1 Peter 3:1
Wives, in the same way, submit yourselves to your husbands, so that even if they refuse to believe the word, they will be won over without words by the behavior of their wives
Fifth Sunday After Trinity Exhortation to the Fruits of FaithMartin Luther1 Peter 3:1
The Christian Wife Called to Heart-Culture as the Means of Winning the Unconverted HusbandC. New 1 Peter 3:1-6
A Quarrelsome WifeBaptist Messenger.1 Peter 3:1-7
A Reminder or Heaven1 Peter 3:1-7
Beauty Beneath UglinessGreat Thoughts1 Peter 3:1-7
Christian WomanhoodBp. Wm. Alexander.1 Peter 3:1-7
DressG. Calthrop, M. A.1 Peter 3:1-7
Duties of Husbands and WivesThe Evangelist1 Peter 3:1-7
Exterior Adornment Insufficient1 Peter 3:1-7
Female AdorningW. Arnot.1 Peter 3:1-7
Female AdornmentJ. J. S. Bird, B. A.1 Peter 3:1-7
Heirs of the Grace of LifeThe Evangelist1 Peter 3:1-7
Hidden OrnamentsC. S. Slater, M. A.1 Peter 3:1-7
Hindrances to PrayerC. H. Spurgeon.1 Peter 3:1-7
Holiness the Best CommendationJohn Rogers.1 Peter 3:1-7
In God's SightBritish Weekly Pulpit1 Peter 3:1-7
Inner Attractiveness the Most DesirableDaily Paper.1 Peter 3:1-7
Latent Goodness and Latent EvilJames Freeman Clarke.1 Peter 3:1-7
MarriageG. Venables.1 Peter 3:1-7
Matrimonial AffinityScientific Illustrations1 Peter 3:1-7
MeeknessJ. Trapp.1 Peter 3:1-7
Meekness1 Peter 3:1-7
Of Meekness and Quietness of SpiritJ. Orr.1 Peter 3:1-7
QuietudeHenry T. Robjohns, B. A.1 Peter 3:1-7
Religion an Inward PrincipleJ. Kentish.1 Peter 3:1-7
Sarah and Her DaughtersC. H. Spurgeon.1 Peter 3:1-7
Soul ClothingJohn Rogers.1 Peter 3:1-7
Subjection of Wives to Their HusbandsR. Finlayson 1 Peter 3:1-7
The Attractive Power of Christian CharacterS. Martin.1 Peter 3:1-7
The Best ClothingJ. Trapp.1 Peter 3:1-7
The Blessedness of Christian ConnectionsT. N. Toller.1 Peter 3:1-7
The Christian WomanBp. Huntington.1 Peter 3:1-7
The Duties of HusbandsJ. J. S. Bird, B. A.1 Peter 3:1-7
The Hidden ManH. W. Beecher.1 Peter 3:1-7
The Hidden ManHomilist1 Peter 3:1-7
The Hidden Man1 Peter 3:1-7
The Influence of Christianity on DressT. Raffles, D. D.1 Peter 3:1-7
The Weaker VesselJohn Rogers.1 Peter 3:1-7
Unconscious InfluenceR. Tuck, B. A.1 Peter 3:1-7
Unfit for PrayerAbp. Leighton.1 Peter 3:1-7
Wifely SubjectionJohn Rogers.1 Peter 3:1-7
Wives Must be Subject Even unto Bad HusbandsJohn Rogers.1 Peter 3:1-7
Women's DressJ. Cumming.1 Peter 3:1-7
Won by BehaviourMrs. Walter Searle.1 Peter 3:1-7

The subject of this section is the necessity for a life becoming the Christian name; this is applied to Christian citizens and to Christian servants, and, here, to Christian wives. The reason for the conspicuous place here assigned to wives is obvious. The writer is addressing Churches in pagan countries, many of whose members were wives of heathen husbands. What were these to do? were they to continue in that relationship, or did their Christianity sever the marriage bond? That question occurred more than once; it was brought before Paul by the Church at Corinth, and he deals with it in 1 Corinthians 7. There was probably another reason for this. Dr. John Brown says, "When we reflect on the character of the conjugal relation among heathens, how much there was of the harshness of the tyrant in the husband, and of the baseness of the slave in the wife, and how much pollution and cruelty prevailed in the home, few things were more calculated to strike heathen observers favorably than the power of Christianity in introducing an order and purity and enjoyment into the domestic circle beyond what heathen philosophy had ever dreamt of." Peter's words are often applicable still. Two hearts, two lives, are often bound together by the closest human tics, one devoted to Christianity, the other not. The case here, however, is not of those who had been united after one had become a Christian; the nature of spiritual life and the direct Word of God forbid union of that kind, and there is no consolation here for the trouble that comes from disobedience in this respect. Here the wife is supposed to have become a Christian since she gave herself to the ungodly husband. The Divine finger is laid on the secret of many a troubled life, when husbands are here spoken of that "obey not the Word;" but the hand that pains is that which heals, for there is hope and strength and comfort for the wounded spirit in "Ye wives, be in subjection," etc.


1. And the first point included is faithful fulfillment of the duties of her relationship. "Be in subjection to your husbands;" equivalent to a summary of the various duties of the position. The expression is harsh at first, but the harshness wears off as we think of it, for love is always in subjection, He whose life was the embodiment of love came not to be ministered unto, but to minister. Love cannot help serving. This word lays no burden on love but what she lays on herself. Nor is this a one-sided requirement; for the same Word says, "Husbands, love your wives" - so that the subjection is mutual" submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." Yet, though the harshness be removed, the command remains and means something, and it is remarkable that in the three instances in the Epistles where the duties of wives are referred to, the same idea of subjection occurs (Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18; and here). Woman was made for a "helpmeet for man;" "Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee;" "Man was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man." The subjection, therefore, was to be real, yet not that of a servant, but of a companion; man's other self, yet still subject.

2. Possession of that pure character which springs /rein the fear of God. "Chaste conversation;" equivalent to pure manner of life, a character unsullied, and this arising from the fear of God in the heart. The godly wife of an ungodly man is exposed to great difficulty; the husband, troubled by no scruples, will often expect of her what her conscience condemns; and that position is as perilous as it is painful. Now, this word requires no swerving a hair-breadth from righteousness, not even under pressure of the husband's love and plans. "Whoso loveth... husband... more than," etc.

3. Manifestation of the graces of spirituality. "Whose adorning," etc. This does not necessarily condemn what is simply ornamental. Did we only use what is necessary for bare existence, many of our fellow-creatures could not live. God's works also are marked by beauty, needless but for gratification, and we may well copy him within his own lines. But do not let these be your adornment, do not let these be what men think of first when they see you, nor find in them your attraction; but let your adornment be the graces of the inner life. Let Christian women set themselves against the dress curse, one of the greatest curses of the day, and put character first, as God does.

II. THIS IS SET FORTH AS THE MEANS OF WINNING THE UNCONVERTED HUSBAND. These heathen husbands did not frequent the sanctuary, nor listen to the Word, and thus their case seemed hopeless. But the Divine Word may be carried to heart and mind as much by a Divine life as by a Divine book. Feeding on this book, we become its embodiment, living Epistles of Christ, read of all; and the promise is as true of the Word lived as of the Word spoken, "My Word shall not return unto me void." Vers. 5 and 6: not simply the hope to win the husband should lead to living thus, but not otherwise could the wife prove herself a daughter of Abraham, a member of the true Israel. The membership of the Christian wife in God's family is of itself the ground of her doing what is here required; all this is owed to God as your blaster; but there is an additional motive for this in its effect on the husband. See how this operates.

1. A true Christian life is a standing proof of the Divinity of Christianity. How can the doubting husband be undeceived? By the life of the wife.

2. An exemplification of the beauties of holiness is a constant persuasion. Acts of forgiveness, endurance, sacrifice, adherence to right, etc., gradually tell even on the hardened, and often loudly plead for Christ.

3. Conquest by the passive virtues is God's own method. Men dislike direct assaults on their moral nature, but often open their hearts spontaneously to what seems to make no onset. God recognizes that in his dealings with us. The meaning of his cross is, in fact, that he expects to subdue us by suffering for us and bearing with us. We may expect to win by the same means.

III. THIS IS ONLY ACCOMPLISHED BY PERSONAL HEART-CULTURE. How can we gain this becoming character? The passage answers, "By heart-work." Christian character grows from within.

1. Life is a reflex of faith. "What a man believes, that is he." Love, peace, purity, power, etc., are the proper fruits of trust in God; therefore strengthen your faith.

2. Character is according to companionship. We become like those with whom we associate. They take knowledge of those who have been with Jesus. God impresses his image on the soul that is much with him. - C.N.

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection
Here is required of wives subjection towards their husbands; though God made them in many things equal, yet in wisdom He thought meet to make some little inequality, and appointed the husband to be the superior and head, and so to rule, and the wife to be subject to him; yet not so but that he hath his rules to bound his rule, that it exceed not (1 Corinthians 11:8, 9; 1 Timothy 2:13). Neither is this without reason; for if all were equals in the commonwealth there would be confusion; and if all bells were of a bigness, and all the strings of an instrument of one size, there would be a harsh sound, and no melody: so, were there not some small inequality between husbands and wives, there could not but be contention. It is God's order that wives be subject, as it is His order the sun should shine, the earth bear fruit, the heavens cover us. Accordingly, God hath provided to make man the stronger, woman the weaker vessel, that he might be the fitter to rule, and she (feeling her own weakness) the more willing to be ruled.

(John Rogers.)

There were times when the Rev. Andrew Fuller could be exceedingly severe. He was once spending a few days in a family where the husband and wife were not very happy together, chiefly, I believe, owing to her tyrannical spirit, fostered by perverted views of Divine truth, making her by no means remarkable for kindness to her husband. One evening, having heard Mr. Fuller preach, according to the fashion of the school to which she belonged she remarked: "Ah, sir, we are poor creatures and can do nothing." "You are quite mistaken, madam," replied Mr. Fuller, "you can do a great deal." "Why, what can I do?" asked the lady, somewhat excited. "Why, madam," replied he, with a tone and manner which can only be imagined by those who knew him, "you can quarrel with your husband." The lady said no more.

(Baptist Messenger.)

If any obey not...they also may...be won
Not only must wives be subject that have good husbands, but even they which hath infidel husbands, unkind, irreligious; for they are their husbands, whom they have chosen, and are now in covenant to God withal, and which God hath laid out for them as a blessing or cross. If any shall say, This is very hard, let such know, that Christians must do difficult things. Every bungler can make good work of good, straight timber, but he that can make good work of that which is crooked and knotty is worthy commendation.

(John Rogers.)

The case supposed is one that would occur again and again while Christianity was making its way among the pagan nations. A Christian woman would find it very difficult to win over her pagan husband by direct efforts; she would be thrown back upon the silent influence of her chaste, holy, unselfish conduct and conversation; and the apostle intimates that she should expect this to be a sanctified energy which God would use to accomplish the desire of her heart. A fable is told of a mountain island of lodestone that stood up in mid-ocean, and attracted on every side the ships that sailed over the seas. As soon as ever they came within the line of its influence they were insensibly seized, gradually at first, then ever more swiftly they were drawn, until at last they dashed to destruction on the rocky coast. The Christian should be an influence for Christ on every side of his nature, seizing every barque that sails by on the ocean of life; seizing it by the power of Christian character and Christian consistency, and drawing it into the harbour of God's love and service.

I. It may be well to illustrate WHAT IS MEANT BY OUR UNCONSCIOUS INFLUENCE, and to exhibit its importance and value. As we meet together in society, how distinctly tone is recognised and felt! Beyond the influence we can exert on each other by our actions, there is the power of our very presence, an atmosphere around us which we carry with us wherever we may be. You can be a growing power, more decidedly and wholly influencing others for good, as by watchfulness and earnest culture you grow in personal religious worth.

