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EXHIBITED FROM THE PULPIT.
It may be asked, Do we consider it a woman's duty to go out to preach and teach as men? We will take the word of God for our direction on this question. That a number of women did devote themselves to the service of God in a public manner, is a subject of scriptural record. It may be asked, Would we abstract women from their domestic duties, and the care of their offspring, to send them abroad to preach and teach? This is an old argument. When the children of Israel desired of Pharaoh to let them go and sacrifice unto the Lord, he said, Ye are idle, ye are idle, Ex. v. 17; and he tasked them the heavier, and would not permit them to go. And when Eliab, David's elder brother, thought he saw some indications that David was aspiring to an eminence above his “sphere;" he inquired of him, with whom he had left those few sheep in the wilderness ? 1 Sam. xvii. 28, reminding him that keeping those few sheep was his appropriate sphere;" but David did not submit to his dictation. So, when woman turns her attention to any pursuit outside of her mansion, she is reminded that domestic duties are her only "sphere.” We would not send every woman, or every man, to preach or teach, nor is every woman, or every man, qualified to preach or teach, and when they have not qualifications, it is a sure indication that God did not send them, be they man or woman. If every man were to preach, and neglect to cultivate the earth, what would become of mothers and children? There are comparatively few women that go to preach or teach, in those few denominations who do not restrict women from preaching.
· Woman has a work assigned her in the human family, which man is not qualified by nature to perform. If she were to appear in the field as a public servant as often as man, she would have more than her share of labour. God will not have one part of the human family eased and another burdened. Even in the present organization of society, there are few missionary stations in heathen lands in which women are not employed; they are there indispensable, and very efficient fellow-labourers. On the other hand, where the standard of the cross is firmly planted, they are ingloriously discharged from the field; there is no more room for their labours, excepting in the character of automatons, a machinery ill-calculated for the development of either intellect or enterprise. We believe if God has placed woman in a family, and made her the mother of children, it is her special and particular duty to assist in training them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and to perform such offices as nature has alone qualified her for. For a woman to leave this important work to preach, no matter how gifted mentally, would not, in our opinion, be her duty. One duty is not to jostle out another. But of this every one is to judge for herself. “ Let every one be fully persuaded in her own mind.”
We believe that a woman who properly attends to the rearing of those "olive plants,” and polishing of the "corner stones” that God hath committed to her care, does more important service to the church and state than many men who have been dubbed with the title of D. D., and invested with the clerical office for more than half a century. A majority of men who have risen to any conspicuous eminence in church or state have attributed their success in a great degree to the wise and pious instructions of their mothers.
However important the services may be which a woman can render to the world as a mother, still we have no idea that it is her only province, and we are governed in our opinion by the word of God. Our Saviour, both personally and by the mouth of the apostle, has decided that people may either marry or not marry as they see proper. Matt. xix. 11, 12, 1 Cor. vii. 33, 34. The latter portion of scripture, in particular, shows that God calls on woman for services disconnected with the marriage relation as well as from man. We have no idea that men or women are to take vows of celibacy, and shut themselves up in a cloister. But certainly scripture shows it is lawful for either man or woman to refrain from marriage, if so disposed, that they may devote themselves more particularly to the service of God.
It is woman's duty as well as man's to ameliorate the condition of mankind intellectually, morally, religiously, or physically, and many have done so. The world is very much indebted to Hannah More for her writings. She wrote as vigorously as Johnson, and with far more Christian mildness. Mrs. Fry visited the prisoner in his solitude, to take the gauge of human misery, to make hearts feel for human sorrow, and hands open in Christian charity; she deserves a statue by the side of Howard. Miss Dix may be said to be the American Mrs. Fry. We could swell the catalogue to large dimensions, but we forbear. Many women have done more important services to the world out of the family circle than many women who have reared a family. The apostle's “ yoke-fellow and fellow-labourers and helpers in Christ Jesus” do not seem to have been engaged in rearing children. It does not appear that Priscilla was a nursing-mother, according to the popular idea of that phrase. We know she did give intellectual nutriment or instruction to a man, to qualify him for the ministry. O that we had more Priscillas that had a proper estimate of their standing in the human family, and their accountability! And O for the child-like disposition of an Apollos, "for of such is the kingdom of heaven!”
