“Explication des Maximes des Saints sur la Vie Interieure” is the full title of the famous little work first named. It appeared in January, 1697. If measured by the storm it raised in France and at Rome, or by the attention it attracted throughout Europe, its publication may be said to have been one of the most important theological events of that day. The eloquence of Bossuet and the power of Louis XIV. were together exerted to the utmost in order to brand its illustrious author as a heretical Quietist; and, through their almost frantic efforts, it was at last condemned in a papal brief. But, for all that, the little work is full of the noblest Christian sentiments. It pushes the doctrine of pure love, perhaps, to a perilous extreme, but still an extreme that leans to the side of the highest virtue. After its condemnation the Pope, Innocent XII., wrote to the French prelates, who had been most prominent in denouncing Fenelon: Peccavit excessu amoris divini, sed vos peccastis defectu amoris proximi—i.e., “He has erred by too much love of God, but ye have erred by too little love of your neighbor.”
THE YOUNG WIFE AND MOTHER.
Marriage and Settlement in New Bedford. Reminiscences. Letters. Birth of her First Child. Death of her Sister-in-Law. Letters.
On the 16th of April, 1845, Miss Payson was married to the Rev. George Lewis Prentiss, then just ordained as pastor of the South Trinitarian church in New Bedford, Mass. Here she passed the next five and a half years; years rendered memorable by precious friendships formed in them, by the birth of two of her children, by the death of her mother, and by other deep joys and sorrows. New Bedford was then known, the world over, as the most important centre of the whale-fishery. In quest of the leviathans of the deep its ships traversed all seas, from the tumbling icebergs of the Arctic Ocean to the Southern Pacific. But it was also known nearer home for the fine social qualities of its people. Many of the original settlers of the town were Quakers, and its character had been largely shaped by their friendly influence. Husbands and wives, whether young or old, called each other everywhere by their Christian names, and a charming simplicity marked the daily intercourse of life. Into this attractive society Mrs. Prentiss was at once welcomed. The Arnold family in particular—a family representing alike the friendly spirit, the refinement and taste, the wealth, and the generous hospitality of the place—here deserve mention. Their kindness was unwearied; flowers and fruit came often from their splendid garden and greenhouses; and, in various other ways, they contributed from the moment of her coming to render New Bedford a pleasant home to her.