Robert Philip.

The Marys, or, The beauty of female holiness online

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it must undergo the same change, and pass
from fluid to vapour, before it becomes dew.
As water, it cannot, however pure or polluted,
ascend into the atmosphere, nor refine itself
into dew : it may undergo changes of taste,
colour, and smell, according to the channels it
lies in and flows on ; but into dew it will not
turn, until it is exhaled in vapour by the sun.

Now, the moral, like the natural world, has
its putrid marshes and its pure streams — its
calm lakes and its stormy oceans ; for although



EMBLEMS OF HOLINESS. 125

no class of mankind is naturally holy, some
classes are comparatively pure, and others
grossly vile. There are, in society, the decent
and the indelicate, the humane and the cruel,
the cool and the passionate, the upright and
the dishonest. These distinctions betw^een
man and man are as visible as those of land
and water on the globe, and as real as the dif-
ference between spring and pit water. But no
natural amiableness of disposition, nor any
acquired refinement of character, amounts to
" true holiness." The best, in common with
the worst, " must be born again" before they
can enter into the kingdom of God : for, as
water, in its purest state, must be exhaled
into vapour before it can be transmuted into
dew, so both the moral and the immoral must
be regenerated before they can enter heaven.
Education may purify the manners, but only
faith can purify the heart : love of character may
secure external decorum, but only the love of
Christ can secure internal holiness. Thus far
the resemblance holds good.

11*



126 EMBLEMS OF HOLIKESS.

Again; the agency by wliich dew is pro-
duced from all the varieties of water, is an em-
blem of that spiritual agency by which the
varieties of human character are transformed
into the Divine image. Now, the sun is the
grand agent in the natural world, by which
portions of all waters are changed into vapour.
His heat, operating on their surface, produces
exhalations wherever it touches, drawing va-
pour from the wide expanse of the ocean and
from the v/eedy pool ; from the brakish river
and from the sweet brook. And the sun is the
only luminary of heaven that exhales the
waters. The moon regulates their tides, and
the stars irradiate their surface ; but the united
rays of both are insufficient to evaporate in-
gredients for a single dewdrop. It is the sun
which draws from the earth, into the atmo-
sphere, the elements of this beautiful fluid : in
like manner, it is " the Sun of Righteousness"
alone that draws sinners from the fearful pit of
the curse, and from the miry clay of corruption.
The attractive influence of his cross is to us



EMBLEMS OF HOLINESS. 127

Vv'hat the heat of the sun is to the moisture of
the earth — the only drawing power. Other
doctrines may, like the moon, produce regular
tides of formal worship, and, like the stars,
brighten the surface of the character ; but
they shine too cold to regenerate the heart or
puiify the conscience. Thus, Arianism, al-
though it shone in the brightness of learning
and ethics during the last century, had no
spiritual attraction : it drew sm.all numbers
from the Church to the Meeting; but none
from the world to God — as the God of salva-
tion. SocixiAxisM also has, of late, shone in
the heat of proselyting zeal ; but the only effect
is, that some of the young, who formerly cared
nothing about religion, are become flippant
speculators, and many of the speculators
masked Deists. It is notorious that the sys-
tem has made the young " heady and high-
minded," and the old callous. Many of both
are, indeed, intelligent and upright ; but these
were so before they embraced the system, and
would be what they are under any moral



128 EMBLEMS OF HOLINESS.

system, while their local and relative circum-
stances continue the same. And what have
the classically elegant lectures on morals,
which sound from so many pulpits, done for
the young or old ? Except maintaining a
routine of formal worship, and raising an ig-
norant clamour against evangelical truth, they
have left parishes and districts as they found
them — locked up in the icebergs of apathy and
self-delusion. And such must ever be the ef-
fects of legal preaching, because it is not God's
appointment for winning souls. He no more
intends to save sinners by the law, than to
evaporate the waters by the moon or the stars.
The law, like these luminaries, is a light to our
feet in " the new and living way ;" but only the
Sun of Righteousness, shining in the Gospel,
can draw us into that way. " The dew of his
youth" can only be formed by his own influ-
ence. Thus far, also, the parallel is just.

