Pictures and Illustrations.
This book is the outgrowth of an article prepared by me in compliance with the request of my good friends the Editors of The Homiletic Monthly.
Its length went beyond the prescribed limits, and it overflows into these pages, accompanied by testimony collected by me from men and women preachers, and enriched by the criticism of Dr. Van Dyke, the learned Presbyterian, who is replied to by Dr. Townsend, the equally learned Methodist theologian.
Wishing to learn the opinion of three ministers than whom none living are more devout, more gifted or renowned, I wrote asking what they thought about "Woman in the Pulpit." The following replies will be of interest to their millions of readers in all lands. I count myself fortunate to be able to introduce this little book
6with the approving and brotherly words of these great men, and I beg a patient and unprejudiced attention, not only to their words but to the words of all the witnesses that follow them. With an earnest prayer that Christ's blessed kingdom in the earth may be advanced a little by the considerations herein urged, I can but repeat the well known and half-pathetic words, "Go, little Book, I cast thee on the waters, go thy way."
FRANCES E. WILLARD.
EVANSTON, ILL., April 10, 1888.
DEAR MISS WILLARD, — Thanks for your letter, which is on my table like a great glow of sunshine.
About the subject of woman's preaching, let me say that I do not think the story of the Gospel will be fully told until Christian women all round the world tell it. There is a tenderness and a pathos and a power in woman's voice, when she commends pardon and sympathy, which the masculine voice can never reach. My pulpit is always open to women, and when they have preached there the impression has always been deep and good and lasting.
As taking some garbled report of one of my sermons as a genuine report, I have been represented as opposed to woman's suffrage; let me say that I am in favor of having the vote put in woman's hand. I want the experiment made, although I have not as much faith as some have in its power to correct the evils of the day.
But I cannot see why women should be called on to pay tax for the support of government, when they are not allowed the opportunity of expressing at the ballot-box what that government shall be.
May the blessing of Almighty God rest perpetually on your voice and pen. Yours, etc.,
T. DE WITT TALMAGE.
DEAR MISS WILLARD, — What constitutes a providential call to a woman to be a preacher?
Let me cite a single unembarrassing example, fairly typical of thousands of cases occurring in both Christian and pagan fields of effort.
In a beautiful city on the Inland Sea of Japan, I once met, in company with my wife, a young lady whose distinctively feminine refinement and sensitiveness, conjoined with remarkable intellectual and spiritual endowments, made even her silent presence an inspiration. She was of New England birth, training, and instincts. That lady writes as follows in a recent periodical:—
"... I have been teaching English to men and boys, as well as to women and girls. In June I had in the neighborhood of three hundred of the former under my regular instruction in different ways. The work was forced upon me...
Teaching men is not hard work. I have had teachers, higher policemen, merchants, bankers, and students all come to learn, and they have treated me most politely, even deferentially. Of course, I receive a great many presents, a great deal being Japanese candy, which is often very beautiful to look upon. They do not expect to hire a missionary, and would not insult me by offering money as pay, but I have received considerable for missionary purposes. I used ten yen (silver dollars) to pay travelling expenses on missionary trips, instead of drawing from the Board. I have been enabled in this way to help four struggling churches, and to put our Christian newspaper into the railroad stations. Some have been led into the churches, and all have heard the essential truths of Christianity. I have had many very strong Buddhists and a few priests among my most attentive and devoted scholars.... If I followed my own inclination, I would spend every moment in work for women; but I have been shown by the Holy Spirit, through the work that I have been forced into, that missionary work for the world must inseparably entwine the women's work with the men's, and equally the men's work with the women's. My public talks, or lectures, were simply my woman's meetings enlarged; as my room became overcrowded I had to go into the preaching-place, and then the men asked to sit behind the women and listen. I could not refuse, for with our Lord's Word in my hand I knew I could give them better than they could get anywhere else, and also many would come to hear me who would not attend a meeting conducted by a Japanese. It is no harder to talk to a mixed audience than to women when one gets used to it.... ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.’" (Miss Colby, of Osaka, Japan, in Life and Light for Woman, March, 1888, p. 87.)
There are no proof texts known to me which would convince me that this missionary lady had not a divine call to be a preacher as well as
12teacher; or that she did wrong in obeying the exigencies of her position.
To him or to her who knoweth to do good and doeth it not, it is a sin. By their fruits ye shall know them — both man and woman — as preacher or teacher. Whether woman shall enter the pulpit or not is a question which I, for one, believe that we are to decide by these Scriptural rules and in the light of detailed and prolonged experience.
Woman's sphere has enlarged so vastly within a recent period that her success in spheres analogous to the pulpit may be fairly quoted as an indication of her fitness for many branches of the sacred profession. She who has written Uncle Tom's Cabin or Aurora Leigh certainly does not lack mental, moral, or spiritual fitness for the ministry. No one thinks of denying woman's right to preach in print; why may it not be that some women have a divine call to preach in the pulpit? Woman as lecturer has won a high place in great reformatory movements. If the womanliness and queenliness of a Mrs. Livermore, a Mrs. Leavitt, a Mrs. Hunt, have not been diminished, but rather ennobled and glorified by their prolonged and varied work on the platform, why should it be by the work of the pulpit? If woman has often physical strength, as these examples show that she has, to address great audiences and to suffer the
13fatigues of travel, why has she not physical strength enough to bear the burdens of a preacher and pastor? I see no good reason for denying that some and perhaps many women have eminent natural endowments for the ministry. Woman's spiritual and intellectual and social qualities certainly do not disqualify her for this work, nor in many cases do her physical limitations forbid it.
There is now an increasing amount of work done for woman within both Christian and missionary fields, and much of this woman can herself do far better than man. Woman is woman's natural helper. And yet, other things being equal, there is a most subtle difference between the spiritual help an audience of men receives from a woman's speech and that which it would receive from a man's speech. It is fair to say that, as there is much work that man can do for woman better than woman can do the same work, so there is much work that woman can do for man better than man could do it.
What Scriptural authority can be quoted of greater weight than the divine command not to keep a light under a bushel, or talents in a napkin? Undoubtedly the home is woman's chief sphere; but if remarkable spiritual and intellectual gifts indicate a divine call to any woman to be an author, a lecturer, or even a preacher, how is she to find excuse for disobedience to such indications of Providence?
It would in nearly every case be better, no doubt, that woman as a preacher, as well as man as a preacher, should be married; but there are exceptions to this rule that have been justified by experience, both as to man and as to woman.
If woman is to enter the pulpit, she must of course prepare for its work with as much thoroughness as man does; if she once takes up the tasks of the ministry, she must show that she can perform them, or some part of them at least, as well as man does. The stern law of the survival of the fittest will be sure to prevail in this department of the struggle for existence as well as elsewhere.
Hand in hand, man and woman build the home; hand in hand they ought to build the state and the church. Hand in hand they left an earthly Paradise Lost; hand in hand they are likely to enter, if at all, an earthly Paradise Regained.
Yours, with great respect,
BOSTON, March 8, 1888.
TYNEHOME, LYNDHURST GARDENS,
SOUTH HAMPSTEAD, N&DOT; W&DOT;, LONDON.
I have perused Miss Willard's article on Woman-Preaching with absorbing interest. Woe betide the ill-equipped exegete who crosses the path of this peaceful warrior, or the deceitful logician who attempts to palm upon her a false conclusion. I feel that Miss Willard holds an invincible position, scriptural and experimental, upon this subject, and that it will be much more difficult to answer her argument than to sneer at it. I cannot but feel that women have a greater Christian work to do than many of us have yet realized or admitted, and that they have it to do for the simple reason that they are divinely qualified to do it. Men may have a certain degree of argumentativeness, and an undoubted skill in making Christ's Gospel peculiarly hard to be understood, but they have not the sacred tact, the melting pathos, the holy patience, the exquisite sympathy, which belong to the omnipotent-weakness which is the incommunicable characteristic of womanhood. I confidently look to women who have received the heavenly gift to recall and reestablish the heroic and sacrificial piety of the Church.
THE CITY TEMPLE, LONDON.
