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THE

GENERAL BAPTIST

MAGAZINE.

NOVEMBER, 1863.

FEMALE AGENCY IN ITS RELATION TO THE CHURCH

OF CHRIST.

BY REV, J. SALISBURY, HUGGLESCOTE. Much has been written during the special work. We cannot now, last half century on Female Agency. however, enter into specific details Woman's mission and ministry is a respecting that which woman has subject of increasing interest. It already accomplished, or even direct is, however, in her relation to the attention to the numerous spheres church, that her capabilities and of philanthropic and evangeliclabour her beneficent efforts have been es- which she has so faithfully and pecially made manifest, and the honourably filled. Nor do we intend value of her agency acknowledged to enter into the discussion of those and appreciated.

controversial questions which have On taking a retrospect of the arisen from the establishment of history of the Christian church we certain female organizations in conlearn that much has been effected nection with the Anglican church. by the pious devotedness of woman. We would express our conviction, During the early struggles and nevertheless, that great evils must triumphs of Christianity we find her necessarily follow the operation of ever ready to do and to suffer. To agencies which, conducted on the her piety, her zeal, her patience, conventual system, are placed under her fortitude, the progress of the the dominant influence of a priesttruth has been, by God's blessing, hood, and are unceasingly subjected to a considerable extent attributable. to ecclesiastical supervision and The Apostolic church availed itself control. However efficient the trainlargely of her instrumentality. The ing for various kinds of benevolent value of her service was so fully work may be; however excellent appreciated by the post-apostolic the opportunities for receiving dichurches that she was often officially rection and instruction; whatever recognized, being publicly appointed may be the advantages arising from and set apart for the performance of the entire consecration of ti

VOL. IV.-NEW SERIES, No, 11.

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and energy to the performance off of their salvation. The wife whose the duties of Christian charity, husband obeys not the word must the conventual system involves endeavour to win him without the in itself not only the rending of word, by chaste conversation, social ties, but so grave an inter- | coupled with fear. In such a case ference also with personal freedom, much faith, patience, and persethat, even for these reasons, irre. verance may be needed, and many spective of any other, we cannot difficulties may lie in the way of the wish for its success. We may learn accomplishment of this most desufficient, from the manner in which sirable of all objects. She may rely, woman has been employed in the nevertheless, upon divine sympathy Romish church, as the miserable and aid in the prosecution of her tool of her ecclesiastical superiors, holy endeavours, and may derive to lead us to look with jealousy upon much encouragement from the all attempts to make her the un- thought that the prayers and efforts questioning instrument of a priestly of the loving woman have been will.

followed in innumerable instances Further: we shall not endeavour | by the reclamation of the most to answer the question whether or abandoned and hopeless. Cases are not woman ought to be set apart also frequently occurring in which by the church to fill certain offices, | believing women, contrary to the or to discharge certain duties for teaching of the New Testament, the performance of which she appears have become united with ungodly peculiarly qualified. The discussion husbands, flattering themselves, of this and other questions would perhaps, with the hope of becoming lead us away from our object. We at some future time, the means of sball try to make our paper as their conversion. Even though the practical as possible, and to adapt Christian law respecting marriage it to the present exigencies of the has thus been violated, and a deep denomination to which we belong. secret conviction may have followed

Let us then inquire, firstly, what that the step was wrong, the hope the Christian woman is capable of of the salvation of the unbelieving effecting in the spheres of family husband ought by no means to be and social relationship in which God abandoned. Obduracy of mind, has placed her.

harshness of treatment, the absence As a Wife she may prove an of any indication that prayer or important agent in the service of effort has been blessed must by no Christ and His church as may be means check the manifestation of indicated by referring to one or two earnest desire for his recovery particular instances in which she from sin, and his return to the love can make her influence felt. It often and service of the Redeemer. In happens that the wife has been con- short, the Christian wife is under verted after her marriage, her the strongest obligation, arising husband still remaining godless, or from the relationship she has con. that a great mistake has been made tracted, to take a lively interest in the respecting his religious character. spiritual welfare of her unconverted In this trying position the godly husband, and to seek its advance. wife must take care lest, by the ment, as by other means, so also indifference of her husband, her by affectionate encouragement and mind be alienated from him and exhortation. amicable intercourse interrupted. As a Mother a sphere is assigned Her duty, as a Christian woman her in which she may put forth her is plain—to endeavour to win him efforts with the assurance (if faithful to God and truth by kindness. The and diligent) of reaping a full reApostle has expressly directed that ward. Every mother is under believers should abide with their obligation, arising from the bodily partners, ever cherishing the hope I wants of her child. She is called

The Christian Woman at Home.

