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continue in them, they are but dead and lifeless Forms: and if they rise above them, they become Cloggs and Hinderances, which amuse them with many dry Performances, in which those who are of a higher Dispensation will feel no pleasure nor advantage. Therefore the use of the Rosary, the daily repeating the Breviary, together with the common Devotions to the Saints, are generally laid aside by those who rise up to the Contemplative State, and the chief business to which they apply themselves, is to keep their Minds in an inward Calm and Quiet, that so they may in silence form simple Acts of Faith, and feel those inward Motions and Directions which they believe follow all those who rise up to this Elevation. But because a man may be much deceived in those Inspirations, therefore they recommend to all who enter into this method, above all other things, the choise of a Spiritual Guide, who has a right sense and a true taste of those matters, and is by Consequence a Competent Judge in them.
"This is all that I will lay before you in general, for giving you some taste of Molinos's Methods; and by this you will both see why his followers are called QUIETISTS, and why his Book is Entitled il Guida Spirituale. But if you intend to Inform your self more particularly of this matter, you must seek for it, either in the Authors that I have already mentioned, or in those of which I am to give you some account in the sequel of this Letter. Molinos having it seems drunk in the principles of the Contemplative Devotion in Spain, where the great Veneration that is paid to Saint Teresa gives it much reputation, he brought over with him to Italy a great Zeal for propagating it. He came and setled at Rome, where he writ his Book, and entered into a great commerce with the men of the best Apprehensions, and the most Elevated thoughts that he found there. All that seemed to concur with him in his design for setting on foot this sublimer way, were not perhaps animated with the same principles. Some designed sincerely to elevate the World above those poor and trifling Superstitions, that are so much in vogue, among all the Bigots of the Church of Rome, but more particularly in Spain and Italy, and which are so much set on by almost all the Regulars, who seem to place Religion chiefly in the exact performing of them."*
Mr. John Bigelow published a little monograph upon Molinos in 1882, from which we quote the following extracts:
"The substance of his teachings was that the soul of man is the temple and abode of God, which we ought, therefore, to keep as clean and pure from worldliness, and the lusts of the flesh, and the pride of life as possible.
"The true end of human life ought to be, as far as possible, the attainment of perfection. In the progress to this result, Molinos distinguishes two principal stages or degrees, the first attainable by meditation, the second, and highest, by contemplation. In the first stage the attention is fixed upon the capital truths of religion, upon all the circumstances under which religion has been commended to us, objections are wrestled with, and doubts which might trouble the soul one by one are resolved and banished. In this stage it is the reason, mainly, that acts, and often, if not altogether, in opposition to the will or the natural man. One, however, does not reach the higher stage of devotion till the soul ceases to struggle, till it has no farther need of proofs or reflection; till it contemplates the truth in silence and repose. This is what is termed retirement of the soul and perfect contemplation, in which the soul does not reason nor reflect, neither about God nor itself, but passively receives the impressions of celestial light, undisturbed by the world or its works. Whenever the soul can be lifted up to this state, it desires nothing, not even its own salvation, and fears nothing, not even hell. It becomes indifferent to the use of the sacraments and to all the practices of sensible devotion, having transcended the sphere of their efficacy.
*Three Letters Concerning the Present State of Italy, written in the year 1687, pp. 13-19.
"The Divine Majesty knows very well that it is not by the means of one's own ratiocination or industry that a soul draws near to Him and understands the divine truths, but rather by silent and humble resignation. God does the same with the soul when He deprives it of consideration and ratiocination. Whilst it thinks it does nothing and is, in a manner, undone, in times it comes to itself again, improved, disengaged, and perfect, having never hoped for so much favor. Prayer he calls the sword of the Spirit,-prayer frequent and prolonged, 'It concerns thee only," he adds, "to prepare thy heart like clean paper wherein the Divine Wisdom may imprint characters to his own liking.'