I. The Letter Killeth.
The First Congregational Church organized in New Jersey ordered its chorister "not to allow any females to sing in the choir, because Paul had commanded women to keep silence in the churches." This is the most illustrious instance, so far as I know, of absolute fidelity to a literal exegesis concerning woman's relation to public worship. By the same rule of interpretation, Luther and Washington must have treasured up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath when, in church and state, they severally proceeded to "resist the power," for it is declared (Rom. xiii. ) that "whosoever resisteth the power resisteth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation." This anathema is based upon the statement that "there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God," and hence follows the command, marvelously sweeping and conclusive, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers."
18A similar degree of reverence for the letter furnished the argument upon which excellent ecclesiastical authority claimed the divine origin of African slavery, for does not Paul say, in Ephesians vi. 5, "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart as unto Christ;" (and "bond-servants" is clearly the meaning as stated in the eighth verse).
Side by side with the method of exegesis which would enforce this literal view, and promulgated by the same class of exegetes, is another, which may be called the method of playing fast and loose, and which is thus illustrated: —
In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. v.) there is a specific command not to strike back when one is struck; not to go to law; to give to him that asketh; not to turn away from him that would borrow; and to suffer people to be divorced for one cause only; yet every one of these precepts coming from Christ himself is specifically and constantly violated by pastors and people, and without penalty. In the Gospel of John (xiii.) Christ explicitly states one of the duties of his disciples in the following language: "Ye call me Master, and Lord, and ye say well: for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have
19done to you." But I know of only one small sect that is loyal to this command.
In 1 Cor. vii., Paul sets forth a doctrine that, literally interpreted, certainly elevates celibacy above marriage and widowhood above remarriage, but exegetical opinion does not coincide with the great Apostle, neither does the practice of the church, else not one of its adherents would be alive to state the fact; nor have Protestant clergymen been known to manifest the least reluctance of conscience in performing the marriage ceremony in general, or in taking marriage vows upon themselves, nor has such reluctance become apparent when a widow was thereby involved in taking a second marriage vow.
In establishing the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, we know, beyond a peradventure, that Christ used unleavened bread. But while hundreds of disquisitions have been written to prove that he didnot use unfermented wine, I have yet to learn of a Protestant exegete who prescribes it as our duty to furnish unleavened bread, or a pastor who provides it, and yet none dispute its presence at the table where the ordinance was instituted. Nevertheless, many of the same clergymen insist on fermented wine, "lest we should disregard our Saviour's plain example and command, and put him to an open shame."
In 1 Tim. ii. 9, Paul says: "I desire... that
20women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefastness and sobriety; not with braided hair, and gold or pearls or costly raiment;" and adds, "Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness. For Adam was first formed, then Eve." But our exegetes and pulpit expounders, while laying the most solemn emphasis upon the last part of this command as an unchangeable rule of faith and practice for womankind in all ages and in all places, pass over the specific commands relative to braided hair, gold, pearls, and expensive attire, and have a thousand times preached to women who were violating every one of them, without uttering the slightest warning or reproof.
In Genesis, the Lord says to Cain, the elder brother, speaking to him of Abel, "Unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him," but our exegetes do not find here divine authorization of an elder brother's supremacy, and yet they construe the same expression when the Lord speaks to Eve, as the assertion, for all time, of a woman's subjection to her husband; moreover, they do this in face of the explicit declaration that God said, "Letus make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion...so God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created hethem."
Take the sixth chapter of 1 Cor. and note its explicit and reiterated commands to Christians never to go to law, beginning with Pauline vigor: "Dare any of you?" Where is the "sweet reasonableness" of gliding softly over these inspired mandates, and urging those of the eleventh chapter in the same epistle as though they formed part of a creed for the subjection of women? My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
In presence of these multiplied instances, and many others that might be named, what must a plain Bible reading member of the laity conclude? For my own part, I long ago found in these two conflicting methods of exegesis, one of which strenuously insisted on a literal view, and the other played fast and loose with God's word according to personal predilection, a pointed illustration of the divine declaration that "it is not good for man to be alone." We need women commentators to bring out the women's side of the book; we need the stereoscopic view of truth in general, which can only be had when woman's eye and man's together shall discern the perspective of the Bible's full-orbed revelation.
I do not at all impugn the good intention of the good men who have been our exegetes, and I bow humbly in presence of their scholarship; but, while they turn their linguistic telescopes on truth, I may be allowed to make a correction for the
22"personal equation" in the results which they espy.
Study the foregoing illustrations, and find in them one more proof of that "humanness of the saints," which is a factor in all human results. Given, in heredity and environment, an established theory of the subjection of woman, and how easily one finds the same in Paul's epistles; given an appreciation of the pleasantness of wine, and how naturally one dwells upon the duty of its use at the communion, to the exclusion of special thought about the duty of retaining anything so tasteless as unleavened bread; given the charm that men find in "stylish" dress, carefully arranged hair, and beautiful jewelry, as shown in the attire of women, and it becomes perfectly natural that they should not censure these manifestations, but expatiate, instead, upon the more pleasing theory of woman's silence and subjection. Given the custom of being waited on, and slavery is readily seen to be of divine authority; given the unpleasantness of washing people's feet, and that hallowed ordinance speedily passes into innocuous desuetude; given the fathomless quantity of unconscious selfishness still regnant in good men, and the heavenly precepts of the Sermon on the Mount become "largely tinctured with oriental imagery, and not to be taken in their severely literal sense;" given in the dominant sex the quenchless love of
23individual liberty, and Luther finds a way of interpreting in harmony with his purpose texts which he cannot ignore, and Washington, in face of these same texts, is conscious that he does God's service; given the resistless force of attraction between man and woman, and Paul's special precepts about celibacy are powerless as the proverbial straw in presence of the imperious Niagara.
From all of which considerations the plain way-faring woman cannot help concluding that exegesis, thus conducted, is one of the most timeserving and man-made of all sciences, and one of the most misleading of all arts. It has broken Christendom into sects that confuse and astound the heathen world, and today imposes the heaviest yoke now worn by woman upon that most faithful follower of Him who is her emancipator no less than humanity's Saviour. But as the world becomes more deeply permeated by the principles of Christ's Gospel, methods of exegesis are revised. The old texts stand there, just as before, but we interpret them less narrowly. Universal liberty of person and of opinion are now conceded to be Bible-precept principles; Onesimus and Canaan are no longer quoted as the slave-holder's main-stay; the theory of unfermented wine as well as bread is accepted by our temperance people generally; the great Russian writer, Count Tolstoi, stands as the representative of a school
24that accepts the precepts of Christ's Sermon on the Mount with perfect literalness, and theologians, not a few, find in the Bible no warrant whatever for the subjection of woman in anything.
Exegesis is defined as being "especially the scientific interpretation of the Holy Scriptures." It is in no sense an inspired work, but grows in breadth and accuracy with the general growth of humanity. For instance, it seems to us almost incredible that St. Augustine "thought it his duty to guard especially the whole theory of the waters above the heavens," or that St. Ambrose declared that "the firmament is a solid vault, and the thunder is caused by the winds breaking through it," and taught that if the vault revolved this "water is just what is needed to lubricate and cool its axis." In like manner Tertullian and his disciples contended that lightning is identical with hell-fire, and adduced, in proof thereof, the sulphurous smell attending it. Scripture texts were made the basis of all this, and St. Augustine declared that "nothing is to be accepted save on the authority of Scripture, since greater is that authority than all the powers of the human mind."
Even in our own enlightened days, so great a scholar as Dean Alford, in his commentary on the New Testament, has the following addition to the "Curiosities of Literature" (1 Cor. xi. 5), which is here given to show the straits to which a
25learned exegete is reduced when prejudice and literalism meet in his mind to produce a cyclone of absurdities: —
"Woman, if she uncovers herself (that is, unveils) in such an assembly, dishonors her head, that is, the man,...by apparently casting off his headship, and if this be so, the Apostle proceeds, why not go farther and cut off her hair, which of itself is a token of this subjection? But if this be acknowledged to be shameful (it was a punishment of adulteresses), let the further decency of the additional covering be conceded likewise. Man is God's glory; He has put in him His Majesty, and he represents God on earth; woman isman's glory; taken from the man, shining not with light direct from God, but with light derived from man... ‘For this cause,’ on account of what has just been said (in preceding verses), by which the subordination of woman has been proved, the woman ought to have power on her head (that is, the sign of power or subjection; shown by the context to mean a veil)....The token of power indicates being under power, and such token is the covering. Because of the angels, that is, because in Christian assemblies the holy angels of God are present and delighting in the due order and subordination of the ranks of God's servants, and by a violation of that order we should be giving offence to them."
