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Full text of "The Christian duty of Christian women : a discourse, delivered in the Church of Princeton, New Jersey, August 23, 1825, before the Princeton Female Society, for the support of a female school in India"

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PRINCETON, N. J»/n//y. Y\ . YY\\Avm^A . 

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AUGUST 2a, 1826, 


Princeton jFewjile Sbotietfi, 








MARK XIV. 8. First part. 

These words are found in the narrative of a very inter- 
esting incident in the life of our blessed Redeemer. Six 
days bcfoi'e the Jewish Passover at which he entered on 
his last sufferings, a supper, or festival entertainment, 
was made for him, at Bethany ; a village in the environs 
of Jerusalem, frequently mentioned in the evangelical his- 
tory, and particularly memorable as the residence of La- 
zarus, whom he raised from the dead. The supper was 
made at the house of one Simon, a leper : who, it is high- 
ly probable, had been cleansed by tiie miracidous power 
of Christ. Lazarus was a guest, at this entertainment, 
which some suppose was made, either wholly or in part, 
at his exj)enso ; and his sisters, Martha and JNlary, were 
both present. With her characteristick activity, Martha 
served at the supper-table ; and Mary with her wonted 
reverential luve to her J^ord and Redeemer, and animated, 
no doubt, with the liveliest gratitude for the interposition 
of his almighty power, in calling her beUn-ed brother from 
the tomb, gave him on this occasion a signal expression ol 
her sense of obligation, and of the high estimation in wliich 
she wished that others should hohl him. She had made 
preparation for this expression of her gratitude and love. 


by procuring an Alabaster box of the most costly and fra- 
grant ointment, such as was then used about the persons of 
individuals the most distinguished by birth or office ; that 
with this she might anoint her benefactor, whom she alsoi 
knew to be the long expected Messiah, the Prince of 
peace. His recumbent attitude, then always in use, at 
the supper table, was peculiarly favourable to her design. 
Approaching him in this reclining posture, she broke the 
box of liquid Nard, and poured it first on his head, and 
afterwards on his body and his feet. And then, while the 
house was filled with the odour of the ointment, this holy 
devoted woman kneeled at the feet of Jesus, and wiped 
them with the flowing tresses of her hair — Christian sisters 
— Are you not tempted to envy your sister Mary ? To 
envy the opportunity she had to express in this striking 
and affecting manner, her humble, ardent attachment, to 
your common and adored Redeemer ? Envy not but imi- 
tate her. Opportunities still occur to express love and 
gratitude to your unseen Saviour, by acts as acceptable to 
him as that of Mary was ; and which he will ere long, ac- 
knowledge and reward before the assembled universe. 

Who would expect that any disciple of Christ could 
have disapproved of the testimonial of reverence and es- 
teem, which he received from the sister of Lazarus. Who 
would not rather expect, that the whole company must 
have seen it with delight, and have applauded the happy 
ingenuity by which it had been devised, and the lovely 
enthusiasm — shall I not call it ? — with which the device 
was executed. But it was not so. Judas was among the 
guests. He, it has commonly been believed, had been ap- 
pointed the purse-bearer of tlie holy family, from his re- 
puted integrity, care and capacity, in the management of 
pecuniary concerns. His opinion, therefore, on a point 
of economy, especially when that which might be saved, 
was to be given to the poor, wouW naturally have much 

weight with his fellow apostles ; knowing, too, as they 
well did, that their Master had never affected worldly 
honours, nor required any extraordinary expenditure, for 
his own gratification. They, therefore, joined in the 
murmuring, which began with Judas — not suspecting that 
he was hypocrite, thief and traitor all in one ; and that he 
only wished that the " Three Hundred pence" (about fifty 
dollars of our money) for which "the ointment might have 
been sold," should have been added to the common stock, 
that he might carry off a richer prize, when he should ab- 
scond with the whole ; which, it appears, he had, about 
this time determined to do — Not in the least suspecting 
any thing of all this, the other disciples were influenced 
by the suggestions of a base and wicked avarice, to join 
m the murmur, that there had been, on the part of Mary, 
a profligate waste of property, which might have been ap- 
plied to a better purpose. 

The whole of this murmuring, Christian friends, both 
in its origin and tendency, was in my apprehension ex- 
ceedingly like the complaints which we have lately heard, 
from certain quarters, that much money is wasted — is wan- 
tonly and foolishly thrown away — in professed attempts 
to honour Christ by sending his gospel to the heathen and 
the Jews. 

