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Christ sending forth women as His apostles, for the work they had to do, the 'evils they had to grapple with, required stern, hardy characters ; but the services of women were received and appreciated by Him and have been chronicled by the Holy Spirit for our benefit.
In Luke viii. we read" And the twelve were with him. And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance." What a glorious privilege to minister unto Jesus! Yes, my sisters, those women were highly privileged, certainly, but we may share the privilege, for hath not Jesus declared that, “whosoever shall Do the will of God, the same is my brother and sister and mother.” And does not He also say, in clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, visiting the imprisoned, the sick and infirm, helping even the least of those who are His brethren, that we render service unto Him, and that the smallest service rendered in His name shall have its reward. Has not the fragrance of that alabaster box of precious ointment, which was poured upon the head of Jesus by the hands of a loving woman, descended along the stream of time even unto us? It will continue till time shall be no
Was not the widow's mite more lustrous in His eyes than all the treasure which the rich and noble had previously cast in? And one of the finest sermons ever preached, was listened to but by one woman, who, being impressed with the truths uttered, went forth from the presence of the preacher exclaiming, “Is not this the Christ ?" 66. She left her waterpot, went into the city and called upon the men'to come and see Jesus." They obeyed her call; they saw, they heard, they believed that it was indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world, she had summoned them to see. Knowing that we are Christ's and that Christ is ours, should we not, like the woman of Samaria, call upon others to share our
“In the upper room in Jerusalem, where abode Peter and James and the other apostles,” we find them associated “ with one accord in prayer and supplication with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brethren.” When Peter was imprisoned, prayer was made without ceasing by the Church, unto God for him ; and upon his deliverance he at once went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. “And on the Sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made ; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither." These texts appear to us to furnish sufficient evidence that females took part in the prayer meetings, and Paul, in the Corinthians, recognizes their right so to do, by giving instruction concerning the manner thereof. (1 Cor. xi.)
Women may acceptably instruct in Christian verities, even the otherwise learned and accomplished, as Priscilla did the eloquent Apollos. (Acts xviii. 26.) Peter was at Lydda when messengers from Joppa entreated his presence there; upon his arrival he found weeping and sorrow, for Dorcas was dead; she had found a sphere of usefulness and had enshrined her memory in the hearts of the poor and the widowed; her hands had relieved and clothed them, and lovingly they displayed to Peter the garments she had fashioned for them, and sadly lamented her departure. No doubt their hearts were very heavy as they took, as they supposed, a last look at their departed friend and, at Peter's bidding, left him alone with the corpse. But what joy must have been theirs when Peter presented
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her alive to the anxious company! Turning to Romans xvi. we find honourable mention of many female names; commencing with Phæbe, whom Paul speaks of as also a servant of the Church and a succourer of many. Tryphema and Tryphosa, women who laboured in the Lord; and how much we gather of the life of Persis by Paul's brief sentence" Salute the beloved Persis, who laboured much in the Lord.” Few words, but full of meaning. “The beloved.” Depend upon it she was a loving woman, love begets love, and if we manifest love and kindness to others, in time “the beloved " may be applied to us, if, in conjunction therewith there is activity in the Lord's work-Persis laboured much.
Thus, in answer to the question, What can women do in the Church ? we think that, a wide sphere has been marked out, wherein they can acceptably move without taking from man any of his proper work. An able writer thus gives the relative working position of the sexes :-" Men and women both have their spheres of action. It is not my purpose to decide which of these is most important. The circle of human destiny is only complete by the union of the two. We cannot talk of superiority among spheres and duties, where both are alike spiritual. You must not, therefore, begin to say that I am demanding too much of you; that it is man's particular business to push on the great work of which I have spoken. It is man's business just so far as you are unable to do it, and no further. Whenever the work comes within the line of utility for you to act, then it is no longer man's, but yours. Nature is a great economist. Everything within her wide domain is conducted upon the principle of division of labour. Here ten thousand moving energies are all operating in their appointed spheres. No one thing is doing the work of another. The result of this management is harmony everywhere in the physical universe. What is true of all organic, material life, is equally true of all mental or spiritual life. God himself has never done for us what we could do for ourselves, but only that which we could not do. Precisely so should men act toward you; and, whenever you demand anything further, in the same ratio do you weaken your interest and show yourselves unworthy the great trust reposed in you. He is bound to protect you and to provide for you all those things which you are unable to provide for yourself. But, then, you are equally bound to give him those things which you possess and which he is unable to obtain without you. It is an overwhelming fact that, as woman led man away from God through Adam the first, she has been divinely appointed, by Adam the second, to aid in bringing him back again. The religious circle, therefore, is emphatically her homethe sanctum. sanctorum of her earthly tabernacle.'
