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Nor does maternal influence, in favour of piety and virtue, terminate with the infant, or early years of children. A mother's influence is of the utmost consequence-very often it is greater than any other influence-through the whole of youth, and even to a more advanced age. The young man, or young woman, on whom the counsels, prayers, and tears of a pious mother have lost their commanding effect, has indeed reached the threshold of hopeless perdition.
I have spoken of early religion, but in reading the history of the church, both by inspired and uninspired penmen, it is worthy of remark, how often the matured and eminent religion of the most distinguished men, and all their extensive usefulness, has been plainly, and sometimes confessedly, the fruit and product of a mother's goodness and care, early begun and long continued. Nor is this wonderful. Roman virtue and ambition, was often traceable to the same powerfully operative cause; and its effects in the production of modern sages and heroes, has sometimes been equally conspicuous. To the nursery, Christian friends-to the nursery, both the Church and the State must look, for their best support; for those who are destined to become their firmest pillars, and their brightest ornaments.
Allow the speaker to say, before leaving this part of his subject, that the leading ideas which have just been thrown out, were those which
induced him to take the early and zealous part which he has taken, in recommending the institution of such Societies, as that at whose instance he now addresses you.
The influence of the sex is, and ought to be, great, in ways almost innumerable. But their agency, in first forming the minds and habits of children and youth, is, and must be, nearly exclusive. Till the women of India, therefore, are raised from that state of ignorance and degradation, in which they have been sunk for ages past, the diffusion of Christianity in that country cannot be general and lasting. To produce this effect, we must-at least till the time shall arrive when “a nation shall be born in a day"-look for a generation to arise, which well instructed Christian mothers shall have helped to form, and on which well informed Christian women, shall exert all their natural and incalculable influence.
3. Christian women may show their love to the Saviour, and mote his cause, in a variety of instances of a private nature, at which we can do little more than glance. They may devise, and suggest, and recommend schemes of benevolence and piety, the execution of which must chiefly be left to men.-Having as deep an interest as the other sex, in the proper choice, settlement, and support of a minister of the gospel, and in all the concerns of a Christian church and congregation, it is reasonable, that on these subjects their opinions and wishes should be regarded, and that, with modesty and discretion, they should be made known to those, on whom the active ordering of such concerns must ultimately depend.--There seems to be no reasonable doubt, that it was the office of the deaconnesses-for such a description of females there certainly was-in the primitive church, to distribute Christian charities, in a discreet and beneficial manner; to visit, instruct, and console the poor, the
sick, and the afflicted; to converse in private with all who might seek their counsel on the concerns of their souls; and especially with persons of their own sex, in cases in which a community of sex might invite to an increased freedom of communication. There is no evidence that these deaconnesses were ever formally or officially appointed. Their services seem to have been perfectly voluntary at first, and afterwards, when found to be useful, to have received the encouragement and approbation of the apostles, and other ministers of the church. In all these ways, then, the door of duty is as fully open to the Christian women of this age, as to those in the days of the apostles. And as there are some with us who are willing to enter upon, and to perform to a considerable extent, the services that have been specified, so would to God, that their number were increased a hundredfold.
Here too we must mention those kind and gratifying attentions, and some most substantial services, which Christian women may privately render to Missionaries, and to the Ministers of Christ in general. Holy women "ministered of their substance" to their Saviour, in the days of his flesh. Our text itself, is but the record of one such illustrious instance. And the apostle Paul had been deeply indebted, for personal kindnesses and services, to another Mary. "Greet Mary (said he) who bestowed much labour on us." The Missionaries of the present day, owe a large part of their comforts to their Christian sisters. And the settled pastors in nearly all our churches, would, I am confident, be ready to testify, that the kind services and attentions which they and their families receive, from the pious women of their several charges, are among the greatest and most grateful alleviations of the anxious cares, and laborious exertions, of their arduous VOL. IV. Ch. Adv.
office-endearing their people to them exceedingly, and rendering them doubly willing to spend and be spent in their service. These things are good and acceptable to God; and in these, let women, who love their Saviour, be careful to abound.