Again ; the secret process by which the ex-
haled vapours are turned into dew, is an
emblem of that Divine operation by which the



EMBLEMS OF HOLINESS. 129

Holy Spirit makes sinners " new creatures in
Christ Jesus." The precise agent in nature,
by which vapour is condensed into dew, is not
known : whether it is by cold or by electricity,
or by both, is still as much a mystery as when
God asked Job from the whirlwind, " Who
hath begotten the drops of dew ?" In like
manner, although we know that the Holy
Spirit is the agent who changes the heart,
by making the Gospel power unto salvation,
v/e are ignorant of the nature of his operations.
Whether they are partly physical, or wholly
moral, is unknown. " The wind bloweth
where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound
thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh,
or whither it goeth : so is every one that is
born of the Spirit." But we do know what is
much better — that his sacred influences are in-
separably connected with the conscientious use
of the means of grace, and forthcoming in an-
swer to serious prayer. This we know ; that
as water exposed to the sun will be evaporated
in part, and water excluded from the sun will



130 EMBLEMS OF HOLINESS.

never become dew ; so we may expect Divine
influence in the use of divinely appointed
means, and can look for none if they are neg-
lected.

Again ; the similarity of dewdrops in pure-
ness and beauty, although formed from all the
Tarieties of vapour, is a fine emblem of that
uniform spirit which characterizes the diversified
classes of mankind, who are brought to beheve
on Christ for salvation. There is what may
be called a family likeness prevailing through-
out the dewdrops of the morning. They dif-
fer in size ; but they are all transparent, ten-
der, and pure. This is the more remarkable,
seeing their original elements were so difier-
ent : part of the vapour was drawn from the
briny deep, and part from the putrid fens ;
portions of it from the slimy pool, and por-
tions from the steaming surfs. Xow, that
the exhalations from springs and rivulets, from
the herbs of the field and the flowers of the
garden, should return to the earth in sweet
dews, is not surprising : but that the gross and



EMBLEMS OF HOLINESS. 131

tainted vapours should return sweet and pure
is wonderful ! And yet all this is realized under
the gospel. The sinner drawn from the very
dregs of society, and the sinner drawn from a
respectable family — the convert from sensu-
ality, and the convert from intellectual pride —
the wanderer returning from vice, and the
wanderer renouncing vanity — become alike in
their leading views, principles, and feelings :
they build their hopes on the same foundation,
ascribe their escape to the same grace, and aim
at the same kind and degree of holiness.
*' Whosoever" hath the hope of eternal life
" in Christ," " purifieth himself," even as
Christ is pure. Converts differ, indeed, in the
degree of their knowledge, gifts, and graces —
as the dewdrops in their size ; but, like them,
they are all partakers of a new nature, and
each compared with what he was before con-
version, " a new creature in Christ Jesus."

Again ; the refreshing and fertilizing influ-
ence of the dew is a fine emblem of the salutary
influence of converts in their respective fami-



132 EMBLEMS OF HOLINES:-.

lies and spheres. The dew cools the sultry air,
revives the parched herbage of the earth, and
bathes the whole landscape in renovated
beauty : and, in like manner, holy families are
harmonious — ^holy churches tranquil. Even
an individual convert is not without a portion
of sweet influence in his circle ; the change in
his character and spirit suggests to others the
necessity and the possibility of being changed
too ; and thus " they that dwell under his
shadow revive as the corn, and grow as the
vine." His example distils as dew upon the ten-
der herb, quickening the formal to the power of
godliness, and awakening the careless to con-
sideration. Thus the pious are the salt of the
earth. The absence of dew would not be more
fatal to the natural world, than the want of
converts to the moral world. Were they with-
drawn, or were their succession to cease, even
the general morality of society would wither
and sink far below its present standard and
strength.

