Autobiography of Madam Guyon


THE LORD TOOK FROM ME all the sensibility which I had for the creatures, or things created, even in an instant, as one takes off a robe. After that time I had none for any whatsoever. Though He had done me that favor, for which I can never be sufficiently grateful, I was, however, neither more contented nor less confused by it. My God seemed to be so estranged and displeased with me, that there remained nothing but the grief of having lost His blessed presence through my fault. The loss of my reputation every day increasing, became sensible to my heart, though I was not allowed to justify or bewail myself.

As I became always more impotent for every kind of exterior works, as I could not go to see the poor, nor stay at church, nor practice prayer; as I became colder toward God, in proportion as I was more sensible of my wrong steps, all this destroyed me the more both in my own eyes and in those of others. There were some very considerable gentlemen who made proposals for me, and even such persons as according to the rules of fashion ought not to think of me. They presented themselves during the very depth of my outward and inward desolation. At first it appeared to me a means of drawing me out of the distress I was in. But it seemed to me then notwithstanding my pains of body and mind, that if a king had presented himself to me, I would have refused him with pleasure, to show thee, O my God, that with all my miseries I was resolved to be thine alone.

If Thou wouldst not accept of me, I should at least have the consolation of having been faithful to Thee to the utmost of my power. For as to my inward state, I never mentioned it to anybody. I never spoke thereof, nor of the suitors, though my mother-in-law would say that if I did not marry, it was because none would have me. It was sufficient for me that Thou, O my God, knewest that I sacrificed them to Thee, (without saying a word to anybody) especially one whose high birth and amiable exterior qualities might have tempted both my vanity and inclination. Oh, could I but have hoped, to become agreeable to Thee, such a hope would have been like a change from Hell to Heaven. So far was I from presuming to hope for it, that I feared this sea of affliction might also be followed by everlasting misery, in the loss of Thee. I dared not even desire to enjoy Thee -- I only desired not to offend Thee.

I was for five or six weeks at the last extremity. I could not take any nourishment. A spoonful of broth made me faint. My voice was so gone, that when they put their ears close to my mouth, they could scarcely distinguish my words. I could not see any hope of salvation, yet was not unwilling to die. I bore a strong impression that the longer I lived the more I would sin. Of the two, I thought I would rather choose Hell than sin. All the good, which God made me do, now seemed to me evil or full of faults. All my prayers, penances, alms and charities, seemed to rise up against me, and heighten my condemnation. I thought there appeared on the side of God, on my own, and from all creatures, one general condemnation, my conscience was a witness against me, which I could not appease. What may appear strange, the sins of my youth did not then give me any pain at all. They did not rise up in judgment against me, but there appeared one universal testimony against all the good I had done, and all the sentiments of evil I had entertained. If I went to confessors, I could tell them nothing of my condition. If I could have told them, they would have not understood me. They would have regarded as eminent virtues, what, O my God, thy eyes all pure and chaste rejected as infidelity. It was then that I felt the truth of what Thou hast said, that Thou judgest our righteousness. Oh, how pure art thou! Who can comprehend it? It was then that I turned my eyes on every side, to see what way succor might come to me; but my succor could come no way but from Him who made Heaven and earth. As I saw there was no safety for me, or spiritual health in myself, I entered into a secret complacency in seeing no good in myself whereon to rest, or presume for salvation. The nearer my destruction appeared, the more I found in God Himself, wherewith to augment my trust and confidence, notwithstanding He seemed so justly irritated against me. It seemed to me that I had in Jesus Christ all that was wanting in myself. Oh, ye stout and righteous men! Observe as much as ye please of excellence in what ye have done to the glory of God. As for me, I only glory in my infirmities, since they have merited for me such a Saviour!

All my troubles, joined to the loss of my reputation, which yet was not so great as I apprehended, (it being only among a party) rendered me so unable to eat, that it seemed wonderful how I lived. In four days I did not eat as much as would make one very moderate repast. I was obliged to keep my bed through mere weakness, my body being no longer able to support the burden laid upon it. If I had thought, known, or heard tell, that there had ever been such a state as mine, it would have exceedingly relieved me. My very pain appeared to me to be sin. Spiritual books, when I tried to read them, all contributed only to augment it. I saw in myself none of those states which they set down. I did not so much as comprehend them. And when they treated the pains of certain states, I was very far from attributing any of them to myself. I said to myself, "These persons feel the pains of divine operations; but as to me, I sin, and feel nothing but my own wicked state." I could have wished to separate the sin from the confusion of sin, and provided I had not offended God, all would have been easy to me.

A slight sketch of my last miseries, which I am glad to let you know, because in their beginning I omitted many infidelities, having had too much of an earnest attachment, vain complaisance, unprofitable and tedious conversations, though self-love and nature made a sort of necessity for them; but toward the latter part I could not have borne a speech too human, nor the least thing of the kind.