Robert Philip.

The Marys, or, The beauty of female holiness online

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as the mere routine of life, or as unfavourable
to godliness ; and if only the time which can be
spared from them is considered improved time
for eternity, then, of course, there must be a
sad sense of declension in piety whenever more
time than usual is demanded by them. But
why not consider that unusual portion of time
which is required in seasons of domestic care,
as improved for eternity, as well as the time
spent in devotion ? Why not do every thing
as service unto God, as well as the things you
call service done to him 1 Surely, if all Chris-
tians may eat and drink so as io glorify God, Chris-
tian mothers may watch and work for their
family to the praise of the glory of his grace
I am not inclined to resolve so many things
into Satanic influence as some are : there are
many of our faults and failings but too easily
accounted for by the treachery of our own
hearts and the want of consideration : still, I
cannot help suspecting that Satan has not a


little, yea, much, to do with creating and keep-
ing lip the popular notion, that nothing is spi-
ritual religion but spiritual exercises and emo-
tions. Not, indeed, that he is any friend to
spirituality of heart or habit : there is nothing
he hates so much, or tries more to hinder. He
can, however, transform himself into an angel
of light, and thus seem to plead for highly spi-
ritual religion, and for extraordinary devotion,
whilst, in fact, he is endeavouring to prevent all
religion and devotion too.

It is not sin alone, nor worldly pleasures
only, that Satan throws false colours over : he
can exaggerate the claims of holiness, as well
as soften the aspect of sin and folly. He often
labours to make out the necessity of too much
religion, as well as to prove the sufficiency of
too little : I mean, that just as he tries to
persuade some that the ceremonial forms of
religion are quite enough, or as much as can
be expected in our busy world and imperfect
state, so he labours to persuade others that
nothing amounts to saving piety but a heart

32 A mother's hinder an ces

all love, a spirit all heavenly, and a character
perfectly holy. In like manner, he adapts his
wiles to those who see through the fallacy of
such extremes ; putting it to themselves to say,
whether they might not as well do notlung at
all in religion, as do so little ; whether it would
not be less dangerous to make no profession of
godliness, than to have only a spark of its pow-
er ; or, at least, whether it would not be better
to give up prayer entirely, until they can secure
more time and composure, than to continue it
in the very imperfect way they are now com-
pelled to do ?

This is an appeal to the conscience of a ha-
rassed mother, which she httle suspects to come
from the lips of Satan ; and yet he is as busj
in " taking advantage over" her, whilst thus
trying to make her give up what she attempts
in religion, as when he beguiled Eve to aim at
being god-like in another sense than she was
so. At this point, therefore, it is peculiarly
necessary to act on the injunction, " Resist the
Devil." That cannot be done effectually, how-


ever, by any process which does not turn the
duties of hfc into acts of godhness. He will
not " flee from you," whilst you merely analyze
and scrutinize his wiles and devices ; he will
try new fiery darts as fast as you defeat the old,
by mero arguments ; he will stand at your right
hand, resisting you, whilst you only resist him
by detecting him. When did he leave the
Saviour ? Not until he saw that nothing could
divert him from the " icork the Father gave him
to do." Satan tried first to set him aoainst
that work, by the poverty it involved ; then to
set him upon a new process of doing it ; and
then, to engage him in other work, altogether
different ; but all in vain. Satan found notliing
in the Saviour averse to the will of God, not-
withstanding all the labour, privation, and suffer-
ing which the great .work of redemption in-
volved. " Then the devil left him, and angels
ministered unto him." And by no other pro-
cess than that of adhering to the work God has
given us to do, can we resist the devil so as to
make him flee from us.

34 A mother's HINDERANCES

I do not forget (I never more remembered
or admired than at this moment) that Christ
resisted temptation by opposing to it the ex-
press word of God. It was, however, not the
quotations of Scripture, but the practical pur-
pose for which they were quoted, that discom-
fited the tempter. The Saviour drew upon the
word of God, that he might not draw back
from the work of God ; he wielded weapons
from the armory of heaven, that he might go
steadfastly through whatever the Father had
given him to do or endure on earth.

