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A Guide to True Peace

or the Excellence of Inward and Spiritual Prayer is a small book Compiled Chiefly From the Writings of Fenelon, Mme. Guyon, and Molinos.

I don't remember how exactly I found it, but I ordered this a couple of years ago and frequently carry it around with me. (It's a tiny book, and looks like it's available online as well.) Pendle Hill reprinted it in 1979, from a 1946 reprint they did with Harper & Row, and there's an introduction by Howard Brinton. It looks like the original was compiled around 1813, by a pair of Quakers, working from the materials of the Catholic Quietists.

Of the three, Molinos seems to be the most extreme, while Guyon and Fénelon are considered 'semiquietists'. I've written about Fénelon's letters before. (It's probably notable that Quietism was condemned as heretical by the Catholic Church in 1687, and still raises sparks in the 1911 Catholic Encyclopedia.)

I'd be curious to hear if other people are reading this little book, and what they see in it. Diane Guenin-Lelle wrote an article on Quakers and Quietism that explains a lot of where this material came from as well.

The last chapter, "On Perfection, or the Union of the Soul with God", is what grabbed my attention again. When I'd first read it, it seemed too lofty a suggestion to make:

The most profitable and desirable state in this life is that of Christian perfection, which consists in the union of the soul with Infinite Purity, a union that includes in it all spiritual good; producing in us a freedom of spirit; which raises us above all the events and changes of this life, and which frees us from the tyranny of human fear; it gives an extraordinary power for the well performing of all actions, and acquitting ourselves well in our employments; a prudence truly Christian in all our undertakings; a peace and perfect tranquility in all conditions; and, in short, a continual victory over self love and our passions. (109)

And then this ties back to the discussion I've had lately around deification:

"Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." The soul, remaining in its disorderly will, is imperfect; it becomes more perfect, in proportion as it approaches nearer to the Divine will. When a soul is advanced so far that it cannot in anything depart therefrom, it then becomes wholly perfect, united with, and is transformed into, the divine nature; and being thus purified and united to Infinite Purity, it finds a profound peace, and a sweet rest, which brings it to such a perfect union of love, that it is filled with joy. It conforms itself to the will of the great Original in all emergencies, and rejoiced in everything to do the divine good pleasure.

The Lord draws near to such a soul, and communicates inwardly to it. He fills it with himself because it is empty; clothes it with his light and his love, because it is naked; lifts it up, because it is low; and unites it with himself.

If you would enter into this heaven on earth, forget every care and every anxious thought, get out of yourself, that the love of God may live in your soul, so that you may be enabled to say with the apostle: "It is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives within me." How happy we would be if we could leave all for him, seek him only, breathe after him only; let only Him have our sighs. Oh, that we could but go on without interruption toward this blessed state! God call us to do so and come to him. He invites us to enter our inward center, where he will renew and change us, and show us a new and heavenly kingdom, full of joy, peace, content, and serenity. (114-6)

I think I'll be carrying this book around with me for a while.


For whatever value it may have in your considerations, please note that the verse, "be ye perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect" is severely wrenched from context, which clearly refers directly to extending love to everyone, and not "perfection" in some general sense.
In His Love,

I suspect that there are as many different ways to interpret the Sermon on the Mount as there are people reading it, but I find it very strange that so many people strive to read it narrowly.

I don't find the Guide's use of that quote here to be "severely wrenched from context" - Matthew 6:48 follows a long section on love (starting around 6:38) that most people don't consider humanly attainable. It sets a standard of "extending love to everyone" that is so much more than the basic "love thy neighbor"that it is already, a call to perfection. (Some people find "love your enemies" a call to beyond perfection, actually.)

And if, as 1 John 4:7-21 reminds us, God is love, why wouldn't participating in such love be the "approaches nearer to the Divine will" described here?

I understand that the Sermon on the Mount poses huge problems for people who think that we humans are so far from God that union is impossible. I have to agree with George Fox, however, that this is "all pleading for sin and imperfection".

I have found it useful, when considering the command to be perfect, to consider perfection in the meaning of complete in all respects, or whole, instead of meaning flawless. Wholeness seems much more attainable. So Jesus is saying, let your love be complete, just as God's love is complete.

In the 17'th century English of the King James Bible and early Friends, perfect was used much more often in the sense of complete or whole than it is now. Now it is used more often in the sense of flawless. This change in language has made this passage much more intimidating than it would have seemed when written.

Will T

Oh for the peace that passeth understanding.

Love and light

There are other quotes about perfection in the Bible also. I've heard Christians try and justify sin by referring to it as meaning

1 John 3:9 "Whosoever is born of God DOTH NOT COMMIT SIN; for his seed remaineth in him: and HE CANNOT SIN, because he is born of God."

I would say it means exactly what it says.

As far as The Guide to True Peace, it is one of the best spiritual works ever written.

I have been searching and searching for a copy of this little book. Do you know where I can purchase one?

Thank you

Miriam Fisher Schaefer

Do you know where I can find a copy of theis wonderful tlle book for purchase/ i have been searching for about a year. Thanks.

Miriam Fisher Schaefer

I just purchased a copy for myself from quakerbooks.org
I had read that A.W.Tozer carried one with him and knew it would be "food for my soul."