Abbildungen der Seite

St. Antoine, on the 29th of January, 1683. Several persons of considerable standing in society were banished at the same time, in consequence of their sympathy in her views and in her trials.

The activity of her mind at this time was very great; and during the eight months of her present close confinement she was constantly composing. Her placid resignation as a prisoner is sweetly expressed in some stanzas, entitled " A Little Bird Am 1,”—of which we transcribe a portion :

A little bird am I,

Shut from the fields of air,
And in my cage I sit and sing

To him who placed me there;
Well pleased a prisoner to be,
Because, my God, it pleases Thee.
My cage confines me round;

Abroad I cannot fly;
But, though my wing is closely bound,

My heart's at liberty.
My prison walls cannot control

The Alight and freedom of the soul.

Oh! it is good to soar,

These bolts and bars above,
To Him whose purpose I adore,
Whose providence I love:

And in thy mighty will to find

The joy, the freedom of the mind. Professor Upham has not uncovered here, as he ought to have done, the hideous visage of persecuting Rome. Not content with dragooning, impaling, and drowning the Huguenots, this church sets herself in the persons of her prelates and the royal “ Defender of the Faith," to worry and devour a defenceless woman within its own communion, merely because she was trying to be holy through faith and to do good. “I hoped to find in you,” said Madame Guyon to Bossuet, “ a Father; and I trust that I shall not be deceived." “I am a father,” said Bossuet, “ but I am a Father of the church :" that is, as the sequel showed, such a father as a wolf is to sheep, giving the protection, Sheridan would say, that vultures do to lambs, covering and devouring them.” A Father, it seemed, not of the lambs to lead them to Christ, but a Father of the church, to break on the wheel of persecution, or shut up in its dungeons, all who did not come up to his notions of the church, and yield instantly their judgments to its mandates a father, not for Christ's sake, but for the church's sake; not for Christianity, but for Church hierarchy. There is much instruction in that answer of Bossuet, for there underlies it the characteristic genius of Rome, with Louis the Fourteenth.

It pleased God to give her liberty in the fall through inter

cessions in her behalf with Louis the Fourteenth by the celebrated Madame Maintenon. Her acquaintance with Fenelon began about this time, and his sympathy with her and adoption of her views, make their history henceforth interwoven. It was in him she realized the truth of Schiller's remark, that they who live for their faith shall at length find their faith living. The correspondence between these two eminently holy and every way remarkable persons, is in the highest degree instructive; and no limit can be put to the influence of Madame Guyon, if considered only in her relation to the world-renowned Archbishop of Cambray. It was mainly his endorsement of her views of holiness and the inward life that called towards her the attention of Bossuet. The conversations had between this eminent prelate and Madame Guyon form one of the most curious as well as instructive parts of this book. There was evidently a conflict in the mind of this great man between his love of truth and conscience on one side, in favor of a persecuted woman, and his personal ambition and desire to please his royal master on the other. But when the intolerant hounds of Rome began to bay again so vehemently at the new doctrine and its author, and the bigotted king took the alarm, and even Madame Maintenon dared no longer intercede, then Bossuet yielded, and even had the meanness to write to Madame Guyon and request her to return the certificate to her good character and conduct which he had voluntarily given her while residing in his bishopric.

Her imprisonment again soon followed by order of Louis, first in the castle of Vincennes, thence in that of Vaugirard, and finally in that tomb of liberty the Bastille itself. Bossuet soon after sent to Fenelon, for his approbation, the manuscript of a work in refutation of Madame Guyon, to the composition of which he had been deroting his entire energies for several months, deeming it necessary to crush, if possible, at a blow, movements that might result in the birth of a new Protestantism from the

very bosom of France. Fenelon was too conscientious to


this book, and he not only made an honest statement of reasons for his disapproval thereof, but addressed himself to the composition of a work entitled “ The Maxims of the Saints,” which was meant as a defence of Madame Guyon. “It was an exposition of her views as Fenelon understood them, and as she had explained them to him in private.” It may be regarded as an authoritative digest of the doctrines of Pure Love and the Inward Life, of great value to the theologian or controvertialist, and not less so to the private Christian, for the intelligible garb which they are here clothed in by the editor of these volumes, and for the prominence they give to the fact and the mode of sanctification in this life.