I know well that there is no parallel be-
tween our work and the work of Christ ; but
still, our sphere, and its duties and hardships,
are the appointment of God, as well as Christ's
were so. It is not by accident that one mother
has much to do, and another much to suffer,
and a third much both to do and endure :
these heavy crosses are as reaUy heavenly
appointments as the cross of Christ was,
although not for the same purpose. Accord-
ingly, in some things we recognise, and even


act on this principle, in express imitation of
the Saviour's example. When the cup of be-
reavement or affliction is put into our hands,
we try to say, like him, " The cup which my
Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?
Not my will, but thine be done." Thus we
really attempt to turn what we suffer much
from, into an occasion of serving God well, and
for submitting to him meekly. We regard this
as true godliness, and try to make it holy

Now, why not view every duty of life in the
same light, and both go to it, and through it, as
service required by God, and acceptable to God?
Perhaps you find it difficult to conceive how
some of your domestic duties could be in-
vested with any thing like a spiritual or holy
character : you may almost be inclined to
smile at first, at the idea of giving them a reli-
gious aspect ; and as to throwing the beauty of
holiness around all the details of life, it may
seem to you a profanation of divine things even
to think of such a mixture. Be not frightened

36 A mother's hinderances

or prejudiced, however, by words or fancies.
God himself does many things similar to those
you have to do : if you clothe your children,
He clothes the earth with grass and flowers :
if you feed your children, He feeds the young
ravens when they cry : if you watch night and
day, occasionally, over the couch of a sick
child, afraid to stir from its side, or take your
eye off" it for a moment. He never slumbers nor
sleeps in watching over his suffering children:
God even " sits, as a refiner," by the furnace
of his backsliding children. If you try to
manage well, and to make the best of whatever
happens, for the sake of those who love you
and look up to you, He also makes " all things
work together for good to them that love him."
Thus God counts nothing beneath him, nor de-
rogatory to his character, which is really re-
quired by any of his creatures, or needful in
any part of his creation. He doeth all things,
little and great, ordinary and extraordinary, in
the same god-like manner ; acting always in
character; v/hether he sustain a sparrow or


create a world. He cloeth all things in heaven
and earth, indeed, without quitting his throne,
or being disquieted by the multiplicity and
weight of his engagements ; but still, God oc-
cupies himself with our mean affairs, as wil-
lingly and fully as with the affairs of angels or
the interests of the universe. Nothing in his
glorious holiness holds him back from doing
ordinary things well, because they are but or-
dinary things : he acts like himself, whether
displaying the tenderness of a Parent or the
majesty of a Judge, and carries out his great
principles into all his operations.

If, then, He be not less holy, nor less beau-
tiful in holiness, whilst attending to the mi-
nutest claims of his universal family, why may
not " holiness unto the Lord be written" upon
all the details of your family duty ?

I am not pleading for what is called " mix-
ing up religion with every thing," if by that is
meant talking about religion whilst transacting
the business of life, or giving a religious turn

to every conversation. This is neither neces-



sary nor wise, as it is usually conducted by
those who try it most : indeed, they are thus
often guilty of " casting pearls before swine,"
and more likely to create prejudices against
religdon than to commend it. Even their own
piety is in danger of being suspected of sinister
design or of sanctimonious pretence, by this
forced intermixture of sacred and common
things. So far, therefore, as speaking perpe-
tually about religion, or about every thing in
reUgious phrases, is concerned, I have no sym-
pathy with the habit, and see none of the
beauty of holiness in it. I have, however, quite
as little respect for both the \'nlgar and the
sentimental proverb — " Business in its place,
a:nd religion in its own place." That really
means, in the lips of those who use it most,
" they are distinct things, therefore keep them
separate ;" a maxim equally treasonable and un-
true ! They are, indeed, made distinct things ;
but who made them so ? Not God : he joins
with the injunction, " not slothful in business,"
the commandment "Be fervent in spirit, serv-


ing the Lord." He says, " "Whatsoever ye do,
do all to the glory of God." It sounds ill, and
looks ill, therefore, when men, professing to be
Christians, say that they give themselves to
business and religion in turn, and never try
both at once. Such men do not understand
the spirit of true religion, whatever adepts they
may be in business.