4. Christian women, who are engaged in the teaching of children and youth, may express their love to their Saviour, and manifest a commendable zeal in his service, by the instruction of those committed to their care, in the elementary principles of revealed truth; by endeavouring to impress that truth on the hearts and consciences of their tender charge; and by constantly imploring for them, in earnest prayer, the special blessing of God their Heavenly Father. That these are duties proper for female teachers, is as clear as that it is right for them to be teachers at all. For no instruction is so important as that which relates to our eternal well being; and which therefore ought never to be omitted, by those to whom the education of youth is entrusted. The schools of female teachers, moreover, are wholly composed, either of youth of their own sex, or of those of the other who are but little advanced beyond the of infancy. Blessed be God, the duty here contemplated, has, we have reason to believe, been more frequently and carefully performed of late, than at some former periods. Schools under female instruction, have been opened and closed with prayer; and in them religious knowledge has been acquired, and religious duty inculcated, in the whole course of a useful and ornamental education.
But what shall we say of Sabbath Schools? We say, without reserve, that they appear to be among the happiest devices of Christian ingenuity, in an age of Christian enterprise, for carrying instruction and piety into the families of the poor, the ignorant and the vicious; and of
thus extending the blessings of the Gospel to a very large portion of every community, which had before, even in Christian lands, been almost entirely neglected. In the instruction of these schools, pious and benevolent females, without any other earthly reward than that which they find in doing good, have taken a most active and efficient part. In some regular Christian congregations, as well as in other places, they are the only instructers of these schools; and in every place, so far as my knowledge extends, their exertions have kept full pace with those of their fellow labourers, of the other sex; and in certain places, have far outgone them. God has remarkably smiled on those concerned in this blessed work. Numbers of them have been visited with his special grace, and been added to his church on earthwith numbers of those in whose conversion their labours have been instrumental: and doubtless it will be with peculiar delight, that the teachers and the taught will meet, and rejoice together, in the church triumphant above. Let every Christian woman be, as far as she can, the patroness and promoter of Sabbath Schools.
5. Christian women may manifest their love to their Saviour, to his cause, and to communion with himself, by associations for prayer among themselves; and by keeping up the worship of God in their households, in the absence of a male head of the family. We have not time for extended argument, on the propriety of what is here stated as female duty. We only remark, that it interferes in no respect, with what has been shown to be divinely prohibited. The supposition is, that in female prayer meetings, women only meet with women. In the devotional exercises carried on in such circumstances, there is surely no ground for the charge of arrogant assumption, or of any trespass on female decorum. Why
then should any object to this sacred communion of sisterhood, in which devout women mingle their prayers and their praises their prayers for each other, for their husbands, for their children, and for the church of God? Verily, we believe that these female offerings come up as sweet incense, before the throne of a prayer-hearing God; and that often, in the most signal manner, he returns to the offerers answers of peace.
In the absence of a husband, the wife becomes the head of the family, and ought to maintain family prayer. Let her do it without a form, if she can do it thus, with freedom; but let her not scruple to use a form, rather than to omit the duty.-Spirit of my sainted mother! If I shall be so happy as to join thee in thy celestial abode, shall I not thank thee there, for the family prayers which in my early years, and in the absence of a praying father, I heard from thy hallowed lips! Well may I recommend what I know to be practicablewhat I know to be profitable.-The obligation to pray with their households is statedly incumbent on widows, unless a pious son, or other inmate, will assume the service.
Christian women too, especially if they have prayerless husbands, ought frequently to pray with their children, by themselves apart. That husband must be without feeling, as well as without religion, who would not rather rejoice at this, than regard it with displeasure.
6. Christian women may testify their love to their Saviour, and their desire to extend the benefits of his redemption, by taking part, in a variety of ways, in missionary concerns. "Have we not power (says St. Paul) to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord and Cephas." Here, we believe, is a complete scriptural warrant, for missionaries to be attended by their wives. Some of the apostles-the
original and inspired missionarieswere plainly so attended. Nor, when missionaries go forth by families, or companies, is there any transgression of female delicacy or decorum, if unmarried women accompany them. Often they are still under the guardianship of fathers, or brothers, and always under the protection of men of the fairest and purest character. The services of unmarried women may be, as they have often been, of the very highest importance, in missionary operations.
At home, Christian women may, with entire propriety, not only contribute to missionary funds, when founded by others, but form associations of their own, for raising funds, to be appropriated by themselves, to such objects as they may find themselves most disposed to favour. To deny them this privilege, would be to manifest such injustice as requires no words to expose.
Even Female Missionary Societies have been formed in our country, and conducted with unimpeachable propriety and undeniable utility. While so conducted, who will censure them? Who will not rather countenance them, and bid them God speed? By the intervention and aid of ministers of the Gospel, and of pious and discreet laymen, their missionaries may be selected, and missionary services may be assigned and inspected, without any trespass on the rights of men, or the delicacy of women.
