After a minister had preached a searching sermon on pride, a woman who had heard the sermon waited upon him and told him that she was in much distress of mind, and that she would like to confess to a great sin. The minister asked her what the sin was.
She answered, "The sin of pride, for I sat for an hour before my mirror some days ago admiring my beauty."
"Oh," responded the minister, "that was not a sin of pride—that was a sin of imagination!"
Betsey Patterson of Baltimore was regarded as the most beautiful woman in America, and the charm of her beauty was acknowledged in the highest circles of Europe. In 1804 Napoleon's youngest brother, on a visit to America, became infatuated with Elizabeth and married her; but the marriage was afterward annulled through the influence of Napoleon.
Toward the end of her remarkable career, Betsey Patterson said, "Once I had everything but money. Now I have nothing but money." Writing in middle life to a friend, she confessed, "I am dying with ennui. I am tired of reading, and of all my ways of killing time. I doze away my existence. I am too old to coquet, and without this stimulus I die of ennui. The Princess Gallitizin tries to keep me up to the toil of dressing by telling me I am a beauty. I am tired of life, and tired of having lived." Such was the melancholy confession of a woman who had great beauty of body and delighted to adorn that body, but had no inner beauty of the soul—what Peter calls the "hidden man of the heart" (I Pet. 3:4).
Some years ago I went down the banks of the Severn to visit a poor girl dying of tuberculosis in a small cottage of two rooms on the river's bank. I found this river in flood, with the result that when I reached the cottage I found it surrounded by water, through which I waded, and when I opened the door I found the kitchen knee-deep in water. The girl I knew was dying alone upstairs, to which a strip wooden staircase gave access. She had no servant, but a poor woman came in each morning for an hour and 'did for her'.
Here, I felt, was a case that called for all my powers of cheer; and as I slowly mounted the bare wooden stairs I wondered how best I could comfort the sufferer. I needn't have troubled, for as my head appeared in the bedroom I looked toward the bed, and there lay the sufferer, eagerly looking at me, her rare visitor. With deep earnest eyes, and with a heavenly smile, she said, without the slightest greeting or preface, 'He is the chiefest among ten thousand, the Altogether Lovely.'
I found myself in the presence of one of God's holy priests, offering up her morning sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13. 15). It was I that was cheered, not her. She was not in that swamped cottage, but seated far away with her Lord in the heavenlies, and so she sang her song in the light.—Dr. A. T. Schofield (Song of Songs 5. 9, 10, 16; Eph. 2. 6; 2 Cor. 3. 18)
There is on record a conversation between Daniel Webster and some of his illustrious compeers. Somebody raised the question as to the finest and most beautiful passage in the Bible. One argued for the Creation story, another for the Sermon on the Mount, a third for the description of the redeemed in Revelation. Webster slowly quoted the exquisite words: 'Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation'. (Hab. 3. 17, 18)
Hast thou heard Him, seen Him, known Him?
Is not thine a conquered heart?
Chiefest of the thousands own Him;
Joyful, choose the better part.
Idols once they won thee, charmed thee—
Lovely things of time and sense:
Gilded thus does sin disarm thee,
Honeyed, lest thou hie thee hence.
What has stripped the seeming beauty
From the idols of the earth?
Not a sense of right and duty
But a sight of peerless worth.
Not the crushing of the idols
With the bitter void and smart,
But the beaming of His beauty,
The unveiling of His heart.
Who extinguisheth the taper
Till he hails the rising sun?
Who discards the garb of winter
Till the summer has begun?
'Tis the look that melted Peter,
'Tis the face that Stephen saw,
'Tis the heart that wept with Mary
Can alone from idols draw;
Draw and win and fill completely
Till the cup o'erflows its brim.
What have we to do with idols
Who have companied with Him?—Oran Rowan
(Song of Songs 5: 16; Ps. 90: 17; Hos. 14: 8; 2 Cor. 3: 18; 1 Thess. 1: 9, 10)
There's beauty all around our paths, if but our watchful eyes
Can trace it 'midst familiar things, and through their lowly guise.—Felicia D. Hemans
Look, at a poor little colorless drop of water, hanging weakly on a blade of grass. It is not beautiful at all; why should you stop to look at it? But stay till the sun has risen, and now look! It sparkles, like a diamond! And if you look at it from another side, it glows like a ruby, and presently it gleams like an emerald. The little drop has become one of the brightest and loveliest things you ever saw. But is it its own brightness and beauty? No; if it slipped down to the ground out of the sunshine it would be only a lowly little drop of dirty water. So, if the Sun of Righteousness, the glorious and lovely Saviour, shines upon you a little ray of His own brightness and beauty will be seen upon you. That is true beauty.—Havergal