II. Consider THE SPHERE IN WHICH THE POWER OF THIS OUR UNCONSCIOUS INFLUENCE WILL BE MOST FELT. It will be felt everywhere. It is a necessity of our being that we should exert it. It belongs to us, and flows forth from us as freely as the fragrance of the violet wherever the violet is found. Yet such influence is most felt at home. Much ought to be done by the young Christian's direct efforts for the happiness and salvation of the household; but the very freeness of life in the home makes such labour difficult, and often there are circumstances which make it impossible to speak the word. So, in your first religious Sphere, you may be thrown back upon the importance of the influence silently exerted by your character. In a home some will be dependent on you, whatever your place may be; the children, younger children, or the servants. These will be very easily affected by the tone and spirit of your life; and they will be very keen to watch for the spirit they know is in harmony with the professions you make. In another way those on whom you depend in the home will be reached by you. On the side of your submissions and obediences you will win power over them. Holy, loving children have been honoured as the means of winning their parents for Christ. And home life includes a circle of friendships; you are not called by your Christian profession to separate yourselves from such circles; but you should carry into such society a fragrance of Christian purities and charities that may ever flow out to bless those with whom you meet.


1. It will depend on our cultivation of Christian graces, and that work includes the repression of all our constitutional infirmities, whether of temper or spirit, and the mastery of all habits that are relics of our sinful states.

2. It will depend on the consistency of our Christian conduct.

3. It will depend on constancy in religious duties.

(R. Tuck, B. A.)

We adopt the opinion that "the Word" is used in two distinct senses, and we read the passage thus: If any obey not the gospel, they also may without preaching be won by the character and conduct of the wives. The subject before us is this: The gospel reproduced in character and conduct, a means of saving sinners from the error of their ways. In discussing this subject, however, let me guard against even the appearance of underrating the written and the preached Word. Without "the Word," what revolutions would this void create! The "Word" withdrawn from Christendom would rend the finest pictures, and pull down the most splendid buildings, and take the salt from the best literature, and bury in oblivion the highest science, and darken the brightest homes, and devastate the fairest countries, and undermine all righteous thrones, and send back some civilised nations to barbarism, and bring a huge shadow of death over the whole world. Without "the Word" mankind are without gospel, without light and life.

I. "THE WORD" RECEIVED PRODUCES A DISTINCTIVE CHARACTER IN HIM WHO ACCEPTS IT. This is alike its object and tendency. "The Word" reveals the one living and true God — the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost — as the redeeming God, and shows that God is reconciling the world unto Himself. Now, the man who receives "the Word" is translated from darkness to light, he is transplanted from an ungenial to a friendly soil, and he admits to his nature elements which, combining with whatever is Divine within him, will produce a new man and effect a new creation.


1. Strong. It has in it all the constituents of complete spiritual power, intelligence touching the highest subjects, faith in God, hope of the greatest and most enduring good, love of the purest and most fervent flame, immutable and everlasting principles of action.

2. The character formed by "the Word" is also genial. There is in it the attractiveness of beauty and of pleasantness, as well as of power. The basis of that which is genial in the Christian character is love.

3. This strong and loving character is also reasonable, it is conformed in all points, to rational principles. It has within it none of the elements which constitute the fanatic or visionary. Imagination creates not this character, but faith in a Divine revelation; and that revelation presents nothing contrary to reason.

III. THE INFLUENCE OF THIS GOSPEL-FORMED CHARACTER IS FELT MOST WHERE ASSOCIATION IS MOST FREQUENT AND CONTACT MOST CLOSE. The text points to a home as the sphere of Christian influence, but it also directs our attention to woman as influential there, and it leads our thoughts to the presence of unbelief in the family. This suggests two things: firstly, that there is often evangelistic work to be done in families of which Christians are part; and secondly, that this work may be extensively wrought by Christian women. Christian men and women, whatever your hands may find to do beyond, neglect not the home.

IV. BELIEVERS OF THE WORD MAY ACCOMPLISH THE END OF PREACHING BY BEING DOERS OF THE WORD IN THE FACE OF UNBELIEVERS. The great want of the world at the present time, is the Christianity of the New Testament translated into action. The demand for Christians is more urgent than the demand for churches. Men would see works that they may believe our words.

(S. Martin.)

A high-born, cultured lady was converted during one of the London missions, and it was a genuine conversion. Immediately she separated herself from the world, revolutionised her household, altered her gay attire; and instead of the theatre or concert or ballroom night after night she was found at the mission service, the prayer meeting, or Bible reading. At first it embittered and angered her worldly husband, but eventually he yielded to what he termed "a new caprice." When he found out that his beautiful wife was really in earnest, he persecuted her, and stung her with bitter reproaches, which, unfortunately, too frequently aroused her passionate temper, or occasioned an angry retort. One day God used her husband's bitter words to teach her a great lesson. "When your Christ can do something more for you, Isabel," he said, "I may let Him try to do something for me — not before." "Wherein do I fail most?" she asked. "In your temper and tongue, which are sourer than when I first knew you." "Is this really so?" she asked herself when alone. "If so, O God, forgive me" was the sob which burst from her lips. "What! is it possible that my hastiness may perhaps be keeping my husband from God? Away with it, Lord I Give me, I pray Thee, victory over all sin." God answered her prayer, but the testing time had yet to come. When her husband found persecution no longer irritated her, he let jealousy get the better of him — jealousy of the little delicate lad, their only child, who monopolised so much of his mother's time, and filled a large place in her loving heart, One evening when Mr. N — returned home irritable and morose — perhaps the worse for wine — she was singing softly, "There's a beautiful land on high," and the patient little sufferer had just said, "I'd like to be there, mother, if I could take you with me," when Mr. N — entered the nursery, and said, irritably, "Put that child down, Isabel; Norton has come home with me to dine." "Our little laddie is worse, Edgar," she said. "May I not stay with him?" "No," and taking him roughly from her knee he handed the child to the nurse. "All nonsense about his being worse." But, as he spoke, a loud moan escaped the little lad's lips. His father had caught his head accidentally' against the corner of the table, and he cried out to go back to his mother again, "The child is not hurt much, Isabel; leave him at once, and come and attend to my guest." With an aching heart, Mrs. N — obeyed, trembling lest the blow might prove serious. Before dinner, however, was over, she was summoned to the nursery. The child was worse. Both the doctor and physician had been sent for, and they shook their heads at his condition. In the midst of the confusion and excitement, Mr. N — went out with his friend, heedless of the message which had been sent to him from the nursery, lie did not return until long after midnight. But about midnight his little child died. Isabel N — was childless. There she knelt alone by the bedside of her little darling's lifeless form. Would it be possible to describe her feelings or to understand the conflict through which she was passing? The Refiner was looking on — watching intently to see the effect of the fire through which He was causing His child to pass. Would it burn up the dross? Would it subdue the will? A few minutes later her husband's step was heard in the hall, and Mrs. N — knew the butler would tell his master all that had happened. The grief-stricken woman listened for him to come to her at once, but she heard him enter the library and shut the door; and, in the stillness which followed, she cried unto the Lord for guidance and strength. Pride said, "Let him come to you — he has wronged both you and the child"; but love said, "Go to him — be the first to forgive." Love conquered, thanks be to God. Mr. N — was sitting by the table, his head buried in his hands, when he heard the library door open, and in another moment felt his wife's soft warm arms encircling his neck, and her lips pressed to his heated brow, while a voice of gentle sweetness said, "Jesus has taken our darling to be with Him, Edgar; but I will love you more, dear." No stinging reproaches — no hard hasty words — not even a tender rebuke. The man could hardly believe he heard aright. What a miracle! What wonderful love! Yes, and the love broke his heart. "Come upstairs and see our boy, Edgar." Without speaking he followed her; and while the two knelt alone in that still room and her tremulous voice pleaded that the sorrow might be sanctified, and that one day they too might join their little one in the Better Land, the proud, stubborn man yielded his heart to his God. When he arose he said, calmly, "Isabel, Christ has done so much for you, dear, that I mean to ask Him to do as much for me. There is something in Christianity after all."

(Mrs. Walter Searle.)

Chaste conversation coupled with fear
The "chaste conversation coupled with fear" seems to signify purity in an atmosphere of fear, the tremulous grace which is "afraid of the very shadow of wrong." The "beholding" is in the original a remarkable word. It seems to point at "initiation" into a world of goodness before unknown to the husband. The selfish rhetorician Libanius, who had some Christian acquaintances, is said to have exclaimed: "What wives those Christians have!" A missionary to China has heard Christian women say: "Until we became Christians we never really knew that we were women."

(Bp. Wm. Alexander.)

Let our thoughts be guided by this twofold proposition: —

1. For the unfolding of woman's character, and the balancing of her spirit, Christianity supplies the only sufficient impulse and guide.

2. Christianity exhibits no more perfect illustration or achievement than in the completed proportions of her spiritual life. The first epoch of trial in woman's life begins when the period of education ceases. It is a period of dependence, in the first place, with most women — dependence on parents — but still not the less irksome for that, if the woman, with a consciousness of strength, sees the parent worn and anxious with excess of labour; or if, with willingness for effort which her position or social prejudice forbids, she sees her every want met only by reluctant and grudged supplies. It is a period of uncertainty; for it looks straight out upon all those contingencies that determine her future lot — a lot for which she is not so much to lead or choose as to wait and weigh the perils of being chosen, or to learn the calm fortitude that conquers neglect with dignity. It is a period of highly wrought sensibility. The emotions have swelled, from the babbling brook that kept its quiet way within the banks of youth, into the rushing river of impetuous passion. It is a period of comparative irresponsibleness; and who shall say that irresponsibleness is a blessing, when we know so well how occupation dispels morbid introspections, and how daily strain upon the muscles fortifies timid and tremulous nerves? It is not true, I think, of any other condition of human discipline, more than this one, that nothing short of a personal acquaintance with Christian trust can satisfy its wants. Two other and different resources, indeed, the young woman has: and we need not wander far to search for proofs how often She tries their value. They are her womanly pride, and the excitements of society. What will Christianity do? It concentrates the aimless and restless purposes of woman on the one grand object of a personal acceptance with God. It takes off the load, which no human spirit can bear and be cheerful, by its promise of forgiveness for what is lacking, and by its encouraging assurance that when once the life is consecrated to God no single act or thought of good can fail of fruit in the spiritual harvests of eternity. It offers her what the mind of youth more than anything else craves — a friendship at once unchangeable and trustworthy as the heavens; and so it opens the gates of the city of God straight into her closet of prayer, and, when the world looks most inhospitable, shows her friendly angels ascending with her supplications, and descending with counsel and compassion, between her Bethel and her Father. It not only quickens her to a new fidelity in all the homely ministrations of the house where she lives, towards brothers and sisters, parents and servants; it opens to her the lowly door of poverty; it draws her, by cords stronger than steel, to the unclad orphan and the bedside of sick wretchedness; it stimulates her invention, it exhausts her economy, it plies her fingers, it inspires her intercessions for the instruction of poor children's ignorance, and the redemption of their despair. Another task still Christianity solemnly charges upon woman in her youth. It bids her by every separate obligation of her discipleship be true to immaculate virtue in her intercourse with companions, and in the bestowment of her favour. Would to God that some angel from His own right hand would reveal to her the power she controls for the redemption of those horrible vices that defile and intoxicate the land! for then she might take up her benignant ministry as an apostle of holiness, persuading the tempted by her unbending principle, as well as bearing her own profession incorruptibly. It is time to advance to a later stage of the Christian woman's experience. If her moral power is so decisive at the time when life has devolved upon her the fewest responsibilities, and neither age nor station has vested in her any adventitious authority, it is only more commanding yet when she has taken up the complicated relations of marriage, and assumed the spiritual governance of that lesser church, that sacred seminary — the family. The chief enemies to her Christian simplicity — and thus to the symmetry of her own character, as well as the integrity of her influence — are social ambition, an appetite for admiration, the passion for indiscriminate excitement, and, in other constitutions, a dull servitude to the routine of mechanical tasks.

1. By social ambition I mean the vulgar appetite for those external distinctions which are even more dangerous to woman than to man, because of the inherent natural aristocracy of her nature. A wife or mother who suffers it to be her supreme exertion to rise in the public consideration has already parted with that artless sincerity which is the chief grace of her womanhood.

2. Appetite for admiration. Could some searching census register the number of those who are kept aloof from the love of God by this foolish vanity alone, should we dare to look into the swelling catalogue? Could some magic reflection be added to mirrors, so that, while they show back the adjustment of garments, they should also reveal the emptiness of soul, what dismal disclosures would startle the sleeping conscience!

