[This is a lengthy but important paper, and it comes as a result of considerable research over a period of time, as information was gathered from the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and Dr. Williams’ Library in London, as well as numerous other extracts found in Encyclopaedias. It reveals an ancient spiritual deception that held sway over centuries, but has recently been resurrected with a new and ugly face. This presentation is NOT a diatribe against those brethren held captive by it, but a sincere attempt to unmask and identify the dark powers who propagate the deception. We are not attacking Christians, but fighting against spiritual wickedness in high places, a sure Pauline directive found in Ephesians chapter six.]
Talk to the average Christian using such expressions as Evangelical, Catholic, Pentecostal, Charismatic, Toronto Blessing, Promise Keepers, Kansas City Prophets, Alpha Course, etc., and they’ll say, “Oh yes,” because these (and many other such titles) are always up-front in the news. Even if they don’t fully know all the details, they will have read articles in magazines. But mention the word “Quietism”, and by and large it creates a silence, a puzzled expression, and probably a complete lack of interest. The word itself is no advertisement to raise eyebrows. When believers today are saturated with excitement, conventions, “new moves of the Spirit”, and every form of experientialism, the whole concept of “Quietism” turns them off!“What’s this?” they’ll say, “Is it some new word for the Quiet Time?” (which every ‘respectable Christian’ is supposed to have each day). No, it’s not. The subject is one that needs airing, especially at this present time. In this article I want to give a review of the background history, and its relevance to today’s Christianity. Believe me, it’s very important.
This is not the first time I’ve written about Quietism in a Prophetic Telegraph. In June 1996 I had occasion to print a warning, in connection with the works of Jane Leade. (PTs 90 & 90A, available on this site.) But since then the new outworking of this form of devotion has come to our notice, and we have been very alarmed at what we’ve read and heard. Hence, further research had been undertaken, and here are our conclusions.
[It was Cardinal Caraccioli, Archbishop of Naples, who first coined the word “Quietist”, in the final decade of the 17th Century. Prior to this there had been talk of “Mysticism”, where the mystic retired into himself, so to speak, and by a process of “contemplation”, drew near to God. The subject in its historical setting is almost entirely a Roman Catholic preserve, though in more recent years it has been considered a useful tool by Protestants. More as we proceed.]
Early traces of Mystical Quietism
Traces of mysticism can be found in very early times, for example, Plotinus (205 – 270 AD) the Greek philosopher and founder of Neo-platonism, proposed a theory which taught that “the immaterial, impersonal, indescribable ‘One’ is the ground of all existence and value. From it emanate successively MIND, SOUL, and NATURE. Mind contemplates and organises within itself the Platonic Forms; Soul thinks less coherently, thus creating time and space; Nature ‘dreams’ the chaotic material world, the source of all evil. Man partakes of all these; by rejecting material nature and cultivating the intellect, he may briefly become mystically united with the One.” (Extract from the MacMillanEncyclopedia.)
Then comes Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (early 6th Century AD). [His real name is unknown, but his writings were originally attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite, who was converted to Christianity by St Paul in the first century.] He was a mystical theologian, who tried to synthesise Neo-platonism with Christianity.
But it wasn’t until 1545 that religious mysticism appeared within the Catholic Church in a publicised format. “De Oratione etMeditatione” [Concerning Prayer and Meditation] was written by Pedro de Alcantara. In his treatise he distinguished two ways leading to eternal life, the outer way, which consisted of religious pietism and meditation, and an inner path, which consisted of mystical contemplation. These two words, meditation and contemplation, are important to an understanding of Quietism. Later writers such as Teresa of Avila, Juan de la Cruz, and Francois de Sales, all refer to Pedro de Alcantara as the founder of Mystical Quietism, even if they don’t use these actual words.
Alcantara’s thesis may be summed up in the words of Arthur Brockhuysen. “Prayer is the main instrument to true piety. However, it must be practised as a deep inwardly concentrated prayer inside the heart (oratio mentalis, oratiorecollectionis). This prayer consists mainly of surrendering oneself to the guidance and will of God, and theelimination of the personal will. It is essential to abide in God and to continue the prayer in the heart until one feels refreshed through the grace of God. The soul should let this flux of grace flow over itself as long as possible as a blessing. Discursive thinking must be stopped, so that the soul can remain concentrated entirely within itself.”
The resignation of the personal will, and the elimination of all forms of thinking lay at the root of this mystical “contemplation”. Other well-known figures gave their whole-hearted support to this method, such as Catherine of Genova, Angela of Foligno, Tauler, Suso, Bernard of Clairvaux, and Thomas a Kempis. Then Teresa de Jesus (who was born 28th March 1515) took up these practices, and became a famous Spanish saint within the Catholic Church. Pedro deAlcantara visited her in 1560, and in 1562 she founded her first convent of Carmelite nuns, approved by the Pope. Her writings were published for the first time in 1588. In these she spoke of the contemplation producing a purification of the soul, whereby the soul can no longer commit mortal sins, provided that it does not become disloyal to God. The soul becomes united with God, and it is then quite immaterial what God does with it. But once again, the emphasis is on the sacrifice of the personal will. In other words it amounts to a dehumanising or depersonalising process. Juan Falconi(1596 – 1638) emphasised that every thought, no matter how good, only disturbs the soul and hinders God’s work.
The most fertile soil for the Quietist movement in those days was in France. In fact the contemplative life spread like wild-fire throughout the country. One hears of Brother Lawrence, for example (1611 – 1691) who was a cook in a Carmelite monastery in Paris. (His real name was Nicolaus Hermann). His “Practice of the Presence of God” is well known and well-loved by many Christians today. Jean de Bernieres Louvigny (1602 – 1659 of Normandy wrote four volumes on Quietistic contemplation.
