THOUGHTS ON “SELF” BY MADAM GUYON (1648-1717)
The following quotes are found in “Letters of Madam Guyon” which is in the public domain. Just read these and think through them and their direction towards denying “self.”
What does it mean for a human being to deny self?
What attitudes does denying self encompass?
Where do you need to deny self?
God communicates himself to us in proportion as we are prepared to receive him. And in proportion as he diffuses himself in us, we are transformed in him, and bear his image. O, the astonishing depths of God’s love! giving himself to souls dis-appropriated of self, becoming their end, and their final principle, their fullness, and their all.
Let your soul have within it, a continual Yes. When the heart is in union with God, there is no Nay,—it is Yes, be it so, which reverberates through the soul.
When the soul becomes one with God by the loss of its own will and life, it has purposes, and it is important to follow them; but they are purposes in God, and have in them nothing of self. All that has rapport to self is no more, and God is all. Being passed into God, the soul is changed and transformed in him.
Do not measure yourself by others, who may not be led as you are. God chooses to enrich some souls with brilliant gifts, but he has chosen you, stripped of all, in the depths of spiritual poverty. This is the perfect self-renouncement, without which, one cannot be the disciple of the Lord Jesus.
True simplicity regards God alone; it has its eye fixed upon him, and is not drawn towards self; and it is as pleased to say humble as great things.
God wishes to disarrange you—to destroy self; and you wish to preserve what he would destroy. Be more afraid of self than of the evil one. It is the spirit of Satan to exalt self above God, and this spirit is fostered by these continual returns you make upon your own doings and misdoings, which leaves no place in your mind for the occupation of God.
You will find the Lord at all times near your heart, when you seek him by a simple and sincere desire to do and suffer his will. He will be your support and consolation in this time of trouble, if you go to him, not with fear and agitation of spirit, but with calm, confiding love.
The death of self is not accomplished at once. It is for some time a living death.
The results of self-crucifixion are happy, because God then becomes all to the soul. We lose self, and substitute God in its place. We take away the finite, and receive the Infinite. This is blessed.
Purity of soul consists in an entire separation from self, and re-union with God. The soul can return to self; it has the power, and therefore is not infallible.
God designs you, my friend, for himself, but he will lead you by a way, entirely opposed to what you have marked out. He does this in order to destroy your self-love. This is accomplished only by the overthrow of all your purposes, preconceived views, natural reason and sagacity. Self-love has many hiding-places. God alone can search them out.
Believe me, dear sir, you will grow in grace, not by knowledge acquired from books; not from reasonings upon divine truths, but by an efflux from God. This efflux will reach and fill your soul, in proportion as you are emptied of self. You are so much occupied of yourself in speaking, reading and writing, that you give no place to God. Make room, and God will come in.
The intellectual part of man can be in some degree united to God; but the soul loses itself in God, only by the loss of the will and by love.
The activity of the natural selfish life, is the greatest obstacle to your progress. Allow of nothing which gives sustenance to this life. Be on your guard against applause. Applaud not yourself when you have done well. Admit no reflections in regard to the good you have accomplished, so that all that nourishes self-complacency may die. Possess your soul in peace as much as possible; not by effort, but by ceasing from effort; by letting go everything that troubles you. Be quiet, that you may settle, as we leave water to settle when agitated. When you discover your errors and sins, do not stop, under whatever good pretext, to remedy them. Rather abandon yourself at once to God, that he may destroy, in you, all that its displeasing to him. I assure you, you are not capable of yourself, to correct the least fault. Your only remedy is abandonment to God, and remaining quiet in his hands. If you discovered the depth of inward corruption in your heart, your courage would fail! On this account, God conceals from us, in part, the view of our sins, and discovers them to us, only as he destroys them. Rest assured, God loves you. He will take care of you. Have faith in his love and mercy. You will see farther by and by. When you are in trouble, do not fail to write me. Have good courage, and all will be well.
When the soul has thus earnestly sought the kingdom of God within, this kingdom is developed little by little.
When the soul has ceased from its own selfish operations, and the man of sin is exterminated, its defects become more apparent, because God wishes it to comprehend what it is by itself, and what it would be without him.