3. Passion for indiscriminate excitement. What hold has religion taken of that mind which never rests in its insatiable craving for some public spectacle — is never satisfied except when it is preparing for some scene of social display, or exulting over its conquests? There is no noble type of womanhood that does not wear serenity upon its forehead.

4. On the other hand, in constitutions of an opposite inclination, female life is apt to degenerate, if not inspired by religion, into a tame routine of narrow domestic cares, dwarfing the spirit to its own contracted limitations. The very nature of woman requires animation for its health. Religion, with its infinite mysteries, its deep and stirring experience, its boundless duties, offers that needed stimulus — offers it to the obscurest and the lowliest. The Christian wife and mother is a Christian in the spirit by which she orders her household and nurtures her offspring. Too many mothers make their first request for their sons that of the mother of Zebedee's children — that they may sit on thrones of wealth and power. What wonder if those sons are worldlings, are hypocrites, are criminals? Too many train up their daughters with no loftier aim than to be beautiful brides, or the centres of meretricious observation at summer watering places, or to value a husband by his income, or not to be over nice in their judgment of men, because they are not expected to be virtuous like women. Infamous effrontery towards God! And thus I have come, finally, to what may be briefly established — that Christianity exhibits no more perfect achievement than in the completed character of a spiritual womanhood; for, passing on one stage later yet, we find the united result of a life's discipline and a heavenly faith in the Christian woman's old age. Providence has not withheld that confirmation of the power and beauty of religion from our eyes. We feel new confidence and truth, new love for goodness, new zeal for duty, new trust in God, new gratitude to Christ, when we look on her ripened holiness; and, as her strength faints before the power of decay, behold the crown of immortality descending almost visibly upon her head! I cannot so well finish this account of a Christian woman as by repeating the following touching, simple memorial of his wife written by one of the statesmen of England — Sir James Mackintosh — in a private letter to a friend: "She was a woman," he writes, "who, by the tender management of my weaknesses, gradually corrected the most pernicious of them. She became prudent from affection; and, though of the most generous nature, she was taught frugality and economy by her love for me. During the most critical period of my life she preserved order in my affairs, from the care of which she relieved me. She gently reclaimed me from dissipation, she propped my weak and irresolute nature, she urged my indolence to all the exertions that have been useful or creditable to me, and she was perpetually at hand to admonish my heedlessness and improvidence. To her I owe whatever I am — to her whatever I shall be. In her solicitude for my interest, she never for a moment forgot my character. Her feelings were warm and impetuous; but she was placable, tender, and constant. Such was she whom I have lost; and I have lost her when a knowledge of her worth had refined my youthful love into friendship, before age had deprived it of much of its original ardour. I seek relief, and I find it in the consolatory opinion that a benevolent Wisdom inflicts the chastisement as well as bestows the enjoyment of human life; that superintending goodness will one day enliven the darkness which surrounds our nature, and hangs over our prospects; that this dreary and wretched life is not the whole of man; that a being capable of such proficiency in science and virtue is not like the beasts that perish; that there is a dwelling place prepared for the spirits of the just; that the ways of God will yet be vindicated to man."

(Bp. Huntington.)

Let it not be that outward adorning
To lay down rules for the regulation of dress, applicable to all circumstances, all ranks, all ages, is impossible. To fix the cut of the coat, the shape of the bonnet, were a hopeless and, indeed, ridiculous task. All that we can do is to lay down certain principles, distinctly asserted in, or clearly deducible from, the gospel.

I. CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES FORBID ALL DRESS WHICH IS NOT HONESTLY PROCURED. That dress is dishonestly procured for which you know you cannot pay, or the payment of which is effected by dishonourable means, by falsehood, by embezzlement, or fraud. It is not in the higher circles only that temptations to obtain dress by dishonest methods occur. The servant maid must ape her mistress; but the wages she receives are not equal to the demands of her pride. But even if every tradesman's bill is punctually paid, still you are guilty of dishonesty if the money thus expended be drawn from other channels in which, in justice to yourselves, or to your families, it ought to flow. You are unjust to yourself if you starve either the body or the mind to decorate the person.

II. CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES FORBID THAT DRESS WHICH IS IMMODEST. The author of my text, in another Epistle, charges the women that they adorn themselves in "modest apparel." "A prudent woman," says Mr. Jay, "will avoid whatever would appear light and wanton. The apparel of a woman professing godliness should not be the attire of a woman of the world, much less the attire of a harlot. Females sometimes wear a label on which indecency and indelicacy are written, and then appear to be offended because observers can read. I would not always infer too much from these outward hints; but, in the name of a blush, on what principle can we explain the invention and adoption of certain modes? I describe nothing." Intimately connected with modesty in dress is health; and when it is considered how many thoughtless females have fallen the untimely victims of disease introduced into the frame by the general scantiness, or the partial distribution of their attire, I am persuaded the allusion will not be deemed improper.

III. CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES FORBID THAT DRESS WHICH IS UNBECOMING YOUR STATION. It is obvious, by a comparison of the text and parallel passages with the general scope of Scripture, that costly attire is not forbidden where the ability of the person is fully equal to its purchase, without injury to any other claims. The virtuous woman is highly commended in the Proverbs, who, through her industry, clothed all her household in scarlet, and herself with silk and purple. Moreover, the good of society requires persons to dress, in some degree, according to their rank and station. But it is excess that the apostle censures.

IV. CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES FORBID THAT DRESS WHICH REQUIRES AN UNDUE CONSUMPTION OF TIME. I will not recount the days and years of valuable time which some females spend in cutting, adjusting, adorning, altering, and improving the articles of their dress, till the world of novelties is ransacked and the invention at a stand: I will not number up the hours, or tell the years the aggregate would make, devoted to the toilette, with peevishness and impatience, till every ringlet is properly adjusted, every plait suitably apportioned, and every gem placed to the best advantage at the expense of religion and humanity, and to the ruin of both body and soul!

V. CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES FORBID THAT DRESS WHICH, BY ITS SINGULARITY OR EXTRAVAGANCE ATTRACTS PECULIAR ATTENTION. The desire to court observation — the ambition to be singular — the hope of being admired, is the essence of pride, and in this vice both the extremes of finery and of plainness will be found to meet. "Keep thy foot when thou goest into the house of God." Surely, look well to thy attire is included in this injunction.

VI. THAT DRESS IS FORBIDDEN BY CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLES WHICH SERIOUSLY OCCUPIES AND ABSORBS THE POWERS OF THE MIND. And yet how many females are there the range of whose information is bounded by these limits — the topics of whose discourse are derived from this subject — who understand no science but that of shapes and colours — are acquainted with no art but that of decoration and display — and are conversant in no history but that of modes and fashions. It yet remains that I should produce some considerations by which the observance of them may be enforced.


1. By a consideration of the sources whence your dress proceeds. As clothes cannot impart moral qualities or mental endowments to the wearer, so they are little to be gloried in on another account: they are derived from the lowest sources, and composed of the meanest materials. Nay, more than this, is not the dress on which you pride yourself the memorial of your shame? But for sin it had never encumbered the limbs, nor occupied for a moment's space the care of the unspotted mind.

2. By a comparative view of its intrinsic worth. In a time of universal famine how many jewels would you give for a single loaf of bread? In a raging fever how many diamonds would you sacrifice for a moment's ease? In a parched desert how many embroidered robes would you exchange for a cooling draught? Why, then, should such enormous sums be expended in glimmering pebbles and sparkling dust? Compare them with your books — your Bibles — your souls — all neglected for their sake! Arise to correcter sentiments and nobler aims. Make the Bible your looking glass, the graces of the Spirit your jewels, the temper of Jesus your attire.

3. Consider the estimation in which dress is held by the wise and good. With them it always occupies its proper place, which is an inferior one; and wherever it rises to excess and glare, indicating the vanity and pride of its possessor, it excites their pity and contempt.

4. The estimation in which you will hold dress in the hour of death and in an eternal world.

(T. Raffles, D. D.)

St. Peter does not prohibit absolutely the plaiting of the hair, the wearing of gold, and the putting on of apparel; but he desires that the precedence be given to higher and better things.

I. Let us not hesitate to say THAT THERE IS NOTHING IN CHRISTIANITY, RIGHTLY UNDERSTOOD, WHICH PROHIBITS A WOMAN FROM ENDEAVOURING TO DRESS WELL AND TO LOOK WELL. There is no religion in a mean, unattractive garb. Years ago there lived two Greek philosophers, Diogenes and Plato. Plato, who was a man of wealth and taste, had handsome carpets. Diogenes preferred living in a tub, and saying disagreeable things, under the impression that he was "faithful." One day he came, in an ill temper, into his brother philosopher's drawing room; and stamping on the carpets, cried out, "I trample on the pride of Plato!" "Yes," said Plato, quietly, — "and with greater pride." Is there not something of this pride in "unworldly." dressing? Cannot a woman show her Christianity without making herself conspicuous by singularity? But we will take a step farther. We have said that Christianity does not prohibit attention to dress. We wilt now say that Christianity requires of a Christian woman to make the best of herself. God the Creator delights in beauty — beauty of form and hue and outline and arrangement; and surely He would have us, His creatures, delight in beauty also; and surely anyone who shows a marked inattention to the comeliness of outward things, shows himself, so far, out of harmony with the Divine mind.

II. THE CHRISTIAN WOMAN WILL ALWAYS SUBORDINATE THE OUTWARD TO THE INWARD. But she will want rules to guide herself by. She will not be extravagant in the money she spends upon her dress. If her personal appearance be a talent, so also is her money: and both have to be considered. Another talent, which a Christian woman will think much of, is her time. The highest praise as to dress, which a right-minded woman would desire, would be to have it said of her by the passers-by, "I did not notice her dress; but I noticed herself; and she seemed an unaffected, modest, genuine Christian lady."

(G. Calthrop, M. A.)


1. We say that the female form is adapted for adornment.

2. We say that the female nature is adapted for adornment. Can kindness, gentleness, meekness sit with so good a grace on a man as on a woman? Is not sweetness of temper reflected in every look, and does it not beautify and glorify every feature?


(J. J. S. Bird, B. A.)

