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right in the wife to use her influence to negative his vow, under the same circumstances. There is no distinction as to the character of the vows which the husband is to negative, which shows plainly that it was not a direction to the husband to negative the wife's vow,-only provision is made for her peace and comfort, supposing her husband should negative her vow, and God would call him into judgment for so doing.
Either husband or wife might be placed in situations that it would be better for them to omit a duty than to have contention. For example, entertaining strangers is a gospel duty. Now, either husband or wife might be placed under circumstances where they could not perform this duty without creating great uneasiness, and perhaps render their guest altogether uncomfortable. “Wisdom is profitable to direct.” The plan which we have adopted is to let one portion of scripture explain another. Abigail's case proves conclusively that the wife has as good a right to give as the husband. She went against the express will of her husband, and her conduct was applauded by David, and he blessed God for sending her. An approved scripture example is equivalent to a precept.
Now God did not give Abigail any special instructions to govern her in her own case, but she acted on the authority given to her. God moved her in an ordinary manner to avail herself of her rights. And Mr. Henry says, on this passage, that she did not only “lawfully, but laudably, even when she had reason to think that if he (Nabal) had known, he would not have consented to it.” He adds, “ Husbands and wives, for their common benefit, have a joint interest in their worldly possessions.” (So we say, and that is what we are pleading for.) Now how does this agree with the assertion, “ It is fit that every man should bear rule in his own house, and have his wife and children in subjection?” It may be said that Abigail's was an extreme case: true, but extreme cases test the validity of a law. The extremity of a case cannot make wrong right.
If her husband was by the Divine appointment the only person to bear rule in the house, and to have his wife in subjection, the extremity of the case would not justify her in usurpation, though the end she had in view might be good.
A good end will not justify wrong means. If her husband was the only person appointed by God to bear rule, she should have obeyed, and trusted to God to take care of the consequences. It is manifest that Abigail was no usurperGod permits no usurpation. “ Obedience is better than sacrifice.” What sentence was passed on Saul for his usurpation, although the case seemed to be an extreme one? 1 Sam. xiii. 8–14. We flatter ourselves that we have given arguments sufficient to show that this portion of scripture was not designed to confer authority on the husband to veto the wife's vow, but for the protection of the wife. Be it as it may, however, we do not think that either the Levitical or ceremonial laws are binding on us, nor does it in the least interfere with any thing we have previously advanced. It is not a positive command of the husband, it is only a prohibition.
The vows we have had under consideration are only special duties that were not immediately enjoined by God. We have previously shown that God holds the wife responsible for the same amount of moral duties in the family capacity as he does the husband. Is it supposed that God will relinquish his claim to moral duties which he has commanded, for the plain reason that he will have every man to “ bear rule in his own house?”? Woman cannot serve two masters, God and her husband. “Whether woman ought to obey God or man, judge ye.”
WOMAN'S STANDING IN A CHURCH CAPACITY. " Neither is the man without the woman; neither the woman without the man in the Lord," 1 Corinth. xi. 11. “ There is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus,” Gal. iii. 28.
We will now proceed to examine woman's standing in a church capacity. We are well aware that we are approaching a peculiarly delicate and important subject, and one that should be cautiously handled. Whatever relates to the worship of God ought to be exclusively directed by himself. Does woman occupy at present the position in the Christian church that our Lord and Master designed she should ? This question we proceed to examine.
It is a fundamental principle, in Presbyterial church government, that church members have a right to a voice in the election of church officers. But constitutional guarantees of rights, are like ropes of sand with respect to women. Custom and usage are all that women have to depend upon. A fierce controversy has been waged in the pseudo-free church of Scotland, in consequence of church members not having the right of suffrage, for the deprivation of which they consider themselves entitled to the sympathy and benevolence of the Christian world. But for whom did they so boisterously claim the right of suffrage? Just for male members. It never occurred to them that women were entitled to a voice in the choice of those to whom their spiritual interests were, in a great measure, committed. When it was proposed to their supreme judicature to take into consideration the exercise of that right for women, the resolution was ordered to be laid on the table. It has since been submitted to the different sessions to act on as their judgments dictated. Why was not the question considered in the supreme judicatory? Was it of so little importance that it merited no claim on the deliberations of such an august assemblage ? Was it of so little importance who were, or who were not, entitled to church suffrage, when they were contending so vehemently for the exercise of that right for themselves? The secret of the matter was, they did not want that subject discussed. Woman's rights are a « delicate question.” It is like the slave question—it will not bear discussion. It is likely that the sessions will covertly permit women to exercise the right of suffrage without agitating the question. Some women have made princely donations to sustain their church.