Now, let any reasonable human being read this exegesis, and remember that two-thirds of the graduates from our great system of public education are women; that two-thirds of the teachers in these schools are women; that nearly three-fourths of our church members are women; that through the modern Sunday-school women have already become the theological teachers of the future church; and that,per contra, out of about sixty thousand persons in our penitentiaries
26fifty five thousand are men; that whiskey, beer, and tobacco to the value of fifteen hundred million dollars per year are consumed almost wholly by men; and then see if the said reasonable human being will find much mental or spiritual pabulum in the said learned exegesis. A pinch of common sense forms an excellent ingredient in that complicated dish called Biblical interpretation, wherever it is set forth at the feast of reason, especially if it is expected at all to stimulate the flow of soul!
A reasonable exegesis could never so have stumbled. The modern impulse toward "real facts," which has already reconstructed the science of medicine, is today doing the same for the science of theology. In olden time the "quintessence of toads" was prescribed for the cure of cancer, a serpent's skin steeped in vinegar for toothache, and wrapping the patient in scarlet was the professional remedy for small-pox. Analogies not less grotesque prove that in the realm of exegesis the wildest fancies have in many instances usurped the throne of reason.
The devil's first argument with the Lord was based on a Scripture quotation, and in the meshes of a quotation he entangled Eve. But when a greater than Solomon was here, he answered Satan's "it is written" by his divine "Again it is written," thus teaching us to compare Scripture with Scripture.
Perhaps the difficulties in the way of literalism may be best set forth in tabulated form, showing the Bible's "it is written again": —
|1 Tim. ii. 11."But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness."
||Judg. iv. 4, 5."Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, she judged Israel at that time... And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment."||Gal. iii. 28."There can be no male and female; for ye are all one man in Christ Jesus."|
|1 Cor. xiv. 34."Let the women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak."||Joel ii. 28, 29."And it shall come to pass afterward... that your... daughters shall prophesy,... and upon the handmaids will I pour out my spirit."||1 Cor. xi. 5."But every woman praying or prophesying with her head unveiled dishonoreth her head."|
|1 Cor. xiv. 35."It is shameful for a woman to speak in the church."||Luke ii. 36-38."And there was one Anna, a prophetess,... which departed not from the temple, worshipping with fastings and supplications night and day. And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks unto God, and spake of him to all them that were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem."||Phil. iv. 3."I beseech thee also... help these women, for they labored with me also in the Gospel."|
|1 Tim. ii. 11."Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection."||Acts xviii. 26. "Apollos… began to speak boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscillaand Aquila heard him they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more carefully." [This seems to have been the first theological school.]||Rom. xvi. 3, 4. "Salute Prisca and Aquila, my fellow-workers in Christ Jesus, … unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles."|
|1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35. "Let them be in subjection, as also saith the law. And if they would learn anything let them ask their own husbands at home."||Acts xxi. 9, 10."Now this man [Philip the Evangelist] had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy, And as we tarried there many days" [i. e., Paul and his company].||1 Cor. xi. 11."Howbeit neither is the woman without the man, nor the man without the woman in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, so is the man also by the woman; but all things are of God."|
|1 Cor. xi. 3. "The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God."Eph. v. 23."For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is head of the church."||John i. 1, 3.>"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that hath been made."John xiv. 9."He that hath seen me hath seen the Father."Col. ii. 9."In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." John x. 30."I and the Father are one."||Rorn. xvi. 1."I commend unto you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant
And yet, be it noted, the same theologians who would outlaw as unorthodox any one who did not believe Christ an equal member of that Trinity of which the Supreme Creator of the world is one (declaring Him to be "very God of very God," etc.) do not only preach but practise the heresy that woman is in subjection to man,
Take the description of men's babbling, tumult, and confusion, as given in the fourteenth chapter of 1 Cor., and imagine that a woman's meeting had been therein described; would not the ages have rung with an exegesis harrowing to the soul of woman? But who ever heard this unseemly behavior of men referred to as the basis of the doctrine for man's subjection to woman, or as the basis of a binding rule of church discipline in reference to the conduct of the men in public worship?
'Twixt Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee!"
Reasoning from the present customs of oriental countries, we must conclude that places of worship, in the age of the Apostles, were not built as they are with us, but that the women had a corner of their own, railed off by a close fence reaching above their heads. It was thus made difficult for them to hear, and in their eager, untutored state, wholly unaccustomed to public audiences, they "chattered" and asked questions. Upon this light foundation behold a doctrine built that would subject and silence two-thirds of Christ's disciples in the free and intelligent English-speaking world!
As woman's prophesying (literally, "speaking forth") is plainly authorized, let us inquire what this word means. Alford, who certainly does not lean to our side of the question, says "The foretelling of future events was not the usual form which their inspiration took, but that of an exalted and superhuman teaching...the utterance of their own conscious intelligence informed by the Holy Spirit." "The prophets give utterance in glowing and exalted but intelligible language to those things which the Holy Spirit teaches them, and which have the power to instruct, comfort, encourage, rebuke, correct, stimulate their hearers."
31"He that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification and exhortation and comfort;" verse 4: "He that prophesieth edifieth the church." And in view of the foregoing statements, and the careful directions of the Apostle as to the manner of dress of women when they prophesied, or preached, 1 Cor. xi. 5, there can be no doubt that they did preach in the early church. But these points will hardly be emphasized as we could wish until women share equally in translating the sacred text. That they should do this is most desirable, and young women of linguistic talent ought to make a specialty of Hebrew and New Testament Greek in the interest of their sex.
32(male) missionary was asked the reason of this, and he naively replied, "Oh, it would not do, with the ideas of the Chinese, to mention women in this connection."
Who can tell what weight a similar motive may have had with transcribers of the New Testament in the uncultivated ages of the early church? Indeed, in translating the word elsewhere called "deaconess," and indicating a high office in the church, as "servant," when it applies to Phebe, evidence of this tendency is given.
Why not insist upon the deliverance "which seemed good unto the Holy Ghost and to us to lay upon you (the Gentiles) no greater burden than these necessary things — to abstain from meats offered to idols and from things strangled and from blood?" We are Gentiles, but surely our consciences would not be wounded by eating meat set before an East India idol, partaking of a chicken that had had its neck twisted, or of a steak so "rare" that blood was palpably present therein. Indeed, ministers are famous for doing some of these very things!
The same writers who exhaust the resources of language to deride the dogma of apostolic succession rigidly enforce that of the male priesthood, for which the Bible gives them just as little warrant. Their hierarchy is man-made from first to last. When Luther disavowed it, the deed was
33done forever; but the tendency of man's mind, unchecked by woman's, to run riot in the realm of force, is seen in the rank ecclesiasticism of the very church which to-day bears Luther's name. The call of the Apostles (whose supreme authorization, "whose soever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them, and whose soever sins ye retain they are retained," no Protestant minister claims to have received) was no clearer than that which came to the one hundred and twenty in the Pentecostal chamber, and in that number women were clearly and indisputably included.
The man who argues that, "Adam being first formed," woman should be in perpetual subjection to the one who, before she was created, was warned against eating of the tree of knowledge, who sinned by her side, and was dismissed with her from Eden, should remember that this literalness of rendering makes it his personal duty, day by day, actually to "eat his bread in the sweat of his face." The argument is a two-edged sword, and cuts both ways.
Time would fail me to tell of Miriam, the first prophetess, and Deborah, the first judge; of Hannah, whose answered prayer brought Samuel to be the hope and stay of a dejected nation; of Esther, the deliverer of her people; of Judith, their avenger; of the gracious group of Marys that clustered around her who was blessed among women; of
34Elizabeth, and Anna; of Martha, and those "daughters of Jerusalem" who lamented while men crucified the world's Redeemer; of Lois and Eunice, who trained Timothy for the ministerial office; of "Tryphena and Tryphosa and the beloved Persis." Suffice it to say that these all stand forth the equal stewards with their brethren of God's manifold grace.