Here, in the Word of life, we have fallen upon a text that deals with female attire, condemning one style of adorning, and commending another. God loves beauty of every kind, both the beauty of nature and the beauty of holiness. How do we know that? Because everything that He makes is beautiful. The works of nature are beautiful on all sides, and on all sides alike beautiful. It is not a bright exterior, and a rough ungainly interior; it is not a polished side to the public road, and a slovenly rubble wall on the shaded side. Nor is the most elaborate design or the most exquisite colour reserved for the most enduring objects. The snow crystals, and the frosted tracery on the windows, are as perfect in design and execution as the monarchs of the forest that outlast fifty human generations. Man is the chief of God's works, and enjoys most of His care. He was made most beautiful, but has disfigured himself by sin. When His best work was damaged, the Creator did not give it up, and give it over. He framed a plan to restore. He desires to have His own image renewed. A man of feeble intellect, in the north of Scotland, was wont, like most of his class, to be very slovenly in his appearance. To this weakling the gospel of Christ came in power. He accepted God's covenant love, and found himself a child of the family. Soon after this change the minister met him on a Sabbath morning, and was struck with his unwonted cleanness, and the efforts he had made in his own fashion to ornament his person. Accosting him kindly, the minister said, "You are braw today, Sandy." "He was braw Himsel' the day," replied Sandy reverently; meaning that Jesus, when He rose from the grave on the first day of the week, was arrayed in the Divine glory and the beauty of holiness. The Lord on high, who rejoices to receive the little ones, would, methinks, be pleased to see Sandy's Sunday clothes, and to hear Sandy's simple answer. Peter in this text undertakes to tell how the uncomely may be rendered beautiful. Here is the true adorning; and it is for us, for all. Still deeper goes the apostle's thought when he arrives at the details of the recommended ornaments. "Not that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel"; — what then? "Let it be the hidden man of the heart." There is a whole Christ in every disciple who lives up to his privileges, as there is a whole sun in the cup of every flower that opens to his shining. When this ornament is worn in the heart within, its beauty is seen on the outward life. In general, a likeness of Christ is in the life of a Christian; and, in particular, "a meek and quiet spirit." When, in the processes of art, a new and beautiful colour is about to be transferred to a fabric, the hardest portion of the task sometimes is to discharge the dyes that are already there. A terrible process of scalding must be applied to take out the old ere you can successfully impart the new. In like manner, the anger and pride and selfishness that have first possession present the greatest obstacle to the infusion of a meek and gentle spirit into a man. If there be a royal, there is certainly no easy, road to this consummation. It is a striking, bold, and original conception, to propose that an ornament should be hidden in the heart. Ordinarily, we understand that an ornament, from its very nature, must be worn in a conspicuous position. When it is hidden, how useful and valuable soever it may be, it ceases to be an adorning. But in the spiritual sphere the law is reversed. Meekness is spoiled when it is set up for show. This ornament, moreover, is incorruptible. This epithet is peculiarly relevant. With the exception of the metals and minerals, ornaments are, for the most part, perishable commodities. Rain soils them; the sun burns their beauty out, In the accidents of life they are worn or torn, or stolen or lost. The rose and lily that bloom on the cheek are not perennial; the wrinkles of age are creeping on to drive them off and take their place. All these adornings are corruptible. This text recommends one that will never fade. Age makes it mellower, but not less sweet. As it is not a colour of the decaying body, but a grace of the immortal spirit, it will pass unharmed through the dark valley, and bloom in greater beauty on the other side. It will make the ransomed from among men very comely in the eyes of angels, when they stand together round the throne, and serve their common Lord. One grand concern with buyers is to obtain garments that will last — garments whose fabric will not waste, and whose colours will not fade. Yet another quality is noticed of the recommended adorning — it is costly. In the sight of God, and of the godly, it is "of great price." In the market of the world, alas! we, like inexperienced children, are often cheated. We pay a great price for that which is of no value. We are often caught by the glitter, and accept a base metal for gold. He who counts this ornament precious knows its worth. The righteousness of the saints is dear to God in a double sense. It is both beloved and costly.

(W. Arnot.)

Common sense, sustained by Christian principle, will ever reveal what your dress ought to be. The coarse dress is not necessarily the fulfilment of the admonition of the apostle Peter. A young woman is not to affect the repulsive robe of the nun, as if that were religion; nor to dress in the drab of the Society of Friends, as if that were humility; she is to dress as becomes her station, and her rank, and her position. We may depend upon it, it is far more conducive to the universal welfare that the highest classes should dress as becomes them, than that they should lay it all aside, and dress like the Society of Friends. What would become of all the lace, silks, and warehouses in the City of London, and in Manchester, and Nottingham, and Glasgow, and other places; what would become of all the mills that are employed; if men were to try to form, what cannot be formed in character, in wealth, or in industry — a universal dead level? All that Peter insists upon, and all that we require is, that the young woman shall dress as becomes her position in life; good taste, which is always a quiet, never a gaudy thing; and Christian principle regulating her in this: and that the aged woman shall be sober, autumn never trying to deck itself in the flowers of summer, nor cold and dreary winter putting on what is not natural — all the splendours and the glories of June; and young and old recollecting this beautiful thought, "Behold the lilies of the field; they toil not, neither do they spin; yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."

(J. Cumming.)

The hidden man of the heart
To clothe the foot in costly apparel, and the upper part with rags, were absurd; so to bestow cost in clothing the body, but none on the soul. The soul is immortal, must live forever; it was created according to God's image, and now the soul is most deformed with sin, and so hath need of clothing, especially seeing God, who is of pure eyes, cannot behold it but with detestation. The Church is all glorious within, and such as would be indeed members of Christ, and heirs of heaven, must look for inward sanctity. This is the most costly apparel that can be, of God's own making, and which none but His children wear. This is apparel for all sexes, ages, degrees, and callings, whatsoever, and which doth well become and fit each of them. This is never out of season, never out of fashion; it fits in youth, in age, in life, in death, and is to be worn by night as well as by day, in sickness as in health, yea, is then in great account, when other apparel is laid aside, and not regarded; yea, this apparel we carry with us out of this world, when we leave our gay robes behind us; and this apparel lasts ever, being the better for the wearing.

(John Rogers.)

If we translate this into modern language, we might say, "The latent good and evil in man." The heart stands for the source, back of all else, from which our life flows. What we love most, that we are. Wherever our deepest longing goes, there we are going. But this profound tendency of the soul is often a hidden tendency. It is "the hidden man of the heart." There is in every man a great deal more of good and of evil than we see. Inside of the visible man, whose face and form we see, there is an invisible man of veins and arteries, and another invisible man of nerves, and a third invisible man of bones; and from the co operation of these proceed the actions of the visible man. What we see in nature is only the visible outcome of what we do not see. So, in the processes of the human soul, what we know proceeds from hidden sources which we do not know. What do I mean by the formation of Christian character? I mean that a man may deliberately choose to be pure, honest, truthful, generous, religious, and that he can turn this choice at last into a habit, so that it shall be natural to him to do right, rather than to do wrong. What he did at first by an effort, and with difficulty, he now does without any conscious effort, and easily. Now, all these instincts, whether original or acquired, are wholly hidden from our knowledge. They are latent until they are called out by some occasion; then they show themselves spontaneously. Some are near the surface, and appear on all occasions; others are deep down, and appear only on special occasions. The moral cowardice in the apostle Peter, which could make him deny his Master, was latent, and Peter could not believe it possible that he should act thus. Circumstances develop latent goodness as well as evil. You are living among neighbours whom you do not know very well. But they seem to you commonplace, or perhaps worldly. But some calamity befalls you. This event brings out the goodness which was lying latent in your neighbours' hearts; latent because nothing appealed to it. How kind they are now! how self-sacrificing! But the sickness of your child was not the cause of this sympathy, but merely the occasion of its manifesting itself and becoming developed. It did not make, it only revealed, these kindly thoughts of many hearts. Just so the great calamities and dangers of a nation arouse as by an electric touch the heroism and self-sacrifice that there may be in the people. Cincinnatus steps from behind his plough; William Tell from his mountain home; Washington from his comforts; to serve his country in council or battle. But "the times which try men's souls" do not make Washingtons and Tells — they only test them and call out their latent virtue. Woe to the nation, woe to the man who is not equal to the test when it comes! If the test does not cause them to rise, it makes them fall. How many examples there are to prove the existence of this latent evil! We have seen a young man go from the pure home of his childhood, from the holy influences of a Christian community. He leaves his home and comes to the city to engage in business. He trusts in his own heart, in his own virtuous habits. But there is latent evil in his heart, there is a secret selfishness, a hidden and undeveloped sensualism, which is ready to break out under the influences which will now surround him. He becomes a lover of pleasure; he acquires a taste for play, wine and excitement. In a year or two, how far has he gone from the innocent hopes and tastes of his childhood! The latent evil that was in him has come out under the test of these new circumstances. Meantime, another young man, apparently no better than he, has, under the same circumstances, developed the seeds of virtuous and holy purposes, and has become a man of unshaken integrity and virtue. Why this difference? You cannot trace it to education, for their education was similar, you cannot account for it by the influence of circumstances, example and outward temptations; for these were the same in both cases. The difference was in the latent character of the two boys. One in the depths of his soul was then a sensualist; was then a worldly and selfish boy. The other, with no better outward habits, had in reality an inward principle of goodness. And circumstances merely developed the latent good and evil of the two. The fact of latent goodness is as true and important as that of latent evil. If our inmost purposes are right; if we have kept our heart with all diligence; if we have habitually trusted our souls to God, then we have a stock of latent goodness, ready and equal for any occasion which may come to call for it. We need not fear, then, that we shall not be able to meet any emergencies. An unsuspected strength will then manifest itself, a courage and faith for which we dared not hope will triumphantly reveal itself. What, then, is the practical conclusion from these facts? It is that we should both distrust ourselves and trust ourselves; that we should pray. "Lead us not into temptation," yet "count it all joy when we fall into temptation." If we are already conscious of our weakness, we may not need the trial which is sent to show us our weakness. But if, nevertheless, God sends the trial, then it was necessary that we should be tried, and let us count it all joy that it has come. If it brings out an amount of latent evil of which we were not aware, then it is well that we should become thus acquainted with our own depths of sinfulness. The disease must be brought out before it can be cured. But if the temptation, on the other hand, reveals and quickens powers of inward virtue and resolution, then let us bless God for this latent goodness which He shows us.

(James Freeman Clarke.)

The point is, that one should not expend the whole of life on making the outside beautiful, but that one should see to it that the inside is adorned also. You are not to cheat the soul of all its gems and virtues for the sake of making yourself attractive exteriorly by adornments of that kind. It is not for that general subject, however, that I have selected She passage, but for this phrase, "the hidden man." You will have been struck in reading, how much this dual life is insisted upon in the New Testament, especially how much use the apostle Paul makes of it. There are two elements running side by side in his philosophy; one the outward, another the inward. The outward man perishes day by day, the inward man is renewed day by day, says the apostle; and he dwells in various phrase on that duality, the inward life, and the outward or physical life. Everywhere there is this reciprocal action, the world on the mind, and the mind on the world. The sense, the physical body, is the instrument by which the world acts upon our hidden man, and by which the hidden man acts back again upon the world. Through the exterior world the soul is thus the recipient of treasures. The soul is like a prince who receives embassies from all the provinces round about; presents and tribute come to him from the uttermost parts of the earth. The air, the storms, all human occupations, all governments, individual men and combinations of men, pleasures — all bring influence to this potentate, the hidden man of the soul. Then, in turn, the soul sends forth energy, speech, will; and as the tide that swells and fills the harbour, then reflows and seeks again the great ocean, so the flux and reflux of force between mind and the physical world is a greater though an invisible and silent tide. The laws of the physical world are almost sterile until they are touched by the human will. Natural laws could give us metals in their foaming, bubbling states, but they never made a knife or a sword. Nature made trees, but never made a house. Nature has made germs, man has made the harvest. All the great laws that make summer and winter and the intermediate seasons, all the laws that are called natural, all the laws that spring from political economy, all those laws which are said, in one respect, to be natural laws, are not natural laws until some human spirit sits astride upon them and directs them. Now, the relative proportion between this receiving and the outgoing power determines character. It is the critical line both as respects quantity and quality. Those who live by their senses, controlled by objects to be seen or heard or felt from without, live animal lives. They are savages. Then come those who, receiving much, only give forth the energy of their passions — not intellectual energy, not moral, not aesthetic. They give forth simply the energy of selfishness, of pride, of vanity, of ambition, of avarice, combativeness, or destructiveness. It is the lower tier of the human, and the upper tier of the animal that is affected in them, and that gives forth some voice or fruit. Then come those who give action, the men who have industries, that dig, that hew, that build, converting impressions and the result of knowledge from without into energies by which they give the fruit of physical combinations and constructions. This includes the vast mass of the respectable people of the globe today. They are constructors and workers. Then there are those who are over and above all this activity, for the upper always owns the lower. He who gives thoughts can also give construction, though he who gives only construction cannot give thought. The upper always carries within it the privileges and the fruit of the inferior, or of all that is below it. So that the next rank are those who give forth thought and emotion, that have it in their power to thrill their time, or to augment it, to build it up, to defend it; men who live in the higher range of their faculties, and give the fruit reaped from these higher fields, higher and richer. Then come those who, over and above all activities, in physics and even in intellect, have a reserved life which has never had expression except through hymns and psalms, the voice of the teacher and the inspirations of the poet — the utterances of those who have given to knowledge a higher character and a winged form. They are sensitive, open to the subtle inspirations that move in the higher realms, and are men who live by faith or by the higher forms of imagination, not by sight nor by the physical fruitfulness of the human body. In regard to this relative activity of different classes, what they receive and what they give forth, it may be said that it determines, not simply individual rank or life, but it determines also the philosophy or the character of different religions. Take, for instance, the contrast between Judaism and Christianity. Judaism was a recipient religion; Christianity is a projecting religion. The Oriental mind generally receives; the Occidental mind gives forth. A word as to the relative productiveness of these two elements. The productiveness of the mind is generally in increasing ratio from the lowest to the highest; the effectiveness of its outgo is generally in the inverse relation or ratio. Man can more easily turn that which is inspired in his animal range and nature into an external influence and substance, than he can that which belongs to his highest nature. How much of thought there is in cultivated men! How much of thought that goes forth in language! But how much more thought that never rides in the chariot of language! How much men think day by day that is only thinking! In my orchards today there are, I think, on single cherry trees more than a million blossoms; and probably all but about a hundred thousand of those will drop without a cherry having formed under them. Men are like such trees. They breed thoughts by the millions, that result in action only in the scores and the hundreds. Waves of feeling rise, roll through the mind, and leave no more effect behind them than the waves of unknown seas that have rolled solitary for centuries by day and by night. How much there is of purpose that is blighted and barren! How much there is in goodness, how much in sweetness, how much in love, that runs the circuits and touches all the shores of human possibility, but never comes out nor shows itself! How many there are doomed by necessity, like fragrant trees in the great tropical wildernesses — fragrant for ages, but neither brute, beast, nor man ever smells their sweetness! How many there are that live in society who are capable of issuing sweetness that should be of influence, and that should make a very summer round about them, but there is no channel, and they die without opportunity! The great hidden soul had no tongue, nor possibility of using it if it had one. This hidden man, then, may be called in respect to those things that are the highest and the best in this life, the silent man; for we can say least of the things most worthy to be expressed; and this great silence may be said to determine character and condition very largely. They that know how to repress the lower and the evil that is generated within, are on the platform of morality ascending towards spirituality; and those that ascend to the highest forms can express but little. Yet they have, as it were, a palace within themselves, out of which in days of trouble or trial come forth inexhaustible stores of strength and of consolation. It is the hidden man which is at once the glory and the shame of mankind — the rich of thought and pure of purpose whose life perhaps can bring forth but little outward fruit, but who store up for the eternities grand knowledges, impulses, and actions; and, on the other side, the men who maintain an external decorum, but are full of all uncleanliness. This hidden man is more beautiful than any of you think, and more horrible. The saint dwells in many a bosom, not far removed from the very angels of the throne itself. Devils inhabit the heart of many and many a "respectable" man. Oh! bring out your silent man, make him speak, unroll what is written in his thought. How many men could hold up their faces then? And how many men who have produced nothing for the market, not much for the neighbourhood, little for the uses that are common on earth; that have neither the pen of the ready writer, nor the tongue of the orator, nor the wings of the poet, are rich unto God! They dwell in their meditations, and their imaginations remain untranslated into human language or into human conditions, but they are rich rewards God. This is a subject that is full of practical meaning; we ought so to coordinate the receiving to the giving — the income to the outgo that we shall strengthen and make better both of them. So ought men to organise their lives that they shall be fertile without, and fruitful and rich and abundant also within.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. IT REMINDS US THAT IT IS THE INWARD LIFE THAT MAKES THE MAN. The "hidden man" is not what first meets the eye that constitutes a person's individuality. It is what his will — led, taught yet ignorant, prejudiced yet biassed, free yet trammelled, great yet little — determines.


