IN THE HISTORY of the world few persons have attained that high degree of
spirituality reached by Madame Guyon.
Born in a corrupt age, in a nation marked for its degeneracy; nursed and reared
in a church, as profligate as the world in which it was embedded; persecuted at
every step of her career; groping as she did in spiritual desolation and
ignorance, nevertheless, she arose to the highest pinnacle of pre-eminence in
spirituality and Christian devotion.
She lived and died in the Catholic Church; yet was tormented and afflicted; was
maltreated and abused; and was imprisoned for years by the highest authorities
of that church.
Her sole crime was that of loving God. The ground of her offense was found in
her supreme devotion, and unmeasured attachment to Christ. When they demanded
her money and estate, she gladly surrendered them, even to her impoverishment,
but it availed nothing. The crime of loving Him in whom her whole being was
absorbed, never could be mitigated, or forgiven.
She loved only to do good to her fellow-creatures, and to such an extent was
she filled with the Holy Ghost, and with the power of God, that she wrought
wonders in her day, and has not ceased to influence the ages that have
Viewed from a human standpoint, it is a sublime spectacle, to see a solitary
woman subvert all the machinations of kings and courtiers; laugh to scorn all
the malignant enginery of the papal inquisition, and silence, and confound the
pretentions of the most learned divines. She not only saw more clearly the
sublimest truths of our most holy Christianity, but she basked in the clearest
and most beautiful sunlight while they groped in darkness. She grasped with
ease the deepest and sublimest truths of holy Writ, while they were lost in the
mazes of their own profound ignorance.
One distinguished divine was delighted to sit at her feet. At first he heard
her with distrust; then with admiration. Finally he opened his heart to the
truth, and stretched forth his hand to be led by this saint of God into the
Holy of Holies where she dwelt. We allude to the distinguished Archbishop
Fenelon, whose sweet spirit and charming writings have been a blessing to every
generation following him.
We offer no word of apology for publishing in the Autobiography of Madame
Guyon, those expressions of devotion to her church, that found vent in her
writings. She was a true Catholic when protestantism was in its infancy.
There can be no doubt that God, by a special interposition of His Providence,
caused her to commit her life so minutely to writing. The duty was enjoined
upon her by her spiritual director, whom the rules of her church made it
obligatory upon her to obey. It was written while she was incarcerated in the
cell of a lonely prison. The same all-wise Providence preserved it from
destruction. We have not a shadow of doubt that it is destined to accomplish
tenfold more in the future than it has accomplished in the past. Indeed, the
Christian world is only beginning to understand and appreciate it, and the hope
and prayer of the publisher is, that thousands may, through its
instrumentality, be brought into the same intimate communion and fellowship
with God, that was so richly enjoyed by Madame Guyon.