But the Saviour vindicated Mary, and reproved licr 
calumniators. Her views of duty, dictated by her liberal 
spirit, and her warm and generous heart, were far more 
correct than their calculatinj; and cold blooded reasonins" 
on the subject. The Saviour reminded them, that every 
duty must have its proper time and place. The poor the}' 
would always have with them, and would never be with- 
out an opportunity to show them kindness, "but me, said 
he, ye have not always." — His departure from them was 
now just at hand, and whatever tokens of their regard he- 
was to receive, must be speedily bcstownd, or the oppor- 


tunily for bestowing them would be past forever. It is 
not probable, indeed, that Mary, any more than the apos- 
tles, supposed that Christ, before the expiration of that 
very week, was to suffer the death of crucifixion. It was 
the ardour of her affectionate reverence for her Lord, which 
prompted her to do what she had done. But she had done 
what was right in itself; and the overruling providence 
of God had so ordered it, that this honourable anointing 
of the sacred person of the Messiah, should take place im- 
mediately before he was cut off — " She hath done, (said he) 
what she could ; she is come aforehand to anoint my body 
to the burying." As if he had said — "Others are about 
to insult and despise me, and to put me to an infamous and 
painful death ; but she hath done what she could for my 
gratification, and to show me honour and respect ; and let 
her not be blamed for this — The anointing of the dead is 
indeed attended with considerable expense. But would 
you grudge such an expense to my dead body ? My ene- 
mies would not permit Mary to do what has occasioned 
this cost, after my decease ; and God hath therefore put it 
into her heart to anoint me aforehand." Nor did the Sa- 
viour content himself, with simply justifying this noble 
and affectionate expression of Mary's attachment and de- 
votedness. He went farther in his commendation of it 
than he ever went — so far as we are told — in approving 
any other act of kindness or respect that was shown to his 
person. He declared that wherever his Gospel should be 
preached in the vvhule world, and to the end of time^ this 
deed of Mary should be told as an honourable memorial of 
her. Accordingly we find, in fact, that although the ac- 
tion is apparently not of the greatest importance, in the 
history of our Lord, and very many of his own acts, as St. 
John informs us, are not recorded at all, yet this deed of 
Mary is circumstantially narrated by three of the evangel- 
ists. And it is a delightful thought that after the lapse of 
near twenty centuries, and at the distance of half the cir- 

cumference of the globe from the place where the predic- 
tion was uttered, I am this moment contributing my mite 
to its verification. 

Do we not learn from all this, that when, from real 
and fervent love to Christ, we do what we can to serve and 
glorify him, he marks it with the most peculiar approba- 
tion, and will confer on it the most distinguished reward ? 

"She hath done what she could" — It seems to be a 
legitimate inference from these words, a general proposi- 
tion which they will fairly support, that Christian women 
ought to do all that they can, to manifest their love to the 
Saviour and their desire to do him honour. For who will 
say that others ought not to do as Mary did } Few, it is 
believed, except avowed infidels, will deny the truth of 
this doctrine, when proposed in the abstract form in which 
it is here stated. Yet when we come to examine it in de- 
tail, and to apply it to practice, we find that opinion is by 
no means uniform, even among professing Christians. 

We propose, therefore, in the sequel of this discourse, 
to endeavour to ascertain and state, what Christian wo- 
men may do ; and ivhat they may not do ; in manifes- 
ting their love to Christ, and their desire to do him 

It may be proper just to remark, in a preliminary way, 
that genuine love to Christ, and a rational desire to do him 
honour, vvill always manifest themselves in earnest endea- 
vours to render the Redeemer precious in the estimation 
of others. — In using all proper means to propagate the 
knowledge of his glorious person, of his excellent doctrines, 
of his great salvation, of the obligations which sinners owe 
him, and of tiie absolute necessity of their embracing for 
themselves his offered mercy, as the only sure ground of 
their hope for eternity. It is by thus doing that we com- 
ply with our Lord's own directions on this subject. 
"Herein (said he) is my Father glorified that ye bear 


much fruit, so shall ye be my disciples — If ye love me, 
keep my commandments — Feed my sheep, feed my lambs 
— In as much as ye did it to one of the least of these my 
brethren, ye did it unto me." Let it be remembered then, 
that our Saviour is identified with his religion ; and that 
to love, to promote, or to adorn the religion of Christ, is 
to express love to himself and to honour him before the 
world. Our representations and language, in the discussion 
before us, will be in conformity with this remark. 