1. It exceeds it in value. A man would not take the kingdom for his body. Youth or age, beauty or vileness, do not alter the intrinsic nature of the man. Often indeed do we see the noblest spirits inhabit the most unseemly bodies, while those who possess outward beauty are infamous in their lives. As to the stupendous contrast, in value, of the soul over the body, it is impossible to define any just description. A priceless jewel wrapped in a worthless piece of paper is only a faint representation of the contrast which exists between them.

2. The inner man again is the responsible part of our human nature. The body is but the agent.

3. Compare again for one moment the elements of which they are severally composed. The outward, visible man is dust. The soul or living essence is the breath of the living God. Its influence at once exalts the body to the highest step of material creation.

III. WE MAY CONSIDER THAT THIS INWARD LIFE IS AS THE TEXT DESCRIBES IT — A "HIDDEN" LIFE. No human eyes can penetrate the veil which hides it from view. It is in our own hearts we live, in our souls we exist, and in our own hearts we must die. It would be mockery to bring the outside world into our inside existence. It would be bad for us, and bad for the world, if we did not live in a hidden world. Thank God that even our sins are hid.


V. THAT THIS INNER MAN DESERVES AND DEMANDS MORE CAREFUL CULTIVATION THAN IT GENERALLY RECEIVES. Now, in order to effectually cultivate the heart, there must be —

1. A continuous course of introspection.

2. There must be self-communion.

3. There must be the admission of Christ as a guest. It is in the heart that Christ must dwell.


When religion is styled "the hidden man of the heart" this language cannot imply that it is totally concealed from the observation of the world. Effects may be visible, while the principle whence they proceed is removed from our view. A beautiful river, which highly adorns the country through which it flows, will not fail to engage the eyes of every beholder. Yet the source of it may not be the object of our sight. In like manner the fruits of pious dispositions can be witnessed by all. But the dispositions themselves fall not within our notice. The words convey this idea, that genuine religion consists in the inward temper. From this view of it some instructive lessons may be deduced.

1. Religion does not so essentially depend upon any particular mode of faith or worship as some may suppose.

2. This subject teaches us that it is highly unbecoming and presumptuous in men to decide with rashness on the religious character and state of their neighbours. Fallible as we are we cannot read the motives of individuals; and much goodness may exist, which, from various causes, has few or no opportunities of being witnessed by the eye of man.

3. If religion be "the hidden man of the heart" it cannot exist, and still less can it flourish without the agency of God accompanying our diligence, watchfulness, and self-denial.

4. Religion, being "the hidden man of the heart," cannot easily be in danger from causes altogether external; nor is it amenable to human laws, nor dependent on human patronage.

5. Since religion is a principle, the inseparable alliance between the possession of its spirit and our happiness, both present and future, is placed in a new and striking light. The happiness of man cannot be independent on the mind. The purest happiness of the mind will be the happiness of heaven, and the degree of it will be greatest in the cases of those whose religion is most eminently "the hidden man of the heart."

(J. Kentish.)

It is 's counsel to young women: "Clothe yourselves with the silk of piety, with the satin of sanctity, with the purple of modesty; so shall you have God Himself to be your suitor."

(J. Trapp.)

A garment that will never be the worse for wearing, but the better.

(J. Trapp.)

Great Thoughts.
A woman, famous as one of the most kindly among leaders of the best American society, once said: "If I have been able to accomplish anything in life it is due to the words spoken to me in the right season when I was a child by an old teacher. I was the only homely, awkward girl in a class of exceptionally pretty ones, and being also dull at my books, became the butt of the school. I fell into a morose, despairing state, gave up study, withdrew into myself, and grew daily more bitter and vindictive. One day the French teacher, a grey-haired old woman, with keen eyes and a kind smile, found me crying. 'Qu' as-tu, ma fille?' she asked. 'Oh, madame, I am so ugly!' I sobbed out. She soothed me, but did not contradict me. Presently, she took me to her room, and after amusing me for some time, said, 'I have a present for you,' handing me a scaly, coarse lump, covered with earth. 'It is round and brown as you. "Ugly," did you say? Very well, we will call it by your name, then. It is you! Now, you shall plant it, and water it, and give it sun for a week or two.' I planted it and watched it carefully; the green leaves came first, and at last the golden Japanese lily, the first I had ever seen. Madame came to share my delight. 'Ah,' she said, significantly, 'who would believe so much beauty and fragrance were shut up in that little, rough, ugly thing? But it took heart and came into the sun.' It was the first time that it ever occurred to me that, in spite of my ugly face, I, too, might be able to win friends, and to make myself beloved in the world."

(Great Thoughts.)

"Why do you not wear richer apparel?" once asked a familiar friend of Edward I. "Because," said the sensible king, "I cannot be more estimable in fine than I am in simple clothing."

Those who adorn only the exterior, but neglect the inner man, are like the Egyptian temples, which present every kind of decoration upon the outside, but contain within, in place of a deity, a cat, a crocodile, or some other vile animal.

( Clement of Alexandria.)

Plain women, far from underrating beauty, are apt to place too high a value upon it. Their own lack of comeliness is their lifelong sorrow. They do not realise that the women who are most ardently and lastingly loved by men are seldom very beautiful. Prettiness wins admiration; something much deeper and more subtle inspires and retains affection. No woman need be ugly. If there is a soul in her body it has but to begin betimes to show through, From her earliest girlhood the thought she thinks, the feelings to which she gives way, the tones she utters, the wishes she indulges, are sculpturing lines in her face that are capable of making a beauty all her own — lines whose writing will remain when bloom fades and sparkle falls. It is in the beginning of manhood and in the beginning of old age that a man is captivated simply by a pretty woman, and is in breathless haste to make her charms his own possession. The maturer man is far less subject to a mistaken infatuation. He looks for something less ephemeral than a glowing cheek and melting eye. "As a rule I prefer plain women to pretty ones," said one of these discriminating persons. "They are less self-conscious and have more regard for the rights of others. When my wife sends me shopping, as sometimes happens, I always select a plain girl to serve me. You see she knows her lack of personal attractions, and that she has nothing to depend on but the excellency of her services. Therefore she takes infinite pains with her customers. She pays strict attention to her business. There is nothing surer in the world than if you go into a store and select a plain girl to wait on you, you will be well served. The pretty girl, on the other hand, knows that she is pretty. It is usually very apparent that she knows it. She trades upon her prettiness. She uses the time and thought she ought to devote to serving you in trying to make you understand and appreciate that she is pretty. And this principle underlies beauty's conduct in other walks of life. I admire lovely women most men do — but unless they possess more solid attractions than charms of person they are soon outrivalled by their plain and tasteful sisters."

(Daily Paper.)

"To look upon her face," says Walworth of his mother, "was to feel heaven near. It was within her."

A meek and quiet spirit.

1. Its leading characteristic is the beautiful. Not so much "the true," "the good," is in his mind as "the beautiful." First-rate Christian excellence assumes lovely forms. "Let the beauty of the Lord our God."

2. The grace is distinctively feminine. The apostle is speaking to women, commending to them their distinctive glory. Here we come on a mystery of nature. All things are set over against each other in pairs, complemental.

3. But may, ought, to be assumed by all. There is a modification of the principle just laid down as to complemental beings and to complemental excellences. The one side may and must appropriate some characteristics of the other, e.g., a pillar all strength would be ugly; all garlands of flowers must fall. So a man all power would be dreadful; a woman all amiability could not carry the structure of life.

4. It is a grace of the interior life. "A meek and quiet spirit."

II. THE GRACE ITSELF. The grace commended is that of quietness of soul; but on its two sides, not disturbing, not disturbed.

1. The soul-quietness that is not disturbed. The soul is like a ship on storm-beaten ocean — ever liable to tempest.(1) Causes and occasions of disturbance. It may spring from conditions of body, mind, estate, in the church, in the world.(2) Means of quietude. Quietude a decoration, but also a need. How?(a) Some hints, along the common level of things.

(i)Live so as to have a cool brain and a clear mind.

(ii)Guard against one's special temperament.

(iii)Face facts, and be not content without evidence.

(iv)Guard against demoniac might of the imagination.

(v)Do not morbidly underrate the kindness of fellow men, or overrate their antagonism.(b) But rise higher. We need —

(i)Strong and growing dependence on God.

(ii)To be filled with the Spirit, i.e., to be filled with such thoughts and feelings, that storm shall break in regions below the serenities in which we dwell.

(iii)Keep ever in view the quietude of Christ. "See if there be any sorrow," etc., if there be any patience like to His.

2. The soul quietness that is not disturbing. It is the restless that disturb the peace of others. Ourselves quiet, we shall not till others with wild alarm.

III. OTHER CHARACTERISTICS OF THE GRACE. Some characteristics were mentioned to prepare us to look upon the grace itself; these now are separately and finally pointed out to induce in us the cultivation of this grace also.

1. The soul-decoration is most valuable. One knows its worth. "In the sight of God" it is "of great price."

2. Imperishable.

(Henry T. Robjohns, B. A.)


1. A calm submission under the merely natural evils and calamities which we meet with in the world.

2. A moderation of our anger and resentment upon occasion of moral wrongs or injuries.

3. A sincere desire of the harmony and happiness of society, and a disposition to cultivate peace and friendship with all about us.


