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The Marys, or, The beauty of female holiness online

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great martyr, you would have no scriptural
right or warrant to regard God as a Father, or
even to hope in His mercy. So, then, there
are some views of Christ so low, and so unlike
the Bible, that you yourself would not venture
to hope, if you held them. At least, you see
clearly that they do not go far enough to justify
hope in God.

Now, we shall come to the point of my ar-
gument with you. I have cheerfully allowed,
that both your opinion of Christ, and your de-
pendence upon him, go much farther than So-
cinianism or Legalism ; but the question is, —
Do they go far enough to warrant you to take
those encouraging views of God which, you
say, are essential, if you would either love or


78 A daughter's

serve him well ? Now, you yourself will allow,
that if your dependence upon Christ come as
far short of the degree in which Paul and the
first Christians depended on Him, as Socini-
anism comes short of what you believe, then
you too are wrong, and reckoning without
your host, whilst taking for granted that you
are welcome to hope as much as you like in
God. Why are you not as much afraid to dif-
fer from Paul, as you would be to agree with
Priestley ? Weigh this question ; for there is
almost as g-reat a difference between vour de-
pendence and Paul's, as there is between your
opinion and Priestley's. You may not have
intended, nor even suspected, this ; but it is
true. Yes ; and the contrast is not betw^een
you and Paul only : it is between you and all
the dead in Christ. Your song of redemption
is not the " New Song" of the Redeemed in
heaven. Your heart is not in unison with the
harps before the throne, whilst you can speak
or think about the blood of the Lamb as a
balance for your defects and imperfections.


There is no such sentiment in the oracles of
God on earth, or in the lips of saints in heaven.
There, all the glory of salvation is ascribed to
the Lamb slain.

Now, it is this sense of debt to the Atone-
ment, and this degree of dependence upon
Christ, that I want you to cultivate as your
warrant and welcome to fill your whole soul
" with all the fulness" of God's paternal love
and tenderness. But neither this sense of
debt, nor this exclusive dependence, can ever
be felt, whilst you avoid to think of God as the
LIVING God : and this — you do !

Are you surprised at this charge ? Do you
suspect that I attach any mystical meaning to
the scriptural expression, "the Living God ?"
I do not. I mean nothing more by it, in re-
gard to all the perfections of the Divine cha-
racter, than you mean in regard to some of
them. I think them all equally alive and
lively : but you do not. You do not, indeed,
think the justice of God dead ; nor the holiness
of God dead ; nor the jealousy of God dead.

80 A daughter's

You revolt at the bare idea, and feel it to be
vulgar, if not profane, to use the word " dead"
in any connexion with God. I am glad you
feel thus afraid of the word : let your fear extend
also to the thing.

Look, then, at all that you mean by the word
" living," when you connect it with the Love,
the Mercy, or the Grace of God. There, you
give it a wide and warm meaning. The ever-
enduring life and liveliness of these lovely
perfections, you believe and admire. Were
they dead — all your hopes would die too.
And well they might ! A God without love
or mercy, would be as useless to us as a dead
or dumb idol : for as He v/ould do nothing for
us, it would be the same to us as if He could do
nothing for us.

I keep as fast hold, you see, as you can,
upon all that you admire in the Divine charac-
ter. I am equally afraid with yourself (indeed,
1 can as little afford as you) to lose sight of even
one ray of His infinite love. Like you, I rejoice
with joy unspeakable, that it liveth and abideth


for ever, in all the lustre and warmth of its
original glory. But then — so does also the ho-
liness, the justice, the integrity of God ! These,
too, are without variableness or the shadow of
turning. But you do not rejoice in them. You
are even afraid of them. You do not allow
yourself to exclude them from the character of
God, nor to treat them as if they were dead :
but their life is not much connected with your
hopes. You do not care to look often at the
Holiness and Justice of God, as they live and
move and have their being in the Gospel.

Now, this is what I meant, when I charged
you with avoiding to think of God as the living
God. You do not think him as much alive to
the glory of his justice and holiness, as to the
glory of his grace and mercy : and the conse-
quence is, — you do not feel all a sinner's need
of the blood of Christ. Holiness and justice
had, however, quite as much to do with the
Atonement and it with them, as love or mercy had,
or they with it : and just because you have to do
with both, and both with you. Think of this !