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to educate it. Upon her, as well as of her child, so that she may possess upon her husband, devolve the herself fully of his character and development and training of its mould and fashion his inner nature mental and moral powers. It is by her gentle and persuasive teachincumbent upon her to exercise a ing and influence. If the day is wise and constant supervision, in ever to arrive when the gospel shall order to the suppression of all wrong lay hold upon the youthful intellect tendencies, whether physical, in- and heart with a sweet, a holy, and tellectual, or moral. But there is a mighty influence, that day is to be nothing deserving of the name of brought about chiefly by the instrueducation apart from religion. The mentality of Christian parents. Let words of Dr. Harris will express, Christian mothers, then, be intreated better than our own, the relation to give themselves to their work which the Christian woman sustains with a devotion which accords with to her child as its religious educator. the immense, the eternal * At first the mother stands to the sequences depending upon their child for a religion. His earliest success. piety is mother's love. He sees As a Daughter or Sister the Chris. every thing in her light. His de- tian female ought to prove herself pendence and her support symbolize an agent sanctified and meet for her and prepare him for all that may Master's use, an instrument for follow. Gradually his love radiates effecting much good in the family round and above. Extending his with which she is united. It someregard for her and her injunctions, times happens that she is the only he cannot become aware that they person in the household who is bind his parents also, without feeling brought under the sway of Christian duly conscious that there is some truth. Her parents, if not openly thing greater even than they. And hostile to religion, are indifferent; as one dreamy presentiment after if they attend to its external duties, another wakens up in the depths of they are not imbued with its spirit, his soul be is prepared to look up, and her brothers or sisters are as the material finger points to frivolous and worldly in their general heaven, and to find in God that spirit and temper. In such a case which he had previously found in the position of the Christian daughter her.

or sister may prove exceedingly In order to the careful education trying. She is called to discharge of her child, the Christian mother her devotional and other religious must make it one of the greatest duties without sympathy or and most direct objects of her own couragement from other members of personal efforts. She must avail the family, and instead of being herself of the earliest opportunities cheered in her Christian course by of inculcating right principles, that the loving approval of those so appropriate fruits may follow in the closely related to her, her life must future. Instead of relying too be a continual protest against their much on stated occasions of moral worldliness, and a continual resist. and religious instruction (though ance to the tide of evil influences these are not to be undervalued) her which threatens to hinder her reown loving and genial guidance and ligious progress. In a position so influence must be unceasing and isolated, and also when other memuniversal. She must spare

no bers of the family sympathize with pains to keep right views cou- her in her religious convictions, the tinually before him, and to give path of duty is plain. If she is a right feelings the perpetual pre- daughter, let her act in all things dominance in his mind. She as a Christian daughter, that her must remember, too, that she cannot parents may feel the power of bring her mind into intercourse too her example, and profit by her intimate and familiar with the mind | Christian consistency. If she is a

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sister, her unconverted brothers and concerns them, a dead immoveable sisters ought to be able clearly to silence, and which for the world perceive that true religion is her they cannot break. And though ornament and guard, that she is posting on to eternity together, yet daily living under its influence, and on all the prospects and all the that it is the means of ennobling preparations for eternity their lips hercharacter, regulating her temper, are sealed, and whilst, on every and impelling her to the cheerful other partnership, whether of in. discharge of all duty. There is, terest or feeling, there is the frankest in her case, great need of caution, and easiest communication, yet on when, the bounds of moral propriety this mightiest interest of all, each are overstepped by other members wraps himself in his own im. of the family, lest a sanctimonious pregnable disguise and positively and bitter spirit be manifested. By dares not lay it open. It is so the exhibition of such a spirit she singular that it almost looks like a must not forget that she will repel satanic influence a sorcery by rather than attract. Mindful, then, which the prince of darkness obof these cautions, it behoves her structs this sort of reciprocal interthoughtfully, prayerfully, and ha-change in families, lest his kingdom bitually to consider what she can do, should suffer by ita device by by personal and direct effort to which he guards the very approaches secure the conversion and otherwise of conversation, and so scares the to promote the spiritual good of the devout and desirous Christian away beloved ones among whom God from it, that he stands speechless has thus appointed her daily to live andawe-strickeneven in the presence and minister. She has here, a of his brother.' Courage must be mission to fulfil, the duties of which exercised by the Christian daughter