In prosecuting our purpose, as already stated, we may 
find it advantageous to consider — 

I. The negative part of our subject, namely, what 
Christian women may not do, in manifesting their love to 
their Saviour, and their desire to do him honour. 

It is plainly intimated in the text, that Mary's efforts 
to honour her Redeemer, were limited. When it is said, 
** she hath done what she could," the implication is obvi- 
ous, that she would have done more if more had been in 
her power — if propriety would have permitted, or if means 
and opportunity had not been wanting. By what circum- 
stances and considerations, then, were her efforts limited ? 
In the first place, I answer. By the bounds prescribed 
to her by her sex itself. Happy is that woman who al- 
ways finds that she cannot do, what it is improper for her 
to do as a woman ; whose whole mind and feelings are 
so set against whatever misbecomes her, that she experi- 
ences a fortunate incapacity to attempt it. The Saviour, 
to whom Christian women are to manifest their attachment, 
is their Creator and Lord. He framed them with that 
shrinking delicacy of temperament and feeling, which is 
one of their best distinctions, which renders them amiable, 
and which, while it unfits them for command, and subjects 
them, in a degree, to the rougher sex, gives them, at the 
same time, an appropriate and very powerful influence. 
Jt was, therefore, not to be expected, that he who formed 


Lhem witli this natural and retirinsj modesty, and under a 
qualified subjection to man, would ever require, or even 
permit them, to do any thing in violation of his own order ; 
and least of all that he would permit this in his own im- 
mediate service. Hence, I apprehend, it is, that we find 
in the New Testament such texts as the following. 1 Tim. 
ii. 11 — 14. " Let tlie woman learn in silence with all sub- 
jection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp 
authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam 
was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceiv- 
ed, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." 
— 1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35. *'Let your women keep silence in 
the churches ; for it is not permitted unto ihem to speak ; 
but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also 
saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them 
ask their husbands at home ; for it is a shame for women 
to speak in the church." 

The same apostle, who, under the unerring guidance 
of divine inspiration, delivered these plain and positive 
injunctions, has also said — 1 Cor. xi. 5. " Every woman 
that prayeth, or prophesieth, with her head uncovered, 
dishonoureth her head ; for that is even all one as if she 
were shaven." Here, unquestionably, is a direction liow 
women ought to appear and act, when speaking in a pub- 
lick Christian assembly ; for the connexion of the passage 
shows clearly that it is of such an assembly that the apos- 
tle is here treating. This, then, seems to militate with the 
preceding precepts. But we know that inspired truth 
never can contradict, or be inconsistent with itself. How 
then is this apparent inconsistency to be cleared up ? In 
one way only, as we believe ; and in that way, easily and 
perfectly. During the period of miraculous endowments 
under the Gospel dispensation, as well as under tliat of 
Moses, the gift of supernatui-al inspiration was sometimes 
conferred on women, as well as upon men. We arc toM 


expressly, that Philip the Evangelist "had four daughters;, 
virgins, that did prophesy." Now, in the last quoted 
passage, the apostle is speaking of wohk n un(h:r superna- 
tural inspiration ; but in the other passages, of women un- 
der no such inspiration. It ap]jeors, therefore, that by a 
miraculoas gift, the gieat head and lawgiver of the church 
took the case of the women on whom he bestowed that 
gift out of the general rule, and authoiizcd them to utter, 
even in publick assemblies, what his own spirit dictated at 
the time. But on all other and ordinaiy occasions- — to 
these our first quotations refer — thej- are absolutely requir- 
ed not to speak, but to keep silence in the churches. It 
is also worthy of special remark, that even when divinel}' 
authorized to speak, they were still commanded to be co- 
vered ; as indicative of a delicate reserve, and as recogniz- 
ing a state of subjection. The explanation here given, as 
it seems indispensable to the reconciling of one part of hoiy 
writ with another, so it will be found to be countenanced 
and warranted by the context of the passages we have re- 
cited. But as we assuredl}' believe, that miraculous in- 
spiration has long since ceased in the Christian church, no 
such expected cases as those we have mentioned, can any 
longer occur. The general rule therefore laid down by the 
Spirit of Christ, speaking b}' the mouth of St. Paul, is now 
in force, without an exception. Women are, in no case, 
to be publick preachers and tcacliers, in assemblies promis- 
cuously composed of the two sexes. This is explicitly and 
pointedly prohibited. Hero, then, is one thing ihatCiu'ist- 
ian women may not do, in their endeavours to pronjote 
and extend the religion of Christ. And I am well assured, 
that in making the statement you have just lieai'd, all tjiat 
I have said accords as fully wiih the views, wisiicsand feel- 
ings, of that Society at v.hose request, and in whose behalf, 
I now speak, as it docs witli tlic spirit and injunctions of 
Sacred Scripture. 


