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DELIVERED BEFORE THE GRADUATING CLASS OP OXFORD FEMALE COLLEGE, MAT 23d, 1811.— Eds.) " Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very cosily, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair ; and the home was filled with the odor of the ointment." — John zii, 3.
I trust that it is not simply in compliance with custom that on the occasion of this literary festival we come at this hour to take a lesson for eter-
nity. The part assigned me by the authorities of this institution is to give this lesson. In doing so I take it that I am not expected, nor is it desired of me, to discourse to you of history, or poetry, or science, but to speak to you of Jesus, of piety and heaven. I shall, in submitting this lesson, studiously avoid anything that may even
have the appearance of an attempt at a display of learning. It is my purpose to preach to you the Grospel. The act of Mary recited in this historical sketch furnishes us with the theme, as it embodies and sets forth the essential elements of Christian character. These elements I propose to present to you in three propositions, based upon the text, viz :
1. Every Christian vfoman has inwrought in her heart the spirit of genuine humility, and this beautifies her character and makes her happy. This proposition is based upon the phrase, "and wiped his feet with her hair."
2. Every Christian woman possessed with this spirit of humility has also the spirit to consecrate her all to Christ, and finds in the end that she will gain and not lose by it. This proposition is based upon the words, " Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus." It was all she had.
3. The character of those who in humility consecrate themselves to Christ, produces and leaves
an impress for good upon the age in which they live. This proposition we base upon the last clause in the text, " and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment."
We proceed now to take up the first proposition. Mary loved Christ. His acts of kindness had endeared Him to her. The raising of her brother from the dead convinced her, beyond a doubt, that He was what He professed to be— the Son of Grod, the Saviour of the world. As such she embraced Him, and found that he not only had power to raise from physical death, but power to raise from spiritual death. Choosing as she did the good part, the power of the new life, which passed upon her by faith in Him as her Saviour, struck from her bosom pride, and brought her in humility down at the feet of Jesus. Was ever such an instance of humility given ? She was a young lady, at least unmarried. We must presume that she had the ordinary care of her person. We may suppose that she cultivated her hair, with which Grod ornaments woman ; it would have been very unnatural if she did not. Yet such was her strong spirit of humility, inwrought through the love of the Saviour, that she
gets down at His feet and wipes them with her hair. The same spirit of humility which she possessed and manifested is found now pervading every heart upon which glows the love of Christ.
Pride and love of Christ do not go together ; they are antagonistic ; the one will root out the other. They are each cardinal elements in the hearts where they exist. As pride is the grand ruling element in the carnal heart, so humility, the first fruit of love to Christ, is the grand ruling element in the spiritual heart. They do not strike hands together in alliance in any heart. When one enters the other departs. The truth of these declarations is illustrated in the experience of all genuine Christians. Follow the man in his experience who is brought savingly to a knowledge and love of Christ. For a long time the pride of his heart kept him away from the Saviour, kept him from making an effort to seek him. He was ashamed to let the world see him crying and weeping around the altar of religion, though he
felt the need of a Saviour, for when death and the judgment rose up before him he was terrorstricken and affected. Though he saw a charm in the name of Jesus, and felt an attraction in His Cross, yet his proud heart revolted at all that humiliation. But when he yielded at length, and with repentance and tears sought the forgiveness of Grod, the very last thing with which he parted when he crossed the line which brought him from the kingdom of guilt and sin into the kingdom of grace and pardon, was pride. It clung to him and worried him. It held on to his skirts as he
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stood, with raised foot, even to step into the kingdom. Pride, an unwillingness to yield to the conviction that he was helpless and dependent, kept him trying to the very last to help himself. Though it could never blind him to the fact that he was poor, and needy, and starving spiritually, yet it kept him feeling out otherwise for help than coming right down at the foot of the Cross and acknowledging before God, with heart as well as
the lip, that He must save him or he would perish. As soon as he could, by grace, wrench pride from his heart, he dropped at the feet pf Jesus, powerless, willing to do anything and be anything, that he might receive Christ ; then he was justified and regenerated. The first great impulse that throbbed in his heart, as the light of Christ's love broke upon his soul, and revealed to him his true nature and something of the nature of God, was the spirit of humility. As the black cloud of his sins rolled away before the smile of the Father, and in its thick darkness he saw how great had been his guilt, how impure, how blind and ignorant he had been, and how pure, and good, and high, and great is the Lord, his soul filled with amazement that God should have condescended to have noticed him, and he feels it his high honor to gather up the crumbs that fall from His table, and from that hour until the present, as he walked the fields of His spiritual kingdom.
he scanned His character by the light of His spirit,
dxank deeper of the knowledge of Grod, and his own self-abasement has increased.