ever pressing. An important or sister, or by other Christian field of Christian effort is allotted to members of families, in order to get her in which she may daily serve at the most vital and personal con. her Lord by her humble endeavours cerns of the souls of their relatives. to lead parents, brothers, or sisters, Let stiffness, austerity, and gloom to obedience to the faith. It must be be carefully shunned in making all admitted that the Christian daughter such attempts. Love ought to be is often chargeable with grave neg; the moving spring and principle of lect. Whilst the Sabbath-school and action. The Christian female in the other Christian institutions secure family, ought, however, never to her sympathy and help, the claims rest satisfied till she can assure of those who dwell with her in the herself that her chief desires and same home and are united to her by anxieties for those most dear to her the dearest ties, are overlooked. are really and unquestionably en. Though some or all of them are gaged about their spiritual and without God, deep and anxious con- everlasting welfare. cern for their spiritual welfare is Looking now over the borders of allowed to abate, if it was ever pre- the family, there may be many to dominant, and free and confidential wbom the Christian female is spiritual intercourse with her ardently attached and with whom nearest relatives on the things be- she is intimately acquainted, on the longing to their everlasting peace is ground of kinship. Here a wide restrained. We are not alone in our sphere is afforded for the manifestaconviction as to the prevalence of tion and genial expression of Christhis evil. By an inexplicable pecu- tian affection, and good opportunities liarity of temperament,' says Dr. are given, during repeated interviews Chalmers in his Lectures on the and mutual visits, for sowing the Epistle to the Romans, 'do the seed of heavenly truth. What nearest relatives often maintain Christian woman can rejoice that on that topic which most nearly I all her kindred, according to the

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Christian Mistresses and Governesses.

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flesh, are in Christ. She must know As the time of many Christian that many among them, even of her females is occupied with the work own sex, are still living under the of instruction, as governesses or sway of corrupt and worldly prin- teachers of public schools, they ciples. If then, she would faithfully surely need not be told that in. serve her Lord, she must take care numerable occasions offered not to descend to the low standard them of making their influence felt, of conduct adopted by her uncon- of which they ought (if they would verted relatives. In all her inter- meet their Christian responsibilities) course with them, her life, Christ- fully to avail themselves. Next to like and invariably consistent, must the parent the governess or teacher bear witness to the ennobling and has freer access than any other sanctifying power of true godliness. person to the hearts and minds of She will thus be able to exert such the young. To her a great work is influence over the godless and intrusted. To discharge her duties worldly that the kind expostulation in a careless perfunctory manner, and the urgent admonition and regardless of the spiritual well-being entreaty will be regarded as the of the children committed to her natural expression of her inner charge, is to sin grievously. She feeling, and thus be the can daily inculcate right principles, likely to secure attention and ap- check depraved and vicious tendenpreciation.

cies, show by plain and simple Glancing again at the household, illustrations and examples the rewe would just hint that Christian sults of good or evil conduct, insist mistresses, since they have had the upon the importance of personal opportunity of holding frequent faith in the ever living Redeemer, intercourse with their domestics, and present the religion of Christ may be very useful in this depart to the attention with such attractivement of Christian work. A kind ness that, through the blessing of and considerate Christian mistress God, early impressions of the right will not be satisfied with securing kind may be made, and the foundathe personal comfort of her servant, tion of a holy, happy, useful Chrisbut will also be desirous to lead her tian life effectually laid. Though into the path of life, commending we have cause for lamenting that the profession of Christianity by the moral and religious education of her own example. Domestic servants the young is in many instances are quick in discerning the incon- seriously overlooked, yet we rejoice sistencies of professedly Christian that, in not a few, the self-denying masters or mistresses, and in in. efforts of female teachers and numerable instances, such incon- governesses have been productive sistencies are held to be sufficient of most encouraging results. Our reasons for their own persistent thoughts are at this moment directed rejection of the truth. It is a to several persons in the circle of shame, a great shame, that servants own friends who were first should have the occasion given them brought to religious decision through to urge such pleas. On the other the faithful and affectionate efforts hand we could give many instances of those with whom their education in which the Christian mistress, was for a time intrusted. They living to God and cherishing a deep are now useful members of the interest in the spiritual welfare of church of Christ and ornaments to her servants has at length been able their religious profession. Let the to rejoice in their conversion. Thus governess or school teacher, then, the already existing bond has been take courage from such indications strengthened, and lasting obligation of God's blessings, and never forget has been ever afterwards felt and whilst engaged in the communicaacknowledged by those who once tion of the rudiments of knowledge, resided in her family.

that the religious welfare of those

our

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