The writings of Miguel de Molinos, 1628 – 1697
This brings us down to the time of Miguel de Molinos (1628 – 1697) a pious Spanish priest with a deep inner life, a mild and friendly man, well versed not only in the writings of the mystics, but also those of the early church fathers. He was born on June 29th 1628 in Zaragoza, and studied theology at Valencia. In 1669 he went to Rome and soon became the most sought after and honoured father-confessor. Among his followers were Cardinals, Jesuits, and other Clerics. Pope Innocent XI saw him as an instrument for the renewal of devotion in the Catholic Church and accorded him many favours. In 1675 his great work Guida Espiritual [Spiritual Guide] appeared which was a much read and praised book in Italy as well as in Spain. His work came in three parts –
1. The darkness, dryness, and temptations with which God purifies souls, and about inner concentration.
2. The way towards perfection requires a spiritual guide who must be obeyed.
3. The description of the state of contemplation. [The book, translated into English, may be found on the Internet. It is lengthy, amounting to about 70 pages of A4]
Once again there was an emphasis on the outer way (with its meditation) and the inner way, (with its contemplation).Molinos said that by not speaking, desiring, or even thinking, one may arrive at the perfect mystical silence wherein God may speak to the soul. The exercise is to enter into one’s self, in God, because there is His centre and habitation. The Pope expressed his great appreciation of the book, which went into more than twenty editions within six years in Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch and Latin. By 1685 some 12,000 letters were found in Molinos’s possession, written by well-wishers and enquirers from all over Catholic Europe.
But it was in that fateful year that Miguel de Molinos was arrested. It came about as a result of a letter written by CardinalCaraccioli to the Pope, wherin he spoke of Miguel’s “Quietism”. (Here was the word in its first usage). Apparently, according to the Cardinal, the process of contemplation was leading to the disuse of the rosary, crucifix, and other tangible aids to devotion, which had from early times been an essential part of Catholic dogma and practice. To make matters worse for Miguel, his Quietism had spread so vigorously in Catholic countries that it seemed set to dominate the entire Roman Church. Moreover, the Cardinal found among those who honoured Molinos, those who spoke slightingly of ecclesiastical ceremonies and sacraments. These were serious accusations, seen to be undermining the very fabric of the Catholic Church. That which began with the Pope’s blessing was now seen as a dangerous practise, calculated even to overthrow the Pontiff’s authority. The Inquisition was alerted, and Molinos was detained for questioning.
On 9th February 1687 seventy other people were thrown into prison by the Inquisition, including some men of high standing in the Church. By the decree of August 20th in that year, Molinos was declared guilty of spreading and practising impious doctrine. His books and manuscripts, by order of the Inquisition, had to be handed in and were publicly burned. Molinos was condemned to lifelong solitary confinement in a monastery. But before being taken away he knelt down in public and swore an oath renouncing all his works as heresy, and the Pope granted him absolution. Why did he recant? Was he afraid of the tortures of the Inquisition? It was thought not. Rather was he thought to be trying to save all the thousands of his erstwhile adherents from such pain in the following days. Ten years later it was noised abroad that he had died on December 29th 1697.
The writings of Madame Guyon, 1648 – 1714
We now turn to France, to Jeanne Marie Bouvier (1648 – 1717) who is better known as Madame Guyon. In her autobiography she speaks of an unhappy childhood, followed by an arranged marriage to Jacques de la Motte-Guyon, an invalid of 37, when she was only 15 . The husband was over-bearing and the mother-in-law tyrannical, abusing Jeanne Marie unrelentingly. Her only means of escape was inward, and when she was 19 years of age (1667) she was told by a priest, “Madame, it is because you seek without what you have within. Accustom yourself to seek God in your heart, and you will find Him there.”
She wrote of no conversion experience, presupposing that Christ had always lived in her heart. So she responded to the Lord by saying, “Thou wast in my heart, and demanded only a simple turning of my mind inward, to make me perceive Thy presence.” She had little regard for the Christ of the Gospels, believing rather in “the Christ in the centre of the soul.” In her books she speaks about being “absorbed into God” which sounds a bit like self-hypnosis. She claimed to have lost self-will after this absorption into God’s being, and used expressions like “the inner death of self”.
After the death of her husband in 1676, Madame Guyon entered a life of religious devotion. She soon fell under the spell of the Quietist works of Miguel de Molinos which were in great popularity in France at that time, just one year after the publication of his Spiritual Guide. Within a few years she had made a spiritual attachment to a rather imprudent BarnabiteFriar by the name of Father Francois Lacombe (1643 – 1715), who became her spiritual director. He was the founder of what became known as “The New Catholics”. He was an imitator of the hermit Anselm, and had a great influence on Madame Guyon. And so it was that in 1681 she left her children to begin a five-year journey through France with Lacombe ,travelling as far as Geneva, Turin, and Grenoble, endeavouring to propagate her mystical beliefs. It was during this period of her life that Madame Guyon published the most important of her many writings, Moyen court et tres facile de faire oraison(The Short and Very Easy Method of Prayer, 1685) Suspected of heresy and immorality, she was frequently forced to move on by local bishops, until the two of them were arrested in 1687. Lacombe remained in prison until 1699, later to die insane in 1715. Madame Guyon was released in 1688 by the efforts of Madame de Maintenon, second wife of Louis XIV, after which she became prominent in royal circles, often lecturing in Madame de Maintenon’s Girls’ Academy at St.Cyr. It was at this time (1688) that she made the acquaintance of Archbishop Fenelon, (1651 – 1715) who was smitten with her writings, and became an ardent disciple. But her character was now under attack, as well as her spiritual theories, and trouble was brewing with increasing intensity. She was sent a doctrinal letter of correction by J.B.Bossuet [erstwhile friend and mentor of Fenelon’s] in 1694, after which she demanded a theological commission to clear her name. The resulting conference of Issy, in which Fenelon took part to defend her teachings, condemned her, and she was again imprisoned. After finally being released in 1702, she was banished from Paris, and spent the rest of her life quietly at Blois, where she became a voluminous writer, until her death in 1717 at the age of 67. Her works were published in 45 volumes between 1712 and 1720.