Again; the dew is regularly drawn up



EMBLEMS OF HOLINESS. 133

again by tlie sun, when it has refreshed the
earth ; and is thus a fine emblem of the first
resurrection, when all the saints shall ascend
to meet the Sun of Righteousness in the air.
No scene of nature is more lovely than a sum-
mer landscape at sunrise, when every field,
grove, and hedge is spangled with morning
dew. The drops seem to sparkle with, con-
scious delight at the approach of the sun —
climbing, as he ascends, to the top of every
leaf; as if impatient to meet him in the air.
Every admirer of nature has noticed this scene,
and watched the dewy vapour rising like in-
cense from the golden censer of summer. Who
has not gazed with rapture on the glowing
myriads of dewdrops, when each of them is a
miniature of the sun which gilds them ? And,
when the Sun of Righteousness shall arise on
the morning of the resurrection, the heirs of
glory will be as numerous and beautiful as the
dew from the womb of the morning — all in the
beauty of holiness ; for they " shall be like
Him, when they see him as he is."

12



No. IV.

A matron's timidity explained

Perfect conformity to the Divine image
exists only in the Divine presence! Only those
who see God face to face, are holy as God is
holy. Until we see Him as He actually is, we
cannot be fully like him. Nothing but " open
vision" can produce an entire moral resemblance
between our spirit and the Father of spirits.
They little know what perfection means, who
imagine that they are " already perfect." Those,
however, are quite as ignorant, and more cri-
minal, who are not trying to perfect holiness in
the fear of God . They are certainly very weak
in intellect, who reckon themselves spotless in
heart or character : but they are weaker in con-
science and in all principle, who are content to
be imperfect, or not much concerned to keep

134



TIMIDITY EXPLAINED, 135

themselves unspotted from the world. And,
alas, there are far more of the latter class, than
of the former. The visionaries of Perfection
are but few in numbers, and small in influence :
whereas, the trucklers to allowed and needless
Imperfection, are many and mighty. The name
of the Inconsistent is " Legion."

How do we feel, when we say to ourselves,
or when it is proved to us from Scripture and
Experience, " that perfection is impossible out
of Heaven ?" Are we glad to hear this ? Is it
good news to us 1 We make a very bad use of
it, if we employ the fact to excuse our besetting
sin, or to exempt us from the trouble of watch-
fulness and self-denial. It was never revealed
by God, nor avowed by His ministers, for this
unholy purpose. God declared it, and Prophets
and Apostles confessed it, in order that con-
scious Imperfection might not drive the follow-
ers of Holiness to despair. The talkers about
holiness do not need the fact, although they use
it. Their imperfection, as they call it, neither
alarms nor humbles them. They are on very



136 A matron's

good terms with what is bad in their habits :
indeed, quite in love with the sin that most
easily besets them. It would be no gratifica-
tion to them, to be redeemed from its present
power. They intend, of course, to give it up
some time, and in time enough (as they think)
to leave it still pardonable, or not fatal : but, like
Augustine, " not now."

Not thus lightly, however, do sins or short-
comings sit upon the conscience, or affect the
hopes, of godly women. They have to prove
their faith by their works ; to confirm their
hopes by their holiness ; to make their calling
and election sure, bv a orrovvincr likeness to
Him, to whose image Believers are " predesti-
nated to be conformed." To them, therefore,
it is both a solemn and startling matter, to
miss some features of the Divine image in their
character ; and others in their spirit ; and to
find all the features of that image so indistinct
and unsettled ! This discovery causes in them
great searchings and sinkings of heart before
God. Indeed, something of both continues



TIMIDITY EXPLAINED, 137

with a Christian through life. She is never
fully " satisfied'^ with her own piety. Like
David, she never can be satisfied with herself,
until she awake in heaven in all the beauties
of that holiness, which is the express moral
image of God.

