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him, but despaired altogether of ever attaining that desirable end.
THERE was, in the place where I lived, one whose doctrine was suspected* ; he possessed a dignity in the church, which obliged me to have a deference for him.
As he presently understood how averse I was to all who wero suspected of unsoundness in the faith, and supposed that I had some credit in that place, ho used his utmost efforts to engage me in his sentiinents. I answered him with so much clearness and energy, that he had not a word to reply. This increased his desire to win me over, and in order to it to contract a friendship with me. He continued to importune me two years and a half. As he was very polite, of an obliging temper, and had a good share of wit, I did not mistrust him, but even conceived a hope of his conversion, in which I found myself mistaken. I then ceased going near him. He came to enquire why he could see me no more. At that time he was so agreeable to my sick husband, in his assiduities about him, that I could not avoid his conversation; though I thought the shortest and best way for me would be to break off all acquaintance with him, which I did after the death of my husband, for M. Bertot would not permit me to do it before: Therefore, when he now saw that he could not renew it, he raised up strong persecutions against me, and stirred
those of his party,
These gentlemen had at that time a method amongst them, by which they soon knew 'who were of their party, and who were opposite.
* Most probably of JANSENIIX.
They sent to one another circular letters, by means of which, in a very little time, they cried me down on every side, after a very strange manner. Yet this gave me little trouble. I was glad of my new liberty, intending never again to enter into an intimacy with any one, which would give me so much difficulty to break off.
The inability I was now in, of doing those exterior acts of charity I had done before, served this person with a pretext to publish that it was owing to him I had formerly done them; and that, having broke off from him, I now quitted them. Willing to ascribe to himself the merit of what God alone, by his grace, had made me do, he went so far as to preach of me publickly, as one who had been a bright pattern to the town, but was now become a scandal to it. Several times he preached very offensive things. And though I was present at those sermons, and they were enough to weigh me down with confusion, for they offended all that heard them; I could not be troubled at it, for I carried in myself my own condemnation beyond utterance. I thought I merited abundantly worse than all he could say of me, and that, if all men knew me, they would trample me under their feet. My reputation then was blasted by the industry of this ecclesiastic: He caused all such as passed for persons of piety to declare against me.
I thought he and they were in the right, and therefore quietly bore it all. Confused like a criminal that dares not lift his
I looked upon the virtue of others with respect. I saw no fault in others, and no virtue in myself. When any happened to praise me it was like a heavy blow struck at me, and I said in myself, “They " little know my miserics, and from what state
" I have
I have fallen.” When any blamed me, I agreed to it, as right and just. Nature wanted sometimes to get out of such an abject condition, but could not find any way: And if I tried to make an outward appearance of righteousness, by the practice of some good thing, my heart in secret rebuked me as guilty of hypocrisy, in wanting to appear what I was not; and God did not permit that to succeed. Oh, how excellent are the crosses of Providence! All other crosses are of no value.
I was often very ill, and in danger of death, and knew not what to do to prepare myself for it. Several persons of piety, who had been acquainted with me, writ to me about those things which the gentleman (above hinted at) spread about me, and I did not offer to justify myself, though I knew myself innocent of the things whereof they accused me. One day being in the greatest desolation and distress, I opened the New Testament, and chanced to meet with these words, “My grace is sufficient for thee, “ for my strength is made perfect in weakness :" Which for a little time gave me some relief.
CHAP. CHAP. XXV.
MY Gop took from me all the sensibility
which I had for the creatures, or things created, even in an instant, as one takes off a robe, in such sort that after that time I had none for any whatsoever. Though he had done me that favour for which I can never be sufficiently grateful; I was however neither more contented nor less confused by it. My God seemed to be so estranged, and displeased with me, that there remained nothing but the grief of having lost his blessed presence through my fault. The loss of my reputation every day increasing, (by means of that gentleman's party whom I have mentioned,) became more sensible to my heart, though I was not allowed to justify or bewail myself.
As I became always more impotent for every kind of exterior works, as I could not go to see the poor, nor stay at church, nor practise prayer, and as I became colder towards God, in proportion as I was more sensible of my wrong steps, all this destroyed me the more both in my own eyes
and in those of others. There were in the mean time some very considerable gentlemen who made proposals for me, and even such persons as according to the rules of fashion ought not to think of me. They presented themselves, during the very depth of my outward and inward desolation. At first it appeared to me a means of drawing me out of the vexation I was in. But it seemed to me then, notwithstanding my pains of body and inind, that if a King had presented himself to me, !
should have refused him with pleasure, to shew thee, oh my God, that with all my miseries I was resolved to be thine alone; and that if thou wouldst not accept of me, I should at least have the consolation of having been faithful to thee, to the utmost of my power. For as to my inward state I never mentioned it to any body: I never spoke thereof, nor of the suitors, though my mother-in-law would say, “ If I did not
marry, it was because none would have me.' It was sufficient for me that thou, oh my God, knewest that I sacrificed them to thee, (without saying a word to any body) especially one whose high birth and amiable exterior qualities might have tempted both my vanity and inclination, Oh could I but have hoped, through those sacrifices and heavy afflictions to become agreeable to thee, such a hope would have been like a change from hell to heaven. But so far was I from presuming to hope for it, that I feared this sea of affliction might also be followed by everlasting misery, in the loss of thee. I durst not desire to enjoy thee, I only desired not to offend thee.
I was for five or six weeks at the last extremity. I could not take any nourishment. A spoonful of broth made me faint. My voice was gone that when they put their ears close to my mouth, they could scarcely distinguish my words. I threw up to the very chyle of my stomach. I could see no hopes of salvation, yet could not be unwilling to die, as I bore a strong impression that the longer I should live the more I should sin. Of the two I thought I rather chose hell than sin. All the good, which God made me do, now seemed to me evil, or full of faults. All my prayers, penances, alms and