82 A daughter's

And now, just suppose for a moment, that
you had to deal only with the strict justice and
the perfect holiness of Jehovah : how, in that
case, would you use the blood of Atonement?
What stress would you lay upon it, if you
knew nothing about any love or mercy but
just what it implied ? Would you, then, em-
ploy it only as a weight to turn the scale in
favour of your soul and your services ? Do
you not see, yea feel, through all your spirit,
that you would require to plead the merits of
the Atonement, even in order to be allowed
to serve God ? Yes, in order to be permitted to
serve Him at all !

We think it a very great thing indeed when
we are willing to serve God at all ; and thus
we are ready to take for granted, that he must
be well pleased whenever we really try to serve
him. And, in one sense, all this is very true.
But, how came any one to be willing to serve
God acceptably ? How came God to be will-
ing to accept any service from fallen man on
earth ? This does not take place in hell. Fallen


angels are neither made willino-, nor allowed to
serve God. Why ? No atonement opened a
new and living Avay to God for them. Christ
took not upon him their sins nor their nature ;
and therefore they would not be permitted to
try the service of God, even if they were in-
clined, which they are not.

Here, then, is the point at which you should
begin to re-study your own need of the Atone-
ment. You want it first to warrant you even
to speak unto God in prayer, about either your
own salvation or His service. For, what right
have you or any one, to pray for mercy, or to
offer yourself as His servant 1 Not the sha-
dow of a right, from what you are, nor from
what you can do. Had not Christ taken upon
him your nature and your doom, as a fallen
creature, you durst no more have prayed, or
served, than, fallen angels dare. You owe all
the opportunity you have, and all the inclina-
tion you feel, entirely to His sacrifice. But
for it, there %vould have been no more means
or aids of grace on earth, than there is in hell.


You really must not allow yourself to be led
away from a full sight and sense of your need
of Christ, by the circumstances of the world.
You see, indeed, something as natural and re-
gular in the means of grace, as if Christianity
were the religion of nature ; for the Gos-
pel takes little children into the school of
Christ, and makes as much use of all that
creation or providence affords to illustrate sal-
vation, as of all that heaven and eternity fur-
nish to commend it. This is, indeed, a world
almost as full of the goodness and glory of
God, as if it were neither a rebel nor a fallen
world. The system of religious means and
motives, which is around you, is also, as much
adapted to the faculties and condition of men,
as we could well imagine a system of mental
discipline or moral government to be, to angels
or a newly made world of human beings ; for
it touches man at every point of his nature,
circumstances, and time. But all this, instead
of being allowed to hide from you the real or
the full place which Christ holds in the eco-


nomy of human affairs, should illuminate that
place, and make him appear " all and all" in
the whole array of temporal, intellectual, social,
moral, and providential good, which beams and
breathes around you. For it is all here, just
because, and only because, He kept or brought
it here by his Mediation on our behalf. But
for that, all temporal blessings would have
been as much withdraw^n from the earth, as
they are from hell ; and our world would have
been as destitute of means or motives to be
religious, as is the prison of fallen angels. It
is not, therefore, your actual sins only, nor the
plagues of your heart alone, that create your
absolute and equal need of a Saviour, in com-
mon with the worst. You are one of a fallen
and guilty race ; one of an apostate and im-
pure family ; and one of them by your own
acts and inclinations, as well as by descent and
inheritance. You have, therefore, no personal
right to cherish the shadow of a hope, nor to
offer a prayer or a service unto God. You
owe it entirely to the Atonement, that you are



allowed to worship or bow down before Jeho-
vah, either as a suppliant or as a servant. Do
not lose sight, therefore, of your own condi-
tion, by looking round upon characters inferior
to yourself. Many, alas, are far inferior both
in their habits and spirit ; but still, you are
not so much above the worst of either sex, as
you are beneath the standard of both the
Divine image and law. Besides, what is it to
you, whatever others are ? You are guilty
and unholy in your own way and degree : and
for no guilt, defect, vanity, folly, or evil, of
heart or character, is there any remedy or
remission, but in the blood of the Lamb.

The following allegory will, perhaps, illus-
trate this Essay. In all but her dilemma, I
commend Miriam to your imitation. Alas,
she did not convert Jared.

Jared and ^Miriam sat together by " the
waters of Shiloah that go softly." The setting
sun flushed the calm rivulet as it flowed on
towards the reservoir of the temple.