This is one on-eat characteristic of a real
Christian : she never is, and never can be,
quite satisfied with the degree of her own piety.
She may, indeed, be quite satisfied that it is of
the right kind, both as to its principles and spirit,
so far as it goes : but she never thinks that it
has gone far enough. She may have no doubt
of its sincerity towards God, nor of its salutary
influence over herself and her family, nor of its
usefulness in her sphere of action : but still, it
comes short of her wishes, and even fills her
with shame and sorrow. She is not satisfied
with herself, whoever else may approve or ap-
plaud her. Indeed, nothing humbles her more
than compliments from others. Not that she is
indifferent to the good opinion of others : but
she feels that if they knew her heart as she

12*



138 A matron's

knows it, they would not thinlv so highly of her.
For she is conscious of coldness, where they
see nothing but warmth ; of ignorance, where
they recognise wisdom : of earthly-mindedness,
where they acknowledge spirituality andheaven-
ly-mindedness. Like Paul, a real Christian
woman feels herself " less than the least of all
saints," even when she stands highest in public
estimation.

Were this fact well understood, as being
characteristic of true piety, it would prev^ent
many Christians from unchristianizing them-
selves so often as they do. They imagine, be-
cause they are so dissatujied with themselves,
that the satisfaction which others express, is
more from kindness than wisdom, or rather
friendly than prudent. They wish to think
themselves as sincere, right, and safe as their
friends say ; but they are afraid to conclude
that they really are so. " Should I not have the
witness in myself, if I were, indeed, a child of
God ?" is their answer to many a prayer and
appeal which treats them as daughters of the



TIMIDITY EXPLAINED. 129

Lord God Almighty. " Your arguments may
be very true iu your own case and in that of
others," they say ; " but you cannot argue me
out of my own feelings, nor persuade me against
my own consciousness. I am not satisfied
with either my faith or my repentance ; my
prayers or experience : and for this solid reason ;
— I see so much in my heart that is bad, and
so little in my life that really glorifies God,
that I can hardly conceive how there could be
any grace where there is so much coldness and
deadness. " wretched thai I am, who shall
deliver me from the body of this death .'"

This self-dissatisfaction is, however, a very
satisfactory proof of real piety, in all cases
where a real effort is made to be holy in heart
and life. There is no great effort to be so,
wherever there is self-satisfaction. Those who,
like the Laodiceans, are pleased with them-
selves, are, like them, an " abomination" unto
the Lord. They both thought and said, that
they had '' need of nothing." They took for
granted, that they were enlightened enough,



!40 A MATRON'a

clothed enough, and enriched enough, to be
quite safe, or on the right side for Eternity.
But, what did Christ say to them ? " Thou
art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and
blind, and naked." Thus the men who imagined
that they had need of nothing, were found
wanting in every thing, when weighed in the
balance of the Sanctuary, by the Saviour of
the Church.

Here is the awful consequence of calculating
how little piety will just suffice for safety at
last. The Laodiceans seem to have reckoned
to a fraction, how little would do. Their
question had evidently been, not hoAv much
God required, nor how much they could culti-
vate, nor what would be the advantage of emi-
nent piety : but just, how much is absolutely
needed, in order to any chance of escape at
last ? And whenever a woman comes to reckon
in this way, she is sure to let nothing into her
list of duties or graces, which she can keep out.
The moment she is so infatuated by sloth or
worldliness, as to drive a bargain in religion,



TIMIDITY EXPLAINED. 141

she will drive a hard bargain with it ; and thus
cheat herself to a certainty, whilst trying to
cheat it. This is inevitable, whenever a woman
tampers with the question, — where can I stop
with safety in the path of holiness? She is
sure to stop wherever she dislikes to go, and
to make her own convenience limit the mean-
ing of God's requirements.

Now although there may be both some
weakness and waywardness in the spirit of
those Christians, who give way to doubts and
fears, and who " write bitter things" against
themselves, whenever they do not feel as they
wish, still, their spirit is noble and wise, com-
pared with the spirit of the woman, who cares
nothing about how she feels or acts in religior,
if she can only keep down the fear of perishing.
There is no comparison : it is all contrast, be-
tween a doubting Christian, and a heedless or
heartless professor.

