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HER ROYAL HIGHNESS
THE PRINCESS VICTORIA,
ON FEMALE CHARACTER AND INFLUENCE,
Its style, too, is occasionally peculiar; because he thinks that PARABLE and ALLEGORY are legitimate weapons in “the defence of the Gospel." He has, therefore, attempted to give Oriental forms to old truths, whenever he found it difficult to say, in ordinary language, all that he wished to suggest to the female mind. He has also given that prominence to "the beauty of holiness,” which it has in Scripture, in common with the nature and necessity of holiness. This plan and purpose will be adhered to in the succeeding volumes of The Lady's Closet LIBRARY.
The Author's appeal is to the Mothers and Daughters in British “ Israel:" they must be both his patrons and judges, if this well-meant experi ment succeed.
Newington Green, May 24, 1835.
BY HER GRACIOUS PERMISSION,
DRVENT PRAYER THAT HER ROYAL HIGHNESS
THE BEAUTIES OF HOLINESS,"
IV. A Matron's Timidity Explained.
V. The Marys at the Cross.
VI. The Marys at the Sepulchre. the author believes that general appeals on the sub
VII. Partialities in Holiness. ject of Sin and Holiness are not well adapted to the conscience of the sex, nor so faithful as they VIII. Christians Holy Temples.
M AR YS:
THE BEAUTY OF FEMALE HOLINESS.
tional; even their enemies "took knowledge of A MOTHER'S HINDENANCES DULY WEIGHED.
them that they had been wiih Jesus" 10 some good Ir is worthy of special observation, that, whilst the purpose, so far as exemplary conduct was the effect earliest prophecies concerning the Church of Christ of their intercourse with him. on earth foretell, chiefly, the numbers of his disci Did you ever observe, whilst reviewing the chaples, the latter prophecies abound in descriptions of racter of the Saviour's early friends, that his female their spiritual and moral character. Thus, when followers soon acquired great beauty of holiness God pointed Abraham to the stars of heaven and under ihe iniluence of his word an example ?-the sands on the sea shore, as emblems of the Sa- There is, indeed, a complete halo of loveliness viour's offspring, it was only their innumerable around the character and spirit of John, “the dis“multitude" and not their beauty or puriiy, that was ciple whom Jesus loved ;" and there is much sub. appealed to: but when God pointed David to the limity about Peter, notwithstanding all his faults; " dew-drops of the morning," as an emblem of the and the whole eleven, compared with even the best offspring of Christ, he left their numbers to be in- of the Jews of that time, were emphatically "holy ferred, and confined the attention of David to “the men:" but still, “ whatsoever things are pure, and beauty" of their “holiness.” Psalm cx. The reason whatsoever things are lovely," abound most among for this difference in the revelation of the same fact the women of Judea and Galilee, who followed him. is obvious; the day of Christ had just been shown There is an exquisite and touching beauty about to David as a day of power,” which should make the holiness of the Marys of Bethlehem and Bethany people "willing” to follow Christ, and as a period especially, which eclipses even the excellence of the of gracious and unchangeable priesthood, which "holy women of old.” We almost forget Abrashould encourage them to follow holiness; whereas ham's Sarah in the presence of Joseph's Mary, and neither of these facts was fully disclosed to Abra- lose sight of Jacob's Rachel whilst Mary of Bethany ham, when he saw the day of Christ afar off. What is before us. Of them we must say, and even the was shown to him was, chiefly, the certainty of that world will respond the exclamation, "Many daughday, and not the glory of it: and therefore its results ters have done virtuously,” but ye have "excelled were given in numbers, not in characteristics. them all.” Give them of "the fruit” of their own
This illustration will apply to the prophecies at hands, and their “works will praise them in the large. Just in proportion as they unveil the glory gates." and grace of the Saviour to the Church, they ex It was not without special design, that the Holy hibit or enforce the necessity and beauty of holiness. Spirit transmitted to posterity so much of the histoThe clearer lights they shed upon the mediatorial ry and character of these distinguished women: he way of acceptance with God, the stronger lights they evidently intended them to be models of female hopour upon the “narrow way which leadeth to ever- liness to their sex. Hence he inspired both Elizalasting life.”
