Beauty Of Holiness
( Originally Published 1896 )
The beauty of holiness always shines modestly, but none the less gloriously. The humblest violet exhibits its beauty, but it has no voice. It is not enough for Christians to carry their religion in their hearts as fire is carried in flint stones. A Christian's light must shine out on a dark world. There must be an open and consistent profession of Christianity. We need not be loud talkers or paraders of our own piety; yet if we have found the way to heaven, why should we not tell others the way? But the best and most forcible way to tell a thing is not always with the tongue. Talk is the cheapest commodity in the world. It was the lamented Phillips Brooks who said, "A man who lives right, and is right, has more power in his silence than another has by his words. Character is like bells which ring out sweet music, and which when touched, accidently even, resound with sweet music." Another writes, "Those who have closest communion with God are the ones who know not that their faces shine." Moses' face shone when he came down from the mount, but he did not know it, and, perhaps, well he did not. We have now and then met saints who, we believed, were holy and as entirely sanctified as one can be in this lower world, but we did not tell them so, nor did they tell us so with their tongues.. The best saints, like the most valuable forest game, are prone to keep most secluded or to make the least noise. The most powerful forces in the universe are silent - as gravitation, the falling of the dew,. the budding of an oak, the life-principle.
The most beautiful influence in this world is the calm, sweet, silent beauty of a holy life. The glorious sun in the heavens shines - just shines continually and grandly, but did any one ever hear the sun talking and boastingly exclaiming, I shine, I shine - I do, see how I shine? Someone has beautifully defined holiness to be "religion shining." If the Christian will keep his lamp of holiness shining, God will put it where it can be seen. Holiness cannot be described, but it can be shown in the life. If we have holiness in our hearts, the world will find it out, and we need not make a parade of it. There is not enough modesty in Christian testimony.
There is no pride so base as spiritual pride-priding yourself on your religious graces and superior sanctity - being proud that you are not proud. There is no counterfeit so contemptible as counterfeit humility - seeking to humiliate one's self beyond measure.
There is not the least appearance of pride, vanity, boasting or affectation in a beautiful character. Affectation is always despicable and disgusting, whether it be an affected speech, manner, or superiority of goodness. A man who is a mere pietist, cultivating his spiritual nature to the neglect of other elements - the mental, social and aesthetic, has a lop-sided and unlovely character. A character cannot be beautiful while it is secluded, unsocial, warped or prejudiced. A man can no more serve God by halves than he- can shoot off his gun by degrees. A beautiful character reaches the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. No one ever attained to it by looking to any other source. As neither riches nor honors nor learning can alone impart soul beauty, so when the strength of manhood fails and beauty fades from the cheek, there is a strength and beauty found in God's sanctuary that never faileth. He who grows up into Christ in allthings must be a finished man. The crowning triumph in Christian character is the maturity and perfection .of the spiritual graces, and the attainment of such a genuine and complete excellence is the culmivating point of this world's achievement.
The beauty of some ripe fruits surpasses in loveliness even that of the blossoms under the delicate tinting or deep coloring of the sun's rays. So a consistent Christian character will ripen into the sweet and tender and incomparable beauty of a consecrated life-the "beauty of holiness." The serene silent beauty of a holy life under the fashioning rays of the Sun of Righteousness, is the most potent, pursuasive to religion-the mightiest influence in the world. The love of happiness is not so high as the love of beauty, if it be the beauty of holiness. There may be a beautiful childhood, a fuller beauty of youth, a still stronger beauty of manhood, and in all there may be the diviner beauty of holiness. Beauty of holiness is the only perfect and supreme beauty, because it is an attribute of God who is transcendent in the beauty of his Holiness. Oh to be robed in the unutterable beauty of the spotless Lamb of God! A true Christian spirit is like that of the incarnate God - as meek as a babe, as gentle as a lamb, as sweet as a violet, and as mild as the breath of heaven. A beautiful life is full of harmony and sweetness, well-rounded, large, generous, rich, attractive, positive, hopeful, trustful, aggressive, fruitful in good results.