We should like, if there were room within the limits of a THIRD SERIES, VOL. IV, NO. 4. 5

single review to give a critical analysis of this work, which is comprised in forty-five articles, and the substance of it, in the Protestant aspect, given by Professor Upham in some fifty pages of the second volume of these Memoirs. A few paragraphs from the closing article are in place and to our purpose here, in which Fenelon enforces the practical bearing of the doctrine discussed in the previous forty-four sections. The doctrine of pure love, he says, as abridged and translated by Professor Upham,

“Involving, as it does, the entire transformation of our nature, and the state of divine union, has been known and recognized as a true doctrine among the truly contemplative and devout in all ages of the church. The doctrine, however, has been so far above the common experience, that the pastors and saints of all ages have exercised a degree of discretion and care in making it known, except to those to whom God has already given the attraction and light to receive it.

To this state, whether we call it transformation,' or Pure Love, or the Divine Union, or by whatever other name, it is the duty of all Christians to make efforts to arrive.

Strive after it; but do not too easily or readily believe ihat you have attained to it.

A soul free from selfishness, true holiness of heart, is the objeci at which the Christain aims. He beholds it before him, as an object of transcendent beauty, and as perhaps near at hand. But, as he advances towards it, he finds the way longer and more difficult than he had imagined. But if, on the one bank, we should be careful not to mistake an intermediate stopping place for the end of the way, we should be equally careful on the other, not io be discouraged by the difficulties we meet with ; jemembering that the obligation to be holy is always binding upon us, and that God will help those who put their trust in him. Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our FAITH.”

We cannot but stop here to remark in view of the trials of Madame Guyon and her turning them into triumphs as she did, even in this life, that it is with earnest Christians in their course through this world, as with travellers in their ascent of lofty mountains. They must ordinarily pass through a region of storms and belts of clouds if they will get to the top ; and it is rare to have the clear sun-shine all the way. They are willing, indeed, to be drenched in rain and enveloped in darkness for the grandeur of a storm in the mountains, and to see how glorious is the after sun-gush. And they enjoy the clear weather and reach of prospect from the top all the more for having gone through blackness and tempest in order to gain it. Who that has ever climbed through difficulty some lofty mountain, and thence has looked far down upon the zone of clouds that lately inwrapped him, but has felt this? And who has not been well paid for the toil and danger gone through in reaching the summit, by the indescribable grandeur and magnificence of the view that then burst upon him, made up in great part of those very clouds that only rained on him when he was in their bosom, but now show away below him, like fields of new-fallen snow or pave ment of chalcedony, in heaven's own light.

[ocr errors]

How well do we remember such a vision from the top of the mountain of Hale-a-ka-la, that sealed instruction and fixed an image in the mind, which comes back again and again with all the vividness of a dream,-a vision which neither the tongue nor pen of men or angels could ever so describe as to give to any other mind an adequate conception of its magnificence and glory. Behold, from our elevated position of ten thousand feet, one vast expanse of cloud, nearly a mile below us, like a field of purest new-fallen snow, which the wind has rolled in drifts and ridges, covering all the mountain, plain, and sea, and reflecting the sunbeams with a dazzling splendor. Now and then a place would be rent or excavated in the measureless masses, or the edge of the cloud-curtain would be lifted, and the blue back of the Island of Lanai would be visible away over the mountains of Lahaina, six thousand feet high, and sometimes there would be disclosed a portion of the bay and shore of Wailuku, whitened by the noiseless surf. Then away off to the horizon, a hundred miles, was the glorious mirror of the Pacific, lifted up ten thousand feet, by a familiar optical delusion, to a plane of vision as high as the very summit of Hale-a-ka-la; and rising out of it was the glorious dome of Mauna Loa, on the great Island of Hawaii, its snow-capped summit flashing in the sun like a bank of alabaster. The clouds, and their shadows upon other clouds far beneath, could be seen hovering over the blue abyss, and sometimes they seemed to float in it in separate masses like great icebergs. What with the vast height, the solemn stillness like as in Creation's prime, the absence of everything human and artificial, the reach, the immensity of distance so indescribably grand, the smooth envelop of vapor enfolding all, it was as if we were looking down from some place in the heavens upon the distant convex of earth.