"Those who endeavor to acquire virtues by such abstinence, maceration of the body, mortification of the senses, rigorous penances, wearing sack-cloth, chastising the flesh by discipline, going in quest of sensible affections and fervent sentiments, thinking to find God in them, such Molinos considered were in what he termed the external way, the way of beginners, which, though to such it might be useful, never would conduct them to perfection, 'nor so much as one step towards it, as experience shows in many, who, after fifty years of this external exercise, are void of God, and full of themselves (of spiritual pride), having nothing of a spiritual man but the name.
"The truly spiritual men, on the other hand, are those whom the Lord, in his infinite mercy, has called from the outward way in which they have been wont to exercise themselves; who had retired into the interior part of their souls; who had resigned themselves into the hand of God, totally putting off and forgetting themselves, and always going
The Spiritual Guide, P. 12. Our citations are made from the English version of 1699. 'Ibid., p. 77.
with an elevated spirit to the presence of the Lord, by means of pure faith, without image, form, or figure, but with great assurance founded in tranquillity and rest internal. These blessed and sublimated souls take no pleasure in anything of the world, but in contempt of it, in being alone, forsaken and forgotten by everybody, keeping always in their hearts a great lowliness and contempt of themselves; always humbled in the depths of their own unworthiness and vileness. In the same manner they are always quiet, serene, and even-minded, whether under extraordinary graces and favor, or under the most rigorous and bitter torments. No news makes them afraid. No success makes them glad. Tribulations never disturb them, nor the interior, continual Divine communications make them vain and conceited; they always remain full of holy and filial fear, in a wonderful peace, constancy, and serenity."1
“The Lord,” he says, "has repose nowhere but in quiet souls, and in those in which the fire of tribulation and temptation hath burned up the dregs of passions, and with the bitter water of afflictions hath washed off the filthy spots of inordinate appetites; in a word, this Lord reposes only where quiet reigns and self-love is banished."
"Afflict not thyself too much, and with inquietude, because these sharp martyrdoms may continue; persevere in humility, and go not out of thyself to seek aid; for all thy good consists in being silent, suffering and holding patience with rest and resignation; then wilt thou find the Divine Strength to overcome so hard a warfare. He is within thee that fighteth for thee; and He is Strength itself.”3
"By the way of nothing thou must come to lose thyself in God (which is the last degree of perfection), and happy wilt thou be if thou canst so lose thyself. In this same shop of nothing, simplicity is made, interior and infused recollection is possessed, quiet is obtained, and the heart is cleansed from all imperfection.”
The Spiritual Guide, pp. 76-80. 21bid., p. 91.
Ibid., pp. 112-113;
•The Spiritual Guide, p. 157. “La Bruyère left behind him a little treatise, entitled Dialogues Sur le Quiétisme, now deservedly forgotten. The only thing in it worthy of its author's wit is a caricature of this doctrine of quiet and passivity, in a suposed quietistic version of the Lord's Prayer. It is supposed to be brought by a penitent to the director under whose instruction she has been trained, and whose approval of it is requested.
Director-Speak, my child; your motive is praiseworthy.
Penitent-0 God, who art no more in Heaven than on Earth or in Hell, who art everywhere, I neither wish nor desire your name to be sanctified. You know what is suitable for us, and it You wish it to be it will be without my wishing or desiring it; whether Your Kingdom comes or not is to me indifferent. Neither do I ask that Your will be done on Earth as it is done in Heaven. It will be done in spite of my wishes, and it is for me to be resigned. Give us all our daily bread which is Your grace, or do not give it; I neither desire to have it or to be deprived of it. So if you pardon my crimes as I have pardoned those who have wronged me, so much the better. If, on the other hand, You punish me by damnation, still so much the better, since such is Your will."
COPY of the autobiography of Jeanne Marie Bouviéres de la Mothe, afterwards Mme. Guyon, lies before me, printed in Dublin in 1775, and the anonymous translator takes great credit
for his liberality in being willing to publish the merits of a French saint, and a Roman Catholic at that. “Shall we utterly despise and cast away all the experience and leadings of a chosen Vessel,” he asks, “because the product of a French soil and foreign clime? Because she was born in a Romish Country and bred a Papist, shall we exclude her
from a place among the great multitude which stand before the Lamb?"
