But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”1 Peter 1:15-16
Mary Bosanquet was a lady who dared to be different. Born in Essex County, England, in 1739, she grew up with a deep desire to be like Christ. Holy in all she did. Mary’s desire to be holy wasn’t something trivial. Her biographer reported that she was obsessed with being holy and was even prepared to die in the pursuit.
An extract from Anna McPherson’s She Walked in White provides an insight into Mary’s life: “‘If I but think on the word holiness,’ Mary told her father at one time, ‘or of the adorable name of Jesus, my heart seems to take fire in an instant, and my desires are more intently fixed on God than ever before. As I cannot go with you to places of amusement anymore, so neither can I wear the expensive clothes you buy for me … I must be God’s and His alone.’ ‘So – you -you – don’t appreciate what I provide …’ her father turned from her with wounded pride and walked away. But Mary followed desperately. ‘Oh yes I do,’ she protested. ‘I do. But God forbids women professing godliness to let their adorning be in apparel. He says their ornaments should be those of a meek and quiet spirit. Besides, I must take the money I would spend on costly garments and help clothe the poor. I must take the time I would spend on adorning my person and use it for the advancement of God’s kingdom.'”
That’s exactly what Mary did. She spent her life in the advancement of God’s kingdom. Even though her father threw her out of his home because of clashes over her desire to be holy she persevered with her single-minded pursuit. Despite severe setbacks in her life she led many folk to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and ministered to the destitute orphans in Essex County. Out of her meagre resources she supported more than twenty orphans for twenty plus years. She never spent more than $25 a year on clothing for herself but spent more than $900 a year on clothing for the poor. She’s reported to have said, “For what do I want with the rags of earth when His righteousness wearing and cleansed by His blood, bold shall I appear in the presence of God.”
There’s not too many Mary Bosanquet’s to be found in today’s church. Holiness isn’t the “in thing” in Christian circles. As J. C. Ryle says in his book, Holiness; “I have had a deep conviction for many years that practical holiness and entire self consecration to God are not sufficiently attended by modern Christians … Politics, or controversy, or party spirit, or worldliness, have eaten out the heart of lively piety in too many of us. The subject of personal holiness has fallen sadly into the background …”
Ryle is right. Holiness, in large part, has been overlooked in Evangelical doctrine. A thorough revival of practical holiness is needed. If the church is going to make an impact for Jesus Christ then believers have to recover a true sense of biblical holiness. This will only happen when we choose to prepare our minds for action, reject self-indulgence, and live lives of self-discipline and self-control. “We must learn to look upon religion, upon a life like Christ’s, having the very same mind that was in Him as the supreme object of daily life. It is only when a prayer such as that of M’Cheyne becomes ours, ‘Lord, make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be,’ and begins to be offered by an increasing number of believers, that the promise of the New Covenant will become a matter of experience” Andrew Murray.
“So be holy in all you do” 1 Peter 1:15. Remember that holiness is the habit of being of one mind with Christ; hate what He hates, love what He loves, and gauge everything you say and do by the standard of His Word.
More holiness give us,
More sobriety within;
More purpose in action,
More sense of our sin;
More strenuous minds,
More hope in Christ’s grace;
More faith in our service,
More love in this place.