beth and the angel Gabriel to “HAIL" Mary of This is an interesting fact. It leads us to look Bethlehem as “highly favored and blessed among back among the first disciples of Christ, who fol- women," and taught the evangelists to depict her lowed him in this “regeneration of life,” to notice peculiar excellences: and not less care did he take how far they justified the prophecies, which thus to embody the character and embalm the memory " went before," concerning the beauty of their holi- of Mary of Bethany. No angel, indeed, pronounced ness. Did his first offspring, “the dew of his youth,” her eulogy, but, what was far better, "Jesus loved resemble the dew of the morning in characier and Mary,” and predicted that her love to him should spirit? Was he at all glorified in his saints then, be “ told as a memorial of her” wheresvever the as well as “admired by them ?" Now, so far as Gospel should be preached throughout the whole moral character is one of the essential beauties of world.” holiness, his first disciples were, in general, emi These are not accidents, nor mere incidents in nently holy. Whatever they may have been before the sacred history; Mary of Bethlehem, like the they left all and followed Christ, afterwards they star of Bethlehem, is evidently placed in the firmawere emphatically virtuous and upright. For a ment of the Church, as a leading star, to guide wise long time, indeed, their views of the person, work, women, as well as wise men, to Christ, and to teach and kingdom of Christ were very worldly, and even both how to ponder his sayings, and revere his autheir spirit was ambitious as well as rash ; but their thority, and cleave to his cross. In like manner, general habits were both circumspect and devo- Mary of Bethany, like her own "alabaster box of
precious ointmeni,” is so fully disclosed in all her character. From all we know of the Saviour, we principles, and so fully poured out in all her spirit may be quite sure that he would have reproved her before us by the sacred writers, that there can be himself, had she been either idle or negligent. no doubt but her lovely character was intended to
They are but very superficial observers, who seize be " as ointment poured forth,” inspiring, as well as upon the contrast of the moment between these sispleasing. Like the "good part, which shall never ters, to make out, that Mary was chiefly an amiable be taken from her," the beauty of her holiness can Nun-like being, who was fonder of contemplative never be uninfluential on either sex, whilst it is the piety thar nf practical duty. This is a very comduty of both “ to sit at the feet of Jesus,” hearing
mon opinion; but it is utterly at variance with fact, his word; and that will be equally duty and delight however appearances may seem to justify it. Even in heaven, as well as on earth,
appearances are against it; for nothing is so promi
nent upon the surface of the case, as the Saviour's While breath or being last,
approbation of Mary's character. They are, thereOr immortality endures.”
fore, at issue with both His judgment and testimony,
who insinuate the charge or suspicion of undomestic For who, that knows any thing of vital and expe- habits against this holy woman. There is nothing rimental religion, has not said, in effect, both when to warrant such an imputation. She sat at the feet remembering past attainments, and when anticipat- of Jesus upon this occasion, because Jesus thought ing future progress and enjoyment,
proper to open his lips as a minister, when he visited “O that I might for ever sit
her house as a guest. Besides, His visits to Betha.
ny were the real sabbaths of the family. Only then, Like Mary, at the Master's feet ?"
had they the opportunity of hearing the glorious Thus the eye of a Christian, of either sex, and of Gospel in all the fulness of its blessing: and as the whatever sphere in life or godliness, reposes upon opportunity did not occur often, it could not be too Mary of Bethany, whenever it searches for an ex- fully improved whilst it lasted. Thus, there is no ample of child-like docility, or of angel-like meek- more reason to think Mary inactive or undomestic, ness, in learning of Christ. The spirit of a Chris because she sat whilst Martha served with unnetian takes her position at the feet of Christ, and tries cessary bustle, than to suspect that those women, to hang upon bis lips with her zeal and zest, when- who sanctify the Sabbath most in the house of God, ever it is hungering and thirsting after righteous-are least attentive to the affairs of their own houses. ness. The soul feels instinctively that this is the There is, perhaps, no better test of good domestic only way to " be filled" or refreshed by his presence. management all the week at home, than regularity Accordingly, we have never found much enjoyment
and punctuality of attendance on public worship on Oi profit, except when we have really sat at "the the Sabbath. Those who are soonest and oftenesi feet” of Christ, hearing his word for ourselves.- at the feet of Jesus on his own day, are certainly Neither in the sanctuary, nor in the closet, have not idle or irregular on other days. It is because we become holier or happier, when we did not try they are active, and act on system through the week, to place ourselves in the position and spirit of Mary. that they can make so much of their Sabbaths.