“0, 'twas an unimaginable sight!
Clouds, mists, streams, watery rocks, and emerald turf, .
Clouds of all tincture, rocks, and sapphire sky,
Confused, commingled, mutually inflamed,
In fleecy folds voluminous enwrapped.”

Now all this beauty and grandeur was made up of features and elements, which, in sternly grappling with, to effect the ascent to our present commanding position, ministered anything but pleasure ; and we learned that the conflict and toil must be first, the perfect rest and joy of an accomplished victory and realized possession after. Even so will it be with the persevering Christian, when he stands crowned on the eminence of Mount Zion above, having safely surmounted all the trials and perils and storms of the way. Ah, what glory will break upon him there, if he has been found faithful! And what a position that will be to stand in and review this life, and find by the light of eternity,

how all things were working together for his good! Then how clear it will be seen, what indeed we are constantly taught, but are so slow to learn, that the needful afflictions with which God visits true Christians, need not make them love Him the less, or at all detract from their happiness in Him, but, on the contrary are meant and adapted to augment it. When, from the top of some commanding cliff in eternity, like that whereon we now seem to see Madame Guyon serenely sitting, we are able to look back upon, and look over the stormy sea of this life of probation, we can then judge justly, and not before, of its trials and perils, and estimate aright the magnitude of our deliverances, and the skill and wisdom of the Divine Providential Pilot that sat at our helm.

This might seem to be the proper place for this review to stop, inasmuch as for the remainder of the book, Madame Guyon herself is almost merged and lost sight of, in the swift current of controversy that arose upon her doctrines between Fenelon and Bossuet. The transcendent abilities of these two great men were exerted to the utmost in the refutation and defence of what had been the spontaneous overflow of a mind taught by the Holy Spirit. Men, it is said, looked on with a sort of awe, as they beheld this conflict of the two great minds of France. Professor Upham very happily touches the characteristics of the two in a somewhat elaborate criticism, as charitable, at least, as it is just, closing it thus :

“ I suppose we may be allowed to say, that both were Christians : but one allied in this respect to the great majority of believers, stopped in the seventh chapter of Romans, proclaiming with great sincerity, when I do good, evil is present with me." The other, advancing a step further, believed, with the declaration of the eighth chapter of the same inspired epistle, that there is now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. This was in reality the great question between them. Can a man be holy in this life or not? Can he love God with all his heart or not? Can he' walk in the Spirit;' or must be be more or less immersed in the flesh? This great question, which involves in its solution the interests and prospects of the church in all time to come, is not a new one. Fenelon very correctly said on a certain occasion, when he was charged by Bossuet with introducing a new spirituality, 'It is not a new spirituality which I defend, but the old. There probably has not been any period in the history of the church, in which the doctrine of present sanctification has not been agitated, --not a period in which, while the great mass of Christians have complained of the body of sin,' which they have carried about with them, there have not been some, (probably more than is generally supposed) who have been deeply conscious of the constant presence and indwellings of the Holy Ghost, and of their entire union with God.". -Vol. ii., p. 259.

Throughout this important controversy, and when banished from Versailles for his part in the same, and under the ban of royal displeasure, Fenelon shines pre-eminently as a man of God, and admirably illustrates the practical tendency and power of the

« ZurückWeiter »