Page images

off more than a conqueror, by the exercise of that condescension which is among the first of her charms; for a meek and quiet spirit is an ornament of great price in the sight of God. Whoever has carefully attended to the scriptures, must be sensible what mode of practice is recommended and enjoined for women to adopt, whatever may be the character of their husbands. Let the wife see that she reverence her husband. If a conversation, or demeanor, mild and respectful, has in repeated instances failed of its intended effect; since in the scriptures, we find nothing said in favor of the contrary course, we may be sure, it allows of no justification, but must invariably, tend to make a bad case a worse one. If a man so depraved, as to be proof against all the promises and threatenings of the Word of God, may he be brought off from his iniquity, by the charms of religion, displayed in the conduct of his wife; and such is the case supposed by St. Peter; here is, certainly, an object of sufficient magnitude, to engage the attention of all who have an opportunity, in this way, to do good.

We will now survey women in another sphere of great consequence, in which they may have a part to act, I mean that of a mother. Both parents in the education of a family occupy a wide field of labor, and the profit will generally be, as in other cases, in proportion to the faithfulness, and assiduity, with which the labor is performed. The mother, however, from the circumstance of her being commonly with her children, in the period of life most favorable for impressions to be made upon the mind, possesses advantages, to which her companion, from the difference in his business, is a stranger. How much is it to be lamented, that such a multitude of immortal beings, instead of being trained up by those who have the care of them, in the way that they should go, are suffered to take a spontaneous growth; as weeds vegetate in the rank soil of the sluggard, for want of that cultivation, which with few exceptions, is followed with a crop. A father's unconcern about the best interest of those to whom he is a father, is shameful and criminal in a high degree; but a mother's neglect appears still more horrible, because less frequent, and because from female tenderness and affection, more may well be expected.

It is said of Ahaziah, grandson of Jehoshaphat, whose mother was Athaliah, that He walked in the ways of the house of Ahab; and strange as it may seem, this is assigned as the reason, for his mother was his counsellor to do wickedly.

The mother of Sisera, the captain of Jabin's army, though she might not be so bad a woman as Athaliah, was equally indisposed to give any good instruction to her son. When engaged with the children of Israel, headed by Deborah, and Barak, in that battle which led to his destruction, his delay excited much attention, and some anxiety for his return, among his friends; for we are told that the mother of Sisera looked out at a window and cried, through the lattice, Why is his chariot so long in coming; why tarry the wheels of his chariot? Her wise ladies answered her, yea she returned answer to herself, Have they not sped; have they not divided the prey; to every man a damsel or two; to Sisera a prey of divers colors, a prey of divers colors of needle work, of divers colors of needle work, on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take the spoil? From such folly and stupidity in the mother, what but folly and stupidity, could be expected in her children?

How different was Hannah, the mother of Samuel, and how different was the result of her conduct! Having obtained a son in answer to prayer, she had no sooner weaned him than she carried him to Shiloh, where the tabernacle of God was at that time; and where the stated worship was performed, and left him under the care of Eli the high priest; saying, that this child being given to her petition, she lent him to the Lord: intending that his life should be spent in his service.

What was the name of David's mother, I believe we are not informed; but if she had not been a pious woman, and greatly instrumental in inclining him to things of piety, he would not have said, as he does in more than one place, in an address to God, I am thy servant and the son of thine handmaid. We have it from David himself, that God taught him from his youth, and that God was from his youth the object of his trust; and his rencounter with Goliath of Gath, confirms the declaration.

[ocr errors]

St. Paul bears testimony to the faith of the mother, and grandmother, of Timothy; and that this his spiritual son had from a child known the holy scriptures. He had undoubtedly his early religious instruction from his mother, and perhaps in part from his grandmother; for his father being a Greek, or an uncircumcised Gentile, probably turned his mind to other matters; and knowing nothing of the value of religion himself, he had no inducement to recommend it to the acceptance of his son.

When we call to mind that these three men have entered upon that holy and everlasting rest which remains for the people of God; and that vast multitudes will be found among the redeemed, to whose salvation their labors will be seen. to have contributed; we must be sensible that their pious mothers spent their time to great advantage, in instilling into their minds in childhood, the knowledge and love of the truth.