It will be seen at once, from this application of I thus bring out the real character of Mary, that the example of Mary, that I regard both her place the beauty of holiness may not be supposed to conat the feet of Jesus, and her conduct in anointing sist in either mere morals or musing. There may his feet with “spikenard,” as only illustrations of be much morality, where there is no holiness; and her habitual spirit and general character. Nothing there may be much holiness, where there are no liis farther from my intention, because nothing could terary tastes or habits. Neither fondness for public be more foreign to her real character, than to re- hearing, nor the present her as merely a meek, contemplative, and retiring Christian. She was, indeed, all this, but
"Love of lonely musing," she was much more: she was as prompt as Martha in going out of the house to meet Jesus when he is any real proof, by itself, of a new heart, or of a sent for her, and in serving him in the house when right spirit, before God. Great readers (as they are service was really wanted. It was not wanted called) are not often the deepest nor the most seriwhen Martha said so. If she had stood in realous thinkers, even when their reading is of the best need of assistance from Mary, the Saviour would kind; and the contemplative recluse, who lives only not have continued, nor even begun to preach, in to think, or who reckons every thing but mental the house of Lazarus then : much less would he pleasure insipid is actually indulging " the lusts or have commended Mary for sitting still, if she had the mind," instead of growing in grace or holiness. been neglecting domestic duties. The character It may sound well, to say of a sweet enthusiast, of Mary should, therefore, be judged, not by this in-, whose element is solitude, and whose luxury is stance of contrast with Martha's, but by the conduct emotion, " that she is a being who belongs to another of Jesus. Now, He certainly would not have world; her tastes are all so unearthly, and her thrown his immortal shield so promptly and fully sympathies so exalted;" but this is no compliment ! over it, if sloth or selfishness, the love of ease, or Indeed, it is a heavy reflection upon both her heart the dislike of household duties, had been part of her and conscience. A heart that felt aright, or a con
science purified by the blood of atonement, would Now there is some danger, as well as difficulty, try to do good by action, as well as to get good by in meeting this case ; because more want to get rid contemplation. No one belongs less to another of such doubts, than those who are so placed and world (if, by that, heaven is meant) than the being pledged in life, that they have but little spare time. who has neither heart nor hand to be a blessing in | The slothful and the worldly-minded are upon the this world. Her tastes may be unearthly; but watch, to lay hold of any thing that would lessen heavenly, they certainly are not. They are not their self-condemnation, or tend to reconcile their angel-like : for, are not all the angels “ministering habits with their hopes. The allowances to be made spirits, sent forth to minister to the heirs of salva- for the real want of time, they stand ready to snatch tion ?” They are not saint-like: for all the spirits at, as excuses for not redeeming time, or for not of the just in heaven take a lively interest in the improving it. The forbearance, and leniency, and progress of the kingdom of Christ on earth. And sympathy of God towards his poor and afflicted they are any thing but god-like : for Father, Son, children, are greedily seized and appropriated by and Holy Spirit, live and move, as if they had both slothful servants, and by heedless and heartless protheir bliss and being in the welfare of this world. fessors. For they, too, want to be happy in their
How ever did it come to be supposed, in the land own mind, however little they care about holiness. of Bibles, that there was either intellectual great- They go to the sanctuary to be comforted, as well ness, or moral loveliness, around any pensive or
as the tried and harassed Christian. sweet recluse, who lives only in and for the ideal Hence arises danger, as well as difficulty, in meetworld of her own thoughts; whilst the Heathen and ing, publicly and fully, the case of those who canMohammedan world is perishing for lack of know- not redeem much time, nor always do the good they ledge, and the actual world at her door, sinning and really wish: the concessions made on their behalf, suffering unpitied by her ?