" There, Jared," said Miriam, " is an em-


blem of my church. The Jordan discharges
itself into the Dead Sea ; but the waters of
Shiloah terminate in the Temple of God. Oh !
that we, like the fountains of this sacred stream,
mingling their waters, could unite in senti-
ment, and thus flow calmly on to the heavenly
temple of God and the Lamb. But as I can-
not return to Judaism, and you will not quit
it — we can never be ' one spirit,' "

"Miriam, my own Miriam! you must return
to the God of our fathers. Know vou not that
the ' anathema maranatha' of the Sanhedrim
will be pronounced on you, from the chair of
Moses, at the next new moon 1 Surely you
will not, by obstinacy, incur the great excom-
munication of the sanctuary. Why should
you imagine yourself wiser than the elders of
Judah ? Let me lead you back to the ' horns
of the altar,' to ratify your vows to God and
to me."

" Jared !" said Miriam, solemnly and firmly,
" the great excommunication of the Sanhedrim
will sound to me as did the threatenings of

68 A daughter's

Sennacherib, King of Assyria, to Hezekiah ; —
as ' raging waves of the sea, foaming out their
own shame.' I shall pity the Boanergeses,
and despise their thunders. And as to my
vows unto you, they are inviolate ; although
their fulfilment is delayed by circumstances, I
have no wish to retract my betrothment ; and
if I had, I know not that Christianity would
sanction the breach."

" The blessing of the God of Jacob be on
you for this assurance, Miriam ! but I cannot
think well of your hardihood ; it is not the
heroism it seems to be."

" No, Jared ; nor is it the ybo/-hardiness
which you would insinuate ! But, forgive me ;
I will not take offence. You mistake my new
motives, and thus misunderstood my new
character. I, however, cling to the cross of
Christ, as if nailed to it, because I see nothing
else between me and hell. My guilty and un-
holy soul can only be pardoned or purified by
the blood of the Lamb of God ; and, therefore,
by that fountain I must — I will abide, even if,


like Abel, my o%\ti blood should crimson the

" Miriam ! you amaze and confound me.
This is absolute raving. A priestess of Apollo
could not be more extravaorant when rushing
from the Tripod. Your guilty and unlioly soul,
Miriam ! How can you thus asperse your
own pure nature and character ? Your soul is
pure as the snow upon the loftiest summits of
Lebanon ; — at least, its only taint is heresy ;
and that stain will soon be effaced by ' the
waters of purification,' in the temple. Only
quit the Christians, and I shall soon rejoice
over you, as in the days of old ; singing this
song to the harp of Judah, ' Though ye have
lain among the pots, yet shall ye be as the
wings of a dove covered with silver, and her
feathers with yellow gold. Selah !' You,
Miriam, unholy ! It is as if the dew of the
morning were to charge itself with impurity."

" Jared, and could the dew, even on Her-
moD, speak, it would acknowledge that it was
formed from earthly exhalations, and derived


90 A daugkter'3

its purity from the heavens. And as to your
song of triumph, you will never be warranted,
if I quit the cross, to sing it over me ; ' the
winors of a dove' are not given to the soul that
it may ' flee away' from Calvary. No ; and
were my wings like those of the seraphim,
' full of eyes,' their starry radiance would soon
be exting-uished, like the glories of Lucifer,
were I to cease from following the Lamb.
But, Jared, you think lightly of sin ; you do
not see its evil, nor feel its malignity. You
regard nothing as sin, but immorality ; and
nothing as corruption, but vice ; and, because
my character is as unimpeachable as you
suppose, you suspect me of feigned humility
and extravagant penitence. These be far from
me ! I would that I were more humble and
contrite ; but always rationally — scripturally

" Well, Miriam, what do you mean by sin ?
You surely do not imagine that your buoyant
spirits and natural sprightliness are criminal.
And as you have always honoured your pa-


rents, and kept the law from your youth up-
ward, what have you to repent of? Your onli/
sin has been against me ; and you persist in it
by delaying our marriage. I wish you would
repent of tlds sin ; and as John the Baptist said,
' bring forth fruits meet for repentance.' "

** Jared, be serious ; my repentance towards
God has no small or slight connexion with you.
Until of late, I loved you more than God.
This melancholy fact weighs heavily on my

" Until of late I And of late, then, Miriam,
you have conquered the habit of loving me. Is
this what I am to understand ?"