True she gave the instruction privately, but was it not made as public to that generation, and also to the succeeding generations, as if it had been done on Mars' hill, or in the temple at Jerusalem? It as much rebukes the principle on which woman is prohibited from teaching, namely, that she is always to appear as an inferior intellectual being to man. She must not teach, but must always be “a learner;" and it manifests that, as far as Christian knowledge was concerned, she was better qualified to preach than was an eloquent Apollos. To have the qualifications to perform the duties of an office is wherein the honour lies. In this respect Priscilla was the superior,-and yet there are no superiors in Christ's kingdom, for his disciples are all brethren. The person giving instruction is the servant; teaching is to subserve the interests of the instructed, and not for an ostentatious display of the instructor's talents. It must not be done “through strife or vain-glory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.” This is where the mistake is made. The person teaching is regarded as a superior being to the taught, therefore woman must not presume to show herself a superior. And although it is a great and grievous injury inflicted on a human being to be forced to place their light under a bushel, yet the principal injury is sustained by those who would be benefited by that light, and there is a grievous injury inflicted on the world by compelling woman to roll up her talent or talents in a napkin.
We have previously said facts and examples of women exercising their talents are in opposition to i Cor. xiv. 34, 35, 1 Tim. ii. 11, 12, as they are generally understood. The case of Priscilla shows plainly that it is a woman's duty to impart instruction, if capable, to a man, or to any human being, in a proper manner. Any person denying this denies the dictates of “common sense.” We have no evidence that she was supernaturally endowed. We must take scripture in its proper connexion: what absurdities could we not prove by scripture if we would take detached passages. POPERY, DOMESTIC SLAVERY, POLITICAL DesPOTISM, and this ARISTOCRACY OF SEX-ALL give scripture proof for their tyranny by quoting detached portions. Any of the three former can give more plausible scripture arguments for their usurpations than can the husbandly authority. It is truly astonishing what a sandy foundation has supported such a lofty superstructure for so many centuries. This question has always been handled by those whose love of dominion made it their interest to give arguments only to establish one side of the question. They said what they pleased on this question without any opposition. To mention “woman's rights” (except in the way of ridicule) would subject a person to the shafts of calumny and sarcasm, and to a charge of heresy of the most malignant type.
We have protracted our remarks further than we had anticipated. We will close this chapter by one inquiry. It is acknowledged by those who are the greatest opposers of woman exercising her intellect out of the precincts of her domicil, that woman did occupy an honourable standing in the primitive church, in the office of the deaconess, who discharged "some of the duties of the gospel ministry to her own sex."* Why then is this office discontinued? why is not woman now permitted to carry a message to her own sex, or promote their interest under the authority of the church? We would not consider her degraded by being a "messenger of the Lord of hosts, or an ambassador for Christ,” to the despised and down-trodden.
* Her own sex! a distinction wholly unknown in the scriptures. Those who performed religious duties to one sex, did it to the other. “There is neither male nor female in Christ Jesus.”
WOMAN'S POLITICAL RIGHTS AND DUTIES.
“And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers.” Isaiah xlix. 23.
We see woman is recognised in scripture, in a political capacity, as performing political duties. Were it not that God has called her to this service, she might justly exclaim, “Let the potsherds of the earth strive with the potsherds of the earth, but as for me I will not touch the polluted thing;" for the political machinery, as at present conducted, is in a great measure, a swindling, juggling concern, and is sustained at a great sacrifice of moral principle. Offices are generally sought for sake of the spoils, and for self-gratification, without any view to either the glory of God, or the benefit of men. The elective franchise is exerted to elevate party, not principle; but it is the promise of Him who cannot lie, that there will be a better state of things, when both men and women will exert their political influence, as “ nursing fathers and nursing mothers” to the people of God; when the “ kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our God, and his Christ.”
Women, with very few exceptions, at present are excluded from all political rights throughout the world; consequently, they cannot perform the duty of “ nursing mothers,” in a political character. As it is the subject of prophecy, that women will perform political duties, we are sure of its fulfilment, and that women will be invested with their political rights. Where might we most naturally have expected the fulfilment of this prediction to commence, but in Christian, republican America—the world's best hope?—that has de clared these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, (all mankind;) as all are made of one blood, all created in the image of God, and placed in dominion over the irrational creatures, and both sexes placed in equal dominion in the human family. “Honour thy father and thy mother."