may be perverted by those who dislike devotional Those who have no taste for retirement or read- retirement, into an excuse for so multiplying their ing will, but too readily, join in this protest against worldly engagements, as to leave no time for readsentimental seclusion. Those only who have but ing or meditation, and but little for prayer itself.little time for direct mental improvement, will make Stil), neither the sheep nor the lambs of the Good a right use of the protest, or even repeat it in a good Shepherd's flock, (who love and long for those green spirit. They will be glad to hear it. Not, however, pastures and still waters, without being able to visit because it condemns others, but because it relieves them often or continue at them long,) should be lett themselves from self-condemnation, by proving to to put the worst interpretation upon their own weakthem, from both the letter and spirit of Scripture, ness, however wandering sheep may abuse the Sherthat musing piety is not the only nor the best piety. herd's condescension. He will count as his sheep, Many who have no inclination to cumber them- and even carry in his bosom, those, who, although selves needlessly with many things, like Martha, they cannot be so often at his feet as they wish, do are yet encumbered with so many things which dis- not try to keep away, nor to get away, from his feet. tract their attention, and absorb their time, that they He will distinguish between those who cannot sit hastily conclude, or sirongly suspect, that they have down to hear his voice frequently, because of pressno real piety, because they are so unlike the Mary ing domestic duties, and those who se dom do so, of their own imagination, and of popular opinion. because they prefer to “ hear the voice of strangers.” They thus set themselves down as Marthas, (her John 2. 5. real character, too, is equally mistaken,) who have
The real question, therefore, in the case of those not "chosen the good part," nor acquired the "one who have but little leisure, is - What engrosses thing needful.” But this is as unnecessary as it is your time? Now, if duties which it would be sinunwise. Wherever real duty fills the hands, or ful to omit, fill your hands and your heart all the inevitable care the heart, then there is as much ho-day long, and even leave you fatigued at night, it liness, and as much of the real beauty of it too, in will not be laid to your charge, as sin, that you were doing or suffering the will of God well, as in acts not much alone with God. You ought not to be of prolonged devotion, or in efforts of heavenly- much alone, when either a sick-bed or the care of mindedness.
the family requires your presence. Then, "the This subject is much misunderstood. Indeed, beauty of holiness" lies in watching and working many are afraid to speak out, or even to think free- in a devotional spirit, and not in frequent nor in ly, on the subject. They are quite dissatisfied with prolonged visits to the closet. That mother is not themselves, because they can command so little time unholy, nor inconsistent, who has hardly a moment for devotional reading and meditation; and yet they to herself, from morning till night, owing to the do not see how they can command more at present. number of her children, or the sickness of her habe. They see clearly, and feel deeply, that their minds That daughter is not unholy, nor unlike Mary of want improvement; that the great salvation de Bethany, who shares her mother's toils and trials, serves more thought than they give to it; that they or soothes the loneliness of an aged and infirm fahave not that communion with God which is so de- ther. That wife is not unholy, por unlike Mary, sirable, nor that witness of the Spirit which they who, in order to make her husband's slender income deem so important; and hence they stand in doubt sweeten his home and sustain his credit, works hard whether they have any real piety at all.