Probably the psychologist would not accept all the phenomena of Jeanne's childhood as pure saintliness in the bud, but would lay many of the occurrences that set her apart from other children, to the account of physical weakness, and the sensitiveness of an overwrought nervous system. For some time after her birth the child's life trembled in the balance, and she was always delicate. At the tender age of twoand-a-half she was put under the care of the Ursuline nuns, and a year or two later she was transferred to the Benedictines. After a time she was taken home, where she was left almost entirely in the charge of servants. Before she was seven she had become “a show pupil,” and delighted in wearing a miniature nun's habit, and practising all sorts of childish austerities. While at home she was sent for one day to amuse the exiled Queen of England, who was charmed with the beauty and precocity of the child, and wanted to take her and bring her up as a maid of honor. Fortunately her father refused to let her go, and sent her back to the Ursulines, where her half-sister tenderly watched over and taught her. Her other step-sisters and brothers were not so congenial, and the brief intervals of her visits to her father's house were made miserable by their jealousies. At ten she was transferred to the Dominicans, where for the first time she happened to come across a Bible, which she pored over for many days.
Her mother took more interest in her as she grew towards womanhood, and her grace, her beauty, and her wit began to be admired by all. Her father refused several offers of marriage for her before she was twelve years old, at which age she first partook of the communion, although her religious nature was not yet really developed. Her desires were fixed upon her own salvation, rather than the helping of others to reach perfection, although she performed the outward duties of the religious life, visiting the poor, and spending much time in the study of religious books. Her faults were in the strictly French sense, the defects of her qualities. Perpetual admiration of her intellect, her beauty, and her grace, naturally made her vain, a fault increased by the attention fixed upon herself, and fostered by the outward routine of the convent, and the worldly incense of her mother's salon. . The austerities she prescribed for herself made her very irritable, and when she missed seeing her cousin, De Toissi, who was considered a great saint, and who called at her father's house on his way to take up missionary work in Cochin China, she was so grieved that she cried all the rest of the day and the whole of the following night. May we be pardoned for thinking that De Toissi's sanctity could not have been the only cause for so much emotion, especially as about a year afterwards, she became very much attached to a relation of her father's, an accomplished young gentleman who wished to marry her, but her father thought him too near of kin. This disappointment had a very bad effect upon the seeds of devotion just springing up in her heart, and as she herself says in her autobiography, “I left off prayer, whereby I became cold toward God, and all my old faults revived, to which I added an excessive vanity, and I began to pass a great part of my time before a looking-glass * * * This made me so inwardly vain, that I doubt whether any other ever exceeded me therein, but there was an affected modesty in my outward deportment that would have deceived the world.” And she spent whole days and nights in reading romances, in which she was encouraged "by the fallacious pretext that they taught one to speak well !”
Just before Jeanne was fifteen her father took his family to Paris. Here M. Guyon, a man 38 years of age, and very wealthy, sought her in marriage. Her father, without consulting her in any way, gave his consent, and this child of fifteen became the wife of a man she had seen but three times before the ceremony, and who was in every way unsuited to her, besides being decidedly her inferior intellectually. But the crowning misfortune of the marriage was the character of M. Guyon's mother, who seems to have combined the worst traits of all the objectionable mothers-in-law ever known. She was coarse, avaracious, and hardhearted, and considered the elegance and refinement of her young daughter-in-law to be an intentional reflection upon her own manners, if she could be said to have any. If Mme. Guyon spoke, she was reproved for forwardness, and roughly silenced, if she kept still, she was accused of haughtiness and pride, and was scolded from morning till night. As she was not allowed to visit, her own mother complained that she did not come to see her often enough, so that poor Jeanne was abused, not only by her husband's relations, but by her own family as well. Before she was sixteen her spirit was completely broken, and she sat in company in a stolid silence. Her husband was a martyr to