“But who pointed him to a higher inward life, and brighter hopes, than had previously come within the scope either of his knowledge or his expectations ? And when he had set out upon this new way, the way of victory because it was the way of holiness, who aided him, at every step of his progress, in giving clearness to his vision, and strength to his doubting purposes? Whose example was it, consecrated by tears and illustrated by labors in the domestic circle, and in the more public sphere, at home and abroad, in freedom and in prison, that attracted his notice, excited his holy desires, and strengthened his hopes ? It is impossible, with any suitable regard to truth and justice, to separate the influence of the instructions, of the exhortations and prayers, and of the personal life and example of Madame Guyon, from the renovated nature, the benevolent labors, and the sublime faith of Fenelon."—Vol. ii., pp. 309, 310.
But other trials awaited this great and good woman than the close imprisonment which she now suffered, and the disgrace and persecution of all her favorers and friends. Fearing, it would seem, the spiritual contagion caught from her very presence in prison, and correspondence with friends, she was compelled by her enemies to sign a paper agreeing to receive no visits, hold no conversations, and write no letters, without the express permission of the Cúrate of St. Sulpitius. Then, through a forged letter, an attempt was made of surpassing Jesuitical baseness, to destroy her reputation, and involve with it the ruin of Fenelon. Its signal failure so exasperated her enemies, that she was transferred from the prison at Vaugirard, to one of the towers of the Bastille, for solitary confinement in that woe-consecrated keepingplace for the victims of tyranny, only a few feet from the dungeon of the celebrated prisoner known in history as the Man of the Iron Mask. Four years of suffering wheeled slowly round, in the dread silence of that awful prison, at the bare mention of which the face of humanity to this day gathers blackness. Its secrets eternity will tell, not time, for all who entered it were bound by a solemn oath never to disclose anything seen, or heard, or suffered there. But God, we cannot doubt, was with His daughter, all through this period of suffering for Christ's sake. Men had imprisoned her; but they did not do it without permission of the King of Saints. Even wicked men, in the estimate which she took of things, were, in their very permitted wickedness, but the instruments of higher purposes. In her view of God's wise and holy moral government, that which He permits to be done to His children, is as truly from Him, and for their good, as that which He does. Doubiless she could say with Wesley,
Lord, I adore thy gracious will,
My Father's goodness see ;
As kind rebukes from Thee.
This faith, although it did not prevent suffering, stopped all complaint. And Christ, we can easily believe, did so hallow with His visits the cell of the sufferer, that even the stones of the dismal Bastille may have looked in her sight like the sapphire and jasper walls of the holy city in the Revelation, wherein it was her blessed assurance that she should ever dwell. “Here, too, she composed songs and sang them; but the voice of her pious maid-servant, who mingled with hers in her former imprisonment, was now silent.” Two letters have come to light written about this time by the servant-maid of Madame Guyon, here referred to, a woman of strong understanding, now likewise in solitary confinement at Vaugirard for her fidelity to God and to her dear and honored mistress. They were written as by stealth in her imprisonment, " using,” she says, “soot instead of ink, and a bit of stick instead of a pen.” They are attractive and valuable as shedding additional light upon the character and virtues of Madam Guyon, and proving the love even unto death, with which the magnetism of her heavenly mind might be said almost to fascinate those that were most with her and that knew her best. Though a lisp or a line to the discredit of Madame Guyon would have given this woman her liberty, she chose to die in prison, saying to the last, “ The more closely I love God, the more I find myself bound to her. • It is always in the sweet and lovely heart of Jesus where my life reposes, that I find her. O Saviour, I lift up my heart and hands to thee, and return thee thanks for uniting me to one that loves thee so tenderly and
This faithful maid died in her prison ; but for Madame Guyon it was appointed that she should again see the light; at the end of four years her prison-doors were opened, and she was banished to the city of Blois, where she glorified God fourteen years by her patience under bodily sufferings and a broken constitution consequent upon the hardships previously undergone. By her written correspondence also, which she was now able to resume, and her private religious conversations with those that came to see her, she was permitted again to be useful. It was during this time that her autobiography, first written at the instance of her Father Confessor many years before, was corrected and finished at the solicitation of numerous pious visitors from England and Germany. It was deposited in the hands of one of them, an Englishman of rank, on the condition that it should not be published until after death. This desirable event, which she had long been anticipating, with one foot in the stirrup, as she expresses it, ready to mount and be gone, took place in June, 1717, when she was now sixty-nine years of age. Her last witness in the autobiography is,
“In these last times, if I may so express myself, I can hardly speak of my inward dispositions. The reason is, that my state has become fixed ;--simple
in the motives which govern it, calm in its reliance on God, and without any variation.
My soul is in such a state, that God permits me to say, there is no dissatisfied clainor in it, no corroding sorrow, no distracting uncer
. tainty, no pleasure of earth, and no pain which faith does not convert into pleasure ; nothing but the peace of God which passes understanding, perfect peace, and nothing is of myself, but all of God."* The words of her will are, " Within thy hands, O God, I
6. leave my soul, not relying for my salvation on any good there is in me, but solely on thy mercies, and the merits and sufferings of my Lord Jesus Christ.»
Well may there be repeated in a peculiar and emphatic sense of this great and good woman, conceding her imperfections, yet seeing the height to which human nature was carried in her, and yielding with hope to the enthusiastic aspirations after better things, which the contemplation of consummate excellence always inspires, well may there be re-affirmed now those sonnet words of Wordsworth,
Thou hast left behind
Those powers have been working to the present time. Her great allies in the great aching heart of humanity, and within the longing bosom of the blood-bought church of Jesus Christ, are working for her: God, in His providence, is working for her, throwing the shield of His protection around her memory and honor, illustrating her life, preserving her words, building her monument in every truly sanctified soul, and by the channel of this good book, pouring what Milton calls the “ precious life-blood of a master-spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life,” into the vital circulation of the militant church. There we pray and are persuaded this influx will be felt, deepening the piety and safely accelerating the pulse of the church, without the intermittent fever and ague of revival and declension ; enlarging its faith, increasing its zeal, and adding to its energy and momentum in the onward movement for the world's evangelization, until the Kingdom is given to the People of the Saints of the Most High, and the conquest of the world is accomplished for Christ.
In taking our leave of Professor Upham and Madame Guyon, after the favorable view herein presented of the tenets by them advocated, we cannot but remark in all fairness, that truth is to be got at from comparing the differing views and statements of different men, very much as a ship's
longitude is obtained in working lunars. The labor lies in applying rightly the numerous cor
rections, now on this side and now on that. There are what are called the first, second, and third corrections, with their proportional logarithms. There are the corrections of the sun and moon's altitudes for parallax and refraction, and the height of the observer above the sea. There are the corrections of declinations and distances as calculated in the Nautical Almanack, at the meridian of Greenwich, for the meredian of the ship. And then there is the correction for the seconds of moon's horizontal parallax, and the correction for equation of time, &c.; all of which are to be exactly applied, and the Variation Tables carefully consulted, before the navigator can find his real place, and even then it is rarely that he gets it by a lunar nearer than ten or fifteen miles.
So in gathering truth upon any given subject from the observations and reasonings of different men, you have to take into account the place and profession and leanings of the observers. You must compare and correct for the differences of mental parallax and altitudes made by observers different points of view. You must note, if possible, the aberrations from the fixed meridian of Truth, when to be added and when subtracted. The various deflections, and increase or diminution made by prejudice are to be ascertained. The dip of the mind's horizon is to be marked, and the different degrees of refraction made by the differences in men's ordinary intellectual atmospheres, whether clear or foggy. There is a correction to be made according as you find the observers to be short or long-sighted, and as they have the eye of an eagle or that of an owl; and, finally, there is an allowance to be made in the representations given, according as they think you will use and steer by their observations or not. And, after all, if you have patience and skill to apply all the corrections, or are so happy as to be able to do it by intuition, even as rare geniuses are said sometimes to solve mathematical problems, yet it is not certain that your result will be absolute truth ; and it is seldom that a modest man will peremptorily challenge another's assent to his particular conclusions.
Now we challenge no man's acceptance of these notes upon what we have called a good book and a rare character, but in making up our mind in regard to a model of piety like that traced and commented upon in this life of Madame Guyon, how are we to fix upon the meridian of truth, and, like a skillful lunarian, to settle upon our right reckoning? Plainly our Nautical Almanack must be the revealed Word of God, and our comparison must be with that. Is, then, this joint product of Madame Guyon and Professor Upham the true model of piety delineated or elementally found there? We answer at once, after all that we have been glad to say so heartily in commendation of this work, that there is in it and in the religious writings of Professor Upham generally,
though he meaneth not so, too little of Christ, and too much stress laid on self-denial without Christ. Now that the narrative and sympathetic interest excited by a first perusal is over, we can see clearly that there is too much of self and too little of the Word in this good book. And it would hardly be right to let the strain of remark go forth, in which we have naturally written, without cautioning the reader to compare this book narrowly with the Bible, and let every man that peruses it bear in mind that there is no genuine holiness, however lovely or grave its aspect, but what comes from Christ as its source, and Iooks to Christ as its example, its end, and its aim.
FAITH IN GOD AND FAITH IN GOD'S WORD.
By Rev. GEORGE B. CHEEVER, D.D., Pastor of the Church of the Puritans, New Yor).
An Essay concerning the Nature of Faith; or the Ground upon
which Faith assents to the Scriptures. By Rev. THOMAS HALYBURTON. London: Thomas Tegg and Son, 1835.
This admirable production of the eminent divine in whose works it is printed, is worthy of being put in a separate volume for special circulation. It was, however, written with a particular reference to the views of Locke in his philosophy. The opinion of the Rationalists about Faith, said Halyburton in his title page, is proposed and examined, especially as it is stated by the learned Mr. Locke, in his book of the Human Understanding. We shall not, on the present occasion, enter into any analysis of this masterly essay, though we shall have cause to refer to it in the course of our remarks on a topic growing out of it, namely, the distinction between mere faith in God, and faith in God's Word ; the inadequacy of the first faith as a form of piety, and the necessity of the second to the vitality of the Missionary Enterprise, and of every good effort in our world.
There is a real and important distinction between the piety of mere faith in God, and that of faith in God's Word. At first thought one might be disposed to say that faith in God is the first and highest kind of piety; but not on examination. And it will be found that there is here a secret principle of distinction that really