2. The endeavours of Christian women to promote and 
extend tiie religion of Christ, must be limited by a due 
regard to the means they may have at command, and the 
opportunities which may offer, for the purpose. This in- 
deed is a rule of duty^ which taken at large, is as applica- 
ble to men, as to women. — The efforts of all to do good, 
must be bounded by their means and opportunities. But 
there is a special application of the rule to the female sex, 
which ought to i)e distinctly noticed and carefully regard- 
ed. Their means of contributing both to publick and pri- 
vate charities, must frequently be derived from the other 
sex. What they give must come from the purses of their 
husbands, fathers, brothers, or other near kindred, or par- 
ticular friends ; and they certainly in all such" cases ought 
to be consulted, and to determine on the amount of charity 
which, in any given instance, it is proper to bestow — un- 
less indeed a general discretion has been previously al- 

Sometimes, we knowj the case is otherwise. In a num- 
ber of instances, women have property of their own, en- 
tirely free from any foreign control ; and then their duty, 
as to charitable donations, is clearly under no otiier restric- 
tion, than that which is common to them witli men. 

Tliis seems to have been tiie case with her to whom our 
text refers. We are not, indeed, expressly told that such 
was tlie fact. But the circumstances which are narrated 
appear to me to indicate, that what she did was unlocked 
for by the whole company, except by him who knew all 
things. — That neither Lazarus nor Martha was acquainted 
with their sister's design, till it was executed, if this 
were so, the expensive purchase which Mary had made, 
must have been fiom her separate and independent part of 
the family estate; or from her own earnings. Be tliis as it 
might, it is an obvious duty for every Christian woman to 
submit to her relatives, implicitly, the disposition of their 


own property ; after laying before tliem, as she lawfully 
may, the considerations and motives which influence her 
own mind, in favour of a contemplated charity. 

I cannot, however, forbear to mention here, that it is a 
noble expression of Christian benevolence, which is now 
witnessed in various parts of our country, where pious and 
publick spirited females cheerfully sacrifice superfluous ex- 
pense in dress or equipage ; and others as cheerfully la- 
bour with their own hands, in forming garments, or in 
making for sale to the rich, certain articles of taste or or- 
nament ; and both classes put the proceeds of the whole 
into the treasury of the Lord, to extend in various ways, 
the inestimable blessings of his precious Gospel. These 
sacrifices and labours, when kept within any moderate 
bounds, are by no means to be considered as violations of 
female duty ; — and those Avho endeavour harshly to res- 
train tiiem, or to discourage them by ridicule and banter, 
act a part, to which we give only its proper character^ 
when we say that it is, at once, unmanly, base and wicked. 

On the circumstance, that the opportunities which women 
have to do good, are more circumscribed than those of 
men, we only remark in general, that as we can easily see, 
that the propriety of what was done by her to whom the 
text relates, depended much, not only on the known cha- 
racter of the Saviour, but on what she did being done at 
the house of a friend, and in the presence of her own fami- 
ly and of many other witnesses ; so Christian women now, 
ought to be sensible, that they can seldom be required to 
expose their persons to insult, or their characters to un- 
favourable imputations, by any enterprises or errands of 
benevolence, or by any exertions to propagate the Gospel. 
I will not indeed say, that there may not be some extraor- 
dinary occasions, on which it may be their duty, to put 
both safety and reputation at considerable risk. But all 
such cases must be clearly and strongly marked. Duty, 


in general, will consist, in submitting to the allotments of 
God's providence, in all tiie circumstances of our charac- 
ter and state ; and not in disregarding his order, by an in- 
discreet attempt to render services beyond the limits wiiich 
he has prescribed. 

Let us now consider, more directly, 

II. What Christian women may properly do, as a mani- 
festation of their love to their Saviour, or for the promotion 
or extension of his religion. 