I say this, hov/ever, far more in pity than in
blame ; for, as many godly wom.en have grown
up in the habit of going through their domestic
duties, without ever imagining that there is
any godliness in performing them well, so,
many men, who have the root of the matter in
them, have grown up in the habit of regarding
their public duties in trade as no part of their
religion. They, too, count nothing piety but
what is done in the closet of devotion, and in
the house of God, except what they may occa-
sionally do in visiting the afflicted, or in re-
lieving the poor ; and thus both sexes confirm
each other in the pernicious opinion, that ordi-
nary duty is no proof of vital godliness.

4 A M T H E r's H I \ D E R A X C E 3

This is a pernicious opinion, however well
meant by some who hold it. Wherever, in-
deed, there is no devotion, nor any relish for
divine things, or, when the soul and salvation
are neglected through the attention given to
worldly things, no diligence nor honour in
business is reUgion in any sense. The in-
dustry of the bee, or the economy of the ant,
might as well be called piety. It is, however,
equally true, on the other hand, that idleness
and dishonesty disprove all pretensions to god-
liness : there must, therefore, be something in
the very nature of the ordinary duties of life
not unfavourable to vital godliness, seeing the
conscientious discharge of them is thus essen-
tial to the proof of its sincerity. Why, then,
should a pious man allow himself to think
that he is only serving the world during the
hours and bustle of business ? Why should he
ever speak or dream of leaving his religion at
home when he goes out into the world ? He
will not leave behind him his conscience, nor
his sense of accountability, nor his regard to


truth, nor his respect for his good name, nor
his holy fear of disgracing his profession :
these follow him, like his shadow, into all the
walks of public life. Not all the anxieties nor
distractions of his business can make him lose
sight of his great moral principles ; and yet
he says that he " left his religion at home."
lie means, of course, his penitence, his spi-
rituality of mind, and liis devotion ; these are
what he drops when he quits his closet and the
family altar ; and certainly these are things
which cannot be much combined Avith worldly
affairs. I will even readily grant that it would
not argue much good sense, to attach much im-
portance to the hasty glances or the passing
thoughts of divine things, which may take place
in the course of the day ; these should not rank
very high in the scale of evidences by which a
Christian tests the reality of his conversion, or
the safety of his state for eternity. Yea, I will
go farther, and allow that if he cannot prove
his faith without the scanty items of such evi-
dence, he cannot prove it with them : they are


42 amother'shinderances

too few and feeble to lay much stress upon

These concessions do not, however, militate
against my argument : it is just because they
prove so little, that I advocate the necessity
and propriety of going to business, day after
day, in a spirit which shall make it all one em-
bodied Droof of true holiness. Now, it would
be so, by going to it and through it, as a peni-
tent before God, as a debtor before Christ, as
a dependant before the Holy Spirit. A Chris-
tian man is all this ; and by a little pains he
might carry the consciousness of all this as re-
gularly into the world as he carries his honesty
or his integrity. He need no more lose sight
of what the hope of eternal life leads him to be
and do, than of what his credit and subsist-
ence require of him. It is just as possible to
act as a redeemed man, as to act as an honest
man. And here would be the advantage of
acting in this spirit — instead of coming home
from business with all its deadening and dis-
tracting influence aggravated by the suspicion


of having been serving the world only, he
would have the consciousness that he had been
''' doing service as unto God, and not as unto
/nan ;" and thus the conviction that neither
the time nor the thought he had given to his
public duties, had lessened his hold upon the
divine favour, or drawn any judicial veil be-
tween him and the divine presence. Whereas
the Christian who really leaves the spirit of
religion at home, because he deems it useless
or impossible to mind any thing but business
during the hours of business, cannot so easily
resume that spirit after the tear and wear of
the day. He feels as if all he had been doing
was somewhat sinful in itself, because it is
so deadening and carnalizing in its influence.
The consequence is, he is often afraid to go
alone with God, after having been long and
much absorbed in the world.

