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Elisha saw her at a distance, and sent Gehazi to ask if it was well with her, her husband, and child; to which she replied in the affirmative. As she was intent however, upon seeing Elisha, she pressed forward, and had an interview with him, the consequence of which was the restoration of her son to life.
This woman appears to great advantage, from the short sketch that is given of her character. She delighted in the company of the godly, to whom she wished to furnish every necessary and convenience, avoiding all ostentation, as appears from the simple furniture of the prophet's room; and she evidently had the victory over the world, for in a season of trouble, to which there are few parallels, she acknowledged the way of the Lord to be equal, considering every thing under his government to be well.
Though she is called a great woman, and though nothing is to be seen in her husband but his piety, nothing is to be seen in her, towards him, that is supercilious, and usurping; but all her behavior, so far as we have an account of it, was affectionate, and respectful. Can any one doubt whether this couple lived together in such a manner that their prayers were not hindered?
But in such a world as this, that lies in wickedness, it is not unfrequently the case, that women are connected with ungodly men; with idlers; liars; drunkards; swearers; cheats; or scoffers; or with those who unite many bad properties, and practise sin in a variety of ways. That woman must be very abandonded herself whose patience would not be tried, and whose heart would not be grieved, in consequence of such a connexion.
But what is to be done to remedy evils of this description; or to render a condition thus unhappily circumstanced less calamitous? Though the experiment may often have been tried, was it ever known to succeed, for a woman to harangue and upbraid her husband, setting before him his criminality, and the shame and wretchedness to be expected from his course of conduct, to himself, and his family? On the contrary, have not thousands in all probability, been confirmed in practices of vice, and led on to destruction, by attempts, made in this way, to reclaim them?
Our duty, whatever may be our place, is to be learned from the Word of God. Particular directions are to be found for such a case as this now under consideration. Likewise ye wives be in subjection to your own husbands, that if any obey not the word, they also without the word, be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. These words were penned by a man, but he was an apostle, and inspired, and the sentiment is essentially, the same with what Christ communicated in his sermon on the mount, addressing both sexes, and persons of different ages. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Among the proverbs of Solomon this is worthy of special attention in regard to the case before us. By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone. A question of St. Paul should ever be in the recollection of persons in the marriage state. For what knowest thou O wise whether thou shalt save thy husband? and how knowest thou O man whether thou shalt save thy wife? This is a very desirable, and important object to be brought about, and the means best adapted, should be used to accomplish it.
It is not intended, that when one of the parties in this connexion, lives and dies in sin, it is to be charged altogether to the irreligion and mismanagement of the other; for many a woman has been in the situation of the wife of Phinehas; and many a man has been in the situation of Job; so far as the dissimilarity is concerned of the two united. But each one should consider, that with a divine blessing, a reformation if needed, may be effected in the other; and each one should farther consider, that a divine blessing cannot be expected upon such measures as are in opposition to duty. As young persons of the two sexes, when contemplating a lasting connexion, are inclined by nature to the most conciliating conduct towards each other; so the same conduct ought to be continued after the connexion is formed; and religion furnishes weighty motives for the continuance of it.
Though a woman may sometimes gain an inglorious victory in a contest with her husband, she will always come
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.
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