Here we might say at once, and in general, that women 
may and ought to do, in the service of their Saviour, what- 
ever is not prohibited in the exceptions and restrictions that 
have been specified — That, with these exceptions and re- 
strictions their moral and religious duties, are, in all res- 
pects, the same as those of men: and this is unquestionably 
the general truth, in regard to this subject, which ought to be 
remembered and acted on. But questions sometimes arise, 
as to what ought, and what ought not, to be considered as 
exceptions and restrictions : and it may also be of use a 
little to explain and inculcate, as well as to enumerate, fe- 
male duties. We therefore proceed to state, 

First, that. Christian women should be very sensible 
that the religion of their Saviour is greatly adorned, and 
sometimes directly promoted, by an exemplary discharge 
of all the customary duties of life ; and by sustaining all 
its relations in the most praise-worthy manner. It is cred- 
itable in a very high degree to evangelical piety, when the 
world itself is constrained to confess, that its professors 
are more exact and active in fulfilling all social and relative 
obligations, and are more amiable and exemplary in their 
whole deportment, than those who arc destitute of religion. 
Perhaps it belongs to women to prove the truth of this ob- 
servation, more frequently and strikingly than can be done 
by men. The apostle Peter says — "If any obey not the 
word, they may, without the word, be won by the convcr- 


sation of the wives, when they behold your chaste conver- 
sation, coupled with fear." It should, therefore, never 
be forgotten, that Christian women ought practically to 
demonstrate, that the influence of their religion has render- 
ed them better wives, better mothers, better daughters, 
better sisters, better neighbours, and better friends, than 
they would otherwise be; and more active, punctual, con- 
scientious, and persevering, in the discliarge of all the or- 
dinary duties of life — That although they cannot sacrifice 
their allegiance to their Saviour to any worldly considera- 
tion whatsoever, yet only allow them to maintain that alle- 
giance unimpaired^ and you shall find them ready to make 
any other sacrifice to which the}^ may be called. 

2. It is one of the peculiar and most important duties 
of Christian women, to instruct and pray with children, 
and to endeavour to form their tender minds to piety, in- 
telligence, and virtue. Here is a wide and fertile field for 
their appropriate labours, in the service and for the honour 
of their Redeemer. The earliest years of children are usu- 
ally and necessarily past, almost wliolly under female care; 
and it is much earlier than is commonly supposed, that 
their minds and moral feelings take a cast which is often as 
lasting as life. Of what inconceivable importance is it 
then, that this iirst moulding of the mind and heart should 
be favourably made ; and that mothers should know and 
remember that if so made, it must comnionly be made by 
them. They have the capacity of mingling, as it were, 
their own souls with the souls of their children — of breath- 
ing into them, with a maternal tenderness and sympathy, 
for which there can be no substitute, those sentiments of 
filial reverence for their Creator and Redeemer, and of ve- 
neration for all that is holy and lovely in the religion of the 
Gospel, which, under the Divine blessing, may become, 
and do often in fact become, the germs of early and vital 


By pious mothers chiefi)-, must children Ije taught to 
use, and to use properly, those litile forms of devotion, in 
which they may lisp tlieir petitions and thanksgivings to 
God ; and those hymns and spiritual songs, by which "out 
of the mouths of babes and sucklings," the Saviour's praise 
is "perfected," and to become familiar with those Scrip- 
ture narratives, with which nearly the \\ hole of sacred 
story is connected, and by which the fundamental doc- 
trines of revealed truth may be taught and inculcated. By 
the prayers of i)ious mothers, must their dear offspring be 
commended to the providential care and effectual grace of 
God, with that frequency and fervour, to which the most 
favourable answer may reasonably be expected, and to 
which such an answer has often, in fact, been most remaik- 
ably returned. 

But I cannot pretend to detail all that pious and intelli- 
gent mothers may do — and what pious sisters, who will act 
a mother's part, may sometimes do — to train the infant mind 
to heavenly aspirings, and to the love of virtuous action. 
Point me to an instance of very early and eminent piety 
wliich might not be clearly traced to tliis source, and you 
will show me such an instance as my reading and observ- 
ation hitherto have never furnished. 

Nor does maternal intluence, in favour of jiiety and vir-- 
tue, terminate with tiic infant, or carl}- 3 ears of cJiildrcn. 
A mother's influence is of the utmost consequence — very 
often it is greater than any oti;er influence — through the 
whole of youih, and even to a more advanced age. 'i'jie 
j-oung man, or young woman, on whom the cour.sels, 
prnvers, and tears of a pious mother have lost tlieir com- 
manding eflect, has indeed reached the threshold of hojjc- 
less perdition. 