Having said some things of young women, of married women, and of mothers; we will now lay aside these distinctions, and attend to the opportunity which women, of different-ages, and in different circumstances enjoy, for laboring in the gospel, or for promoting the good of the world. Deeds of charity they can all perform; and to such deeds they are, generally, more disposed than the other sex.

When Christ was upon earth, and had not where to lay his head, he experienced, in a high degree, the hospitality of women. He appears to have been frequently at Bethany, in the house where Martha, Mary, and Lazarus lived. St. Luke tells us, that he went through every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God; adding, that the twelve were with him. And certain women which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, And Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance. A company of women prepared spices and ointments, to honor the body of their crucified Lord. These were the women which followed him from Galilee, among whom was Mary Magdalene; and they were, probably, all his constant attendants; and who were more likely

to be the persons, than those who have just been mentioned by name?

It will be remembered through time, nor will it be forgotten in eternity, that when the people were casting their gifts into the treasury at Jerusalem, for the purpose of defraying some religious expense; though many that were rich, cast in much, they were all outdone in their charity by a poor widow, who trusting to the providence of God for the supply of her future wants, cast in all that she had, two mites being all her living.

We have only to read the apostolic writings to see that as women ministered to their Lord, so they continued to be helpers to his faithful and needy servants; who acting under his commission spent a laborious life in preaching the gospel.

Women have in every age, and probably, in every place, where there has been a church, composed a great majority of the professors of religion; and it is no more than an acknowledgment due to the sex to say, that with the exception of a very few, whom infidelity has rendered more insensible than the sea monsters of which Jeremiah gives us an account, they have, in proportion to their means, done the most that has been done, for the welfare of their fellow creatures, in body, and soul.

Women are now, very extensively forming into societies, and uniting their efforts, to feed the hungry; clothe the naked; reform the vicious; and employ the indolent; as well as to contribute to the education of those, who desirous of the work of the ministry, without help, would find it an unattainable object; to put bibles into the hands of the destitute; and to aid the missionary cause, that the gospel may be preached in places where, from poverty, disunion, or some other preventive, the people are not supplied with public teachers of religion.

As I know not to give flattering titles, I beseech the fair part of the creation to be upon their guard, lest they should be exalted above measure, by the commendations, voluntary or extorted which are bestowed upon them in consequence of this affair; but ever to keep their thoughts fixed upon those words in St. John's letter to the Elect Lady and

her children, Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. As it is often true of men, so it may be sometimes true of women, that they do things, good in themselves, from a spirit of ostentation, which ought to be done from a better motive. To counteract the deceiver, who wishes to have it thought that those are good works, which have no connexion with good intentions, would it not be advisable to form a resolution, and abide by it, that in all instances; what is gratuitously bestowed, shall be the fruit of manual labor, or levied by a tax upon the superfluities of life. When Ornan, the Jebusite, generously offered to give to David the place of his threshing floor to build an altar on unto the Lord, together with the oxen for burnt offerings, and the threshing instruments for wood, and the wheat for the meat offering; David, with no less magnanimity, refused the present, and said, Nay but I will verily buy it for the full price, for I will not take that which is thine for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings without cost.

So much time has been taken up in pointing out the ways in which women may labor in the gospel, or be instrumental of doing good, that the subject will be brought to a close, by suggesting a few things respecting the duty and importance of helping them in the business. We are not disposed to afford help in any way, if we are not disposed to approve of the object, and to countenance those who undertake to accomplish it. Much of sarcasm and sneer, is spoken and written, to bring into disrepute and to frustrate those female associations which are formed at this day, with a view of furthering the interest, and building up the kingdom of that Redeemer, who condescended to be born of a woman. But the object of their associations is a noble one; the same that engages and engrosses the attention of the angels; those ministering spirits who are sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.

What is the clearing of the earth of its encumbring forests; and the adorning of it with the works of art and ingenuity, compared with the subduing of savage nature, and the building up of a kingdom of righteousness in the hu

« PreviousContinue »