So much for Madame Guyon’s history. I would now like to quote from her writings. Whilst in the company of Lacombe she wrote “So was my soul lost in God, who communicated to it His qualities, having drawn it out of all that it had of its own. . . . Oh, happy poverty, happy loss, happy nothingness, which gives no less than God Himself in His own immensity, no more circumscribed to the limited manner of the creature but always drawing it out of that, to plunge it wholly into His own divine essence.” (N.B. She had given all her money to the New Catholics.)
The following quotes are from the book mentioned in the last paragraph but one. But before doing so, let me say that the edition I am quoting from has recently been given a new title, “Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ.” Even this title is somewhat of a misnomer, because she enjoined her readers to know the love of the Lord Jesus, which is “beyond knowledge”, rather than the person of Jesus. This is not splitting hairs. It is a very real distinction, and may be seen as one of several in Madame Guyon’s writings.
On the back cover of this book, (published by The Seed Sowers, Beaumont, Texas, 1975, by Gene Edwards) we found the following. “Madame Guyon is generally credited, even by her enemies, as being one of the best-known women in church history. – – – It has been received by seeking Christians as one of the most helpful and powerful Christian books ever written. Penned by one of Christianity’s most famous saints, Jeanne Guyon, it has played a major part in the lives of more famous Christians than perhaps any other Christian book.” Then the names of Watchman Nee, Jessie Penn-Lewis, Count Zinzendorf, John Wesley, the early Quakers, and Hudson Taylor are said to have highly recommended it. Such a fanfare might make anyone curious as to the contents of such a book. Indeed that is how my wife and I approached it. But we were astonished beyond belief at what we found, and want to reveal the shocking errors found within its pages. Here then are the quotes.
Page 89. “Now we must ask the central question: How does the soul ascend to God? The soul ascends to God by giving up self, giving it up to the destroying power of divine love! Yes, giving it up to the annihilating power of divine love! This giving up of self is essential, absolutely essential, if you are to plumb, experience, and continually dwell in the depths of Jesus Christ. It is only by the destruction and annihilation of self that you can pay homage to the sovereignty of God!”`
Page 126. “The effort of the self must be stilled. But even more! The very existence of the self must be destroyed. There is something in this universe which is the very opposite of God; it is the self. The activity of the self is the source of all the evil nature as well as all the evil deeds of man. On the other hand, the loss of the selfhood in the soul increases the purity of the soul! In fact, the soul’s purity is increased in exact proportion to the loss of self. As long as you employ your self nature in any way, some faults will also continue to exist in you. But after you depart from your selfhood, no faults can exist, and all is purity and innocence. It was the entrance of the self, which came into the soul as a result of the fall that established a difference between the soul and God.”
Some may say that Madame Guyon uses the term self in place of what the Apostle Paul called the flesh, and what has come to be termed the old Adamic nature. But on reading the book carefully, I am not convinced of this. In any case, if shewas using the Pauline idea of flesh there is certainly no way of eliminating it, destroying it, or annihilating it, whilst we have mortal life in this world. Hence there can be no return to that Edenic state of innocence and purity that she mentions. Furthermore, to use the term self as meaning our personality, is absurd in the context of her writings. If our intrinsic personality were to be annihilated, then we should no longer exist. If, as she avers, we experience “a sweet sinking into Deity” then by her terminology we get sucked into the life of God and no longer exist as individual, recognisable entities. But this vitiates the whole purpose of God creating human beings and angels with distinct personalities. It is tantamount to viewing God as some sort of cannibalistic amoebal-like life-form that surrounds, engulfs, and sucks into itself external matter, until there is no vestige left of its former identity. It is one thing to imagine that we all existed in God before we were created, but to assume that in the final analysis we shall be back where we started, unchanged and unrecognisable, (what some have developed in these latter days as “the law of circularity”) is to destroy all reason for existence.
These two quotes show the manner of Madame Guyon’s writings. But as I read through the first few chapters I felt a strangeness afflicting my mind, as though I was reading something entirely devoid of Christianity, almost as though it were the meaningless ravings of one who had been commited to a mental asylum. My very first impression was that she was treating God as a slot-machine. She says that “the reader who comes to this book, without prejudice, will find, hidden beneath the simplest expressions, a secret unction. – – I have stated that perfection can easily be attained, and this is true.” The method she advocates is nothing short of a contrived technique. Follow her instructions, and hey presto, perfection is there for the taking. Drop your coin in the slot, and sure enough, out comes a bar of chocolate, exquisite and perfect! She says, “Some of you may doubt that God can actually be found so easily. If so, do not merely take my word for it. Instead, try for yourselves what I am proposing to you. For I am sure that your own experience will convince you that the reality is far greater than what I have told you. – – Read this little book in lowliness of mind without the inclination to criticise. If you do, you will not fail to reap profit from it. – – – Those who earnestly make trial of this way will find that I have written the truth.”
Here then is the promise of an elixir of life. All you have to do is follow the instructions very carefully. One is reminded of the charlatan preachers on TV who promise you untold riches from God if only you will send in your tithe, “as required in God’s word.” Jeanne Guyon didn’t become a millionaire like the televangelists. Instead she was put in prison twice. But if she was alive today in Britain or America, she would be received by the undiscerning public with the same type of accolade accorded to the televangelists. There is a subtle persuasiveness about her writings that becloud the minds of those who don’t possess the clarity of Holy Writ.