These remarks, although a digression in one
sense, are not at all so in another. They will
account in some measure for the false view
you have taken of domestic duties. You have

44 A mother's HINDERANCES

SO often heard a pious father, husband, or bro-
ther, complain of the unhinging and deadening
effect of the cares of business on their minds,
and have so often felt that family duties and
cares had precisely the same effect on your
own mind, that you, like them, are too much
in the habit of considering the duties of life as
drawbacks or hinderances to godliness. I am,
therefore, very anxious to lead you into the
scriptural views of this subject, not only on
your own account, but for the sake of those
whose spiritual welfare is dear to you ; for,
without saying a word in the way of counsel,
or even of explanation, you may so illustrate
the great truth that " all things may be done
to the glory of God," as to convince your fa-
ther, your husband, or your brother, that bu-
siness may be made the handmaid of religion
in the world, as well as at home.

Are you a mother? How holiness might
beam and breathe in all your maternal duties
and cares ! Nay, do not smile in scorn nor in
pity at this fond wish ! I no more forget than


you do, that there is noise, nonsense, vexation,
almost drudgery at times, in the nursery ; your
patience, as well as your strength, is often
tried by your children ; you occasionally find
it no easy matter to keep your temper, or even
to keep up your spirits, amongst them. Were
they not your own children, you feel as if you
never could go through what you have to do
and endure. Now, I do not wonder at this ;
my only wonder is, how mothers can work
and watch, nourish and cherish, as they do !
There must be a magnetic charm, which fa-
thers do not feel, in the sweet thought — " They
are my own children." We, too, love them
sincerely and strongly, as you well know ; but,
somehow, we could neither do for them nor
bear with them, in your spirit, nor with your
perseverance. A sleepless night or two quite
exhausts our patience : the reflection, " They
are my own children," does not electrify us as
it does you, except when their life is in immi-
nent danger. Well, just carry out this electric
thought in your own maternal spirit, and ob-

46 A mother's hinderances

serve how you feel whilst you say, in reference
to their souls, " My own children ! They will
be mine for ever, both here and hereafter.
Nothing can dissolve all my connexion with
them. We may be widely separated on earth ;
we shall be divided by death, and it is not yet
certain that we shall be all reunited in heaven :
but wherever they are, in time or eternity, they
will be my family. I can never forget them
Until death, I shall instinctively look after
them, wherever their lot may be cast : at the
judgment-seat I shall look for them, whether
they stand on the right hand or on the left :
through eternity I shall remember them,
wherever I myself am, or whatever I may be."
Neither heaven nor hell can obliterate parental
recollections ; fathers and mothers will feel
themselves to be fathers and mothers

" Whilst immortality endures."

These are solemn considerations. Do not,
however, shrink from them ; they may become
equally sweet and sublime. Even already,


they have thrown your spirit in upon your ma-
ternal responsibilities, and far out amongst
your parental prospects in both worlds. That
glance of solicitude you darted through the
assembled universe, in search of your children,
when you realized the judgment-seat, proves
that you are not " without natural affection,"
nor destitute of spiritual sympathy. And that
breathless pause you made, whilst supposing
yourself looking all around heaven for them,
reveals to you how dear their eternal safety is
to your heart, and how much their presence
would heighten your happiness, even in the
presence of God and the Lamb. What fine
preparation these glimpses of the great white
throne of judgment, and of the glorious high
throne of heaven, are for maternal prayer at
" the throne of grace !" Whilst the former
thrones are looked at, the latter cannot be
overlooked. You feel through all your soul,
that any mother, if allowed, would pray for
her children at the former thrones, if prayer
could avail there : and will you neglect to


pray for your children at that throne, where
alone it is allowed or useful ? If you do neg-
lect this duty, it is not likely that God would
gratify you with either the company, or a
sight, of your children in heaven, even if both
they and you should be in heaven. But a
prayerless mother in heaven — is an anomaly.
Her children are more likely to miss her there,
than she is to miss them ; or, both to meet in
hell !