On the day of Pentecost, the prophecy of Joel is declared to be fulfilled -"Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy , : . and on my servants and on 'my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. Then they that gladly received his word were baptised : and, the same day, there were added unto them about three thousand souls."
From then until now we can trace no distinction between the privileges of male and female disciples; they are called upon to take the same steps -faith, repentance, immersion-introduced into the kingdom it becomes the duty of each to use all legitimate means to bring others into the same position.
Men and women are perishing for lack of the knowledge which will eternally save them; error is rampant and active, while the labourers in
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God's vineyard are few; it is not wise to let the working capabilities of above half our membership lie hidden and unproductive. An earnest, active, intelligent, discreet and loving sisterhood would contribute largely to the prosperity of the cause. Looking upon Church work as devolving upon them equally with the brotherhood, not ignoring their responsibility by pleading their want of weight and influence on account of their sex, but being ready for every good work, they would strengthen the hands ready to fall down, and give fresh vigour to the feeble knees of those who have been labouring long and hard and who are almost overborne by the heat of the fight. Conjointly should they labour to spread the knowledge of the Word of God. He, with firm step, strong. hand and sonorous voice, may mount the platform and the rostrum, stand in the marketplace or on the mountain-top, and proclaim the story of the cross to all whom he can reach—she, with gentle step and pleading voice, can tell to the young the sweet story of old, cheer the sick by loving ministrations, converse upon divine things, lead the infirm to feel strong by realizing their dependence upon Christ, and, by persuasive, sympathizing words, induce the wayward ones to leave the thorny paths of sin's highway to enter into the kingdom of God's dear Son. Should she possess the power for public speaking and the requisite leisure for so doing, there is no line in God's word prohibiting ber from using so rare a talent, but every inducement for her to do so, seeing that the servant who wrapped his talent in a napkin received a severe reprimand from the master. Always keeping in mind the Scriptural command—“Let all things be done decently and in order.” Together, then, unfurl the blood-stained banner of the cross, and bear it onward! Onward, until that number, which no man can number, shall be made up; and the Lord shall come ! Here we must lay down our pen, only reserving space to call upon all who are Christ's to
“Fling out the banner! let it float
Skyward and seaward, high and wide ;
The cross, on which the Saviour died.
That sink and perish in the strife,
And spring immortal into life.
Skyward and seaward, high and wide ;
Our only hope, the Crucified.
Seaward and skyward, let it shine ;
We conquer only in that sign."
THE UNION OF CHRISTIANS & PRESENT DAY MOVEMENTS.
(Continued from p. 364.) In a former number we set forth the main features of our plea for union, in contrast with the more prominent notions and movements in behalf of union now advocated by the religious press. We propose now to notice the more forcible and prevalent objections to this plea.
It is objected that union is impossible on this plea, since we present no
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creed as a basis of union ; and to call people together simply through the force of enthusiasm for union, by a proclamation of "glittering generali
a ties,” will leave us, when the enthusiasm subsides, with a heterogeneous mass, of every shade of theological peculiarity, without the power to hold them to any common centre of unity.
This is worthy of serious attention. We ask serious attention to our reply.
I. Our proposal is, to return to the faith and practice of apostolic times, as before the faith was corrupted or the practice perverted. If, in doing this, we are compelled to abandon all creeds, it will simply prove that the Holy Spirit did not deem a creed necessary, and that the Head of the Church designed to produce union without a creed. We say if—for it remains to be seen whether it is true that the apostolic churches had no creed, and whether the union that we advocate is a creedless one.
We have just that faith in the Divine wisdom that gave us the Gospel and the Church, that we are willing to risk the cause of union on the apostolic basis, whatever that is found to be. To say that union is impossible on that basis, and that human expedients are necessary to supplement or complement the wisdom of God, is an assumption of astounding scepticism and impiety.
But right here, we are told, is the difficulty ; and we are guilty, in our treatment of it, of begging the question in dispute : Christians cannot agree,” says an objector, as to what is the Christianity of the New Testament, and they cannot all accept your interpretation of it as final. You have no right to assume that you are infallibly correct in your interpretation of apostolical Christianity. And you have an interpretation of it; for if the Unitarian were to come to you, on your broad basis of New Testament Christianity, you would not accept him ; nor yet the Quaker, nor the Mormon, nor the Roinan Catholic. So you have a creed, after all—a human interpretation of New Testament Christianity; and it is absurd to suppose that you can bring all Christians to your creed."