I have spoken of early religion, but in reading the liis- 
tory of the church, both by inspired and uninsjjired pen- 
men, it is wortny ol remark, how often the matured and 


emineiit religion of the most distinguished men, and all 
their extensive usefuhiess 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 trace- 
able to the same powerfully operative cause ; and its effects 
in the production of modern sages and heroes, has some- 
times been equally conspicuous. To the nursery, Christ- 
ian friends — to the nursery, both the Church and the State 
must look, for tlieir best support — for those who are des- 
tined to become their firmest pillars, and their brightest 

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 
7.ealous part, which he has taken, in recommending the in- 
stitution 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 form- 
ing 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 de- 
gradation 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 look for — at 
least till the time shall arrive when '' a nation shall be born 
in a day" — 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 promote his cause, in a variety of instances, of a pri- 
vate 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 min- 
ister 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 sliould be made 
known to those, on whom the active ordering of such con- 
cerns must ultimately depend. — There seems to be no rea- 
sonable 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 con- 
sole the poor, the sick, and the afflicted ; to converse in 
private with all who might seek their counsel on the con- 
cerns of their souls, and especially with persons of their 
own sex, in cases in which a community of sex might in- 
vite to an increased freedom of communication. There is 
no evidence that these deaconnesses were ever formally or 
officially apj)ointed. Their services seem to have been 
perfectly voluntary at first, and afterwards, when found to 
be useful, to have received the encouragement and appro- 
bation of the apostles, and other ministers of the cliurch. 
In all these ways, then, the door of duty is as fully open 
to the Christian women of this age, as to those in tlie days 
of the apostles. And as there are some witli us who are 
willing to enter upon and to perform, to a considei'abie ex- 
tentjthe services that have been specified, so would to God 
that their number were increased a hundred-fold. 

Here too we must mention those kind and gratifying at- 
tentions, and some most substantial services which Christ- 
ian women may privately render to jVIissionarics 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 illus- 


trious instance. And the apostle Paul had been deeply 
indebted for personal kindnesses and services to another 
Mary. "Greet Mary (said he) who bestowed much la- 
bour 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 office — endearing 
their people to them exceedingly, and rendering them dou- 
bly 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 Sa- 
viour, and a commendable zeal in his service, by the in- 
struction of those committed to their care, in the element- 
ary principles of revealed truth ; by endeavouring to im- 
press 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 
committed. 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 age of infancy. Blessed be God, the duty here incul- 
cated, has, we have reason to believe, been more frequently 
and carefully performed of late, than at some former peri- 
ods. Schools under female instruction, have been opened 


and closed with prayer, and in them reh'gious knowledge 
has been acquired, together with the knowledge of letters^ 
and of other useful and ornamental attainments. 

But what shall we say of Sabbath Schools. We say, 
without reserve, that they a[)pear to be among the happiest 
devices of Christian ingenuity, in an age of Ciiristian en- 
terprise, for carrying instruction and piety into the fami- 
lies of the poor, the ignorant and the vicious; and of thus 
extending the blessings of the Gospel to a very large por- 
tion of every community, which had before, even in Christ- 
ian lands, been almost entirely neglected. In the instruct- 
ion of these schools, pious and benevolent females, without 
any other earthly reward, than that which they find in do- 
ing good, have taken a most active and efficient part. In 
some regular Ciiristian 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 ex- 
ertions have kept full pace with those of their fellow la- 
bourers of the other sex, and in certain places, have far 
outgone them. God has remarkably smiled on those con- 
cerned in this blessed work. Numbers of them have been 
visited with his special grace, and been added to his church 
on earth — with 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 pa- 
troness and promoter of Sabbath Schools. 

5. Christian women may manifest their love to their Sa- 
viour, 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 no time for ex- 
tended 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 prohi- 
bited. The supposition is, that in female prayer meetings, 
women only meet with women. In the devotional exer- 
cises 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 sister-hood, 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 fe- 
male offerings come up as sweet incense before the throne 
of a prayer-hearing God ; and that often in the most sig- 
nal 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 free- 
dom ; 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 practicable — what 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 Sa- 
viour, and their desire to extend the benefits of his re- 
demption, by taking part, in a variety of ways, in mission- 
ary 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 at- 
tended by their wives. Some of the apostles — the original 
and inspired missionaries — were 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 ciia- 
racter. The services of unmarried women may be, as tiiey 
have often been, of the very highest importance, in mis- 
sionary 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 injus- 
tice, 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, wlio 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 
be assigned and inspected, without any trespass on the rights 
of men, or the delicacy of women. 

