The Hidden Man
1 Peter 3:1-7
Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word…

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.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

WEB: In the same way, wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; so that, even if any don't obey the Word, they may be won by the behavior of their wives without a word;

The Duties of Husbands
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