The technique she advocated has been called passivism because it requires the abolition of action, thought, prayer and the self. The soul contemplates God and withdraws from all rational thinking (which is frowned upon as something that distracts from the central focus of being absorbed in the deity.) This is very similar to transcendental meditation as practised by Eastern mystics, and would be wholly understood by those who have made a practice of that technique. The trouble is that a vacuum is created where God placed a rational thinking soul. Madame Guyon simplistically assumes that God always fills the vacuum, but Jesus spoke about neatly-vacuumed hearts as an ideal home for seven worse demons! First we are told that self needs to be destroyed, then we are reminded that the rational mind is a hindrance to knowing the depths of God. But the Old Testament was clear in its statement that we should love the Lord our God “with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength.” Four areas are covered here. The Heart for our Emotions, the Soul for our Personality, theMind for our Rational Thinking, and our Strength for Day-to-day Activities. Madame Guyon was preaching a reverse gospel which is not a gospel at all, but is subtle in that it promises what most believers feel they should be seeking and receiving. The Devil knows that twisted truth is more effective than bare-faced lies.
How eminently plain, clear, and full of light is the opposite of Guyon’s way, as expressed in a delightful book by RanaldMacaulay, entitled “Christianity with a Human Face.” On page 57 we read, “Notice, then, how different from the meditation of the mystical tradition is the meditation encouraged by Scripture. It is obviously the opposite of the ‘negative way’ for it is a meditation rich in content. It is not the emptying of the mind, but the filling of the mind. The believer meditates on God’s Word, seeking to know both what God has commanded in Scripture and how it is to be applied.” Speaking of the techniques adopted by advocates of “meditation”, he says, “Even if they seem to be of spiritual value they are of no use whatsoever because they involve a complete misunderstanding of what the Christian life is all about. They do not help at all in growing in one’s relationship with God or in controlling sin. They do not improve the value of one’s prayers in any way.” (Page 63) He goes on to say that “this teaching implies that Christ and His death are only the gateway to a superspirituality. This can hardly be opposed too strongly. For, as Paul says, it denies that Christ’s work on the cross is the necessary and sufficient basis for maturing as a Christian.”
An article I downloaded from the Internet, written by G. Richard Fisher, is entitled, “The Mindless Mysticism of Madame Guyon.” [Countering the Myth of Intermittent Deification and Sinless Perfection.] He began his article in this way. “In an era of emotionalism, experience mania, sensationalism, and mindless Christianity, it is easy to see why the writings of a mystic dead for almost 300 years are enjoying a revival in readership.” Later in the article he quotes theNew Geneva Study Bible as follows. “Believers are not absorbed into deity, nor do they become divine. Rather, they have received the Holy Spirit and are the sons of God (John 1:12: Rom.8:9-21). As such they are being conformed to the likeness of Christ (Rom.8:29) and the image of God in them is being renewed in true righteousness.” (Study note on 2 Peter 1:4, page 1980) Fisher concludes his paper by saying, “That man could become as God was one of the first lies held out by Satan to Adam and Eve.”
I quoted from the back cover of Gene Edwards book, that Madame Guyon was highly rated by Watchman Nee. Indeed, he said that Nee had the book translated into Chinese and distributed to every new convert. What troubles me is that on reading Nee’s work entitled “The Latent Power of the Soul”, he (and by his many quotations, Jessie Penn-Lewis as well) speaks about passivism as an activity of the soul (or psyche) rather than the spirit of man, and as such he condemns all such activity. However, in “The Normal Christian Life” he appears to give some credence to Guyon’s teachings. But to advertise Madame Guyon as being wholly upheld by men like Wesley, Hudson Taylor, and even Saint Augustine, is to take the odd sentence here and there and make it seem as though they were fully devoted to her method of contemplation, which manifestly they were not. Their works do not bear out such an identification with Guyon.
The writings of Jane Leade, 1623 – 1704
The following sketch is taken from PT 90A, but is needed here for the sake of completeness. Jane was a devotee of Madame Guyon and Jacob Boehme.
JANE LEADE lived from 1623 to 1704. Originally JANE WARD, she came from a godly family in Norfolk, and marriedWILLIAM LEAD(E) when she was 21. According to one source of information, they had four daughters, but I can only find reference to one by name, viz. Barbara. William died in 1670, and Jane remained a widow for the rest of her life.
When Jane was 16 she was dancing at a Christmas Eve party, when she distinctly heard a voice, saying, “Cease from this, I have another dance to lead thee in, for this is vanity.” It caused her continuing reflection, and she hastened to come before the Lord and seek His ways.
Information is sparse and difficult to come by, but it seems that she and her husband were unified in their spiritual understanding, with Jane conveying her growing appreciation of divine things through the medium of poetry.
In 1654 RICHARD COPPIN wrote a book entitled, “A Blow at the Serpent,” in which were prefixed some verses by JaneLeade. Coppin had already published his three works on the subject of Universal Reconciliation, in 1649, under the patronage of ABIEZER COPPE. Another man of the same persuasion, one GERRARD WINSTANLEY, [the “digger”] had published his treatise on U.R. in the same year. According to literary sources, these were the first writings in English on this subject. (We were able to peruse Gerrard Winstanley’s book in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.)
Now Abiezer Coppe was a good friend of JOHN PORDAGE, Rector of Bradfield Church near Reading at that time, and they used to wait upon the Lord “in family communion, aspiring after the highest spiritual state.”
In due course, the writings of the German mystic JACOB BOEHME (1575 – 1624) were translated into English progressively from 1644 to 1662, and Pordage was very interested in them. In 1663 Pordage met Jane Leade, and they shared together what could be learned from Boehme’s works. It inspired Jane in certain directions, but her works, although paying tribute to Boehme’s writings, derive mainly from the prophetic gift she obtained from the Lord. However, many of Boehme’s expressions tend to pop up again and again in Jane Leade’s writings.