Let us look a little to the history of this principle which marks so prominently the character of the true lovers of Jesus. It underlies, as its foundation, the whole plan of salvation. Man in his primeval state possessed it, but the devil, the leader of the fallen angels, by his deceptive arts and flattery, infused the poison of pride into his heart; this expelled humility, and he fell. We are sprung from him "whose guilty fall corrupts his race and taints us all." Now, when Christ undertook to repair the injuries of the fall, the first blow is stricken by Him at this pride, the cause of all sin past, all pain, all woe to come. He did not with His right hand tear this principle out of the heart of man. This He might have done if He had not made man a free, agent. Divesting Himself of His own greatness, and grandeur, and glory He had with the Father, He brought to bear upon man the great force of example, the shining example of a Grod humbling Himself even to a bed in a manger, taking the form of a servant upon Him, and submitting to the deepest humiliation, that He might woo man
to come down from his high place of pride and rebellion, and back to his primeval state of humility. The example does not stop here. Christ
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kept Himself down in that vale, the vale of humility, until the work was finished, complete ; then He prayed the Father: "Now, oh! Father, glorify Thy Son," and the Father sent a chariot from heaven, accompanied by a shining retinue of angels that shouted Him back in triumph. Now, in following our great exemplar, the first step to be taken by you, my young friends, is to get the spirit of humility that was in Him — is to humble your hearts — is to get down with Him in His humiliation. God resists the proud. You cannot make one successful advance unless you strike right at the pride that is in your heart. When you have flung it from you, you drop on the bosom of the Saviour and are accepted. As He kept Himself in the vale of humility until He had finished the plan, so you must keep yourselves down in humility until the development of the plan is
fully accomplished upon you. If you keep down then, the blood of the Cross drops constantly upon your heart to wash it of its impurity. If you keep down in humility, the glow of Christ's humiliation warms your soul. If you walk humbly before G-od, the light that streams along the path where Jesus trod lights your way as it fell before the tracks He has left behind. If you keep down in the vale of humility, you catch the echo of the words which Jesus spoke for the encouragement of His saints. But exalt yourself, put yourself
on the pinnacle of wealth, or fashion, or fame and you put yourselves out of the kingdom of Christ — you put yourselves above its hallowing, sanctifying, soothing influences ; and, the saddest of all, in the end you shall be abased. Ah, my young friends, there is something about this thing of getting down with Christ that makes the soul happy. It carries it back to its old native element. As it were, it turns upon its ear the music of God's approving voice, which sounds like the
melody of Eden. It is a sort of getting down that we may get up — a stooping to catch a gaze upon the Saviour that enraptures the soul, for the example stops not with the end of your probation. As the Father when the plan was finished glorified the Son, so the Son when your probation is ended will glorify you. "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted" — exalted to be sons of God and heirs of eternal salvation.
