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to show that she was an accredited messenger of the Lord of hosts.
We have spoken of the man to be strong and athletic of body, she being weak and fragile compared to him, and that her head needs a covering. In token of this the Psalmist says, with respect to the Almighty, “ Thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.” She must acknowledge her acquiescence in the ordinance of God providing her with such a suitable companion—when she lacks strength in physical organizatian her companion is endowed with a greater portion.
A part of this chapter has been a source of man-worship above any thing the pope ever claimed. This verse in particular, is very dark and mysterious; but it has always thrown out light enough for man to read from it that he was to be worshipped by the woman, equal to God. This power on her head is so distorted as to read that she has no power on her head, but that “her husband has power over her head,"--as every woman is a wife according to our theological teachings. The apostle has no reference to the law of marriage in this chapter, he goes to nature for his directions. Every man and every woman stand precisely in the situation the apostle here represents, mother and son, brother and sister. The apostle is here giving general directions respecting the personal appearance of all men and women who officiated in the church--some were married and some were unmarried, so it would not do to govern the speakers by the law of marriage.
One thing we know, that whatever the covering was, it was a signification that she was an accredited ambassador for Christ to sinners, “to pray them, in Christ's stead, to be reconciled to God.” Verse 11, “Nevertheless, neither is the man without the woman, neither is the woman without the man in the Lord.” The apostle in this verse begins to apply his subject; the application is the life of preaching. There is no darkness or mystery here. He had just been directing the personal appearance of men and women when they publicly officiated in the church, and in this connexion says, “ The man is not without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord,” and gives his reasons for it in the twelfth verse. For, or because, “as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman, but all things of God.”
The apostle here runs the parallel between man and woman, which manifests that it was man being the source that he had allusion to in his reasoning. Christ himself is said to be made of a woman, who is head over all things. If man was the source from which all mankind sprung, and is under responsibilities on that account, as all mankind are now by the woman, she also is responsible for the duties in the human family; she being the mother of all living she owes a debt of instruction to her children; thus she is an help-meet to man. “The man is not without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord”—they are to be co-labourers in the Lord's vineyard. Not that every man and every woman are to speak publicly in the church. To say that because man is the head or source, or woman is now the source, this burden is laid upon them, whether they are qualified or not, or whether other duties call more loudly or not, would be asserting what the apostle did not design to say; but as he goes to nature for his reasons for the exercise of their functions in the church, it certainly shows that neither is disqualified by nature for exercising their talents in the church. Nay, it lays an obligation on the woman, as being the parent, to assist in nourishing her children with the bread of life. She gives them temporal nourishment in infancy from her own breast, and why should she not be more anxious to be a means of feeding them with that bread and water of life? She should not be like the brute mother which attends to rearing her offspring when young, but afterwards takes no interest in their welfare. We can see no other legitimate interpretation that can be given to the apostle's reasoning, considering the connexion in which it stands. We would be much pleased to see a more correct exposition of these verses. We can say that we never heard the eleventh and twelfth verses mentioned from the pulpit; commentators give them no special attention, and say very little on them. We have heard this chapter, from the first to the tenth verse, very particularly spoken on where man was exalted to a deity, and on communion occasions, from verses twenty-third to thirty-second, is generally read, but from the tenth to the sixteenth appears to be nearly obsolete.