In 1670, when William Leade died, Jane and John Pordage formed “The Philadelphian Society for the Advancement of Piety and Divine Philosophy” at Bradfield. In the same year Jane received a vision of a lady who called herself Virgin-Wisdom who said, “I am God’s Eternal Virgin-Wisdom, whom thou hast been enquiring after.” Three times this lady appeared to her, but on the third occasion, said that it would be the last, but that her influence would remain inwardly. Jane was never too open about the identity of this “lady”, but pointed her readers to the passage in Proverbs 8, where Wisdom personified speaks. Perhaps today we should say that she received the “gift of wisdom”, one of those that Paul mentioned within the nine-fold gift of the Spirit.
And so for the rest of her days she received some extremely important revelations and knowledge from the Lord, which she proceeded to keep in a diary or journal entitled “The Fountain of Gardens,” which was eventually published in four volumes from 1696 to 1701. We were privileged to see copies of the first edition, which is kept in Dr Williams’ Library in London. Small in size, and brown with age, the little books had to be handled with extreme care. Although almost unobtainable, Colleen Drounette (P.O.Box 2155, Sulphur, LA 70664 USA) has been re-publishing them, and has thus far (1999) completed two volumes.
Various other books that she wrote were published, the first being in 1681, entitled “The Heavenly Cloud Descending“. This was followed two years later by “The Revelation of Revelations”. In that same year John Pordage’s book“Theologica Mystica” [Mystical Theology] was published posthumously, with a nine-page preface by Jane Leade.Pordage died in 1681, and Jane had witnessed his will, made that year, when he was 74 years of age. It was in that year that Jane moved to London, and took up residence in Bartholomew Close, near St Bartholomew’s Hospital and St.Paul’sCathedral.
In 1693 Jane’s books reached Holland, and were translated into Dutch and German, and were well received, especially by those who belonged to the European branches of the Philadelphian Society. The Society’s name was chosen because out of all the seven churches addressed by our Lord in the book of Revelation, only that at Philadelphia received unconditional praise. Those who belonged to the Society emulated the Philadelphian Church’s manner of life, as will be seen in Richard Roach’s inaugural address, to be found in P.T. 90.
The following year a young man by the name of FRANCIS LEE stopped off in Holland on his way home from Germany, and picked up Jane’s writings, which impressed him a great deal. Reaching London he sought her out, and in a short space of time became an ardent admirer of her Biblical understanding. In that same year, 1694, Jane published “The EnochianWalks with God,” and the following year “The Laws of Paradise” and “The Wonders of God’s Creation.”
In 1695 Francis Lee married BARBARA WALTON, Jane’s widowed daughter, and they lived in Hoxton Square, Bethnal Green. Lee, who was 35 at the time, soon met up with an old friend from Oxford College days, named RICHARD ROACH. He joined them for their meetings of the “Phil.Soc.” in Baldwin’s Gardens, and in that year Jane received her first “Message to the Phil.Soc.” which was later combined with two other “Messages” to form the basis of the final edition, published as “Sixty Propositions” and which we have reproduced in full in PT-90.
In 1697 the Phil.Soc. was placed on a more secure footing, and the inaugural address was written and delivered by Richard Roach. We copied this from his hand-written notes in the Bodleian Library, contained in a large folio volume of Roach’s writings.
In 1696 Jane published “The Tree of Faith”, “The Ark of Faith”, and the following year, as already mentioned, “The Fountain of Gardens” began to appear.
The meetings in Baldwin’s Gardens became so crowded in 1697 that they had to find other venues, sometimes at Hungerford Market, and alternatively at Westmoreland House.
In that year Jane published “The Revelation of the Everlasting Gospel Message,” and in the following year “The Ascent to the Mount of Vision.”
In her last years, from 1699 to 1704 Jane published “Signs of the Times”, “The Wars of David”, and the 2nd and 3rd messages to the Phil.Soc. And between 1700 and 1710, DR. JOHANN WILHELM PETERSEN published in Holland “The Mystery of the Restitution of All Things”, which contained many of Jane’s prophetic works.
Jane’s last work, entitled “The First Resurrection of Christ” was published in the year she died. It was first released in Amsterdam. Jane died on 19th August 1704 “in the 81st year of her life and 65th year of her vocation to the inward life.” She was buried in Bunhill Fields on 22nd August, the funeral address being delivered by Richard Roach.
– – – – – – – –oOo– – – – – – – –
From the above biography it would seem that Jane Leade’s name would be remembered by the number of books she wrote, but this was not to be. In fact her works remained almost unobtainable until quite recently. This is one of the strange quirks of history, whereby Madame Guyon was remembered, but Jane Leade was not. However, there was a strong connection, as will be seen in the Introduction to the first volume of “Fountain of Gardens”, written by Francis Lee, originally in German, but translated by the Editor of her work. It is reproduced here in full, simply because it contains some most valuable information about the times in which they lived, the books they read, and of greatest import, the connections they had with the Quietists.
Dear Reader, (original translator speaking, and not this Editor),
whose soul has been refreshed by this most endearing conversation of your loving gracious Lord (with JaneLeade), do now permit this writer to recommend for your most serious perusal, Lady Guyon’s small Treatise on Sanctification, wherein the same Lord will teach you by his Spirit the gradual process of your Mystic Deathwhich he has here so lovingly communicated to Jane Leade. This book is to be had of Lackington & Co., bound up with three other excellent Tracts, entitled The Christian Liberty and The Lives of AlchemysticalPhilosophers, containing a selection of the most celebrated Treatises on the Hermetic Art.
Such gentlemen, with whom the Writer is acquainted (who understand the theory of that profound science) assure him that this is one of the best of those works that have ever appeared; and conceiving that some few of his readers may (with himself) not be adverse to perusing such books, have caused him to give intimation of this; and for Mrs. Leade’s opinion of these Philosophers, or Masters.
Now those Christians who have counted the cost of leading a life altogether conformable to that of their pattern, JESUS CHRIST; and have determined, in his strength, to surmount every obstacle that shall arise (not even sparing to cut off a right hand or pluck out an eye should they become impediments), the writer requests such heroic Divine Souls to read the following:
The Life of Lady Guyon, which of all books (next to the Bible) that have ever been published, is one of the most useful; and is to be had of Darton & Co., 55 Grace-Church Street, who also have A Guide to Internal Peace, Bromleys Way to the Sabbath Rest, Guyon’s Easy Method of Prayer, and The Life of ArmelleNicholas, which is exquisite.
There is now one more inspired female writer whom the writer has not listed so as to make some remarks towards the conclusion, which he trusts will not be displeasing to any of his readers. This Lady was French, and named “Anthoinette Bourignon“. She possessed a wonderful Divine Spirit, and was blessed with surprising manifestations from God. Her works were in the highest esteem with many of the most learned in France, Germany, England and the Continent in general. She was particularly known by that pious well known English Philosopher, the Honorable Robert Boyle, who translated and published, at his own expense, many of her Treatises. Indeed, those that have been published are really so excellent and suited to the capacity of every class of readers (being written in the most simple style) that this Writer would consider it a dereliction of his duty if he did not bring attention to them, so that such a vast treasure and blessing from God may no longer be confined to the knowledge of only a few.
This Author existed at the same period as Lady Guion [Guyon], whose peculiar Divine Sentiments were espoused by the great and most amiable Fenelon, Archbishop of Cambray, and Mrs. Jane Leade. Those persons who have been so Divinely blessed as to be in Truth Spiritually acquainted with the writings of these three Heaven-Born Women, will, no doubt, see some propriety in calling them “The Triune Wonder of the World“. For Bourignon’s Works are quite an introduction to Lady Guyon’s, and Lady Guyon’s are a complete witness and directive to Mrs. Leade’s.
Mrs. Leade’s sublime Tracts tend to lead the mind immediately to their source in the most delightful manner, which is the Supreme Triune God, from whom the labours of all three were derived, and who has graciously displayed in them, in a most distinguishable manner, the loving Trinity of Justice, Mercy and Love. All candid readers are particularly requested to excuse the Translator (not Editor) for adding to these writings of JaneLeade, for your special consideration what appears to him to be truly admirable and extremely consistent, with a most worthy God. We reflect no small degree of Honour and Glory upon Him at the same time. For his vast beneficence is forever constantly exerted to convert every kind of evil into the highest good to which poor infatuated creatures, are capable.
To proceed then, this Writer’s conceptions are that: as Woman became the instrument of Satan to lead Man out of Paradise (disuniting him from his only good and source of happiness), even so CHRIST in the reverse, now inspires her to claim her RIGHT, and in the end, to accept her as his instrument to lead Man back, so that God’s Word in its ultimate power, might be verified that Woman is an HELP-MEET TO MAN. (Comments of translator, not the Editor)
Let any one, who willingly adheres strictly to the Divine arguments and persuasions of these three Women (and the Spirit of God in their own Heart), as Adam and Eve did to the Animalistic Serpent and the Spirit of Satan within, and they will as certainly experience resultant effects no less astonishing and miraculous. But instead, it shall be to their everlasting joy and supernal Glory, becoming thereby invested with a Body more resplendent than the Sun, and far exceeding the transparency, lustre and radiance of the finest diamond, crystal or ruby. This is in contrast to that other life, which was to their horrid misery and ignominious shame, whereby they became disrobed of their glorious vesture of the Earthly Paradise Body. Of necessity, they had to assume the same gross palpable Nature as the Beasts, who were then as inferior to Man as an Ox is now to an Angel. This is in reference to the Body.
The Writer having taken the liberty throughout this work to give the titles of such Books as have come into his memory, and which are invaluable as to intrinsic merit, he therefore hopes his kind readers will not consider him impertinent for producing in this place an additional list with some few reflections. First, there is Isaac Pennington’s No Cross no Crown, at Phillip’s, George Yard, Lombard Street. His works are comparable to (David and Job alike) those of the Divinely inspired Isaac Pennington. We continue: Barclay’s Apology,Turford’s Grounds of an Holy Life, Shewen’s Counsel to the Christian Traveller, and True Christian’s Faith. John Arndt’s The Reviver of True Primitive Christianity of Ogle & Co., 295 Holborn and Baynes, 54, Paternoster Row, is to be had the best translation of the works of the inspired Thomas A.- Kempis, which are in two small volumes, also the The Life of Mary Mallet, and Rowe’s Devout Exercises.
These Treatises, along with Wm. Law’s Works, P. Clarke’s, Dr. Pordage’s, R. Roach’s, Thomas Bromley’s,Chavalier Ramsay’s, and Cornelius Cayley’s; Dr. Thaulerus’s and Marsay’s Discourses, with Molinos‘ Spiritual Guide, may with the utmost propriety, be termed a Garden of Paradise Fruits and Flowers.
Happy and blessed, therefore, is the man or woman who delights to walk in such a Paradise, eating the fruits and inhaling the odoriferous Element of Heavenly Flowers. They thereby become Mystical Divine Bees, and by a vigorous, but passive industry (without the efforts of the rational faculties), produce that which exceedingly surpasses the purest Virgin Honey (even the Elixir of Life) for the glory and delight of their King, Master and Leader.
Such persons are in truth, Divinely capacitated to understand the Book of Books (i.e. themselves, Christ and the Bible), and will be favoured from on high with a clear comprehension of the deep, most profound works of Jacob Boehme (whose only pride was in being nothing more than a simple, poor and illiterate COBBLER.) These true and only dignified minds, will also have the art given them of separating to perfection, the pure Gold from the pernicious and most infectious dross.
