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Madame Guyon
by [?]

And Monsieur Jacques Guyon smiled and muttered to himself, “Her father said she was a bit stubborn, but I’ll see that she gets over it!”

And this was over three hundred years ago. It doesn’t seem like it, but it was.

* * * * *

Read the lives of great men and you will come to the conclusion that it is harder to find a gentleman than a genius. While the clock ticks off the seconds, count on your fingers–within five minutes, if you can–five such gentlemen as Sir Philip Sidney! Of course, I know before you speak that Fenelon will be the first on your tongue. Fenelon, the low-voiced, the mild, the sympathetic, the courtly, the gracious! Fenelon, favored by the gods with beauty and far-reaching intellect! Fenelon, who knew the gold of silence. Fenelon, on whose lips dwelt grace, and who by the magic of his words had but to speak to be believed and to be beloved.

When Louis the Little made that most audacious blunder which cost France millions in treasure and untold loss in men and women, Fenelon wrote to the Prime Minister: “These Huguenots have many virtues that must be acknowledged and conserved. We must hold them by mildness. We can not produce conformity by force. Converts made in this manner are hypocrites. No power is great enough to bind the mind–thought forever escapes. Give civil liberty to all, not by approving all religions, but by permitting in patience what God allows.”

“You shall go as missionary to these renegades!” was the answer–half-ironical, half-earnest.

“I will go only on one condition.”

“And that is?”

“That from my province you withdraw all armed men–all sign of compulsion of every sort!”

Fenelon was of noble blood, but his sympathies were ever with the people. The lowly, the weak, the oppressed, the persecuted–these were ever the objects of his solicitude–these were first in his mind.

It was in prison that Fenelon first met Madame Guyon. Fenelon was thirty-seven, she was forty. He occasionally preached at Montargis, and while there had heard of her goodness, her piety, her fervor, her resignation. He had small sympathy for many of her peculiar views, but now she was sick and in prison and he went to her and admonished her to hold fast and to be of good-cheer.

Twelve years before this Madame Guyon had been left a widow. She was the mother of five children–two were dead. The others were placed under the care of kind kinsmen; and Madame Guyon went forth to give her days to study and to teaching. This action of placing her children partly in the care of others has been harshly criticized. But there is one phase of the subject that I have never seen commented upon–and that is that a mother’s love for her offspring bears a certain ratio to the love she bore their father. Had Madame Guyon ever carried in her arms a love-child, I can not conceive of her allowing this child to be cared for by others–no matter how competent.

The favor that had greeted Madame Guyon wherever she went was very great. Her animation and devout enthusiasm won her entrance into the homes of the great and noble everywhere. She organized societies of women that met for prayer and conversation on exalted themes. The burden of her philosophy was “Quietism”–the absolute submission of the human soul to the will of God. Give up all, lay aside all striving, all reaching out, all unrest, cease penance and lie low in the Lord’s hand. He doeth all things well. Make life one continual prayer for holiness–wholeness–harmony; and thus all good will come to us–we attract the good; we attract God–He is our friend–His spirit dwells with us. She taught of power through repose, and told that you can never gain peace by striving for it like fury.