1. The intrinsic dignity and value of meek and quiet temper, which is of great price in the sight of God.

2. The importance of a meek and peaceable spirit in religion, and its necessity for our obtaining the mercy and forgiveness of God.

3. Another argument may be brought from the great examples of God's clemency and patience, and our Saviour's meek, gentle, and peaceable behaviour while He was in this world.

4. We should cultivate a meek and quiet spirit from a regard to the peace of mankind and the happiness of the particular persons with whom we have any intercourse.

5. We should cultivate a meek and peaceable spirit for our own interest and satisfaction. There is hardly anything that can be more prejudicial to a man than a wrathful and turbulent temper.


1. For attaining to that part of it, which consists in a patient submission to the purely natural evils which befall us in the world, the great rule is to impress our minds with a deep conviction of the wisdom, equity, and goodness of Providence, by the direction or permission of which all such evils come upon us.

2. As the most difficult part of meekness and quietness of spirit consists in the due government of our resentment with respect to the authors of moral injuries, we must take care to represent such persons in the most favourable light that we justly can to ourselves.

3. When we feel our angry passions beginning to move in us let us carefully guard against their rising to any criminal or unbecoming height in us.

4. Let us observe the direction which our Lord has given us, to express a meek and peaceable spirit when we exercise our devotion and offer up our prayers to Almighty God. From what has been said we may see that the notions which so commonly prevail in the world, concerning the honour, courage, and magnanimity of men are extremely ill-founded.

(J. Orr.)

Who is not fond of ornaments? Even those people who pretend to care only for "the useful" are not really quite indifferent to "the ornamental." We not only have some things simply for ornament, but things which are made for use we like to look as nice as possible. We do not bind books, nor make furniture, nor build houses and churches for the sake of ornament, yet we all admire a pretty book, handsome furniture, a fine house, and beautiful churches. You may remember, in reading your Histories of England, how the early Britons, in their savage state, like many of the heathen still, used to paint their bodies, thinking it improved them. Now, this desire for ornament is laid deep down in our nature, like one of the foundation stones of a house, and, therefore, it is quite right, so long as it is guided properly. St. Peter is certainly not speaking against all ornament. How could it be wrong, when our earth is full of it? But, certainly, St. Peter does not mean we are not to think at all of our appearance. It is not right to be untidy and slovenly in dress. What, then, you ask, is wrong? To make one's outward appearance the chief thing. Some people give you the impression that they are always thinking of what they have on; they seem to have just come away from the looking glass, for they are so "got up," as we say, and look more like dressed dolls than like real men and women. But there are other persons who always look nice without seeming to be conscious what they have on, and who never strike you as having spent much time over their toilet, or as if it had cost them much trouble. These are the truest gentlemen and ladies. Now St. Peter tells us what part of ourselves we should be most anxious to make beautiful, and what ornament we should seek for it. And what is the part to be adorned? He calls it "the hidden man of the heart." It reminds me of the Psalm which says, "The king's daughter is all glorious within." But, you say, who ever heard of wearing ornaments inside, where no one can see them? It must, surely, be silly to adorn something that is "hidden." But no! it is not. For anyone can see the difference between a heart that is adorned and one that is not, though you cannot see either the heart or the ornament itself. For look at the adornment which St. Peter recommends. It is "the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit." Let us try to think of some persons mentioned in the Bible who wore this ornament. Did not Isaac, when he took that long and tiring journey with his father Abraham, carrying the wood for the sacrifice, quietly obeying and meekly submitting without any explanation from his father? Did not Samuel, when he got up that night three times and went to Eli, thinking Eli wanted him, and saying meekly, "Here am I"? Did not David, when he bore meekly his elder brother's taunts, reproaching him for neglecting the sheep to come and see the battle; and afterwards in bearing so patiently with Saul's fickleness and bad temper? Above all, did not Jesus wear this inner ornament all through His earthly life? And how can you tell if you have this "ornament of a meek and quiet spirit"? Answer some questions to yourselves, and you will know. Are you rude and rough, or gentle and polite? Are you wayward and wilful, as if you knew better than those who are older and wiser than you are; or do you at once and cheerfully obey your parents and your teachers? Now, people generally keep their best things for Sundays and "special occasions," when there are strangers or visitors to see them. At other times some persons do not seem to care how they look or what they have; but this "ornament of a meek and quiet spirit" is meant to be worn always, out-of-doors and indoors, at work and at play, at church, at school, and at home. And I think you will agree with me that we ought to seek first that kind of adorning which will best commend us to those with whom we live. Whenever you have on "the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit" they cannot fail to notice it, for, like a lustrous jewel, it will glance out at every turn through a pure, transparent life, and it will make you very dear to all your friends. Yes, this ornament is the most beautiful of all. But again, this "ornament of a meek and quiet spirit" is most precious. The apostle Peter says it is "of great price." It is precious, truly, in the sense of being scarce, like rare flowers and ferns and precious stones; for one person who possesses it, you may find a thousand without it, yet who have plenty of the commoner and cheaper kinds of ornament. But this one is so precious chiefly because it is an ornament of God's own making. There is yet another reason why it is so precious. Do you not think the more of a thing if it has cost your parents much money and trouble to get? Well, God made a real and very great sacrifice that we might have this ornament, giving up His Son to show it us in all its loveliness, and to enable us to get it. Then, too, this adorning is most lasting.

(C. S. Slater, M. A.)


1. There is meekness toward God, and it is the easy and quiet submission of the soul to His whole will, according as He is pleased to make it known, whether by His word or by His providence.(1) It is the silent submission of the soul to the Word of God: the understanding bowed to every Divine truth, and the will to every Divine precept; and both without murmuring and disputing.(2) It is the silent submission of the soul to the providence of God, for that also is the will of God concerning us.

(a)When the events of Providence are grievous and afflictive.

(b)When the methods of Providence are dark and intricate, and we are quite at a loss what God is about to do with us.

2. There is meekness toward our brethren, toward all men (Titus 3:2), and so we take it here.(1) Meekness teaches us prudently to govern our own anger, whenever anything occurs that is provoking.(a) The work of meekness is to cairn the spirit, so as that the inward peace may not be disturbed by any outward provocation.(b) Meekness will curb the tongue, and keep the mouth as with a bridle when the heart is hot (Psalm 39:1-3).(c) Meekness will cool the heat of passion quickly, and not suffer it to continue. As it keeps us from being soon angry, so it teaches us, when we are angry, to be soon pacified.(2) Meekness teaches and enables us patiently to bear the anger of others, which property of meekness we have especially occasion for, in reference to our superiors and equals. And here meekness is of use, either to enjoin silence, or indite a soft answer. We must be of a quiet spirit. Quietness is the evenness, the composure, and the rest of the soul, which speaks both the nature and the excellency of the grace of meekness. The greatest comfort and happiness of man is sometimes set forth by quietness (Isaiah 32:17, 18). In a word, quietness of spirit is the soul's stillness, and silence, from intending provocation to, or resenting provocation from, any with whom we have to do. The word has something in it of a metaphor, which we would not choose but fairly prosecute, for the illustration of the grace of meekness.

1. We must be quiet as the air is quiet from winds. Disorderly passions are like stormy winds in the soul; they toss and hurry it, and often overset it (Isaiah 7:2), and is an apt emblem of a man in passion. Now meekness restrains these winds, says to them, "Peace, be still," and so preserves a calm in the soul. It is not well to lie wind bound in dulness and indifferency; but tempests are perilous. What manner of grace is this, that even the winds and the sea obey it? If we will but use the authority God has given us over our own hearts, we may keep the winds of passion under the command of religion and reason, and then the soul is quiet, the sun shines, all is pleasant, serene, and smiling, and the man sleeps sweetly and safely on the lee side. We make our voyage among rocks and quicksands, but if the weather be calm, we can the better steer so as to avoid them:

2. We must be quiet as the sea is quiet from waves. Now meekness is the grace of the Spirit, that moves upon the face of the waters, and quiets them. It casts forth none of the mire and dirt of passion. This calmness and evenness of spirit makes our passage over the sea of this world safe and pleasant, and speedy towards the desired, harbour, and is exemplary in the eyes of others.

3. We must be quiet as the land is quiet from war. It was the observable felicity of Asa's reign, that in his days "the land was quiet" (2 Chronicles 14:15). Such a quietness there should be in the soul, and such a quietness there will be where meekness sways the sceptre. A soul inflamed with wrath and passion upon all occasions, is like a kingdom embroiled in war.

4. We must be quiet as the child is quiet after the weaning. How easy its days! How quiet its nights! If put into a little pet now and then, how soon it is over!


1. Consider how creditable a meek and quiet spirit is.(1) There is in it the credit of a victory. Meekness is a victory over ourselves and the rebellious lusts in our own bosoms; it is a quieting of intestine broils, the stilling of an insurrection at home which is oftentimes more hard to do than to resist a foreign invasion. It is an effectual victory over those that injure us.

2. There is in it the credit of beauty. The beauty of a thing consists in the symmetry, harmony, and agreeableness of all the parts: now what is meekness, but the soul's agreement with itself? Exorbitant passion is a discord in the soul; it is like a turnout in the face, which spoils the beauty of it.

3. There is in it the credit of an ornament. The text speaks of it as an adorning much more excellent and valuable than gold or pearls.

4. There is in it the credit of true courage. Meekness is commonly despised and run down by the grandees of the age as a piece of cowardice. tie that can deny the brutal lust of anger and revenge, rather than violate the royal law of love and charity (however contrary the sentiments of the world may be), is truly resolute and courageous; the Lord is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. Fretting and vexing is the fruit of the weakness of women and children, but much below the strength of a man, especially of the new man, that is born from above.

5. The credit of a conformity to the best patterns. The resemblance of those that are confessedly excellent and glorious, has in it an excellence and glory. To be meek, is to be like the greatest saints. Let the true honour that attends this grace of meekness recommend it to us: it is one of those things that are honest, and pure, and lovely, and of good report; a virtue that has a praise attending it (Philippians 4:8). A praise, not, perhaps, of men, but of God (Romans 2:29). Consider how comfortable a meek and quiet spirit is. Inward comfort is a desirable good, which has more in it of reality. What is true comfort and pleasure but a quietness in our own bosom? Those are most easy to themselves who are so to all about them.A meek and quiet Christian must needs live very comfortably, for —

1. He enjoys himself. Meekness is very nearly allied to that patience which our Lord Jesus prescribes to us as necessary to the keeping possession of our own souls (Luke 21:19). How calm are the thoughts, how serene are the affections, how rational the prospects, and how even and composed are all the resolves of the meek and quiet soul! It is spoken of as the happiness of the meek that they "delight themselves in the abundance of peace" (Psalm 37:11). Others may delight themselves in the abundance of wealth.

2. He enjoys his friends: and that is a thing in which lies much of the comfort of human life. Man was intended to be a sociable creature, and a Christian much more so. But the angry man is unfit to be so that takes fire at every provocation.

3. He enjoys his God; and that is most comfortable of all. It is the quintessence of all happiness.

4. It is not in the power of his enemies to disturb and interrupt him in these enjoyments. His peace is not only sweet, but safe; as far as he acts under the law of meekness, it is above the assaults of those that wish ill to it.Consider how profitable a meek and quiet spirit is. Meekness is gainful and profitable.

1. As it is the condition of the promise. The meek are therefore blessed, "for they shall inherit the earth" (Psalm 37:11).

2. As it has in its own nature a direct tendency to our present benefit and advantage. He that is thus wise is wise for himself, even in this world, and effectually consults his own interest.(1) Meekness has a good influence upon our health. If envy be the "rottenness of the bones" (Proverbs 14:30), meekness is the preservation of them.(2) It has a good influence upon our wealth, the preservation and increase of it. As in kingdoms, so in families and neighbourhoods, war begets poverty.(3) It has a good influence upon our safety. Consider what a preparative it is for something further.

1. It makes us fit for duty. It puts the soul in frame, and keeps it so, for all religious exercises.

2. It makes us fit for any relation which God in His providence may call us into. Those who are quiet themselves cannot but be easy to all that are about them; and the nearer any are to us in relation and converse, the more desirable it is that we should be easy to them.

