Page images
PDF
EPUB

hearts, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, in good and in bad report; but sweeter far the consolations of religion, the prospect of life and immortality brought to light by the gospel." We eome together to "receive the end of our faith, the salvation of Out' souls; as, through grace, we have been made helpers of each other's faith, let us be, eternally helpers of each other's joy.

Is the man, unhappily, dead to all sense of religion; swaliowed up of time and sense; is his great, or only inquiry, " What shall I eat, what shall I drink, wherewithal shall I be clothed i" Or, more wretched still, is he delivered over " to commit iniquity with greediness," "and to glory in his shame?" What are the most likely means of awakening him to reflection, of reaching his conscience, of melting his heart, of changing his conduct? Preaching is vain, he turns" a deaf ear to the voice of the charmer, charm he never so wisely:" prosperity fosters pride and forget fulness of God; adversity only hardens him the more; reason is perverted, passion has acquired the ascendant^ the |lower of habit predominates: but the Lord God has provided " an help meet for him." When public instruction and foreign reproof have failed, the mind is frtill accessible. The unaffectedt unostentatious charm of genuine female piety is felt and understood, and becomes efficacious; the silent, unnpbraiding regret of conjugal tenderness supplies the place of a thou, sand arguments and forces its way to the hea.t; " the effectual fervent prayer" of a gracious woman " availcth much;" the" believing wife" draws to the Redeemer, with the cords of love," the unbelieving husband ," she becomes the blessed instrument of" converting the sinner from the error of bis way, she saves a soul from death, she hides a multitude of sins," and, in the noblest sense of the word, approves herself "an help meet" for man.

Jn all these important respects, the original design of Eternal Wisdom in the formation, of woman, is plain and palpable. To have fulfilled one branch of duty, and even to have excelled in it, is no exemption from the obligation of the rest. The duties of life and -of religion run in a series, one is linked with another, supposes it, cannot be separated from it. To no purpose are children well educated, if through the indolence, folly, or vice of parents, they are launched into the world in doubtful, dishonorable, embarrassed or distressful circumstances. What is it to me, that my fortune is prudently and frugally managed, if my person is neglected, my temper trifled with, my reputation sacrificed, " my good name filched from me i" And what is the acquisition of a world, at the expense of .my soul ?....

Let it be understood and remembered, that every word which has been said of the obligation laid on woman, as " an help meet" for man, applies, with at least equal propriety and force, to man, as the helper and friend of woman. Does he possess superiority of any kind? It is evidently intended not to oppress, but to support. His greater strength is given for her protection ; his more vigorous or profound powers of thought are designed to be her instructor and guide. Whatever advantage, real or apparent, each may have above the othey, Providence clearly wills to be employed for the comfort and benefit of the other. A contention of mutual affection, beneficence, forbearance, forgiveness, is the only strife which nature, reason and decency permit to this state and relation.

We proceed to illustrate female utility and importance in social life, by certain noted examples from the sacred record. May God smile on every attempt tt communicate useful truth. Amen.

HISTORY OF DEBORAH.

r

LECTURE II.

And Deborah a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah, between Ramah and Beth-el in mount Ephraim: and the children oj Israel came tq> to her jor judgment. ...juDGts iv. 4, 5.

THE unremitting attention paid by a wise and gracious Providence totheaffairs of men,affords equal matter of wonder and gratitude, with the astonishing power and skill displayed in the first formation of this great universe. Let us suppose the care of that Providence for a little while suspended, and the world left to itself. Who is not shocked in looking forward to the probable, the certain consequences of that remission? Behold instantly the bars of the vast abyss burst asunder, and " hell itself breathing forth destruction to mankmd." Behold the prince of the power of the air, reigning and raging without control. Behold chaos and ancient night resuming their murky empire, and darkness covering the face of the deep; earth and air confounded; nature convulsed by the fury of contending elements, unrestrained by law ; universal confusion and wild uproar prevailing.

Alas! it is not necessary to state the supposition so high. To conceive the wretchedness of mankind, deprived of the constant, superintending care of Heaven, it is needlcos to let loose the demons of the bottomless pit; it is needless to unbridle the fury of the ocean, or to assist the roaring winds in blowing up the fire into a hotter flame. Under the slightest alteration of the established order of things, all nature Ian. £uishes. Remove, for a moment, the all-rulmg, allsupporting hand of the great Father of the universe, and lo, this fair and fertile region is overwhelmed with an inundation, and that, is burned to one pumicestone, by the force of celestial or subterraneous fire. Here arises, a race all males, like the fabled generation of warriors which sprung from the serpent's teeth, armed at all points for mutuai destruction and slaughter; and there; a nation of timid, defenceless females, inviting violence and insult. But under that uninterrupted divine superintendence all goes on well; there is no schism in the body; every thing is found in its place, every thing performs its function. The exactest proportion between male aud female births is preserved; the robuster frame is still found united to the stronger mental faculties; the delicacy of the feminine form indicates, to the V*tv eye, the softer, gentler qualities of the spirit which inhabits it; and nature assigns to each the limits of duty, and the sphere of usefulness and exertion.

But the great God irpleased to make himself known, not only by general conformity to established laws, but by occasional deviation from them. That the sons of men may know, it is according to his high will, that all creatures are, and think, and act.

The history, which this evening comes under our review, exhibits a new thing m the annals of human nature; asserts the sovereignty of the Most High over all persons and events; places the female character and importance in a new, a striking, and a respectable p<int of view; and thereby admonishes the one sex to think of their own natural general superiority with deference, affection and honor to the manly excellencies of the female mind,, when cultivated by a proper education, directed to a worthy object, and roused into exertion by a great and worthy occasion. Hitherto we have seen wise and good women, in the retired vale of domestic life, their proper and peculiar sphere ; Sarah co-operating, in the duties ef hospitality, with her venerable lord; Rebekah refreshing the weary traveller and the thirsty camel with water from the well, as they went on their way; Rachel and the seven, daughters of Jethro tending their father's flocks, and. making them to lie down under the shade at noon; Miriam leading the festive dance and song, in celebrating the loving-kindness of the Lord, and the triumphs of Israel; and Rahab giving shelter to the persecuted spies, and providmg for the safety of her father's house.

But we are now to contemplate female genius and talents forcing their way to public observation, and to everlasting renown: eclipsing masculine sagacity and fortitude; the inspirer and the example of generous patriotism and martial prowess. We are to contemplate feminine warmth and eagerness, under the influence of prophetic mspiration, and blended with the dignity and integrity of the judgment seat; female spirit, giving breath to the bloody trumpet of war, directing the movements of the embattled host, waking into sacred, poetic rapture, and adapting the joyful strains of -victory, to the musical sounds of the living lyre.

Israel had now enjo) ed a blessed repose of fourscore years; and are again corrupted by ease and prosperity. Their national character and conduct, are a striking representation of those, of many individuals, whom we are daily meeting with in the world; who are capable of bearing neither prosperity nor adversity; whom it is impos^ble to serve or to save; who by their perverseness or folly, are perpetually undoing the kindest designs, and counteracting the most vigorous efforts of their friends in their behalf, and whom a;

« PreviousContinue »