" No ! Jarcd ; nor have you the shadow of a
reason to suspect it. I, indeed, love God more
than formerly, but I do not love you less than
usual. I feel more solicitude — tender, intense
solicitude, in your behalf, than ever. x\nd,
surely, you would not have me to love you more
than God !"

" Certainly not : that be far from me, Mi-
riam !"

92 A daughter's

" And yet, Jared, you, alas ! love me far
more than you love God ; and is not that sin-
ful and symptomatic of an unholy heart ? You
could not, indeed, love God more by loving me
less ; but supreme love to Him would regulate
vour love to me without at all lessening its
cordiality. Oh, consider how we have alien-
ated our hearts from God hitherto ! We lived
as if Jehovah had no claims upon our affec-
tion, or only such claims as the ceremonial law
could satisfy. I appeal to your own con-
science ! How often, even while engaged in
the duties of religion, ' God was not in all our
thoughts !' We went to the Temple and the
Synagogue to meet each other on the Sab-
bath, and while our lips joined in the songs of
Zion, our thoughts centred in ourselves. We
regularly witnessed the sacrifices on the great
DAY OF atonement ; but our minds were
wholly taken up with the sublime music of
the silver trumpets, and the simple majesty of
the Levitical processions around the golden
altars. We partook of the passover for the


mere pleasure of eating together. Often have
we sat under this palm-tree while the priests
were drawing water from the fountains of Shi-
loah, and ' pouring it out before the Lord ; but
w^e marked only their picturesque beauty, and
felt only the transport of enjoying the scene
together. And at the hours of the morning and
evening sacrifice, while we repeated the pray-
ers, we did not ' pray in the spirit.' Jared !
we lived for each other — not for the glory of
God. This is the guilt which lies heavily on
my conscience ; these are some of the melan-
choly facts which convince me that my soul is
naturally unholy ; and so is your soul^

" Well, Miriam, suppose I grant all this :
see ye not what the concession involves ? No-
thing less than the duty of your return to
Judaism ; for if you are guilty by not honour-
ing the sacrifices sufficiently, how great must
your guilt become by neglecting and renounc-
ing them entirely ! You are caught — you are
completely entangled in your own net, Miriam!"

" Ah, Jared, I had hoped, from the serious-

94 A daughter's

ness with which you listened to my confes-
sions, that you Avere joining in them for your-
self. I am disappointed ; but, notwithstand-
ing, 1 will answer yon. I am not at all in-
volved in deeper guilt by neglecting the sacri-
fices. They never were a real, but a typical
atonement for sin ; and, now that the Lamb of
God is slain for the sin of the world, to honour
them would be to dishonour Him. On my own
principles, therefore, a return from the glorious
SUBSTANCE to thc shado of it, would render
my guilt unpardonable. esides, were it safe
to return, what a loss oi enjoyment I should
sustain ! The transition from the cross to your
altars again, would be to me as Mount Moriah
would be to Abraham, now that he has spent
ages in Paradise ; as the cloud on Sinai would
be to Moses, now that he has communed with
Jehovah ' in light full of glory ;' as the wilder'
ness to the whole church of the first-born in
heaven, now that they are without spot before
the throne of God and of the Lamb. I do not
affect what I do not feel ; those spirits of just


men made perfect would lose only a part of
their bliss by exchanging worlds ; but were I
to exchange the cross for the altar, all my
happiness would change into ' a fearful looking
for of judgment and fiery indignation.' For,
if ' he that despised Moses' law died without
mercy, of how much sorer punishment, sup-
pose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who
hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and
counted the blood of the covenant an unholy
thing V "

" Your reasonings would be powerful, Miriam,
and your solemn conclusions just, were your
premises true. But a truce to this theological
warfiire ; — it would suit a Sanhedrim of Rabbins
better than it does a young man and a maiden
of Israel, under the shade of a palm-tree, on
the banks of Shiloah. It was not exactly thus
that Jacob and Rachel reasoned amongst ' the
green pastures,' and by 'the still waters' of

" But it is thus they reason nov:, Jared,
where ' the Lamb himself leads them to living

96 • A daughter's

fountains of water' in heaven ; and all the
armies of heaven unite with them in admiringr
and adoring the Lamb of God. Besides, Ra-
chel had no occasion to reason with Jacob ; his
heart was right with God, and his soul safe for

" Which mine are not ! you would say,

" Which, MINE were not, Jared, until I was
reconciled to God, by the cross of Christ.
Until the love of Christ won my heart, I was
utterly unfit for heaven ; for I had hardly one
sentiment or feeling in harmony with the en-
joyments or the engagements of Paradise. As
a matter of taste, I had, certainly, revelled iii
the visions of bi:\iORTALiTY, when it was illu-
minated by the Gospel, before I believed that
Gospel, I could not resist the poetical attrac-
tions of the Christian heaven. Its thrones of
light, crowns of glory, harps of gold, palms of
victory, and its mamj mansions of bliss, fixed
my imagination, and elevated my soul. I
wished such an inheritance of glory. I felt


that a dijfcrcnt heaven would not satisfy me.
I saw, too, that it was ' Abraham's bosom'
opened ; the heaven of the Fathers unveiled.
This heightened its fascinations ; but, at that
moment, I discovered that I was utterly unfit
for it. I desired a crown of glory, but felt that
I could not place it at the foot of the Lamb ; —
a harp of gold, but not to sing the ' New
Song ;' — a palm of victory, but not to wave it
in the train of Christ ! My proud heart re-
volted at the bare idea of such subjection to
Him. I said, in my haste, Were all this ho-
nour confined to Jehovah, the Christian heaven
would be my choice ; but to divide the honour,
by worshipping the Lamb ! — I spurned the
thought. And yet, Jared, I did not feel at ease
m doing so. I had misgivings of heart, as well
as prejudices ; and, in order to calm my fears,
I was compelled to express unto Jehovah, my
supreme regard to his glory, and my sincere
veneration of his authority. These, I said,
were my sole reasons for rejecting the Gospel.
Then I began to strengthen these reasons, by


98 A- daughter's

studying the Divine Character ; for still the
Christian heaven kept its hold upon my heart.
I could not forget its scenes and society. I felt
as if I was not right. I therefore plunged, as it
were, into the contemplation of the Divine
character. Then, I saw, I felt, that I could
not 'stand before God.' It flashed upon me
with all the keenness of sensation, that I could
not bear to see God as he is ! His holiness
and justice appeared to me like the dark side
of the Shechinal pillar to the Egyptians, over-
whelming ! And yet, it was ' the heauty of his
holiness,' it was the glory of his justice, that
overwhelmed me. I saw not, I felt not, at the
time, their terrors. One deep, calm, solemn,
awful conviction penetrated and pervaded my
whole soul ; it was, that / could not hear an
Eternity in the presence o/' Jehovah ! I had
never thought of this before, but taken for
granted, that, if I only were admitted to hea-
ven, all would be right. But when I consider-
ed that I had no delight in the character of
God, and that he could not love nor approve


tliis state of mind, I saw, at a glance, that, wliile
my heart was thus dead to his excellence, I
could have no communion with Him, nor with
the spirits who were alive to it. Then — then,
Jared, came the inquiry — How can I be recon-
ciled unto God ? How can I become suck a
character, that He can look upon me, and I
upon Him, with complacency, for ever and
ever ?"

" Go on, Miriam, this view of the matter is
almost new to me."

" To me, Jared, it was altogether new. Until
the immortality brought to light, by the Gospel,
drew my soul within the veil, and confronted
me, in thought, with Jehovah, I had no idea
that I was unjit for an eternity of his presence
in heaven ; for I had never before paused to
consider, that, when he shall be seen 'as he
IS,' then the light which reveals him, will reveal
the evil of sin, in all its enormity — and ' the
beauties of holiness,' in all their glory. But,
to see sin thus, and feel its principles within
me ! to see holiness thus, and not feel all its



100 A daughter's

principles within me ! would render the Divine
presence intolerable. Heaven could not make
me happy under such circumstances.

" Well might the Prophet exclaim, ' Who
can stand before this Holy Lord God !' Jared !
I could not stand before you^ without con-
fusion of face and heart too, were I conscious
of not loving you as I ought. How over-
whelming then would an eternity of the Divine
presence be, without the consciousness of entire
and intense love to God! I felt this — and felt,
too, that I neither had, nor could produce such
love to him. The necessity of it was self-
evident, but the acquisition of it seemed impos-
sible. Thus my ov/n conscience shut me out
of heaven. But, by this process, God was
' shutting me up unto the faith.' Accordingly,
the moment I saw that, by believing his testi-

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