There are thirty or forty passages in favor of woman's public work for Christ, and only two against it, and these not really so when rightly understood. But, in the face of all these embodied arguments, it is objected that Paul specifies (in 2 Tim. ii. 2) men only as his successors: "And the things that thou hast heard of me, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." But the word translated "men" is the same as that in the text, "God now commandeth men everywhere to repent," and even the literalists will admit that women are, of all people, "commanded to repent"! But here comes in again the "fast and loose" method of interpretation; for preachers almost never refer to the women of their audiences, but tell about "men," and what "a man" was and is and is to be. A most amusing instance of this one-eyed way of looking at an audience occurred in Georgia, where I once attended a meeting in the "week of prayer," and the good (young) Presbyterian pastor, in an
35audience of perhaps half a dozen men and seventy or more women, kept saying "brethren." When rallied upon this afterward, by a white-ribbon lady of his parish, he very seriously answered, "Certainly, I said ‘brethren;’ and if there had been no one present but women, I should have said ‘brethren’ still. I was so instructed in the theological seminary, and so I do." But it never occurred to this excellent young man, nor to his theological professors, that by parity of reasoning women should be included in every prerogative accorded to the "brethren" by the New Testament! Christ called no Gentile and no colored man, but this lack of a precedent has never been urged against either. In woman's case alone is it made to do duty, and we shall find later on that if he called anybody whatever, he called those belonging to the same class represented by his only earthly parent.
Much is made of the word "subjection" (in 1 Tim. ii. 11 and 1 Pet. iii. 1). But it occurs in another place where all members of the church are meant, "Yea, all of you be subject one to another." That is, strive all to serve each other. The same word is in Eph. v. 21, and is applied to men: "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God."
The New Testament has no record of a woman's meeting. That dreary institution is a witty invention
36of modern hierarchs. "They were all with one accord in one place" when Christ sent the promised Pentecost. A "female prayer-meeting" in those days was a species as unknown as "female religion" itself. Regenerate hearts are of the common gender, and, under the original dispensation of the Master, so are the ministers of the regeneration. It is left for Fulton Street prayer-meeting, with its modern Sanhedrim, to quench the spirit and to despise prophesyings unless uttered in a bass voice. A learned pastor wrote as follows in a scholarly exegetical treatise, "We do sometimes find a man's head on a woman's shoulders, but it is a great misfortune to her." Such an utterance from a man of intelligence and kindness would be a distinct form of blasphemy were he not too much the victim of denaturalizing theories to intend it otherwise than as a friendly warning to women of intellectual power. For such a view reverses nature's order. Life sleeps in minerals, dreams in vegetables, wakes in animals, and speaks in man. If it be a misfortune to a woman to have unusual reasoning powers, then it is better to dream than wake; then a tadpole is better off than a thinker, and a trilobite outranks both in the scale of being and of blessedness. All such utterances are bowlders in the rushing stream of thought; relics of that reign of force which hastens to be gone; fossils
37that will be pointed at with incredulity by the manhood of the Gospel Age now at our doors.
If they would be consistent, all ministers who accept the evolution theory — and a majority of them seem to have done so — must admit that not only was woman made out of better material than man (which they doubtless will cheerfully grant!), but that, coming last in the order of creation, she stands highest of all.
In life's prime and pride men like to quote "Adam was first formed, then Eve," but at the grave they are ready to declare that "man, born of woman, is of few days and full of trouble."
The whole subjection theory grows out of the one-sided interpretation of the Bible by men. God declares a fact that man in his lapsed estate will rule over woman; but God does not speak with approbation of this act, and the whole tenor of the Scriptures is to show that in Christ the world is to be restored to the original intent of its creation when "there shall be no more curse." Pushed to its logical conclusion, this literal theory of subjection proves too much, as it is illustrated by the passage, 1 Pet. v. 5: "Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility." Eph. v. 21: "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God."
A stream cannot rise higher than its source, and it is rank disloyalty to the race when any
38man asserts that the possession of unusual reasoning powers is a misfortune to a woman. As late as 1874, in the Sarah Smiley case, the Brooklyn Presbytery reaffirmed in the following language a decision of the General Assembly dating back to 1837: "This Presbytery having been informed that a woman has preached in one of our churches,
A general and deep-seated peculiarity of human nature is illustrated in the foregoing "deliverance." The position, in fact (never formulated, of course, by any ministerial association, and probably not realized by our honored brethren), is just this: Christian women are at liberty to work in any way that does not interfere with ecclesiastical prerogative, and does help to build up the interests of the church, financially or spiritually.
39It is a whimsical fact that men seem comparatively willing that women should enter any profession except their own. The lawyer is willing that they should be doctors, and the doctor thinks they may plead at the bar if they desire to do so, but each prefers to keep them out of his own professional garden-plot. This is true of ministers with added emphasis, for here we have the pride of sex plus the pride of sacerdotalism. "Does a woman think to rank with me?" That is the first question, and the second is like unto it as to its animus: "Does a woman think she has a right to stand with me in the most sacred of all callings?" But if the purest should be called to purest ministries, then women, by men's own showing, outrank them in actual fitness for the pulpit, and the fact is that woman's holiness and wholesomeness of life, her clean hands and pure heart, specially authorize her to be a minister of God. So much for the negative side. Now for the positive.
II. The Spirit Giveth Life.
Christ, not Paul, is the source of all churchly authority and power. What do we find him saying? How did he deal with women? In the presence of the multitude, he drew from Martha the same testimony that he required of his Apostles, and she publicly replied, almost in Peter's very words, "Yea, Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world." He declared his commission to the woman at the well of Samaria, with an emphasis and a particularity hardly equalled in any of his public addresses, and her embassy was abundantly rewarded. What pastor would not rejoice to hear such words as these: "Now we believe, not because of thy saying, for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world."
It is objected that he called no woman to be an apostle. Granted, but he himself said that he chose one man who had a devil; is this a precedent? One is half inclined to think so, when one reads the long record of priestly intolerance, its culmination being the ostracism of Christ's most faithful followers from their right to proclaim the
41risen Lord, who gave to Mary the first commission to declare his resurrection. True, he did not designate women as his followers; they came without a call; from their sex he had his human origin; with the immeasurable dignities of his incarnation and his birth, only God and woman were concerned; no utterance of his marks woman as ineligible to any position in the church he came to found; but his gracious words and deeds, his impartation of his purposes and plans to women, his stern reproofs to men who did them wrong, his chosen companionships, and the tenor of his whole life and teaching, all point out precisely the opposite conclusion. Indeed, Luke explicitly declares (viii. 1, 2, 3) that, as "he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God," "the twelve were with him, and certain women," among whom were "Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance."
What a spectacle must that have been for the "Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites." What loss of caste came to those fearless women, who, breaking away from the customs of society and traditions of religion, dared to follow the greatest of Iconoclasts from city to village with a publicity and a persistence nothing less than outrageous to conservatives of that day.
Verily, Devotion, thy name is Woman!
Not she denied him with unholy tongue;
She, while apostles shrank, could danger brave,
Last at his cross, and earliest at his grave."
Christ's commission only is authoritative. To whom did he give it after his resurrection, until which time the new dispensation was not fairly ushered in? If we are to accept specific statements, rather than the drift and spirit of the inspired book, as conclusive of a question involving half the human race, let us, then, here take our stand on our Lord's final words and deeds. It is stated (Luke xxiv. 33) that the two disciples to whom Christ appeared on the way to Emmaus "returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, ‘The Lord is risen, indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.’" Be it understood that women used this language, the women "which came with him from Galilee." It was "them that were with them" (i.e., with the eleven), who were saying, "The Lord is risen indeed."
While they were thus assembled and talking of the wonderful experience of that day, Jesus appeared again, saying, "Peace be unto you." Let us turn to John xx. 19-23, where we have an account of this same appearance of Christ to his
43disciples for it says explicitly (after stating that Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord), "Then the same day at evening... Jesus stood in the midst and saith unto them, Peace be unto you; as my Father hath sent me even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whosesoever sins ye remit they are remitted unto them, and whosesoever sins ye retain they are retained." These, then, are his words spoken to the eleven and "them that were with them." He then "opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures," and declared that "repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem," and declared, "ye are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you, but tarry ye in Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy."
Does any reasonable person suppose that His mother was not there, or that the other Marys were not? or the great company of women that
44had ministered to Him? But we are not left in doubt. Turn to Acts i. 13-14. After stating Christ's command that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, "For ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence," after which "Ye shall be witnesses unto me unto the uttermost parts of the earth;" and after giving a brief account of the Resurrection, this passage occurs "Then returned they unto Jerusalem, and when they were come in, they went up into an upper room where abode both Peter and James and John ... these all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication with the women, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place ... And they wereall filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." Then Peter said :"This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and on my servants and on my handmaids I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy." Paul proves that prophesying may be preaching when he says (1 Cor. xiv. 3): "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification and exhortation and comfort." Well said Gamaliel of this new
45dispensation: "If this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to naught; but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found to fight against God."