7. Bible Societies, Tract Societies, P^ducation Societies, 
Jews Societies, Charity Schools, Orphan Asylums, Wid- 
ows' Asylums, and all institutions of a similar character 
to these, present to Christian women objects and opportu- 
nities for manifesting tiieir love to their Saviour and his 
cause, which they may seize and improve, with the great- 


est 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 seve- 
ral 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 suffer- 
ings, 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 be^ 

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 Chi'istian women — not one that more appro- 
priately 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 tne most 
populous region cf the earth, from a state of the deepest 
and most complete abjection. — P'rom a state which exhibits 
them as mere animals ; not worthy to be considered as rea- 
sonable and immortal beings ; not the fit subjects of intel- 
kciual 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 instruments. — But 1 cannot proceed in the 
description of their state. It is not of a nature to be des- 
cribed before this audience ; nor even to be thought on by 
one's sell, but at the expense of every species of painful 
and sickening emotions. X solemnly ask then, if there 


can be a louder call for humane, for benevolent, for Christ- 
ian exertion, from every ont^ in whose bosom the feelings 
of humanity, benevolence, and Christian compassion, are 
not " twice dead, plucked ui> by the roots" — than liiat 
which is here made, to lenrl a helping hand, to iiti up tht;se 
millions on millions of the hnnian family, from state of 
absolute bestial ignorance, degrndation 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 wo- 
men, to Christian women, in behalf of their own sex, 
whose feelings they must best know, and in whose 
Vv'retchedness 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 na- 
ture, from the condition of brutes? Ought not all Christ- 
ian 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 condi- 
tion of women in India, and in other regions where Hea- 
thenism and Mahomedanism prevail, has not operated with 
an electrick force, on the whole enlightened part — and es- 
pecially on the Christian part — of the sex, to rouse them 
to the most vigorous action, and to unite them in a con- 
centration 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 u 
state of awful ignorance and wretchedness ; but there is a 
specialty in the case of women among them, and it is of 
this I am now speaking. — Women are debased far below 


tlieir 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 oi" their base sensuality. In the deep of Hea- 
then and Maliomedan 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 ot the poor natives of 
India, have surrendered their female children for educa- 
tion, to the thrice blessed missionaries ; to the heavenly 
minded men and women who began and 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 visi- 
ble, although it be on a small scale — let but a few well edu- 
cated 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 edu- 
cation will become geneial and ardent ; and the great ob- 
ject in view, will be in a train to be reached, as speedily 
as the nature of the case will permii. To furnish these 
specimens of well educated women — and 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 know- 
ledge. 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 

Thus, my respected female friends, I have endeavoured 
to perform, in the best n>anner I could, the service to 
which you have called me on this occasion. It is a time 


at which, as has been said, women are taking part in al- 
most all that is done in the holy cause of religion and hu- 
manity. For this, you sufler unsparing censure, from 
some of my sex and from some of your own. By this cen- 
sure, some among you have been intimidated, and others, 
I question not, have been made honestly to doubt, in what 
manner they ought to act. Instead, therefore, of confin- 
ing myself, in this service, to a single point, or of indul- 
ging, in general declamation, I have rather chosen to show, 
as far as my limits and my ability would permit, what 
Christian women may do, and what they may not do, in 
expressing their love to the Saviour, and manifesting their 
desire to promote his religion. The sneer of the infidel 
we look for, and are prepared to disregard ; but what in 
Christian duty, it is, for us, a most serious inquiry. In 
pursuing this inquiry, I have taken the word of God for 
my guide — in its letter, where I found its letter explicit, 
and in its spirit, as far as I could ascertain that spirit, in 
all that I have said. 

As to the special purpose for which your association has 
been formed, I shall add but little to what you have alrea- 
dy heard. It is your high praise, that while too many 
have been, and still are, negligent of their duty, and as it 
seems to me, sealed up in apathy and stupoi', in regard to 
the great object of your society, you, like Mary, have 
done what you could. Go on. Christian sisters, "lie 
not weary in well doing, for in due time you shall reap, 
if you faint not." Often think of the number of immor- 
tal souls, that are every day and every hour passing into 
eternity, from the multitudinous population of India — vi- 
llous, polluted throughout, and totally ignorant of that Sa- 
viour, whose blood alone " cleanseth from all sin." Often 
think on your special obligations to *'Gud who hath called 
you unto his kingdom and glory." Often think on the 
distinguishing and merciful allotment of his providence. 