7. Bible Societies, Tract Societies, Education Societies, Jews Societies, Charity Schools, Orphan Asylums, Widows' Asylums, and all institutions of a similar character to these, present to Christian women objects and opportunities for manifesting their love to their Saviour and his cause, which they may seize and improve, with the greatest freedom and advantage. And truly they have, in our day, seized and improved them, with an
activity, and to an extent, which are worthy of the highest praise. In several instances, within the knowledge of the speaker, the energy, perseverance, and success of Christian women, in cultivating these fields of pious usefulness, have reproved the more sluggish efforts of men. It was reserved for the age in which we live, and it is among the indications, as we hope, of a better age approaching, that female agency should be called on, to take part in almost every plan and effort for extending the Gospel, or for abating the sufferings, or meliorating the condition of mankind. The effect has been wonderful; and it seems scarcely less wonderful, that such efficient aid was never brought into action before.
But among all the benevolent associations that have been mentioned, and to which it seems as if every one who loves either God or man, must cordially wish success, there is not one, that is, in my view, more worthy of the special attention of Christian women-not one that more appropriately belongs to them
than such societies, as that whose anniversary we this day celebrate. Consider its object. It is to deliver one half of the human species, in the most populous region of the earth, from a state of the deepest and most complete abjection.From a state which exhibits them as mere animals; not worthy to be considered as reasonable and immortal beings; not the fit subjects of intellectual improvement, and of religious happiness and hope; not the companions of men, on the footing of intelligence, or of any approximation to equality; but only as his slaves, and the instrumentsbut I cannot proceed in the description of their state. It is not of a nature to be described before this audience; nor even to be thought on by one's self, but at the expense of every species of painful and sickening emotions. I solemnly ask then, if there can be a louder
call for humane, for benevolent, for Christian exertion, from every one in whose bosom the feelings of humanity, benevolence, and Christian compassion, are not "twice dead, plucked up by the roots"-than that which is here made, to lend a helping hand, in lifting up these millions on millions of the human family, from this state of absolute bestial ignorance, degradation and servility, to a state of rationality, intelligence, happiness, dignity, and the hope of heaven? And if this may be asked of every man, who has the soul of a man, what shall be said to women, to Christian women, in behalf of their own sex; whose feelings they must best know, and in whose wretchedness and sorrows they can best sympathize? Do they occupy themselves in other works of kindness and charity? And can they neglect this? Ought not this to be their peculiar, their favourite object? Ought not the women of the whole civilized world, to make common cause, in rescuing more than one half of their common nature, from the condition of brutes? Ought not all Christian women to do this? Yes, they ought -and bear with me, if you cannot think and feel as I do, when I say that I have wondered, and do wonder, that the known condition of women in India, and in other regions where Heathenism and Mahomedanism prevail, has not operated with an electrick force, on the whole enlightened part-and especially on the Christian part of the sex, to rouse them to the most vigorous action, and to unite them in a concentration of effort, to bring out female nature from this horrible abyss of reproach and infamy; and to raise it to the standing for which it was formed and intended by the Great Author of our being. Heathens and Mahomedans all together, male as well as female, are, we know, in a state of awful ignorance and wretchedness: but there is a speciality in the case of
women among them; and it is of this I am now speaking-Women are debased far below their lords and masters, who are themselves debased. They are, of wretched and degraded tyrants, the more wretched and degraded slaves and drudges; or the mere instruments of their base sensuality. In the deep of Heathen and Mahomedan abominations, there is "a lower deep;" and there it is, that the whole female sex with them is found. Thanks to God, that those who are trying to bring them relief, have some encouraging indications of success. A considerable number of the poor natives of India, have surrendered their female children for education, to the thrice blessed missionaries; to the heavenly minded men and women who. began, and who are still engaged in this Godlike work, of restoring them to the rights of human nature, and the prospect of eternal felicity. To have made this good beginning, is to have done much. Let but the happy effects of female education be once visible, although it be on a small scale-let but a few well educated females, from among the lower casts in India, go forth into life, and make their superiority to degraded men, as well as to degraded women, to be seen and felt→ the certain consequence will be, that the desire of female education will become general and ardent; and the great object in view, will be in a train to be reached, as speedily as the nature of the case will permit. To furnish these specimens of well educated womenand we hope they will be Christian women too-in the various parts of India, will indeed require funds and exertions, a thousand times greater than any of which at present we have the knowledge. But still, the work has been commenced, and is in progress; and we believe it to be God's work, and that, under his smiles and benediction, it will go on and prosper.