Let not conservative ecclesiastical leaders try to steady the Lord's ark; let them not bind what God hath loosed; let them not retain the bondage he hath remitted, lest haply they be found to fight against God!
"We want the earth," is the world-old motto of men. They have had their desire, and we behold the white male dynasty reigning undisputed until our own day; lording it over every heritage, and constituting the only unquestioned "apostolic succession." Only one thing can end the dire enchantment we are under, and that is to know the truth, for truth alone makes free. And the truth of God, a thousand times repeated by the voice of history, science, and every-day experience, resounds louder to-day than in all preceding ages: "It is not good for man to be alone!" Suppose it be admitted that the dual-natured founder of Christianity, in whose character the force that smote the money-changers of the temple was commingled with the love that yearned to gather Jerusalem as a hen gathers "her chickens under her wings," chose as his apostles the only ones who in that barbarous age would be tolerated in preaching it. Be it remembered that Protestantism
46recognizes the apostles as having had no successors. Hence, any argument built on man's primacy as related to them and the manner of their choosing falls to the ground. It is curious, considering certain exegetical literalism, that their method of choosing by lot should not have been insisted upon as a part of the divine order!
In the revolt from Roman license, the clergy early declared woman a delusion and a snare, banished her from the company of men who aspired to holiness, and, by introducing the denaturalizing heresy of a celibate clergy, made it impossible for the doctrine of God's eternal fatherhood to be so understood by the preacher that it should become vital in the hearer's heart. It is men who have defrauded manhood and womanhood, in the persons of priest and monk and nun, of the right to the sanctities of home; men who have invented hierarchies, enthroned a fisherman as God's vicegerent, lighted inquisitorial fires, and made the Prince of peace a mighty man of war. It is men who have taken the simple, loving, tender Gospel of the New Testament, so suited to be the proclamation of a woman's lips, and translated it in terms of sacerdotalism, dogma, and martyrdom. It is men who have given us the dead letter rather than the living Gospel. The mother-heart of God will never be known to the world until translated
47into terms of speech by mother-hearted women. Law and love will never balance in the realm of grace until a woman's hand shall hold the scales.
Men preach a creed; women will declare a life. Men deal in formulas, women in facts. Men have always tithed mint and rue and cummin in their exegesis and their ecclesiasticism, while the world's heart has cried out for compassion, forgiveness, and sympathy. Men's preaching has left heads committed to a catechism, and left hearts hard as nether millstones. The Greek bishop who said, "My creed is faultless, with my life you have nothing to do," condensed into a sentence two thousand years of priestly dogma. Men reason in the abstract, women in the concrete. A syllogism symbolizes one, a rule of life the other. In saying this I wish distinctly to disclaim any attack upon the clergy, any slighting allusion to the highest and holiest of callings; I am speaking only of the intolerant sacerdotal element that has handicapped the church from the earliest ages even until now, and which has been more severely criticised by the best element in the church than by any words that I have penned.
Religion is an affair of the heart. The world is hungry for the comfort of Christ's Gospel, and thirsty for its every-day beatitudes of that holiness which alone constitutes happiness. Men have lost
48faith in themselves and each other. Boodlerism and "corners" on the market, greed of gain, passion for power, desire for drink, impurity of life, the complicity of the church, Protestant as well as Papal, with the liquor traffic, the preference of a partisan to a conscientious ballot, have combined to make the men of this generation faithless toward one another. The masses of the people have forsaken God's house, and solace themselves in the saloons or with the Sunday newspaper. But the masses will go to hear women when they speak, and every woman who leads a life of weekday holiness, and has the Gospel in her looks, however plain her face and dress may be, has round her head the sweet Madonna's halo, in the eyes of every man who sees her, and she speaks to him with the sacred cadence of his own mother's voice. The devil knew what he was doing when he exhausted sophistry to keep woman down and silent. He knew that "the only consecrated place on earth is where God's Spirit is," and that a Christian woman's heart enshrines that holy Guest more surely than many a "consecrated" pulpit.
Men have been preaching well-nigh two thousand years, and the large majority of the converts have been women. Suppose now that women should share the preaching power, might it not be reasonably expected that a majority of the converts under their administration would be men?
49Indeed, how else are the latter to have a fair chance at the Gospel? The question is asked in all seriousness, and if its practical answer shall be the equipping of women for the pulpit, it may be reasonably claimed that men's hopes of heaven will be immeasurably increased. Hence, one who urges the taking-off of the arbitrary ruling which now excludes woman from a choice portion of her kingdom may well claim to have manifested especial considerateness toward the interests of men.
The entrance of woman upon the ministerial vocation will give to humanity just twice the probability of strengthening and comforting speech, for women have at least as much sympathy, reverence, and spirituality as men, and they have at least equal felicity of manner and of utterance. Why, then, should the pulpit be shorn of half its power?
To the exegesis of the cloister we oppose that of common life. To the Orientalism that is passing off the stage, we oppose modern Christianity. In our day, the ministers of a great church
50seated on the safety-valve of that mighty engine, Progress. In our day, all churches, except the hierarchical Presbyterian, Episcopal, and Roman Catholic, have made women eligible as members of their councils, leaders in their Sunday-school systems, in several cases have set them apart to the ministry, and in almost all have opened their pulpits to them; even the slow-moving Presbyterian having done this quite generally in later years, and the Episcopal, in several instances, granting women "where to stand" in its chapels, outside the charmed arc of its chancel-rail.
Whoever quotes to the intelligent and devout women of the American church to-day the specific instructions given by Paul to the illiterate and immoral women of Corinth does so at the expense of sound judgment, not to say scholarship. An exegesis so strained and so outworn is on a par with that which would pronounce the Saviour of the world "a glutton and a wine-bibber," because the Pharisees, when he came eating and drinking, declared him to be such.
The lifeless prayer-meetings, from which women's voices are excluded, are largely given over to perfunctory, official prayers, and the churches that still quote "He shall rule over thee" as a Gospel precept are deserted by the great humanity that beats its life along the stony streets. "Behold, your house is left unto you
51desolate" is the requiem of empty pews that would be full if men and women stood side by side at the church, as they are now fast learning to do at the home altars. For the "man of the house" to do all the praying is to deprive the children of one of life's most sacred ministries — that of their mother's voice in prayer and in the giving of thanks for daily food. Observation in a great variety of homes convinces me that this joint leadership in household worship is being largely introduced. Probably the extreme of masculine prerogative in this regard was illustrated in an Eastern town some years ago, when a boy of twelve was called in from his play to say grace over the lunch prepared between meals for his young lady cousin, a guest newly arrived. The incident is perfectly authentic, and the act was entirely consistent and devout, upon the theory of man's divinely constituted primacy in matters spiritual.
"Behold, I make all things new" was the joyful declaration of woman's great Deliverer. "He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised." Above all other beings these words must refer to woman, who, without Christ, lies prostrate under society's pitiless and crushing pyramid. Whether they perceive it or not, it is
52chiefly ecclesiasticism and not Christianity that Robert Ingersoll and Elizabeth Cady Stanton have been fighting; it is the burdens grievous to be borne that men have laid upon weak shoulders, but which they themselves would not touch with one of their fingers. Christ knew that this would be; he had to place the treasure of his Gospel in the earthen vessels of selfish human hearts. But that treasure is like the leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of meal until the whole was leavened.