The apostle refers them to their own judgment for decision, if it was comely for a woman to pray unto God un
covered : 14th verse, —56 Does not nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him ?"it is too effeminate; it is in his way; it is, in many instances, an encumbrance. Absalom seemed proud of his hair, and, by means of it, he was hung between heaven and earth: 15th verse,—" But, if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her, for her hair is given to her for a covering.” This God has taught her by nature, by giving her a superabundance of hair for a covering. However dark and mysterious some of the apostle's reasoning may be in the first part of this chapter, he is plain in the application, so far as our practice is concerned,- that man and woman are to be mutual helps to each other in the Lord :-" The man is not without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord, because, as the woman was of the man, so is the man also by the woman,”—which reason stands in as full force now, in the nineteenth century, as it did when spoken in the first century. As to the manner, or their personal appearance, it is more reverential for the woman to address the throne of God with her head covered, and the man to have his head uncovered. We may think there is nothing of nature in this, but merely custom. We see that it still continues to be the custom of their appearing to this day in public assemblies—the man having his head uncovered, and the woman hers covered. In the 16th verse, the apostle says, “If any seem to be contentious," and will not abide by the directions he had given, they had “no such custom as men praying or prophesying with their head covered, or women with theirs uncovered, nor any of the churches of God.” It seems from this that all the churches of God at that period had both men and women officiating, but not the same costume the church of Corinth had adopted. He then proceeds, from the 17th verse to the end of the chapter, reproving them for gross inisdemeanours. When men had committed such gross immoralities, as he mentions in the latter part of this chapter, it is not wonderful that women committed such improprieties as he reproves them for in the fourteenth chapter. Men profaned the ordinance of the supper by drunkenness and gluttony.
WOMAN'S INSTRUMENTALITY IN A RELIGIOUS POINT OF VIEW,
UNDER THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT DISPENSATIONS, WITH STRICTURES ON COMMENTATORS.
We will now take a view of woman's instrumentaliy in the church, from its first organization, including both Old and New Testament dispensations. We will begin with the New, and see whether the apostle could possibly prohibit women from speaking in the church, considering the example and facts on scripture record. There would be a great chasm left in its history, if woman's instrumentality were obliterated from its pages. So far as God chose human instrumentalities, women had a prominent share of action, from Christ's conception to his ascension. “A virgin shall conceive, and bring forth a son,” woman's blessed privilege. Elizabeth was the first that announced Christ was about to make his advent in the flesh: she was the first who was endowed on that occasion with the gift of prophecy. Anna, the prophetess, was the first who preached him publicly: she ministered in the temple ; she served with fastings and prayers, night and day. These prayers were manifestly public, as she publicly gave thanks when she saw the infant Messiah make his appearance in the temple, and spoke of him to all that looked for redemption in Jerusalem, or (as the margin) in Israel. The word of the Lord was precious in those days among the Jews,-open vision had nearly ceased. Anna was the last established prophet under the Jewish dispensation. This devout woman spent her whole time in the service of the temple, and she had a favourable opportunity of speaking to Jews from all places, who resorted thither to worship, and they would thus be privileged to hear the discourses of this great prophetess, so famed for deep-toned piety and rare gifts.
Women were among Christ's most intimate friends. During his personal ministry on earth, they had as free access to his company as had men. Women ministered to him
of their substance. Although he was a priest and king, man never poured oil on his head, but a woman anointed his feet with ointment, and kissed them and wiped them with the hairs of her head. And, if they had any request to make for themselves or others, they addressed him with as much freedom as did men; sometimes in the most public places. They employed no man for their mouth-piece. The woman of Canaan was very importunate in urging her petition. He seemed rather to repulse her--not because she was a woman, but it was only to excite her earnestness, and to have an opportunity to commend her exemplary faith. When he was speaking in a place, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice and said unto him, “ Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.” Did he tell her that it was “indecent and immodest” for her to speak in a congregation ? No; he took occasion from that to instruct us in a very important truth, although it was the greatest honour ever conferred upon a human being, to be the mother of our Lord. But he said, “ Yea, rather blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it,” Luke xi. 27, 28. This shows the absurdity of the Catholics worshipping the mother of our Lord. He had not a more full and free conversation with any individual than he had with the woman of Samaria, John iv. 7, 42. We are taught important truths by his conversation with that woman; she was the first person he told that he was the Christ. He says, Go call thy husband and come hither. He sent her as a missionary to her husband to present to him the call of the gospel. After she had finished the conversation with Christ, she proceeded on her mission; she did not preach a very long sermon, but it was mighty through God. She saith to the men of the city, “Come, see a man that told me all things that ever I did ; is not this the Christ?” No doubt but women were included, man being the generic term. So she was the first who preached Christ to the Samaritans. Christ had told his disciples previous to that, when He sent them out as missionaries, not to enter into any of the cities of the Samaritans, Matt. x. 5; and this woman was more successful, as far as history is concerned, than any missionary Christ sent, “ for many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman."