Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

the moral law was written on tables of stone, by the finger of God,—which at the creation was written on the fleshly tables of the heart,-she was there placed in authority, equal with man; as implied in the fourth precept of the decalogue, and directly expressed in the fifth, Exod. xx. 8, 12.

From what has been said, our position is, that “all mankind are created equal, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ;" consequently these rights cannot be alienated by any contract whatever, because the duties they impose are unchangeable. There is no plainer, and more incontrovertible truth, than is the entire brotherhood of the whole human family. First, they are all created in the same image of God. Second, “they are all made of one blood;" “ have we not all one father, hath not one God created us?” Mal. ii. 10. Third, but one Redeemer-Fourth, all candidates for an endless eternity. Fifth, but one theatre of action; and sixth, but one moral law:-whatever is morally right for a man to do, is morally right for a woman; their duties being the same, their rights also must be the same, duties differing in individuals according to circumstances.

To confer rights on account of sex, or colour, is preferring the physical, or material organization to the immaterial. “God is no respecter of persons.” Human nature is a unit, and the exterior an incident. Physical organization may give advantages in facilitating arduous duties, but has nothing to do with rights. There must be some definite standard of rights—if one portion of the human family have less rights than another portion, how much less, is a question which never can be satisfactorily settled. For example, supposing the legislature of our state would ordain, that if a man died intestate, that a daughter should have a less amount of the estate than a son, without giving any definite apportionment, how would the estate be settled? Why, just according to the caprice, or judgments, whether ill, or well informed of those, whose province it was to decide. There inight not be two estates in a county settled on the same ratio. So it is with those who make a diversity of rights in the human family; scarcely two agree in sentiment. They are manifestly Babel builders, because their langnage is confounded.

But it is said, that there are created or conventional rights, which people can claim no right to by nature. Our revolutionary fathers did not think so; the very rights which are called conventional, or created rights, are the rights for which they poured out their blood like water, and called them natural rights. We deny that there is any such thing as conventional or created rights; as we can have no rights but what belong to human nature. Persons have a right to form conventions, and make their own terms of membership, so far as their fellow men are concerned, provided they do not violate the rights of others. Conventions cannot create rights; if entering into conventions could create rights, rights might be created, ad infinitum: it is He that created the world, that only creates our rights. He that prescribes our duties. New relations impose new duties, but they create no rights: we form these relations in consequence of our natural rights.

Now if women have equal rights with men, they must know they have equal responsibilities; they are not to appear on this theatre of action as idle spectators taking no interest in passing events going on in the world. As members of the great human family, whatever is for the interest of mankind, should interest them. And as woman was created an active moral agent, designed as a help-meet for man, the question arises, is she designed a different field of action by her Creator? We answer, no! Or is she under man's direction to be plyed by him as machinery: is “he her law?" we most emphatically answer no: the Lord is only our king and lawgiver—we have one master, even Christ, and all his disciples are brethren-man only is our fellow servant. “It is not in man to direct his steps," and how can he direct woman's? Man, though of yesterday, is wiser than his Maker, declares it is good for him to be alone, in the active agency of this world: but will it do for an answer at the bar of God, when he inquires of woman, has she performed the work be assigned her, to say, Lord, I was created a woman, and the man thou hast given to be with me, would not permit me to perform the work you assigned me.

But whether we are to obey God or man, there is no choice left; we must obey God. The doom of the unprofitable servant is appalling: one portion of the human family is not to roll up their talent in a napkin, and the residue to trade on theirs, nor one portion to put their light under a bushel, and the others to have theirs placed on a candlestick. Let this suffice as a specimen for all other duties.

[graphic]

As moral, and responsible beings, men and women have the same sphere of action, and the same duties devolve upon both; there is not one moral law for man, and another for woman. But no one can doubt, that the duties of each vary according to circumstances, and according to our respective relations. The sphere of man and woman, are mere arbitrary opinions; differing in different ages, and countries, and dependent solely on the will and judgment of erring mortals. The word of God is the only infallible rule of faith and practice: nor is man's opinion of that word, the standard of our duty, but each one is to search the scriptures daily, for herself, and judge whether those things are so, that she hears taught.

CHAPTER II.

WOMAN'S RIGHTS AND DUTIES, IN THE FAMILY RELATION.

“ Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but wo to him that is alone, when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up." Eccle. iv. 9, 10.

We will now proceed to examine husbands and wives' relative standing in the marriage relation. We propose in this chapter to illustrate woman's duties by direct precept, legitimate inference, or approved scripture example—“to the law and to the testimony,” we appeal; and as rights and duties, are correlatives, we will endeavour to ascertain her rights by examining her duties. First, the marriage contract is equally binding on both husband and wife. Matth. xix. 4, 9; 1 Cor. vii. 10, 11. They have equal claims on one another, personally, as far as it is lawful to surrender themselves, 1 Cor. vii. 3, 4. “The husband is to care for the things of the world, how he may please his wife;" and in like manner, “ the wife is to care for the things of the world, are informed by the apostle, in Gal. iv. But no doubt Sarah considered her rights invaded, (although she, by her faithlessness, was the cause. She only was his lawful wife, and would have no rival in his affections; and by God's appointment she was the lawful guardian of her child, who was the legitimate heir to the estate; and woman has a natural right to protect property.

[graphic]

Husband and wife being one in the marriage relation, it is their duty without mutual consultation to represent each other, if either is incapacitated, from mental imbecility, or moral obliquity. And though it is officially the husband's duty to protect the wife, it is also the wife's duty, if necessary, to protect the husband. Abigail appeared as Nabal's representative, personally apologized for his insolent conduct, and pleaded her cause most eloquently and efficiently, and her conduct was highly approved of by David. 1 Sam. xxv. “He blessed God for sending her, and blessed her, and blessed her advice,&c., &c. And it is certainly the husband's duty to perform the same service to the wife, under similar circumstances. Although we have no example of it on Scripture record, it is almost universally believed that the husband is the wife's representative, but she not his. Each one has a right to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience. Acts v. 29, Rom. xiv. 4, 12. And last, though not least, as far as husband and wife are personally concerned, it is their duty to labour for each other's salvation, 1 Cor. vii. 16. It is their duty to impart to each other religious or profitable instruction of any character. 1 Cor. xiv. 35; 1 Pet. iii. 1. It is the husband and wife's duty, reciprocally, to provoke each other to love and good works; and, to promote this end, either may be the first to propose duties. 2 Kings iv. 10. It is equally their duty to give to charitable purposes. Prov. xxxi. 20. It is also their duty to give to benevolent and religious objects. 1 Sam. i. 24; Luke viii. 2, 3; 2 Sam. xix. 32.

It is equally their province to exercise the duty of hospitality. Gen. xviii. 2, 8; 2 Kings iv. 8. It is said in the latter portion of scripture, that a great woman of Shunem constrained Elisha to eat bread with her. There is no mention made of her husband's instrumentality in thus constraining him. Indeed, he is known only as the husband of the

« FöregåendeFortsätt »