In saying this, however, nothing is farther
from my design, than vindicating or even pal-
liating the habit of doubting. It is a bad



142 A matron's

habit ; although infinitely a better one than the
habit of taking for granted that all is right
before God, when there is nothing flagrantly
wrong before men. Still, it is bad : and in
this way. It tempts some who witness it to
doubt the power of the Gospel ; or the truth
of the promises ; or the freeness of grace.
The doubting Christian herself, does not ques-
tion these things. All her misorivinffs of heart
arise from what she thinks and feels herself to
be : and not from any suspicion of the freeness
or power of the grace of God. This distinction
is not, however, noticed by all observers. Some
look only on the surface of such a case ; and,
when they see a serious and consistent woman,
without comfort, and almost without hope at
times, they strongly suspect, cither that the Gos-
pel is not such good news as Ministers say, or
that prayer is not so surely answered as the
Promises seem to imply. Accordingly, when
recent converts see cases of this kind, they are
tempted to doubt whether they may not pray
in vain too, or strive to no purpose. Those,



TIMIDITY EXPLAINED. 143

again, who want an excuse for neglecting
prayer, or for remaining undecided, seize upon
such cases with avidity, and pretend to be dis-
couraged by them, or warranted from them to
doubt whether religion is enjoyment.

Now to both classes I would say, you are
equally wrong, in the conclusions you thus
draw from the sadness and suspense of weak
Believers. They may seem to have no enjoy-
ment in religion, and may even say that they
find no comfort : but, ask them to give up reli-
gion, for the pleasures of sin ; propose to them
a return to the world for happiness ; offer to
them the sweetest cup of earthly enjoyment,
in exchange for that cup of salvation, which
they hold in their hand without venturing to
drink freely of the living water ; — will they
make the exchange, or even listen with pa-
tience to the proposal? No indeed. They
will tell you at once, that however unhappy
they may feel, they would be miserable, yea,
unspeakably wretched, were they to take up
with any earthly portion whatever. Not for



144 -A- matron'3

ten thousand worlds, would they turn their
back upon the Saviour or Holiness.

And, is there no grace in this state of mind?
Has prayer been unanswered, where the heart
thus prefers to follow Christ even in darkness,
rather than forsake him for the things of time
or sense 1 Yea, is there not enjoyment, or, at
least, cause for comfort, in a state of mind
which thus prefers the Divine favour and image,
to all that the world calls good or great ? For,
what but grace, — special, saving, sanctifying
grace, could have wrought this change in the
natural spirit of the mind, which is of the earth,
earthy ? Did doubting Christians reason in
this way on their own case, they could not
long doubt the reality of their conversion.

Nor is this the only thing which proves that
a saving work of grace has been begun in
them, by the Spirit of God. The sad light in
which they see themselves, arises from the true
light in which they see the character of God-
Had they seen less of His glory, they would
be less ashamed of themselves. It is because



T K-\I I D 1 1' Y L X P L A I N E D . 145

His character is much before their minds, that
their own character stands so low in their esti-
mation. Were they only comparing themselves
with others, or their present selves with their
former selves, they would be more satisfied
with themselves : but they are contrasting
themselves with inlinite purity ; with perfect
excellence ; with unchangeable holiness : and
this process of judging, just produces the same
effect upon them, which it had upon Patriarchs,
Prophets, and Apostles.

Doubting Christians overlook this fact, and
in the hurry and flutter of the moment, forget
that the most eminent saints of old, had exactly
the same opinion of themselves, whenever
they had the same clear and solemn views of
the glorious majesty of Jehovah. Who said,
when his eyes saw the true character of God,
" I abhor myself?" It was Job. Who said,
when he saw the glory of God in the Temple,
" Wo is me, I am undone .


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Online LibraryRobert PhilipThe Marys, or, The beauty of female holiness → online text (page 6 of 11)