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RELIGIOUS OPINIONS AND EXPERIENCE
MADAME DE LA MOTHE GUYON :
SOME ACCOUNT OF THE PERSONAL HISTORY AND RELIGIOUS OPINIONS
FENELON, ARCHBISHOP OF CAMBRAY.
BY THOMAS C. UPHAM.
PROFESSOR OF XENTAL AND XORAL PHILOSOPHY IN BOWDOIN COLLEGE.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
THE NEW YORK
ASTOR, LENOX AND
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1846,
BY THOMAS, C. UPHAM,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Maine.
I HAD read the life and writings of Madame Guyon with interest, and I think with profit. The impression made upon my own mind was similar to that which has been made upon the minds of others. And this impression was, that the facts of her history and her opinions are too valuable to be lost. They make portion, not only of ecclesiastical history, but of the history of the human mind. Under these circumstances, and in the hope of contributing something to the cause of truth and of vital religion, I have undertaken the present work.
In giving some account of Madame Guyon's life, it will be seen in what has been related, that I have made great use of her auto-biography. The origin of this remarkable work, entitled in French, in which language alone it has been printed in full, La Vie de Madame de la Mothe Guyon, écrite pár elle-même, was this. After her return from Italy in 1686, La Combe, her spiritual Director, in accordance as I suppose with the authority allowed him by his church, an authority to which she readily submitted, required her to
make a written record of her past life. This she did for the most part, when she was shut up, a year or two afterwards, in the Convent of St. Marie in Paris. She proposed, as she would be likely to do under such circumstances, to use a degree of discretion and to make a selection of incidents ; but La Combe, fearful that the delicacy of her feelings might prompt her to multiply omissions, required her to write every thing.
To this she at last consented, especially as she did not, and could not well suppose, that a biography, written under such circumstances, would ever be given to the public. There are some things, therefore, in her personal history, as it is actually given, which cannot be particularly profitable to the reader, because they are obviously unimportant; some things which she herself speaks of as unessential. But if her auto-biography, just as it stands, might be unprofitable and perhaps injurious, it is very evident, I think, that a biography, written on different principles, would be both interesting and beneficial.
To the information, derived from her auto-biography, I have added numerous facts, derived partly from her other writings, and partly from other sources, So that I speak with considerable confidence when I say, that the reader will find, in the following pages, a full account of the life and labors of this remarkable woman.
Not unfrequently she is introduced in the following work, as speaking of herself in the first person ; sometimes detailing the outward incidents of her life, and sometimes giving an account of her opinions and inward experience.
It is proper to say here, that, in translating passages where she speaks of herself and her opinions, I have aimed rather to give the sentiment, than the precise mode of expression. In some cases, in order to complete the statement and make it consistent with itself, I have combined what is said in one place with what is said in another. It is sometimes the case, also, that in the original, something, instead of being brought out prominently to notice, is merely involved in what is said, or is indistinctly but yet really intimated, which it has been necessary, in order to give a clear idea of the subject, to develope in distinct propositions, and to make a part of the statement, whatever it may be. So that sometimes, instead of a mere rendering of word for word, or a mere translation in the ordinary sense of the terms, I give what may be termed perhaps an interpreted translation ; that is to say, a translation of the spirit rather than of the letter. This course seemed to me a proper one, not only for the reader, but in order to do full justice to Madame Guyon herself. I may add here, that I have availed myself, from time to time, of the aid offered by the judicious translation which Mr. Brooke has made of a portion of her Life, and of the work entitled "A Short Method of Prayer."
The Second Volume of the work is occupied, in a considerable degree, with the acquaintance which was formed in the latter part of her life between Madame Guyon and Fenelon, Archbishop of Cambray; with the influence which was exerted by her over that truly distinguished man; with the religious opinions which were formed and promulgated under that influence, and with the painful results which he experi