In a majority of the branches of the Presbyterian churches, in the United States, we suppose women are at present permitted to have a voice in the election of church officers, though it is by no means a settled right, nor would it be considered ecclesiastical tyranny to deprive them of it. Some time ago we have known women deprived of that right in a denomination that now quietly permits them to vote. It is only by the grace and condescension of church
officers that women are permitted to vote. Some branches of the Presbyterian church exclude women from the right of suffrage by a constitutional interdict,-constitutional interdicts of the Associate Reformed church are never ropes of sand when women are the interdicted.
If women have not a right to vote, is it not sacrilegious to admit them to that privilege ? If they have that right, which is at present the prevailing opinion, though covertly expressed, how does it come that the church has been misled in this matter for so many centuries by “blind guides” who deserve the reprobation of every honest Christian for thus having so long “ lorded it over God's heritage ?”
We often hear it said that the order and government of the church are of Divine origin; its order and government are established by the apostles of our Lord. “According to the constitution of the primitive church, there was an order of females attending on part of the public business of the church, which consisted of two kinds. First, elderly women (presbutides) presiding over and superintending the morals of the female Christians; and, secondly, diakonai who discharged some of the offices of the ministry, as baptizing the female converts, and who also collected and distributed the contributions for the relief of sick and poor females, and discharged other minor offices. Pliny, in his letter to Trajan, says, “I thought it necessary to inquire by torture of the two damsels who were called ministræ, servants, ministers, deaconesses, what the truth was.'” See Comprehensive Commentary, Note on Rom. xvi. 1, 2. Paul, in his first Epistle to Timothy iii. 11, is supposed by some to refer to the qualifications of women who held official standing in the church, when he says, “ Even so must their wives be grave," &c. “ Must their" is a supplement, and the word translated wives, is in other places translated women ; without this supplement, it would read, “Even so women, grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.” That is, women must have the same qualifications as men when filling the same office. And Phebe is expressly said (Rom. xvi. 1) to be servant, or minister, of the church at Cenchrea-stated servant, or minister, as Doddridge renders it. So Henry and Scott. “And, in an edition of the New
Testament, printed in 1574, a woman is spoken of as "minister of a church,” and that is not very strange, for what else could we make Phebe, but minister of the church at Cenchrea? The word there translated servant, is minister when applied to Tychicus, Ephes. vi. 21.
In ancient councils, mention is made of deaconesses. The “Apostolic Constitutions, as they are called, mention the ordination of a deaconess, and the form of prayer used on that occasion.”-Buck's Theological Dictionary.
We deem it wholly unnecessary to multiply testimony to prove the existence of this order, as it is acknowledged on all hands, that women did hold and exercise the office of deaconess in the primitive church, and this office continued from eleven to thirteen centuries, long after inspiration ceased. We ask, by what authority has this office become defunct? Why is there such a scrupulous regard paid to the apostles' supposed interdict of women speaking in the church to the tithing of anise, mint, and cummin; although there are insurmountable obstacles in the way, that it is like swallowing a camel to believe that he intended to prohibit women from speaking in the church, and thus set aside an office that was constituted by Divine authority, about the existence of which there never was the least doubt. We know it is said, that it was from the exigencies of the times that debarred the sexes from intercourse, that women were made church officers in the primitive days of Christianity. How is it known that it was from the exigencies of the times? Scripture does not say so; nor can it be inferred from any thing that is said in Scripture. The sexes had as free intercourse, according to scripture history, as they have in our day, and men could have performed any duty of charity or instruction to women that they can now. There were seven men appointed to this duty, among others. (Acts of the Apostles vi.) There is no evidence that the duties of the deaconesses were limited to their own sex. Was not the order and government of the church, established by the apostles of our Lord, intended to stand through succeeding ages? “See,” saith God to Moses, “that thou make ali things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.” Men will only sneer at the idea of women being church officers. Man is far wiser than his Maker, though