While the works of Alchemystical Philosophers (the true Divine Supernatural Masters), and those ofCornelius Agrippa (the reputed Divine Master, but one after the mind of Moses),will not be a stumbling block, but prove to be like Jacob’s Ladder, to promote ascension to Heaven, and also to Earth’s inmost centre. They shall ascend again to its circumference, penetrating and exploring the amazing wonders of Nature, and deciphering the mighty finger of the Omnipotent in his glorious works throughout the Internal and EternalWorlds, to his vast honour, and glory.
As to Jane Leade (the truly Seraphic), whose writings these Divine Masters will consider a dainty of dainties, being adapted to afford them a repast most exquisite, thereby exciting in their loving hearts the highest gratitude and praises to GOD for so transcendent a blessing. Kind Reader, pray excuse this long digression, as you will now be presented with what is truly extraordinary, which consequently will require from you something more than thought. May you therefore receive it worthily. If so, you will judge not, condemn not, despise not, but pray to GOD.
(Unsigned, but known to be Francis Lee, who was always reticent about attaching his name)
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Some might be alarmed at this Introduction to the “Fountain of Gardens”, and I suppose, in part, rightly so. For example, what has Christianity got to do with “Alchemistical Philosophy”? Cornelius Heinrich Agrippa (1486 – 1535) was a German physician, theologian, and student of the occult. Molinos and Guyon appear with heavy honours, as also the other Quietist woman, Antoinette Bourignon (1616 – 1680), a Flemish visionary who believed herself to be in direct communion with God, and divinely appointed to restore the spirit of the Gospel, (nothing wrong in that!) but she also taught that Christianity consisted not in faith and practice, but in internal emotion and impulse, which is just an Encyclopaedist’s way of describing Quietism. And so we are introduced to Bourignon, Guyon, and Leade as the “Triune Wonder of the World”!!!
On this basis, I suppose many would reject everything of Jane Leade’s writings without a further glance. But this would be to miss some delightful passages full of spiritual wisdom. One only needs to sift the writings, accepting that which appears to be good, and rejecting the rest. This should be true of ALL written documents. Furthermore, I have no great respect for my own judgment in this matter, as though I can act as judge of all that I read. Rather do I approach the matter from the standpoint of a pilgrim on the pathway, and therefore one who only has partial knowledge and understanding. Things which I dismissed as of no value years ago, are now sometimes found to be gems, and vice-versa. No doubt it is the same for us all.
In my own reading of Jane Leade, I have found, [unlike Madame Guyon’s works], much treasure, even though it is written in a strangely convoluted manner, with little respect for normal sentence construction, and use of a strange vocabulary. Those who have had the job of presenting her works in recent days have spoken of the difficulties encountered on almost every page. But this is to depart from the main theme of this writing, which is to investigate Quietism. Jane Leade didn’t convey her Quietism so overtly, and her books are far different to those of Madame Guyon. Whereas I found Guyon’s book totally contrived, Jane Leade’s are quite bright by contrast, and yet she (and Francis Lee) found Guyon’s works “the best next to the Bible.” The reason for including Leade’s biography here is that her writings, together with Jacob Boehme’s, form the basis of the more recent upsurge in the use of “Quietism”.
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We have now reached the point where the 300 years’ gap must be closed and evidence produced to show that the worst aspects of Quietism are now emerging once again, combined with other dubious misconceptions of Biblical truth. It is for this reason that I have undertaken this historical sketch, so as to alert our brethren (mainly in the Unites States) who are widely advertising these departures from sound doctrine, as will be seen from the following transcripts from a tape received recently. We do so, not in a critical spirit, but rather to emulate the Biblical injunction to “earnestly contend for the faith once delivered.” The speaker frequently refers to himself by name, which we have changed to Stan, to comply with our policy. Here then are the important quotes from the tape.
“God is today establishing His Kingdom on earth. We are not waiting for anything to happen except the Kingdom to come more and more manifest in our lives to His glory. The time of waiting for God to appear is over.
Romans 8:2 The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death. . . . We are birthed into this life first as mortal people not really knowing where we have come from, who we are, what we are here for, or where we are going, and because we do not know we take on this false identity of an Adamic life. . . Adam is definitely in a mistaken identity.
Pentecost is a mixture. God AND us. Adam AND Christ. . . Tabernacles is God ONLY – nothing left but God. We have crossed the threshold into Tabernacles where there is no more Adam, no ambition, no desire, . . .only God’s will.
Who are we? There’s a little confusion about this because people are not hearing this message . . . and they’re hearing people say we are God, so I want to ask you a question, if you enter into that realm of Tabernacles, and God fills the Temple with His glory, and you become, as the word says, not individually but corporately, but it is individually also, if you come into that place where the Apostle Paul says the church, the body of Christ, is the fullness of Him who fills everything everywhere with Himself, please tell me then, who are you?
This is what the world is longing to see, God manifested in humanity. And if you don’t see this, you go to the grave waiting for the sons to be manifested. You have to understand that you are NOT a carnal human being,like the word or not, you must understand that if you and God are two separate beings, if there is Stan and God, then I am living in a mistaken identity, like it or not, accept it or not, because if you do not accept, and you can’t without an unveiling, because of your Pentecostal mind-set there is still us and God. When I was living fully in the realm of Pentecost I could see clearly there was me and God, and when I’m not fully in Tabernacles, there are times when I walk IN Tabernacles and I walk OUT, and when I walk out, it is still me and God, and when I’m in that realm where there is nothing but Him, when I can walk into that realm, then I can see there is absolutely nothing any longer that I need to do, I don’t need to BE anything, I don’t need to aspire to anything, I just need to bask in the presence of my God. And in that realm Stan DOES NOT EXIST.In that realm carnality of man has been fully put to death and I stand manifesting the glory of God.