in giving you birth and education, in a Christian, in- 
stead of a heathen, or Maliomedan land. And while 
you perceive, as you cannot fail to peiceive, that women 
have a peculiar interest in the propagation of revealed 
truth, since the influence of that alone has ever raised 
them to their proper rank in society, and sustained 
them in it, feci that you are under peculiar obligations to 
extend the knowledge of that truth, by all the means in 
your power — to extend it for the benefit of all, but especi- 
ally for the benefit, both temporal and eternal, of your 
own sex. Never was there greater encouragement to pro- 
ceed vs'ith animation and energy in a good work, than that 
which you have already received. The cheering intelli- 
gence has reached you witliin the year past, that on the 
schools of Ceylon, the very schools to which you afford 
your aid, God has most remarkably poured out his Holy 
Spirit. Under his sacred influence, those schools have be- 
come Bochims and Bethels — places of weeping and houses 
of prayer ; houses in v.-hich daughters, as well as sons, 
have, we trust, been born to God and glory. In tliis most 
joyous event, remember that your prayers, and your alms 
have had a happy instrumentality. Go on, then, to pray 
earnestly, and to give cheerfully, for God is with you : 
and before the throne of God and of the Lamb, many of 
the female children of India, shall yet meet you, and bless 
}-ou, and rejoice with you through eternal ages. 

Men and brethren, who hear me on this occasion. Be 
reminded that there is a divine injunction laid on us, in 
relation to the subject which has now been discussed. The 
apostle Paul, speaking as he was moved by the Ploly 
Ghost, has said- — "Help those women that laboured with 
me in the Gospel." Yes, it is the sacred duty of us all, 
to help these female gospel labourers ; to help them with 
our countenance and encouragement, with our prayers and 
our purses, with every aid and every facility which wo 


can afford them, in their benevolent exertions. For whom 
do they labour ? Not more for themselves than for us. 
Nay, in many of these pious labours, they are directly 
helping us ; they are taking a part of that burden on them- 
selves, that used to be borne by us alone. — They are doing 
for us, generously and nobly, a part of our special business. 
And shall there be a creature in the form of a man, so much 
without the spirit of a man, as to hinder, and not help them, 
while thus employed — to mock them with laughter or rid- 
icule, or even to treat them with a cold and discouraging 
neglect? Such a being, I trust there is not in this assem- 
bly. Ah! my brethren, the hour is not far distant, when 
to have helped the cause of God and Christ, in this dark 
and perishing world, — to have helped this sacred cause but 
in a feeble, if it has been an upright manner — will avail us 
infinitely more, than to have received the proudest distinc- 
tions which the world can confer. 

And now, hearers of all descriptions, I call on you to 
help these women, on the present occasion, by a liberal 
contribution to their funds. But think not that I am going 
to address you, for this purpose, in the language and tone 
of a mendicant. I read no such address, no such language, 
in my Bible. Paul indeed sometimes appealed earnestly 
to the liberality of the primitive churches, and sometimes 
warmly commended them for it. But he never presented 
himself before them in the character and style of a beggar. 
No. But he directed Timothy to "charge them that are 
rich in this world — to be rich in good works, ready to dis- 
tribute, willing to communicate." And a greater than Paul 
commended the two mites of a poor widow cast into the 
treasury of the Lord, beyond all the offerings of the rich. 
— Therefore, men and brethren, it is in the name of the 
Lord, unworthy as I am, that I come to you ; and I de- 
liver to you his charge, and not my own, that, for his sake, 
and for your ownsakcs, you help these women who laboui 


in the gospel. I tell you in his name, that the day is com- 
ing that will call you to account before Him, as the judge 
of quick and dead, for the manner in which you shall have 
disposed of all your property — the day when what you 
shall now give, if you give it from right motives, will af- 
ford you more pleasure, than all that you ever spent in lux- 
ury, and show, and superfiuous formal gratification. Give 
then from a pure, a noble, a truly benevolent desire to do 
good. Give thus, I repeat it, for your own sakes, and for 
the sake of your Saviour's precious cause, and as you will 
wish to have done, when he shall say to those on his right 
hand — ! may you and I be there — " Come ye blessed 
of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from 
the foundation of the world : For 1 was an hungered, and 
ye gave me meat : I was thirsty and ye gave me drink : I 
was a stranger and ye took me in : Naked and ye clothed 
me : I was sick and ye visited me : I was in prison and 
ye came unto me— Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye 
have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye 
have done it unto me — Enter ye into the joy of your 
Lord." — Amenv