We now take up the second prdposition. Those who in the spirit of humility love Christ are willing to consecrate their all to Him, and find in the end that they gain by it. Mary had one pound of ointment of spikenard. It was very costly, and all she had. She put it all upon His feet. So the Christian woman or man, when they humble their hearts in obedience to the will of God, tasting that the Lord is good, and feeling the powers of the world to come, they take
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their talents, their time, their substance, and lay
them down at the feet of Jesus. And after the Christian has done this, like Paul when he was stricken down by the light of the glory of Christ on his way to Damascus, he exclaims : "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do? Speak, Lord, Thy servant heareth. Now, I am going to do just what You tell me, just what You tell me in your word, and through your spirit, I intend to do. If it is to sell all I have and give to the poor, if it is to leave father, and mother, and wife, and children, and house, and lands, to serve Thee, I will do it." Why does he do this, why talk so, why thus tempered? Because he loves Christ. It is not that he does not love father or mother, but he loves Christ better ; not that he loves his wife and little ones less, but he loves Christ more. Said a heroic martyr on his way to the stake, when asked if he did not love his wife and little ones that were weeping by his side, "Love them? Yes; if all the world were gold and at my disposal I would give it all for the satisfaction of living with them, yet in comparison with Christ I love them not." The Christian feels that if he were ever required to do this, he would never be forsaken nor his seed ever have to beg bread. He feels that if he were re-
quired to do this, in the end he would make a good bargain, for the stipulation is, that in this
life he is to have an hundred fold and in the world to come life everlasting. Here is grand bargaining for you. There is none of that small, low bidding at the counters of heaven, attempting to jew down to the lowest prices by which the riches of the kingdom of grace may be purchased; none of that small bartering a little scrap of your time Sunday to his service, for His great Sabbath of rest ; none of that picayune business of putting in a few shillings or dollars a year to the cause of Christ, and that with mouthing and grumbling ; it is not at all after that manner. It is making a grand bargain with Christ, which consecrates all to Him, looking into eternity for its consummation. With his soul rendered grateful, generous, noble and honest, by the love of the Saviour shed abroad in it, he reasons thus : Christ gave himself for me when I was a bankrupt, ruined, insolvent. He then left His Father's
house for me ; He ventured His all for my salvation; surely J can venture my all for Him. I only hold it in trust from Him anyhow. This is a bargain in exchange in which the Christian dose not lose anything. What is a pound of ointment ? What is a few acres of soil, even if he had a right to it, cursed with thorns and thistles, compared with mansions in the Father's house and a title in fee simple to the boundless fields of the heavenly Canaan ? What is the time of his life if he
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gives it all to Christ's service, compared with an eternal lifetime of song, and praise, and happiness ? What are a few bags of gold that may turn to ashes in his clutched hands, compared with treasures that fade not away, where moth and rust do not corrupt ? Of what worth is the emerald, the pearl, the diamond of earth, compared with a crown of life that shall outglitter the sun ?
We now take up the last proposition: the char-
acter of those who in humility consecrate themselves to Christ, produces and leaves an impress for good on the age in which they live. Mary's offering to Christ filled the house with the odor of the ointment. St. Matthew reports that Christ said of her act, "wheresoever this Grospel is preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her." We are witnesses to the truth of Christ's declaration. No one reads or hears this Gospel without being impressed with this example of deep humility and consecration to Christ. Eighteen hundred years ago and more it occurred, and yet it comes to us with all the freshness of yesterday. It stands out, back through the lapse of the dark ages that intervene, as a lone beautiful flower on the desert waste, sending to our times the odor of its perfume, or like a small, twinkling star that afar off decks the brow of
night, sending to us through seas of ' mist and vapor its feeble, though clear and mellow light,
over millions of miles of space. So with those, whether in high or low estate, who venture and consecrate themselves and their all wholly to Christ. The influence of their good deeds will spread itself in power, like leaven, through all the circles in which they move, and wave after wave of influence for good is started by them on the sea of life that widens as generation succeeds generation, and extends and reaches out in the future until they break on the shores of eternity. And now, young ladies, you will indulge me in a few remarks specially to you, and I have done. In view of the great responsibility which rests upon you, by the influence you may exert upon the weal or woe of our common country, resolve to rise up fully to the performance of your part in the great work of life. Your place is a high one in the scale of being, your sphere is brilliant and glorious. Whilst you may by your own efforts elevate yourselves to high position in society, remember that with all the accomplishments, and learning, and wealth, and honor which the world can confer upon you, your character will be incomplete, your great mission can never be accomplished, you will still fall below your high destiny, if you lack one thing.