3. It makes us fit for any condition, according as the wise God shall please to dispose of us. Those that through grace are enabled to quiet themselves are fit to live in this world where we meet with so much every day to disquiet us. In general, whether the outward condition be prosperous or adverse, a meek and quiet spirit is neither lifted up with the one, nor cast down with the other, but still in the same poise; in prosperity humble, the estate rising but the mind not rising with it; in adversity encouraged and cheered up; in both even, like a dye, throw in which way you will, it lights on a square side.

4. It makes us fit for a day of persecution.

5. It makes us fit for death and eternity. The meek and quiet soul is at death let into that rest which it has been so much labouring after; and how welcome must that needs be!


I. And now, have we not reason to lament the want of the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit among those that profess religion, and especially in our own bosoms? It is the manifest design of our holy religion to soften and sweeten our tempers, and to work off the ruggedness of them.

1. Superiors are commonly very apt to chide, and that is for want of meekness.

2. Inferiors are commonly very apt to complain. If everything be not just to their mind, they are fretting and vexing.

3. Equals are commonly very apt to clash and contend. It is for want of meekness that there are in the Church so many pulpit and paper quarrels.

II. Have we not reason to endeavour, since there is such a virtue, to attain these things? For your direction in this endeavour I shall briefly lay before you —

1. Some Scripture precepts concerning meekness.(1) That we must seek meekness (Zephaniah 2:3).(2) We must put on meekness (Colossians 3:12).(3) We must follow after meekness (1 Timothy 6:11).(4) We must show all meekness unto all men (Titus 3:2).

2. Some Scripture patterns of meekness and quietness of spirit.(1) Abraham was a pattern of meekness, and he was "the father of the faithful" (Genesis 13:8).(2) Moses was a pattern of meek ness (Numbers 12:3).(3) David was a pattern of meekness, and it is promised (Zechariah 12:8). When his enemies reproached him, he was not at all disturbed at it (Psalm 38:13).(4) St. Paul was a pattern of meekness. "He became all things to all men."(5) Our Lord Jesus was the great pattern of meekness and quietness of spirit: all the rest had their spots, the fairest marbles had their flaws, but here is a copy without a blot.(a) He was very meek towards God His Father, cheerfully submitting to His whole will, and standing complete in it.(b) He was very meek towards His friends that loved and followed Him. First, in His bearing with their weaknesses and infirmities. Secondly, in His forgiving and passing by their unkindnesses and disrespects to Himself.(c) He was very meek toward His enemies that hated and persecuted Him.

3. Some particular instances wherein the exercise of meekness is in a special manner required. The rule is general; we must show all meekness: it will be of use to observe some special cases to which the Scripture applies this general rule.(1) We must give reproofs with meekness. It is the apostle's direction (Galatians 6:1).(2) We must receive reproofs with meekness.(3) We must instruct gainsayers with meekness (2 Timothy 2:24, 25).(4) We must make profession of the hope that is in us with meekness (1 Peter 3:15).(5) We must bear reproaches with meekness.

4. Some good principles or considerations which tend to make us meek and quiet.(1) That he has the sweetest and surest peace who is the most master of his own passions.(2) That in many things we all offend.(3) That there is no provocation given us at any time but, if it be skilfully and graciously improved, there is good to be gotten by it.(4) That what is said and done in haste is likely to be a matter for deliberate repentance.(5) That that is truly best for us which is most pleasing and acceptable to God, and that a meek and quiet spirit is so.

5. Some rules of direction.(1) Sit loose to the world, and to everything in it. The more the world is crucified to us, the more our corrupt passions will be crucified in us.(2) Be often repenting of your sinful passion, and renewing your covenants against it.(3) Keep out of the way of provocation, and stand upon your guard against it.(4) Learn to pause. It is a good rule, as in our communion with God, so in our converse with men (Ecclesiastes 5:2).(5) Pray to God by His Spirit to work in you this excellent grace of meekness and quietness of spirit. It is a part of that comeliness which He puts upon the soul, and He must be sought unto for it.(6) Be often examining your growth and proficiency in this grace. Inquire what ground you have got of your passion, and what improvements you have made in meekness.(7) Delight in the company of meek and quiet persons (Proverbs 22:24, 25).(8) Study the Cross of our Lord Jesus.(9) Converse much in your thoughts with the dark and silent grave.

(Matthew Henry.)

In the sight of God of great price
British Weekly Pulpit.
Everything, you know, is in God's sight. Not the tiniest atom in the heart of the earth, not the faintest twinkle of the farthest star, not a passing smile or frown on your face, or a secret thought in your mind, can be hidden from God. But more than this is meant when a thing is said to be precious in God's sight. It means that He takes notice of it, is pleased with it, and wishes us to count it precious. Things often look very different to us from what they really are. Coloured glass may look like precious stones. Gilded wood may look like a bar of gold. But God sees things as they really are. This, you see, is beauty of mind, or, as we sometimes say, beauty of character. A statesman had once been a poor lad, but had raised himself by his talents and industry. A rich but vulgar man said to him very rudely, "I remember when you blacked my father's boots!" Instead of losing his temper, he simply said, "And did I not black them well?" This was a beautiful reply — it was the "ornament of a meek and quiet spirit."

(British Weekly Pulpit.)

The holy women
Note that he saith not wealthy women, fair women, but holy women; here is the ground of his commendation. A little holiness is better than a great deal of riches and beauty. Beauty fades with sickness, wealth hath many ways to take it away, but grace holds ever to life eternal, and commends before God, angels, and good men.

(John Rogers.)

Whose daughters ye are
1. To begin with, note what a happy circumstance it is when a godly, gracious man has an equally godly and gracious wife.

2. We notice next, as we look to Sarah, that God does not forget the lesser lights.

3. Next notice that it would be well for us to imitate God in this: in not forgetting the lesser lights. I do not know that great men are often good examples. Learn not from the great but from the good: be not dazzled by success, but follow the safer light of truth and right.

4. Further more, another reflection arises, namely, that faith reveals itself in various ways. Faith makes one person this, and another that. Sarah does not become Abraham, nor does Abraham become Sarah.

5. We are led by our text to look at the fruit of faith in Sarah.

I. It is said of her that SHE DID WELL, "whose daughters ye are as long as ye do well."

1. She did well as a wife. All the duties that were incumbent upon her as the queen of that travelling company were performed admirably.

2. She did well as a hostess. Though she was truly a princess, yet she kneaded the dough and prepared the bread for her husband's guests.

3. She did well also as a mother. We are sure she did, because we find that her son Isaac was so excellent a man; and you may say what you will, but in the hand of God the mother forms the boy's character.

4. She did well, also, as a believer, and that is no mean point. As a believer when Abraham was called to separate himself from his kindred, Sarah went with him. She continued with him, believing in God with perseverance.

II. She proved her faith by a second evidence — SHE WAS "NOT AFRAID WITH ANY AMAZEMENT." She was calm, and was not put in fear by any terror. There were several occasions in which she might have been much disquieted. The first was in the breaking up of her house life. An unbelieving woman would have said, "A call from God? Nonsense! Fanaticism! I do not believe in it," and when she saw that her husband would go she would have been afraid with great amazement. Then, though we do not hear much about her, we know that all those years she had to live in a tent. It is a very trying life for a housewife. Sarah travelled from day to day, and what with the constant moving of the tent, as the cattle had to be taken to fresh pastures, it must have been a life of terrible discomfort; yet Sarah never said a word about it. Remember, they were dwelling in tents as pilgrims and strangers, not for one day, or two, nor for a few days in a year, but for scores of years at a stretch. It was bravely done by this good woman that she was not afraid with any amazement. Now, this is a point in which Christian women, and, for the matter of that, Christian men also, should seek to imitate Sarah: we should not let our hearts be troubled, but rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.

1. What is this virtue? It is a calm, quiet trusting in God.

2. When is this virtue to be exercised by us? Well, it should be exercised at all times. If we are not self-composed when we are happy we are not likely to be calm when we are sad.

3. You inquire, Who are to exercise this virtue? We are all to do so; but the text is specially directed to the sisterhood. I suppose women are exhorted to it, because some of them are rather excitable, a little hysterical, and apt to be fearfully depressed and utterly carried away.

4. But this virtue especially serves in time of trouble, when a very serious trial threatens us. Then the Christian is not to say, "What shall I do now? I can never endure it. I shall die of a broken heart." No. Do not talk so. Try in patience to lift up your head, and remember Sarah, "whose daughters ye are if ye are not afraid with any amazement."

5. And so must it be in times of personal sickness. A Christian woman should not be afraid with any amazement either in adversity or in sickness, but her holy patience should prove her to be a true daughter of Sarah and Abraham.

6. Christian women in Peter's day were subject to persecution as much as their husbands.

7. And so if you should be called to some stern duty, if you should be bound to do what you feel you cannot do, recollect that anybody can do what he can do. Be not afraid, then, of any duty, but believe that you will be able to do it, for grace will be sufficient for you.

8. At last, in the prospect of death, may you not be afraid with any amazement! Where others show their fear, and sometimes their terror, there should the believer show his peacefulness and his happy expectancy, not afraid with any amazement, whatever the form of death may be. Now, what is the excellence of this virtue? I answer by saying it is due to God that we should not be afraid with any amazement. Such a God as we have ought to be trusted. He worships best who is most calm in evil times. Moreover, the excellence of this virtue is that it is most impressive to men. Nor is the usefulness confined to others. It is most useful to ourselves; for he who can be calm in time of trouble will be most likely to make his way through it. Calmness of mind is the mother of prudence and discretion; it gives the firm foothold which is needful for the warrior when he is about to deal a victorious blow. Those who cannot be amazed by fear shall live to be amazed with mercy. "How," says one, "can we obtain it?" Recollect, it is an outgrowth of faith, and you will have it in proportion as you have faith. Have faith in God and you will not be afraid with any amazement. This holy calm comes, also, from walking with God. No spot is so serene as the secret place of the tabernacles of the Most High. When you accept every affliction as a love token, then will your fear be ended. Next, remember the faithfulness of God to His promise, and the fact that there is a promise for your particular position. Search it out, and then grasp it, and say, "He must keep it; He cannot break His word."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Likewise ye husbands
I. THE FOUNDATION OF DOMESTIC LIFE. "Dwell with your wives according to knowledge" — in accord with the light of reason, sense, humanity, and especially revelation. The very attitude and demeanour of life require to be matters of study and thought.

II. THE COURTESY OF DOMESTIC LIFE. "Giving honour to the wife as being the weaker vessel." This consists in a nameless deference, an unfailing regard, a constant forbearance, a remembrance of her bodily weakness, as well as of her subordinate position.

III. THE SANCTIFICATION OF DOMESTIC LIFE. "As being heirs together of the grace that is given unto you."

(J. J. S. Bird, B. A.)

The weaker vessel
Women are weaker in body than men, weaker also in mind, timorous, soon discouraged, soon provoked, quickly take hurt. Yet are not wives so weak but God hath given them competent ability of body and mind to go through with their duties, and as they be the weaker, so they have the weaker works than men, theirs being for the most part within doors.

1. Hereupon let wives submit them selves the more willingly, and the weaker they find themselves, let them trust the more on God, that they may be strong in Him.

2. For husbands, let them use their wives kindly. They must not grieve them, nor disquiet them to their undoing. They be good, costly, and very profitable vessels, for excellent use, but easily cracked; therefore had we more need have the more care of them, as we have of some choice glass.

3. This rebukes those that use their wives ruggedly, sometimes railing at them. A Venice glass well used and looked to may last long, so may a good wife, but some vex and grieve their wives, that they pine away with sorrow. What an account have these to make!

(John Rogers.)

Heirs together of the grace of life

1. He calls it "life" in an eminent sense. Now, it is limited. Then the great ends of life will be supremely answered. Its duration will justify the appellation "life."

2. He calls it "the grace of life" because it is the gift of grace, bestowed in a very gracious way.


1. It gratifies our generosity and benevolence.

2. It adds meekness to the intercourse of friendship.

3. Providence has so ordered it that Christians should be not only fellow heirs but fellow helpers to eternal life.

4. It provides such a cordial when friends come to part.Lessons:

1. How richly and graciously has God ordered it, that the salvation of Christians should be linked together.

2. How anxious should those who are united by natural affection be, to become heirs together of such a life.

3. How important it is that those who are heirs together of such a life should cultivate the dispositions most suited to it,

4. How desirable it is to have reference to these views in time of need.

5. How terrible is the sentiment of the text reversed.

(T. N. Toller.)

