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man heart, where nothing before had appeared but a luxuriant growth of folly and iniquity? However important it may be, understanding the language in a literal sense, that the crooked should be made straight, and the rough places plain, it is vastly more important, to have this brought about in a spiritual manner; so that the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and that all flesh shall see it together!
If it should be thought, that women are out of their sphere in attending to this busines, it would be well for those by whom such an opinion is entertained to recollect, that when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene; and that it was from the women who had visited the sepulchre, that the apostles received the first information of his resurrection. Another particular, worthy of being remembered is this, that upon that memorable day of pentecost, of which we have an account, when some of the spectators foolishly and wickedly spent their breath in mocking, Peter lifted up his voice, and informed them that what they witnessed was not the effect of drunkenness, as they pretended to suppose, but a fulfilment of a prophecy of Joel, which he cited to them. And it shall come to pass in the last days saith God, I will pour out of my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters, shall prophecy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants, and on my handmaidens, I will pour out in those days of my spirit, and they shall prophecy.
Though upon the day of pentecost this prophecy began to be fulfiled, much time may be taken up even from the present period, for the full accomplishment of it, since the Spirit is to be poured out upon all flesh. It is easy to gather from this passage, that though women have ordinarily done more than their proportion, they may be expected, in the last days, either with miraculous gifts, or in consequence of some unusual excitement, to come forward, in a manner consistent with the modesty of their sex, as advocates for the cause of Christ.
Instead of employing the tongue to counteract the benevolent operations of women, it is incumbent upon the other sex to speak favorably, of their promptitude and zeal;
and to beseech the God of all grace, to guide them by his counsel, and to crown with success, whatever they undertake for the honor of his name. The effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man availeth much; and this sentiment, thus generally expressed by the apostle, is as true in this particular case as in any other. Those who have the pray
ers of their brethren have their help.
But, perhaps the apostle in beseeching him, whom he calls true yoke fellow, to help those women who had labored with him in the gospel, had reference among other things, to some pecuniary aid which their circumstances might require. What particular purpose they had to accomplish, to which their means were inadequate, we are unable to say. It seems that their exertions so far exceeded those of ordinary cases, as to render it suitable for the apostle to give them publicity in his letter.
Though I should not doubt, in general, the ability of women to procure the sum which is agreed upon in their several societies to be requisite; it is no less the duty of their husbands, parents, or other friends, to see to it that they be supplied, without inconvenience, or hardship to themselves.
Should men, in any instance, suppose contributions of this kind like casting bread upon the waters, let them chide their own unbelief and remember, that even in such a case there is encouragement; for in a spiritual, and in a natural sense, they might expect to find it after many days. If we have any thing to spare, we are not afraid to trust a man who can secure to us the discharge of his obligation; and upon this principle we may safely proceed to lay out something in the business of religion, for he that giveth to the poor, lendeth to the Lord.
Without undertaking to devise ways and means, and to dictate the course to be pursued, permit me to suggest, that should there be any females, too poor to become members of a society composed of their sex, who have yet a disposition to unite in this business with their sisters, a small fund, sufficient for this purpose, might be raised, without bringing damage upon any one.
In compliance with a request of my female friends in this place, who are formed into a society, this discourse is
delivered, and the sabbath was chosen for the time, because most convenient for myself; and because upon the sabbath. the audience is 'usually larger than at other times.
If a greater latitude of interpretation has been given to the text than might be expected by the generality of readers, it is hoped that it has not been considered as containing any thing which is not sound doctrine; nor wrested from that meaning which may be fairly put upon its phraseology.
What is bestowed in charity derives its importance to those who bestow it, from the object which they aim at; for should they bestow all their goods to feed the poor, and even display a martyr's zeal in the cause which they espouse; and still be destitute of that love to God which is the fulfilling of the law, and the ground work of all real love to mankind, they would be nothing more than whited sepulchres.
I hope that we shall all realize the importance of having our hearts right with God; and that those to whom this discourse has some special reference, will be able to say, with the confidence of Nehemiah, The God of heaven he will prosper us.
When Philippi was a part of satan's kingdom, there were a few women who met by the river's side for prayer; and though their disadvantages in attending to this business were of every kind, we have reason to think that the great change afterward effected among the people, may be traced back to their prayers as the means in providence to bring it about. Let the example of Philippi be followed in this place, for here the benefit is much needed. In the words of Ogilvie let me conclude.
Ye fair, by nature formed to move,
Let age take up the tuneful lay,
EXODUS xxxii. 6.
And the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
THE account which we have of the descent of the Lord upon mount Sinai, when he gave the law to Moses, is most awfully sublime. The scene described is without a parallel; yet bearing some resemblance to what will take place when God shall come to judge the world.
The people were thrown into consternation, and even Moses said, as the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews has informed us, I exceedingly fear and quake. Moses was called up to the top of the mount to receive his instructions; and the two tables of the law, and continued there fasting for forty days. In his absence, the people grew weary of waiting for him, and the business to which they were called was too spiritual for their gross conceptions, and desires. They, therefore, pretended that they knew not what was become of Moses, and called upon Aaron to make them gods to go before them.
If any opposition was made by Aaron to this clamorous demand of the multitude, it was too feeble, and too unworthy of him to deserve a place in the records. By requiring the golden ear-rings to melt down to make the calf, which was to be the object of their worship, he imposed indeed upon them an act of self denial, which he might hope would frustrate their design. But that he proceeded with
out any reason which would justify him, appears from the miserable account which he gave of the matter to Moses.
After the molten calf was formed, and the stupid idolaters had cried out, These be thy gods O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt! Aaron built an altar before it, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord. This was a very acceptable proclamation, and the people readily complied with it, bringing their burnt offerings, and their peace offerings; and having offered sacrifice to the idol, they closed the business by indulging in feasting and sport, according to the representation of our text.
In this condition of things, Moses was ordered down from the mount; saw the calf, and the dancing; and to express the indignation which he felt, he cast the tables out of his hands, and broke them both at the foot of the mount. The consequences of this wicked idolatrous proceeding were very dreadful; for about three thousand fell by the hands of the Levites, who were commissioned by God as the executioners of his vengeance.
Human nature has never varied essentially, since the introduction of sin. It comported well with the sensual character of the Israelites, to have an object of worship which they could see; and a worship which required no homage of the heart; but which might unite with, and be followed by any animal indulgences, to which they might incline. Though we do not bring our burnt offerings, and peace offerings, to present a sacrifice to a molton image; if we follow nature for a guide, we are better pleased with external service, than with internal; with toleration, than with strict rules of religion; than with that commandment which is holy, and just, and good.
The Psalmist has told us, that it is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord. Adopting this sentiment, the first settlers of New England introduced the custom, which has been handed down to us, of observing a day of Thanksgiv ing, as well as a day of Fasting, annually, to be appointed by the Executive of each State. As New England is allowed to be vastly superior to the other parts of the country, in respect to morals, and religion, this custom may be viewed as having had its influence in making it so; and where this