"Behold, I make all things new;" "the letter killeth, the spirit giveth life." These are his words, who spake not as man speaketh; and how the letter killeth to-day, let the sectarianism, the sacerdotalism, and the woman-silencing of the church bear witness. The time has come when those men in high places, "dressed in a little brief authority" within the church of Christ, who seek to shut women out of the pastorate, cannot do so with impunity. To-day they are taking on themselves a responsibility in the presence of which they ought to tremble. To an earnest, intelligent, and devout element among their brethren they seem to be absolutely frustrating the grace of God. They cannot fail to see how many ministers neither draw men to the Gospel feast, nor go out into the highways and hedges seeking them. They cannot fail to see that, although
53the novelty of women's speaking has worn off, the people rally to hear them as to hear no others, save the most celebrated men of the pulpit and platform; and that especially is it true that "the common people hear them gladly." The plea, urged by some theologians with all the cogency of physiological illustration, that woman is born to one vocation, and one alone, is negatived by her magnificent success as a teacher, a philanthropist, and a physician, by which means she takes the part of foster-mother to myriads of children orphaned or worse than motherless. Their fear that incompetent women may become pastors and preachers should be put to flight by the survival of the church, in spite of centuries of the grossest incompetency in mind and profligacy in life, of men set apart by the laying-on of hands. Their anxiety lest too many women should crowd in is met by the method of choosing a pastor, in which both clergy and people must unite to attest the fitness and acceptability of every candidate.
Formerly the voices of women were held to render them incapable of public speech, but it has been discovered that what these voices lack in sonorosity they supply in clearness, and when women singers outrank all others, and women lecturers are speaking daily to assemblies numbering from one to ten thousand, this objection
But some men say it will disrupt the home. As well might they talk of driving back the tides of the sea. The mother-heart will never change. Woman enters the arena of literature, art, business, what you will, becomes a teacher, a physician, a philanthropist, but she is a woman first of all, and cannot deny herself. In all these great
55vocations she has still been "true to the kindred points of heaven and home;" and everybody knows that, beyond almost any other, the minister is one who lives at home. The firesides of the people are his week-day sanctuary, the pulpit is near his own door, and its publicity is so guarded by the people's reverence and sympathy as to make it of all others the place least inharmonious with woman's character and work.
When will blind eyes be opened to see the immeasurable losses that the church sustains by not claiming for her altars these loyal, earnest-hearted daughters, who, rather than stand in an equivocal relation to her polity, are going into other lines of work or taking their commission from the evangelistic department of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union? Or are they willing that woman should go to the lowly and forgotten, but not to the affluent and powerful? Are they willing that women should baptize and administer the sacrament in the zenanas of India, but not at the elegant altars of Christendom? Are they aware that thou-sands of services are held each Sabbath by white- ribbon women, to whom reformed men and their wives have said: "We will come if you will speak. We don't go to church, because they have rented pews, and because we cannot dress well enough; but we'll come to hear you"? Have
56they observed that W. C. T. U. halls, reading-rooms, and tabernacles for the people are being daily multiplied, in which the poor have the Gospel preached to them? Do they know that the World's W. C. T. U. with Margaret Bright Lucas, of England, at its head, is steadily wending its way around the globe, and helping women to their rightful recognition as participants in public worship and as heralds of the Gospel?
To ministerial leaders who have been profoundly impressed by the difficulties of the question, "Shall women be ordained to preach?" another question is hereby propounded: "Shall women ordain themselves?" When Wesley urged the Bishop of London to send out a bishop to the Methodist societies in America, that functionary turned aside with disdain — the societies were so few and the country so far. Wesley, loyal churchman though he was, then yielded to demands he could no longer ignore, and consecrated Thomas Coke a bishop, who in turn consecrated Francis Asbury, the first Methodist bishop in America. That decision of the intrepid founder of Methodism cost the Episcopal Church its future in the New World, as time has proved. History repeats itself. We stand once more at the parting of the roads; shall the bold, resolute men among our clergy win the day and give ordination to women, or shall women take this
57matter into their own hands? Fondly do women hope, and earnestly do they pray, that the churches they love may not drive them to this extremity. But if her conservative sons do not yield to the leadings of Providence and the importunities of their more progressive brothers, they may be well assured that deliverance shall arise from another place, for the women of this age are surely coming to their kingdom, and humanity is to be comforted out of Zion as one whom his mother comforteth.
The National Woman's Christian Temperance Union has a department of evangelistic work, of Bible Readings, of Gospel Work for railroad employes, for soldiers, sailors, and lumbermen; of prison, jail, and police-station work; each of these departments being in charge of a woman called a national Superintendent, who has an assistant in nearly every State and Territory, and she, in turn, in every local union. These make an aggregate of several thousands of women who are regularly studying and expounding God's Word to the multitude, to say nothing of the army in home and foreign missionary work, and who are engaged in church evangelism. Nearly all of this "great host" who now "publish the glad tidings" are quite beyond the watch-care of the church, not because they wish to be so, but because she who has warmed them into life and nurtured them into
58activity is afraid of her own gentle, earnest-hearted daughters.
The spectacle is both anomalous and pitiful. It ought not to continue. Let the church call in these banished ones, correlate their sanctified activities with her own mighty work, giving them the same official recognition that it gives to men, and they will gladly take their places under her supervision.
There is hardly an objector who does not say, "I would be willing to hear Mrs. or Miss Blank preach but then they are exceptions; if we open the flood-gates, we cannot tell what may happen." But have you ever opened the flood-gates to men? and certainly your dread of the unseemly behavior of Christian women (the most modest and conservative of human beings!) will lead you to greatly increased caution when their cases are being passed upon. The dominant sex has proved itself able to keep women-incapables out of the
59medical and the teachers' professions, and surely it will stand on guard with double diligence lest they invade the place where are declared the holy oracles. The whole difficulty is one of the imagination and vanishes when individualized, as it would necessarily be in practice, by the separate scrutiny of Conference and Synod upon each separate case.
"Oh, it must come, and let it come, since come it must, but not in our day." Why not in yours, my brother? The day in which it comes will be the most glorious one since Christ started the church based on his resurrection, by commissioning Mary to bear the gladdest tidings this dying world has ever heard: "Behold, he is risen! "
The time is hastening, the world grows smaller; we can compass it a thousand-fold more readily than could any previous generation. Within five years, so we are told by leading railroad authorities, we shall be able to go around the globe in forty days, and to go accompanied by all the security and comfort of our scientific and luxurious civilization. Women can do this just as readily as men. Then, let us send them forth full-panoplied; let us sound in their gentle ears the "Take thou authority" of the church's highest tribunal, that untrammelled and free they may lift up the standard of Christ's cross on every shore, and fulfill that wonderful and blessed prophecy (Ps. 1xviii. 11, R. V. ): "The
60Lord giveth the word. The women that publish the tidings are a great host."
Of all graceless sights this is most graceless: the unseemly word-wrangle of a man against women, or of a woman against men. In all that I have herein said, I would be understood as speaking only of men as they were, and as they doubtless had to be, in times passing and past. Few men are so great that official position does not diminish the sturdiness of their individuality and the fearlessness of their utterances. The air of libraries has less of ozone than that of outdoor life, and a great exegete is ofttimes made at the expense of a great man. But it would ill become me as a woman to forget that if men want the earth, women are enough like them to be content with nothing less than half of this bewitching planet; and that if we are coming to our kingdom, we have our brothers largely to thank, for is not possession nine points of the law, and did they not early foreclose the mortgage given at Eden's gate, and gain possession of the globe in its entirety?
It was our big brother, Man, who, at the banquet of Minerva, said to his sister, "Sit down beside me." And since he said it, we have gone dutifully to school. It was he who read our books and encouraged us to write more. It was he who listened to us on the platform and applauded
61every good thing we said; it is he who invites us to his counsels, ministerial, educational, medical, and philanthropic; he who must let us into the pulpit if we enter, as we know we shall, and that ere long; he who must swing wide the door to the throne-room of government, and bid us share his regal seat as joint rulers with him of this republic. In short, there are men — and men. Why should not those of largest magnanimity do all that they have done and more for us? Are not their wives and daughters women? Did not their earliest and holiest purposes dawn upon them in the mirror of a mother's loving eyes?
It has been my good-fortune to be, by tradition and training, largely moulded in thought by two co-education schools — Oberlin College and the Northwestern University, at Evanston, Illinois. Both of these institutions admit women to the study of theology, and Garrett Biblical Institute (the theological department of the latter) has women students now, and has given a woman its diploma, to whom her young ministerial classmates voted the valedictory. This Institute was founded by one woman, and its time-honored "Heck Hall" is named for another, who was the foundress of American Methodism. Women have been proverbial for their financial liberality toward schools of the prophets, little dreaming that they were but "laying up in store for themselves a good
62foundation against the time to come," when they should be prophets themselves.
But even my dear old mother-church (the Methodist) did not call women to her altars. I was too timid to go without a call; and so it came about that while my unconstrained preference would long ago have led me to the pastorate, I have failed of it, and am perhaps writing out all the more earnestly for this reason thoughts long familiar to my mind.