all the day. All these things are, indeed, done by
many who care nothing about holiness, and who | but, having, like many, grown up under the idea, would not retire to meditate or pray, even if their that nothing was really a part of her piety but what time were not thus absorbed; and, therefore, the was a positive act of religion, and thus being in the mere doing of these things, apart from its spirit and habit of estimating her piety more by her delight in motives, proves nothing decisive as to the state of divine things, than by her conscientious discharge the heart before God. Still, it is equally true, on of ordinary duties, she is, of course, sadly thrown the other hand, that neither the time nor the care out and disconcerted, whenever the pressure of orexpended on these duties disproves the existence of dinary duties lessens the sense or lowers the spirit holiness. There is, indeed, no true holiness, where of her religious observances; whereas, had she fully there is no secret devotion ; but there may be much gone into the question of personal holiness at her of the former, when there is but little time for the outset in the divine life, she would have soon dislatter: yea, the highest beauty of holiness often in- covered that it is the very beauty of houiness to do vests and enshrines the character, whilst the heart that best which is most wanted at the moment; for of a Christian must depend more upon frequent even the cradle may be made an altar, and the nurglances at the throne of grace, than upon formal sery a little sanctuary, and household duties almost approaches to it. Then, to go through arduous sacramental engagements ! But if these things are domestic duty, in a meek and quiet spirit, which looked upon as the mere routine of life, or as unfa. breathes prayer, even when busiest ; or to watch vorable to godliness; and if only the time which and minister in the sick chamber, mingling prayer can be spared from them is considered improved with tenderness and patience, and thus “doing ser- time for eternity, then, of course, there must be a vice as unto the Lord,” or for his sake, is as deci- sad sense of declension in piety whenever more time sive of piety, and even “ adorns the doctrines” of than usual is demanded by them. But why not Christ as much, as any act of devotion, however consider that unusual portion of time which is respiritual, or any enterprise of zeal, however splen- quired in seasons of domestic care, as improved for did.
eternity, as well as the time spent in devotion ?There is, perhaps, no practical lesson of godliness Why not do every thing as service unto God, as so ill understood, as this one. The general senti- well as the things you call service done to him? ment of it is, of course, obvious to any Christian, Surely, if all Christians may eat and drink so as to and the theory of it quite familiar; but, how few glorify God, Christian mothers may watch and work enter so fully into the spirit of the maxim, as to keep for their family to the praise of the glory of his grace. their piety from declining, or their peace of mind
I am not inclined to resolve so many things into from evaporating, when they have much to do or to satanic influence as some are: there are many of endure in their family! Then, it is no uncommon our faults and failings but too easily accounted for thing for a pious wife, or a widowed mother, to by the treachery of our own hearts and the want of complain that domestic cares have brought a cloud consideration : still, I cannot help suspecting that upon all her hopes and evidences of grace, and such Satan has not a little, yea, much, to do with creating deadness and darkness upon her soul, that she seems and keeping up the popular notion, that nothing is to herself no longer the same being she was, but spiritual religion but spiritual exercises and emolike an apostate from faith and godliness. Thus tions. Not, indeed, that he is any friend to spiritshe thinks that she has lost her piety, whilst doing uality of heart or habit: there is nothing he hates so her duty to her family!
much, or tries more to hinder. He can, however, And she certainly has lost some of her piety, al- transform himself into an angel of light, and thus though not in the sense she means, nor yet to the seem to plead for highly spiritual religion, and for degree she suspects. She has lost that holy free-extraordinary devotion, whilst, in fact, he is endeadom at the throne of grace, which once made her voring to prevent all religion and devotion too. closet the house of God and the gate of heaven; she It is not sin alone, nor worldly pleasures only, has lost that power of appropriating the great and that Salan throws false colors over: he can exagprecious promises, which once made her Bible so gerate the claims of boliness, as well as soften the dear; she has lost that control over her own thoughts aspect of sin and folly. He often labors to make and feelings, by which she could once concentrate out the necessity of too much religion, as well as to them upon the things which are unseen and eternal, prove the sufficiency of too little : I mean, that just whenever she really tried to pass within the veil of as he tries to persuade some that the ceremonial the invisible world; and, above all, she has lost forms of religion are quite enough, or as much as sight of her own warrant and welcome to trust in can be expected in our busy world and imperfect Christ, which once set and kept every thing right. state, so he labors to persuade others that nothing Now, these are serious losses, and may well be sadly amounts to saving piety but a heart all love, a spirit bewailed, and even somewhat feared as to their con- all heavenly, and a character perfectly holy. In sequences; for it is not so easy to repair these spirit- like manner, he adapts his wiles to those who see ual injuries, as it is to bring them on. They might through the fallacy of such extremes ; putting it to all have been kept off, however, if she had studied themselves to say, whether they might not as well beforehand the secret of blending the spirit of prayer do nothing at all in religion, as do so little ; whether with the efforts of maternal devotedness, and the art it would not be less dangerous to make no profesof turning the duties of life into acts of godliness; I sion of godliness, than to have only a spark of its