The Evangelist.
1. The first duty which he enjoins is subjection (ver. 1).

2. The second duty enjoined on Christian wives is "chaste conversation"; in other words, a deportment governed by principles of modest decorum and unblemished purity.

3. The apostle's third direction respects fear, "A chaste conversion, coupled with fear," by which I understand, with Dr. Doddridge, the fear of God, a holy principle of reverence for the Supreme Being, consistent with love and springing greatly from it.

4. The fourth direction to Christian females respects indifference to external ornaments of dress (ver. 3).

5. The fifth advice is on the cultivation of the mind (ver. 4). "Whose adorning," etc.

6. A sixth precept, and the last which he urges on his female friends, is the union of decision and cheerfulness (ver. 6). Doing well is practical decision. The absence of fear with amazement, or of a perturbed dissatisfaction of mind, implies cheerfulness.The apostle suggests three motives to enforce these directions,

1. The first is the probable influence of the deport-meet of the pious female in affecting the conversion of an unbelieving husband (vers. 1, 2).

2. The second motive urged by the apostle is the approbation of God (ver. 4).

3. The third motive arises from example (vers. 5, 6). But let me request attention to the exhortation which is given to Christian husbands (ver. 7).The duty of Christian men united in marriage is here represented to consist chiefly in three articles.

1. The first is domestic attachment — "Dwell with them."

2. The second duty enjoined on Christian husbands is conduct governed by "knowledge." "Dwell with them according to knowledge."

3. The third duty which is here inculcated on believing husbands, in reference to their wives, is that of respectful as well as affectionate attention, which the apostle calls giving them honour. Dr. Doddridge supposes this to intend a suitable and, as far as may be, a liberal maintenance. Certainly this is included; but the precept appears to go much further. It is a guard against the abuse of that domestic authority which Providence has lodged in the hands of the husband. For how can despotic power reign in his breast, who honours the wife of his bosom? Various considerations to enforce these duties arise out of the apostle's statement of the wife as "the weaker vessel."

(The Evangelist.)

The Evangelist.
I. LET US ATTEND TO THEIR JOINT PRIVILEGE. They are "heirs together of the grace of life." The happiness of the marriage relation is generally dependent on the resemblance of the persons entering into it. The significant expression used by the sacred writer implies —

1. That both are partakers of "grace"; in other words, that they are real Christians. It is not always so.

2. That they are not in present possession of all the happiness designed for them — "the grace of life." This inheritance, in its largest extent, they do not possess; they are "the heirs." They have many toilsome steps to take in the journey of their present existence before they reach their heavenly inheritance. Uncertainty hangs over every event.

3. They have glorious prospects in futurity. The heirs of God are joint heirs with Christ.


1. In the promotion of personal religion. Marriage should be improved to form and refine the individual character, but the duties of the individual character can never be annihilated by the social bond. Being heirs together of the grace of life, each of you is bound to be uniformly, decidedly, eminently devoted to God and the Redeemer. The same consideration should operate.

2. On the mutual advancement of piety in each other's hearts. The converted wife or the converted husband is never to be regarded by the other party as one standing in need of no helps to the advancement of the highest interests of the soul.

3. In the engagements of domestic worship and discipline. Wherever Christians pitch their tents, they should without delay erect an altar.

4. On resolutions made before God with regard to relations not yet in existence. Such relations, young people entering into the bonds of marriage ought to anticipate. "We may hereafter be parents" is consideration which forces itself on their minds.

5. On the general conduct. Married people, feeling reciprocally the influence of religion, will practically recommend it to the approbation of all who behold them.


1. To a deep sense of the necessity of prayer, which will be encouraged in the one case, and wretchedly hindered in the other.

2. To the constant exercise of the external duty of prayer.

3. To the cultivation or the neglect of the spirit of prayer.

4. To the experience, and to the diminution of the advantages of prayer. Prayer, if an acceptable, is an operative service.

(The Evangelist.)


1. The original institution might alone suffice to satisfy our minds of this. It is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man's innocency.

2. Nor can it have escaped your notice that marriage was at all times treated as a religious ceremony.

3. Moreover, I cannot conceive of anyone possessed of godly feeling within him who can contemplate a rite so instituted of God as otherwise than religious.

4. And next I ask, How can that be a mere civil contract which we are so plainly taught in the Bible is distinctly figurative of Christ's love for His spouse the Church.


1. The original appointment implies nothing less than this.

2. Christ distinctly said that marriage was intended to be indissoluble (Matthew 19:3-9).

3. The figure of the spiritual union betwixt Christ and His Church wholly fails if marriage was not intended to be indissoluble.

4. But if so, the question arises, "How conies a law of divorce in God's Word, or in our own laws?" To the former question the answer is simply in the words of Christ, "It was not so from the beginning, but Moses, for the hardness of your hearts, suffered this law to be given." "And this," says the Fulfiller of all righteous law, "is the one only cause of divorce being ever permitted among you: it was not so from the beginning."


1. St. Peter tells you to regard yourselves as "heirs together of the grace of life." Marriage is for this life, and in heaven they "neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God." And yet St. Peter introduces this reference to eternal life in connection with it; and it would be hard to say why he does so, unless it be that a right fulfilment of that condition is a great help in Christianity between man and wife. But this becomes quite certain, if only you will observe one word in the text. St. Peter does not call you "heirs of the grace of life," but "heirs together of the grace of life." This plainly asserts that in religious matters husband and wife are intended to be helps-meet for one another — but who will think of this that recognises marriage as a legal ceremony? — that they are not to live a life through with, perhaps, much confiding love and esteem in other matters, but without any care and interest whatsoever in each other's future state.

2. One other remark here must suffice; it is on the importance of praying together. How many unhappy wives and miserable husbands would be rendered blessed if only they prayed together as "heirs together of the grace of life"! Who could rise to quarrel that knelt to pray?

(G. Venables.)

Scientific Illustrations.
There are some husbands and wives whose conduct to each other depends entirely upon surrounding circumstances. When there is plenty of money at the bank, and prosperity is shining upon the homestead, their affinity and love for each other is intense. But in the gloom of adversity, and under sombre influences, they have no mutual attraction whatsoever, and their affections are kept in isolation. This type of the matrimonial life may be called the chlorine-hydrogen type. Chlorine and hydrogen are gases having a powerful affinity for each other — that is to say, they will unite when brought together in the daylight; but if we change the conditions, if we bring them together in the dark, their affinity is never manifested; and thus, while in the sunlight they rush together with even explosive force, they will remain quiescent in the darkness, and there for all eternity would form no combination whatever.

(Scientific Illustrations.)

That your prayers be not hindered
The breach of conjugal love, the contentions of husband and wife, do, out of doubt, so embitter their spirits, that they are exceedingly unfit for prayer, which is the sweet harmony of the soul in God's ears; and when the soul is so far out of tune as those distempers make it, He cannot but perceive it whose ear is the most exact of all, for He made and tuned the ear, and is the fountain of harmony. It cuts the sinews and strength of prayer, makes breaches and gaps, as wounds at which the spirits fly out. When the soul is calm and composed it may behold the face of God shining on it. And those who pray together should not only have hearts in tune within themselves, in their own frame, but tuned together; especially husband and wife, who are one, they should have hearts consorted and sweetly tuned to each other for prayer.

(Abp. Leighton.)

I. First, there is such a thing as being HINDERED FROM PRAYER.

1. That may be done by falling into a generally lax, lukewarm condition in reference to the things of God. When a sick man is in a decline his lungs suffer and his voice; and so when a Christian is in a spiritual decline the breath of prayer is affected, and the cry of supplication becomes weak.

2. Prayers may be hindered by having too much to do. In this age this is a very common occurrence. We may have too much business for ourselves. The rich man in the parable had no time for prayer, for he was busy in planning new barns, but he had to find time for dying when the Lord said, "This night shall thy soul be required of thee." We may even have too much to do in God's house, and so hinder our prayers, by being like Martha, cumbered with much serving. I never heard of anyone who was cumbered with much praying.

3. There can be no doubt, also, that prayer is hindered by having too little to do.

4. very large proportion of Christians do too little. God has given them enough wealth to be able to retire from business; they have time upon their hands, and they have even to invent ways of spending that time. I wish that all could say with one of the Lord's saints, "Prayer is my business and praise is my pleasure"; but I am sure they never will till the zeal of the Lord's house shall more fully consume them.

5. Some people hinder their prayers, again, by a want of order. They get up a little too late, and they have to chase their work all' the day and never overtake it, but are always in a flurry, one duty tripping up the heels of another.

II. Secondly, we must watch that we be not HINDERED IN PRAYER, when we are really engaged in that holy work.

1. Let us note that some are hindered in prayer by selecting an unfit time and place. There are times when you may expect a knock at your own door, do not just then knock at God's door. There are times that are demanded of you by the necessities of the household and your lawful calling; these are already the Lord's in another way, let them be used for their own purpose. Give to God and prayer those suitable times in which you can reasonably expect to be alone. A pious lad who had no place at home to pray in, went to the stable and climbed up into the hayloft; but very soon some one came up the ladder and interrupted him: the next time he took care to pull the ladder up after him, a very useful hint for us. Select the fittest time and place, that your prayers be not hindered.

2. Worldly cares are frequent and most mischievous hindrances to prayer. A Christian man should be the most careful man in the world, and yet without carefulness. Oh, for more grace and less worry! More praying and less hoarding! More intercession and less speculating! As it is, prayers are sadly hindered.

3. Earthly pleasures, especially of a dubious kind, are the worst of hindrances. How can you come home from frivolity and sin and then look into the face of Jesus? How can the fashions of the world be followed, and communion with God be maintained?

4. Further, prayers may be hindered equally much by worldly sorrow. It is right to be sorrowful, for God intends that affliction should be grievous, and not joyous; but when sorrow is right it will drive us to prayer, and not drive us from it; and when we find our grief at the loss of some dear child, or at the decay of our property, hinders our prayers, I think we should say to ourselves, "Now I must pray; for it must be wrong for me to be so rebellious against my Father as to refuse to ask anything at His hands."

5. There are cases in which prayer is very greatly hindered by bad temper. We cannot pray for forgiveness unless we forgive the trespasses of others against us. Prayer can be very terribly hindered in three ways: if we dishonour the Father to whom we pray, or the Son through whom we pray, or the Holy Ghost by whom we pray.

III. We may be HINDERED IN THE SPEEDING OF OUR PRAYERS. We may pray, but yet the prayer may not be heard.

1. First, there must be holy living in a believer if his prayers are greatly to succeed with God. If you do not do Christ's will He will not do your will.

2. In addition to obedience there must be faith. The prayer which avails most with God is the prayer of one who believes that God will hear him, and who therefore asks with confidence.

3. Thirdly, there must be holy desires, or else prayer will be a failure; and those desires must be founded on a promise. There is no use in asking money of a banker without a cheque: at the counter they do not know you; they know the promise to pay, and if you present that you will get the amount, but not else.

4. Furthermore; if prayer is to speed, there must be fervour and importunity. The arrow must be put on the bowstring, and the bow must be drawn with all our might.

5. There must be, next, a desire for God's glory — for that is the white of the target — and if we do not shoot towards that, the arrow will avail nothing.

6. We must also have holy expectancy, or we shall hinder prayer. The man who shoots must look to see where his arrow goes. We must direct our prayer unto God, and look up. Presumption in prayer shoots with the bow of self-confidence, not for God's glory, but for the gratification of itself, and therefore it fails. Some have the idea that, ask what they like of God, they are sure to have it: but I would ask them, first, "Who are you?" secondly, "What is it you are going to ask?" and, thirdly, "What right have you to expect it?" These inquiries must be clearly answered, otherwise prayer may be an insult to God. Straightforward transactions you may pray about, but do not mix up the Lord with your financing. I am requested to pray for a young man who has lost his situation, through a defalcation, that he may get another place, but instead of doing so I suggest that he should himself pray to be made honest.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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