Let me, as a loyal daughter of the church, urge upon younger women who feel a call, as I once did, to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, their duty to seek admission to the doors that would hardly close against them now, in any theological seminary, save those of the Roman, Episcopal, and Presbyterian churches; and let me pleadingly beseech all Christian people who grieve over the world's great heartache, to encourage every true and capable woman, whose heart God has touched, in her wistful purpose of entering upon that blessed Gospel ministry, through which her strong yet gentle words and work may help to heal that heartache, and to comfort the sinful and the sad "as one whom his mother comforteth."
III. The Earth-borne Argument.
But there are many ministers and other thoughtful men who, while their mental outlook is not bounded by a traditional exegesis, find substantial difficulty in reconciling the vocations of minister and mother.
Perhaps no difficulty borrows its dimensions more largely from the imagination. It has not prevented women physicians, whose life is certainly much more exposed, from making a magnificent success in their profession; witness Dr. Mary Putnam Jacobi, Dr. Clemence Lozier, Dr. Sarah Dolley, and a hundred other noted names. It did not prevent Elizabeth Fry from taming the savages of Newgate prison, nor Mrs. Josephine Butler from traversing England, France, and Italy as an evangel; nor Mary A. Livermore from dwelling in camps and hospitals during our civil war; nor Hannah Whitall Smith from declaring to assembled thousands the unsearchable riches of Christ. We can trust the delicate instincts of a Christian mother to guard herself and her audience alike from the least unseemliness. But the sacredness of her vocation, the protection of the
64pulpit itself, the readiness with which she could procure the assistance of a temporary substitute, all render the circumstances even less difficult for a woman-minister than for most other women who enter upon public life. How small is the interruption involved by motherhood in the duties of healthy women, from the lowly estate of the laundress to the loftiness of the lady of fashion; how little has it figured as an interruption of the menial duties of the Indian woman, the European peasant, or the wage-worker of our own land. Its colossal significance dawns upon the masculine mind only when mothers would invade territory hitherto consecrated to the privileged sex alone!
Elsewhere in these pages is given the testimony of a woman-minister, twenty-five years in the pastorate, the mother of several children, who lost less time than almost any other pastor in the same town. Physicians, whose opinions will be quoted on the other side, are apt to gauge all women by the invalids whom they attend, and to discount their fitness for varied pursuits by concentrating attention on the temporary disabilities involved in the pursuit of motherhood. But this is as unfair as if we judged childhood by its appearance at teething-time, or all men by the specimens we see in hospitals. Nor is it fair to take as a basis in this calculation the average American woman as she appears to-day, deteriorated by the corset habit
65and the senseless costume, of which high-heeled shoes and draperies equally hideous and unhealthful are salient features. Perhaps no one progressive movement would do more to set before the people models of the modest and simplified toilet sure to be insisted on in candidates for ministry and pastorate than the admission to the pulpit of such women. Possibly a reasonable dress reform will find its fortress there.
The influence of the two most exalted possible vocations — that of a mother and a minister — combined in one personality ought, by the laws of heredity and pre-natal influence, immeasurably to spiritualize and exalt the nature of her children. Of such might well be born philanthropists and poets. If the refinement, sympathy, and sweetness of the womanly nature, as men describe it, fit women especially for the sacred duties of the pastoral office, and these qualities are raised to their highest power by the relationships of wife and mother, as all must grant who have not forgotten the priestesses of their own early homes and present firesides, then, other things being equal, that woman who is a mother and a wife is, above all others, consecrated and set apart by nature to be a minister in the household of faith. Viewed without prejudice, this position is invulnerable. Were the decision now to be made, for the first time, as to the being on this earth who could best
66comprehend and most movingly depict the mystery of God manifest in the flesh, conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, who would not say that being was a mother? Were the pains of Him who died that we might live to be described in accents suited to melt the stoniest heart, who would not say that she who had felt eternity's cold breath upon her forehead, while she suffered pangs untold that another life might be, was, of all human beings, the one prepared and consecrated for a mission so divine?
In the very nature of the case, Incarnation and Vicarious Sacrifice — the two cardinal beliefs of Christendom — can never be so convincingly borne to the world's heart as from the lips that have blanched with agony, while, with groanings that cannot be uttered, the speaker learned, even upon the purely human plane, what those words, incarnation and vicarious sacrifice, do really mean. The more it is studied, the more will it be proved that our holy faith can have no human ally so invincible as she who, with strong crying and tears, has learned the sublime secrets of pain and pathos that only mothers' hearts can know. The heart of manhood will be stirred to its most sacred depths by preachers and pastors such as these, while the materialistic objector, who in thoughtless ignorance urged as a hindrance that which was the most heaven-given help, will go and beg his
67mother's pardon that he ever had a thought so thoroughly unworthy of herself and him.
On this subject a leading woman preacher writes as follows: —
"‘Is not motherhood an insuperable barrier to the pastorate and pulpit?’
"An insuperable barrier! assuredly not. A healthy woman; mentally alert, capable, and well balanced; educated for her profession, and intent upon pursuing it perseveringly but with good sense, might become the mother of many children within a quarter of a century, yet during that period accomplish a vast amount of excellent ministerial and pastoral work. For the following twenty-five years, the discipline and wisdom taught her by maternity, with its prolonged lessons of self-abnegation and deepened sympathies, might fairly compensate her parish for any previous disabilities.
"It is not the kinds or the amounts of work, but the methods of working, which must be reconstructed if mothers are to share practically in carrying on the various vocations and professions. A parish which demands forty-eight Sundays of work in a year, with due allowance of week-day ministrations, intermittently bestowed through eleven working months, would hardly appreciate such spiritual gifts as an earnest matron might afford to any parish, with immense gain to her parishioners, to husband and children, and to herself.
"Women cannot live by bread alone even when they themselves are bread-makers. Husbands and children starve also, year by year, on chaffy supplies which the house-mothers measure, ample in quantity, but profitless in quality. An average pastor's machine-sermons and machine-parish-routine nurture his flock in sterile pastures with no
better fare than the average home-bread. Business everywhere becomes a machine-run-mania; and the business world starves in its scramble for husks, which swine alone can thrive upon as a steady diet.
"Now, can any one believe, as students of human nature, its possibilities and its needs, that a good and strong woman, privileged to rest in her own home, — sheltered, beloved, protected, outside of the worry, the turmoil, and the cares of life, — waiting the ever new miracle of the coming life, may not be stirred to her soul's depths with thoughts grand, high, and holy enough to be worthy to overflow into all the hearts around her, in streams of healing, comfort, or inspiration?
"The mother's privileges are exceptional. If required to be cook, laundress, seamstress, and nurse-maid; if burdened with urgent duties of any kind, she, her children, and the world are all defrauded. Saved from undue calls upon her strength, she ought to rise to clear and vivid perceptions of religious truth. The hopes, encouragements, assurances, and consolations of religion might well become a valuable reality to any parish through her interpretations, public or private. No man can be guided into the light of immortality through the same tender and solemn pathway.
"How unwisely, then, have mankind rejected the noblest development of the woman-nature! How suicidal to have steadily repressed both the exercise and the expression of her thoughts! Civilization has either forced her to wield the muck-rake, when she is fairly entitled to gather flowers in the spring sunshine, or it has filled her hands with shining baubles, encouraging her only to prattle about her foolish treasures, and to think only of them to the hurt of her own life and the belittling of every trait of character in her children. Unborn generations have a right to demand of parents and of the community the best possible conditions for their development.
"A steady pastorate, a pulpit which she may supply or leave to other teachers, as she herself shall elect, possibly might offer conditions as favorable lo the best powers of a well balanced young matron as any which can be devised.
"Every church also needs the lesson of self-helpfulness; and its members occasionally may be most edified by preachers from abroad, bringing with them a fresh breath of life from the wider world outside. The details will easily adjust themselves to the circumstances, as women, young and old, come more and more into the ministry. The example, if one could be happily set in this direction by ministers and people, with associated harmony, would help to make all business-life less an unending treadmill. Change, rest, a healthy variety of interests, is the most imperative need of the present busy generation.
"A barrier surmounted may rise into a fortress of strength when it becomes the background of future activities."