Shall I tell you what that is? Will you
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allow me to use this occasion to hold up the crowning glory of woman ? It is Christian character. Without it in the end all her earthly glory fades. And, above all, remember that the Christian woman not only trusts in, but works for Jesus. Mary wiped his feet herself — did not have a servant to do it. The idea is too prevalent that men alone must work, must preach, must teach, open missions and schools. Woman shifts too much of the responsibility on the opposite sex. The harvest whitens before her, and she fails to put in the golden sickle, waiting for the stronger muscle. True, it is man's duty to go foremost in the great enterprises of the world, but it is woman's duty to move closely by his side. It is not all of woman's business in this world to get educated, to make music, and paint, and study fashions, and get married, and superintend the nursery. True, she is not to go on the stump, or in the forum, or in the pulpit ; but whilst
her husband declares the message of love and mercy from the sacred desk, she is to stand at the altar to extend its benefits ; whilst he visits the sick in the practice of the healing art, she is to follow him with the basket of charity and words of comfort to the poor and suffering ; and thus in every department of life, she is to strengthen his hands under the influence of his labor; and if She has no husband, then she
is the more free to usefulness. And here I take occasion to render what I consider a great tribute to that class of women who choose not to marry. Mary beloiiged to that class. They are by the unwitting contemptuously called " old maids." Many young ladies fall into the great mistake that no greater curse could befall them than to be doomed to old maidenhood. It is the embodiment of all their fears, the plague of their dreams. It is a very great mistake. I know of no class
of persons so entitled to honor and respect, and from whom it is so unjustly withheld. They are indeed servants of the public. If the sick are to be attended, they are pressed into service. If a class in Sunday school is to be taught, they teach it. If money is to be raised for benevolence, they take around the subscription paper. They live for others, work for others, their life is one of self-sacrifice and toil to make others happy. I stand here to-day in this presence, and feel great pleasure in pronouncing this eulogy, so well deserved, upon them. They are to be honored and envied far above many thousands of their sex who are ill-matched, hitched on to the car of unappreciating men by the bonds of wedlock. And when, like Mary, they consecrate themselves in humility to Christ, they furnish us with shining examples, live beautified and beatified in devotion to Christ and His service. How surpassingly beautiful is
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the picture of a good woman, whose life is that of a public benefactress ! How it commands the
reverence and respect of all classes of men ! A gentleman in company with the Superintendent was visiting a mission district in the city of New York. They entered an apartment where a young lady was teaching a class of reformed men, rescued from the paths of vice and sin. The young lady had charge of them, a very large class, alone. The gentleman asked the Superintendent if he was not afraid to leave her alone with those rough men. " Sir," said, he, " every one of those men would die for her if need be, and if any one should offer her an indignity he would not get out of that room with his life. They reverence her as an angel of mercy." These are the queens of earth of Grod's own crowning.
Eemember, young ladies, that the highest source of happiness to a mortal is the consciousness of doing good. The highest source of happiness to Grod is His consciousness of doing good. The illimitable and unfathomable mind of the Eternal is filled with pleasure by this consciousness. And the vast and unlimited universe is impressed and filled with the evidence of His goodness, as the odor of the ointment filled the whole house. The impress of His goodness is fixed upon every-
thing that appears around us, and transpires about us. It is printed upon every leaf and every
flower, upon every wind and every wave. It glitters in the dewdrop, and beams forljli in the rainbow. Evening and morning are lighted up by His smile. The clouds, like great ships, plough the air, and drop down their freights of fatness. And what appears to the eye is insignificant, compared with the impress of His goodness throughout the vast universe. "The heavens declare the glory of Grod, and the firmament showeth His handiwork." So with the humbly pious, those who, like God, do good, go through their earthly probation visiting the sick, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, pouring oil into the spirits that are wounded, fill their own minds with pleasure, as the odor of the ointment filled that house, and they impress the age and generation in which they live with their goodness. One pious, humble, consecrated young lady fills the whole college with the impress of her good deeds, and when
she passes away from its halls she is remembered, and revered, and quoted in her example. "The name of the wicked shall rot, but the memory of the just is precious." Here is the path to all the earthly immortality that is worthy of our aspirations. "When I die I would rather have a plain, simple stone placed at my grave, bearing truthfully the inscription, " He spent his life in doing good, blessed the world while living, and died regretted by all," than to have a towering monument of
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marble and brass emblazoned with deeds of conquest. When I die I would rather have all the poor children and orphans of my vicinity, whose feet I had shod, and whose persons I had clothed, come to my funeral and weep at my grave, than to have the booming of cannon and the waving of banners.
Then, in conclusion, let me say, young ladies, consecrate in humility your all to Christ. Take Him as the pattern of your life, and go about
doing good. Ameliorate the condition of your race; labor to advance the cause and kingdom of Christ; fail not to put your mark upon the age in which you live; let each of your hearts be touched with the fire of love from off the altars of heaven; cast away all pride and formality; speak words of hope to the despondent; take the hand of orphanage, and lead it through the difficult and hazardous paths of this pilgrimage; tend in the chambers of the sick ; stand at the portal of the tomb and flash the light of God's promises over the shadows that rise from the grave; and when jou die you will live in the hearts of your survivors. This is the road that leads to immortality on earth, -and ends with immortality in heaven.
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