Neither, however, need miss the other in
heaven. Both may meet in one mansion of
glory, if both mingle their prayers at the throne
of grace. Heaven is not so inaccessible or
uncertain to families, as families^ as some seem
to fear. We must not judge from appearances
in this matter. Heaven, as it is revealed in
the Bible, is a family-house, where " it may be
well with us and our children for ever." God
has said so. We must not, therefore, regulate
our opinion of His good will towards the fami-
lies of those that fear him, by the way in
which some of their children turn out. The


real question is, — Did those parents take
God's plan, in both its letter and spirit, for
training up their children ? That all godly
parents have done something, yea much, for
their families, compared with what the un-
godly do, there can be no doubt. But how
few even believe — that there is a positive cer-
tainty of success, pledged by God, to all who
bring up their children in " the nurture and ad-
monition of the Lord !" The generality treat
this promise as a lottery, in which there are
more blanks than prizes. Thus both the faith-
fulness and the sincerity of God are disho-
noured. But, Mothers ! it is as true now, as
when Paul said to the jailor at Philippi, " Be-
lieve in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt
be saved, and thy house." The jailor had
asked only, " What shall I do to be saved ?"
Paul, however, would not allow him to confine
the question to himself. The promise is to
children as well as to parents ; and therefore
the Apostle answered the question so as to in-
clude both.


If these preliminary hints awaken anycurio-
sitVj or win any confidence, towards the de-
signs of this little book, you will not throw it
aside just yet ; nor wonder if, before resuming
this part of the subject, I take great pains to
secure the attention and confidence of daugh-
ters, as well as of mothers. Read the next
chapter, therefore, on their account, or to your
daughters ; and do give weight to whatever is
experimentally true in it, by setting your " seal"
to its truth.

No. 11.

A daughter's principles analyzed.

In addressing you, " I will (first) incline
my ear unto a Parable ; I will open my dark
saying upon the harp" of Allegory. And,
should I close my appeal in the same M'ay, you
will forgive me. Both Rachel and Miriam are
real characters, and will, I fear, recognise
themselves : but you, I hope, will try in vain
to identify either.

Both young men and maidens venerated
the aged Sheshbazzar, and vied with each
other in honouring his grey hairs as " a crown
of glory." He was a second conscience to all
the youth of Beersheba, who studied to main-
tain a good conscience towards God or man.
When the young men looked upon the daugh-
ters of the Canaanites, and thought of allying
themselves with " aliens from the common-


wealth of Israel," they remembered that Shesh-
bazzar would not bless the forbidden union ;
and turned their attention to the daughters of
the Covenant. When the maidens of Beer-
sheba were fascinated by the garb and bearing
of the sons of Belial, they felt that they could
not meet the eye of the holy Patriarch, and
drew their veils closer around them in the
streets. Thus all the plans of the young had
a tacit reference to his opinion, and the hope
of his approbation and benediction mingled
with their brightest prospects. " What will
Sheshhazzar think of me V was a question,
which, however simple in itself, disentangled
whole webs of sophistry, and unmasked the
most plausible appearances. It revealed the
secrets of the heart to the conscience, and the
frauds of the conscience to the judgment. It
was, indeed, a simple question ; but it searched
the reins like " the candle of the Lord," — be-
cause all who reflected, felt that the good old
man could have no object but their good ; and
that whatever influence he had acquired over


them, was won, not by stratagem, but by-
weight and worth of character. It was the
spell of his fine spirit, which, like the mantle
of Elijah, cast upon the ploughman of Abel-
meholah, drew them after him as with " cords
of love." Amongst the daughters of the Co-
venant, who listened to his wisdom, and loved
his approbation, Rachel was the most enthusi-
astic. She was modest as the lily of the valley,
but sensitive as the tremulous dewdrops which
gemmed it. Like the clouds of the spring
upon Carmel or Hermon, she wept and smiled
in the same hour. Her spirit soared at times
like the eagle of Engedi, until lost in the light
which is full of glory ; and, anon, it drooped
like the widowed dove in the gloomy avenues
of Heshbon and Kedron. She was alternately
glowing and freezing ; too high or too low.
In all things, but in her modest gentleness,
she was the creature of circumstances. Even
in Religion, she had no fixed principles. She

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Online LibraryRobert PhilipThe Marys, or, The beauty of female holiness → online text (page 2 of 11)