Who am I? And of course the carnal mind will get in here, and of course we have people running around saying I am God. They are no more walking in Tabernacles than in any of the other courts. But because someone is running around claiming to be God does not mean that you cannot have the ability and the understanding to walk into that realm of Tabernacles where there IS nothing but God.
There is a life in you that has never known sin, there is a life in you that has never known death, there is a life in you that is called eternal life. It’s not something that you got when you were born again, it’s something you were born into and you forgot.
We are not Adam. We are not a race of human people trying to be godly. If we are we will go to the grave. . . . When I would stand before God, He would have to say, ‘Depart from me, I don’t know you.‘ People go to church all the time, read ten chapters a day, pray for an hour, pray in the Holy Ghost for an hour a day, and God says, ‘I never knew you.’ How could that be? Because the only way He can know you is to become you.We cannot know God, even in a small measure, until He becomes us.
You must realise that you are NOT Adam. You are CHRIST. You will never become anything in God, but He will become everything in you.
Many people today are seeing the good land, but they won’t cross over. ‘Brother’, they say, ‘it’s blasphemy for you to declare you’re God.’ Well, I agree with that. And I don’t say I’m God, but I do say this, if Adam is replaced, and God has filled me wholly with His life, and when we come together we express, as the word says, the fullness of Him who fills everything, everywhere, if I am not Christ, who am I? The greatest problem in the universe is mistaken identity.
Not to know the pull of sin and death on you any longer, that’s what Tabernacles does for you. But see, you can’t enter that realm, and God won’t bring you into that realm until the Potter has finished His work, because Adam cannot enter into Tabernacles. In the holiest of all, in the realm of Tabernacles, there is nothing but God. Now I’m not standing up here telling you that I’m fully walking in Tabernacles and there’s nothing of Stan left, but I’m telling you that more and more, day by day, there is less and less of my carnality.
Do you want to see Him manifested? Come over to me for a while. Will you see someone who doesn’t make mistakes? No, but I guarantee you, if you come and live with me, you’ll see God manifested.”
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So where does all this leave us? Sadly, with a heavy heart. The trouble is that this attitude is now rife in the United States, and is posing as the most advanced spiritual concept, a brand new revelation granted by God for these last days, whereby the “manifest sons” are being trained in readiness for their Kingdom duties. They are no longer looking for the return of Christ, no longer praying for the coming of Christ’s Kingdom, because the Kingdom is within them. They ARE the Christ. They ARE the Kingdom. They are manifesting themselves to the world as God Himself, even though it is blatantly obvious that everything they say is totally self-centred, self-admiring, and full of a new breed of pride, the pride that says, “It is no longer I but Christ”, but which in practice uses this Pauline expression as a means of propagating themselves. Just look at the last statement in the above quotation from “Stan’s” tape. Where is the focus? Is it not upon himself? In fact the whole of the 45 minute address was in this vein. One came away with the distinct impression that Stan was of great importance. He would vigorously deny that, saying that in “Tabernacles” there is none of himself left. It is all God. But it doesn’t come across that way. It just smacks of a self-deceiving trick of Satan, whereby spiritual pride is veneered with the brazen face of passivism and quietism, resurrected from those earlier days, as we have shown in our historical sketch.
The simple interpretations of the Pauline passages have been exchanged for this new and subtle teaching. Whereas most believers would understand what Paul was saying, that we must reckon ourselves dead with Christ, they in effect turn everything that is de jure into de facto exposition. They believe that when they enter the “holy of holies” there is nothing left of their old adamic nature. All is utter perfection. Self-immolation has left nothing but God alone. This is wierd when considered in the cold light of day, that anyone should take on board such a self-contradictory theory. The straight-forward interpretation of Scripture is that ONLY when we receive our new resurrection bodies do we have that sinless state, and what is more, we will then STILL HAVE OUR OWN PERSONALITIES. How can anyone delight in the thought of self-annihilation? It makes you wonder what purpose God had in view if He looks for the destruction of the very personalities He’s created.
Stan said that in the holy of holies “there is nothing but God.” But in O.T.times, once a year the High Priest entered that inner sanctuary, and that was whilst he possessed a sinful nature like ourselves. Furthermore, in Hebrews we are told that the way into the holiest has now been made open, not just for the High Priest, but FOR ALL. The blood of Jesus has cleansed us ALL, allowing us access to the very throne of God, which in earlier days was typified by the High Priest having to take the blood of the required sacrifices when he entered the most holy place. There is something simple and straightforward in such exposition which does not appear in the teaching of these American brethren, with their new brand of quietism and passivism.
It is not easy to write in this vein. The very people we seek to disenchant from their state of deception are the ones who have answers for every query presented to them. We say this because we have tried. Their response is in this vein – “It is obvious, my dear brother, that God hasn’t yet revealed the truth to you. We shall pray that, if it be His will, you will come into the knowledge of these deeper truths. If not, then God has not set you apart as a member of His Kingdom vanguard.” All such expressions are steeped in spiritual pride, and one wonders why they do not see it as such. But we write this lengthy article in the hope that the Lord may open their eyes to the fact that their stance is far removed from the character of the Son of God as He walked this earth, recorded by the four evangelists for our admonition and instruction. Our focus must be AWAY from ourselves, out towards our Lord, not the Quietist’s INWARD looking. God’s Spirit dwells within us, yes, to enable us to have a relationship with Him, that we may become LIKE Him, not that we may BECOME Him. We beseech our brethren to reconsider where their teaching is leading. Our only reason to write in this vein is love of the truth and love of our brethren. We are admonished to expose darkness and have no fellowship with it, and this we have attempted to do.
To conclude this paper we should like to quote from C.S.Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”.
“Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays; he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him . . . He will not be thinking about humility; he will not be thinking about himself at all.”