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The War Cry, No. 126.—MAY 18, 1882.
MADAME GUYON'S EXPERIENCE.
From the POPULAR PENNY BIOGRAPHY, To be had
at every Station of the Army.
“GREAT was the change which I had now experienced; but still, in my exterior life, I appeared to others quite simple, unobstrusive, and common; and the reason was, that my soul was not only brought into harmony with itself and with God, but with God's providences. In the exercise of faith and love, I endured and performed whatever came in God's providence, in submission, in thankfulness, and silence. I was now in God, and God in me; and where God is there is as much simplicity as power. And what I did was done in such simplicity and childlikeness of spirit, that the world did not observe anything which was much calculated to attract notice.
I had a deep peace which seemed to pervade the whole soul, and resulted from the fact that all my desires were fulfilled in God. I feared nothing; that is, considered in its ultimate results and rela
tions, because my strong faith placed God at the head of all perplexities and events. I desired nothing but what I now had, because I had a full belief that, in my present state of mind, the results of each moment constituted the fulfilment of the Divine purposes. As a sanctified heart is always in harmony with the Divine Providences, I had no will but the Divine will, of which such providences are the true and appropriate expression. How could such a soul have other than a deep peace, not limited to the uncertainties of the emotional part of our nature, but which pervaded and blessed the whole mind! Nothing seemed to diminish it; nothing troubled it.
I do not mean to say that I was in a state in which I could not be afflicted. My physical system, my senses, had not lost the power of suffering My natural sensibilities were susceptible of being pained. Oftentimes I suffered much. But in the centre of the soul, if I may so express it, there was Divine and supreme peace. The soul, considered in its connection with the objects immediately around it, might at times be troubled and afflicted ? but the soul, considered in its relation to God and the Divine will, was entirely calm, trustful, and happy. The trouble at the circumference, originating in part from a disordered physical constitution, did not affect and disturb the Divine peace of the centre.
One characteristic of this higher degree of experience was a sense of inward purity. My mind had such a oneness with God, such a unity with the Divine nature, that nothing seemed to have power
to soil it and to diminish its purity. It experienced the truth of that declaration of Scripture, that “to the pure all things are pure." The pollution which surrounds has no power upon it; as the dark and impure mud does not defile the sunbeams that shine upon it, which rather appear brighter and purer from the contrast.
But though I was so much blessed, I was not conscious of any merit, nor tempted by any suggestions of merit in myself. Indeed, I seemed to be so united with God, so made one with the centre and sum of all good, that my thoughts did not easily turn upon myself as a distinct object of reflection ? and, consequently, it would not have been an easy thing for me to attach to myself the idea of merit. If I had done virtuously and meritoriously by a laborious effort, the idea of merit would more naturally and readily have suggested itself, and I might have been tempted to indulge thoughts of that kind. But now that God had become the inward operator, and every movement was a movement originating, as it were, in a Divine inspiration, and as a holy life had become as natural to me as the life of nature formerly had been, I could not well attribute to myself what evidently belonged to God. To Him, and to Him only, to His goodness and His grace, I attributed all worthiness, all praise.
It was one of the characteristics of my experience at this time, that I could not move myself, or bring myself into action, from the principle of self, because self was gone. I stood silent and unmoved in the midst of God's providences, until the time of movement came, which was indicated by these providences. Then I decided when God called me to decide, and with God to help me to decide.
From this time I found myself in the enjoyment of liberty. My mind experienced a remarkable facility in doing and suffering everything which presented itself in the order of God's providence. God's order became its law. In fulfilling this law, it experienced no inward repugnance, but fulfilled its own highest wishes, and therefore could not but be conscious of the highest inward liberty. When the soul loses the limit of selfishness,-a limit which fixes the soul in itself, it has no limit but in God, who is without limits. What limit, then, can be placed to the length and breadth of its freedom!"
God had tried, and purified, and prepared her for great things, using her all the while as a light to lighten the darkness of many; but now He was about to lead her forth to do greater things by far. She was puzzled as to whether it would be right for her to leave her children in order to be free for public service, and God answered her in a very remarkable way.
“I was obliged,” she says, “to go to Paris about some business. Having entered into a church that was very dark, I went up to the first confessor I found there. I had never seen him before, and have never seen him since. I made a simple and short confession ; but with the confessor himself, aside from the religious act, I did not enter into conversation. And accordingly, he surprised me much
in saying of his own accord, 'I know not who you are, whether maid, wife, or widow ? but I feel a strong inward emotion to exhort you to do what the Lord has made known to you that He requires of you. I have nothing else to say.'”
I answered him, “Father, I am a widow, who have little children. What else could God require of me but to take due care of them in their education?” He replied, “I know nothing about this. You know if God manifests to you that He requires something of you, there is nothing in the world which ought to hinder you from doing His will. One must leave one's children to do this."