We think this is stated as forcibly as the objector would state it. We intend, at least, to make it just as strong and definite as the keenest of objectors could desire. Our object is lost if we have failed in this. We wish to deal with it fairly. Let us say, then
II. That we do not at all propose the union of all religionists, nor even the union of all who profess to be Christians. It is clear as day that there must be some common basis of union other than the mere desire for union, and some universally recognized standard of truth and right other then each individual's whims, caprices or prejudices. Now our proposition is, in its broadest scope
1. To unite those with whom the New Testament is an end of controversy. Mormons, therefore, with their Mormon Bible, are ruled out; so are those who substitute “inner light;" and Unitarians with whom Revelation bows to Reason as final arbiter; and Roman Catholics with whom the Church and Tradition are above the Scriptures. Even Episcopalians, who contend for the Fathers of the early centuries as necessary to complete the authoritative exhibition of church-government, will not accept this basis. They, with all others who prefer human creed-authority or church traditions to the pure word of God, will fail to accept this basis. We propose to unite only those with whom the New Testament is a final appeal in matters of faith and practice. This includes those generally who are known as evangelical, and some that are not recognized as such; but it does not include Unitarians at large. While many of them reverently accept the authority of Christ as final, yet as a people they do not accept
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the New Testament as final authority. Anti-creed, with them, means all creeds, whether called human or divine. Anti-creed, with us, is only Anti-human creeds. Now, that the apostolic churches were without a human creed, is admitted by all. Moreover, that for a century or two, the first attempts at human creeds were mere summaries of Gospel facts and Gospel assurances-such as the so-called apostles' creed-free from all the speculative theology of later times, is also admitted ; and that the church was one and catholic without such an expedient as the creeds of the present time. But the church never was one without the recognition of the apostles' teachings, and the supreme authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. This disposes of the strongest feature of the objection we are dealing with.
But to be still more particular in answering this objection, we observe
2. That we propose only the union of those who accept the Divine Lordship and Christhood of Jesus, the Son of God. The objector may call this a creed, if he will. We cannot now stop to discuss that. Such is the fact : we look no further, at present, than the union of such as admit, in good faith, the divinity of Jesus, as the Son of God God manifest in the flesh-and His Christhood as Prophet, Priest and King, to instruct, redeem, and reign over them. Call this a dogma, if you will. We cannot help it. If we admit dogmatism at all, we admit it right here. We have but one article in our creed, namely, that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.”. We can and must preserve it in its integrity. No “right of private judgment " can be allowed to be set up in opposition to the legitimate import of this as expressive of the divinity of our Lord, His sacrificial work for the redemption of sinners; and His supreme authority as Lord of all. Every man has the right of private judgment, and should be protected in it; but no man has a right to seek membership in a Christian brotherhood, or to profess the faith on which that brotherhood is based, if his private judgment denies the very foundation-truth of the Christian religion. But mark you: while we insist on faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, as essential and fundamental, we repudiate all philosophical and theological speculations and formulas regarding the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; whether Unitarian, Arian, or Trinitarian. Not the Nicene, Athanasian, or any other creed of man's devising, is allowed to come in between the sinner and his Saviour, to entertain or embarrass him with subtle distinctions and speculative dogmas on these ineffably awful and glorious subjects. We insist on the full import of the revelations of the Bible concerning Father, Son and Holy Spirit-and there we stop. Beyond the authoritative utterances of the word of God we are bound to be silent. So also respecting the atonement : we insist on the fact that Christ died for our sins—the just for the unjust—that He might bring us to God, and that as our high priest He made reconciliation for the sins of the people “ in His own body, on the cross.” But as the New Testament propounds nó theory of atonement, we dare insist on none.
Not that there is wrong in inquiring and in reasoning on these high themes; but that such inquiries belong to the schools and not to the church, and should be confined to their proper place without becoming a source of strife and of parties among the disciples of Jesus. To a certain extent, instruction on these points must enter into the teachings of the pulpit; but it should adhere closely to the inspired word, and whenever it becomes inferential should cease to be authoritative.
To place all this in another form ; let us say
III. We have a creed. If you take credo in its etymological sense, as indicating belief, or what is believed, then our creed has just one article,