In Senator Henry W. Blair's new book on "The Temperance Movement," he states the general argument so well from another point of view that an extract is here made by his permission. It will be easy to trace the analogy between the Senator's reasons why mothers should vote to the reasons why mothers should also preach — if they desire and are qualified to do so.
"But it is said that the duties of maternity disqualify for the performance of the act of voting. It cannot be, and, I think, is not claimed by any one, that the mother, who otherwise would be fit to vote, is rendered mentally or morally less fit to exercise this high function in the State
because of motherhood. On the contrary, if any woman has a motive more than another person, man or woman, to secure the enactment and enforcement of good laws, it is the mother, who, beside her own life, person, and property, to the protection of which the ballot is as essential as to the same rights possessed by man, has her little contingent of immortal beings to conduct safely to the portals of active life through all the snares and pitfalls woven around them by bad men and bad laws which bad men have made, or good laws which bad men, unhindered by the good, have defied or have prostituted, and rightly to prepare them for the discharge of all the duties of their day and generation, including the exercise of the very right denied to their mother. Certainly, if but for motherhood she should vote, then ten thousand times more necessary is it that the mother should be guarded and armed with this great social and political power, for the sake of all men and women who are yet to be. But it is said that she has not the time. Let us see. By the best deductions I can make from the census and from other sources there are 15,000,000 women of voting age in this country at the present time, of whom not more than 10,000,000 are married, and not more than 7,500,000 are still liable to the duties of maternity, for it will be remembered that a large proportion of the mothers of our country at any given time are below the voting age, while of those who are above it another large proportion have passed beyond the point of this objection. Not more than one-half the female population of voting age are liable to this objection. Then, why disfranchise the 7,500,000, the other half, to whom your objection, even if valid as to any, does not apply at all; and these, too, as a class the most mature, and therefore the best qualified to vote of any of their sex?
"But how much is there of this objection of want of time or physical strength to vote in its application to women who
are bearing and training the coming millions? The families of the country average five persons in number. If we assume that this gives an average of three children to every pair, which is probably the full number, or if we assume that every married mother, after she becomes of voting age, bears three children, which is certainly the full allowance, and that twenty-four years are consumed in doing it, there is one child born every eight years, whose coming is to interfere with the exercise of a duty or privilege which, in most States, and in all the most, important elections, occurs only one day in two years. That same mother will attend church at least forty times yearly, on the average, from her cradle to her grave, beside an infinity of other social, religious, and industrial obligations which she performs and assumes to perform because she is a married woman and a mother, rather than for any other reason whatever.
"Yet it is proposed to deprive women — yes, all women alike — of an inestimable privilege and the chief power which can be exercised by any free individual in the State, for the reason that on any given day of election not more than one woman in twenty of voting age will probably not be able to reach the polls.
"It does seem probable that on these interesting occasions if the husband and wife disagree in politics they could arrange a pair, and the probability is, that arrangement failing, one could be consummated with some other lady in like fortunate circumstances of opposite political opinions. More men are kept from the polls by drunkenness, or, being at the polls, vote under the influence of strong drink, to the reproach and destruction of our free institutions, and who, if woman could and did vote, would cast the ballot of sobriety, good order, and reform, under her holy influence, than all those who would be kept from any given election by the necessary engagements of mothers at home."
The average preacher almost never mentions women. "A man must do so and so;" "when a young man starts out in life his aim must be thus and thus;" "a youth should trust his father's God" — this method of discourse is familiar to women's ears as the Doxology or Benediction. But when women themselves speak, they represent not world-force so much as home-force; the home includes both man and woman, youth and maiden, boy and girl; hence it is natural to women to make all feel themselves included in the motherly utterance that not only remembers but recognizes all.
IV. Testimony of Preachers Who are Men.
As has been said, in the proportion that any church approaches the dimensions of a hierarchy, the admission of women to the priestly class becomes difficult; but the progressives are multiplying among the clergy, and thousands of them are well-nigh as dissatisfied with the present condition of things as are the women whose opinions this book attempts to voice.
A new class of theologians, dowered with what may be justly called the dual powers of man and woman in their perception and interpretation of the sacred oracles, are doing valiant service as interpreters of the passages so long supposed to teach the subjection of women. One of these, a prominent pastor in a large city, spoke thus, in bidding the Woman's Christian Temperance Union welcome, at the holding of a national convention: —
"When I was a younger man, I had the bitterest prejudices against woman's work in public, but I am converted from all these, and to-day I welcome you with all the cordiality that my heart knows. In those days there were two passages from St. Paul which I believed with all my heart,
and they were these: ‘Take a little wine for thy stomach's sake,’ and ‘Let your women keep silence in the churches.’ This was about all the Scripture that I then had use for, but I accepted S.. Paul as orthodox on these two points, which constituted my system of theology. But the more I have looked at these words and sought to know what they mean, the more I have found that the apostle was not on my side of either of these questions. I am now sure there was more of prejudice than of Scripture authority in the views which I once held."
Another, who is the leading pastor of his denomination in New England, has this deliverance: —
"I always start in my study of the Scriptures with the key-thought that the Bible is both just and rational. If in some things it is above or beyond, it is never contrary to reason. And I certainly believe, with Dr. Adam Clark, that women, under the blessed spirit of Christianity, have ‘equal rights, equal privileges, and equal blessings with men, and, let me add, they are equally useful.’
"I am opposed to every form of wholesale ‘class legislation,’ and the effort to legislate a woman into place or out of place, in business or church or state, simply because she is woman. I regard precisely as if such legislation had reference to men. In the nature of the case, all such legislation has its origin in prejudice, and not in the everlasting principles of equity. ‘The wisdom that is from above is without partiality and without hypocrisy.’ It is time the Book as well as the books were cleared of all class legislation, and things allowed to take their course. In all matters of usefulness, individual qualifications are the test for men; so let them be for women. If Paul is quoted against this
plain, common-sense view of the case (1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35), I can only say that I believe it is the flippant misuse of this Scripture, and not Paul's real meaning, which is made to argue against woman's privilege in the church of Christ.
"We should take the New Testament back to the country in which it was written and spoken, if we would interpret it aright. In my judgment, the apostle was simply calling attention to a proper decorum for women in the matter of public disputation. Without going into all the learned comments upon this Scripture, I may say that I think Paul was silencing a particular kind of speech, or a particular kind of woman. Surely Paul is himself the best possible commentator upon Paul. In 1 Cor. xiv. 5, he recognizes woman's public ministry in these words: ‘Every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head.’ He here simply prescribes, in accordance with local customs, how she shall make an acceptable appearance upon the occasion of prayer or prophecy. Surely the apostle would not contradict himself, nor the appointments of the church, for there had been prophetesses in the church, and there were now deaconesses, and Paul joined the women in their public ministry in the very churches which he himself founded, even ‘entreating’ his true yoke-fellow to ‘help those women which labored with me in the Gospel.’ Moreover, if it were silence he meant, then it was silence absolute; but no one maintains this; the whole history of the church, old and new, is against such interpretation."
A theological teacher, who has more students in New Testament Greek than any other now living, recently made this declaration: —
"Women are the natural teachers and preacher of the race."
He also said: —
"No true translation of the Bible can be made until men and women work it out together. We want the motherhood of God to shine out in its pages, and women alone know how to make it shine."
Another minister, who reaches, editorially, several hundred thousand readers per month, and is foremost among the leaders of a great denomination, sends me the following: —
"I believe women should be authorized as ministers in the church of God, and the following points explain why I hold this belief: —
"First. A man has no greater natural or spiritual rights than a woman to serve at the altars of the Church, as a minister of the Gospel. If a woman possesses gifts, graces, and usefulness, she occupies the same vantage-ground before the world, and is under the same obligations to God, that we find in the life of a man who is properly inducted into the ministry.
"Secondly. This world must have more of woman's presence and power in the office of the Christian ministry, to wake it up and convert it to God. Men ministers are converting the women, as five women in the Church to one man indicates; now let us have a woman ministry, and we shall see the men converted. There is a profound problem here, that we have too long overlooked.
" Thirdly. If women can organize missionary societies, temperance societies, and every kind of charitable organization, to help the needy and unfortunate, why not permit them to be ordained to preach the Gospel and administer sacraments of the Church? If women should withdraw from the churches and all missionary and merciful work, we would
begin to think that the foundations had dropped out of our civilization. Then why not let them preach as well as lead in prayer, administer the sacraments as well as receive them, go to men with a message to heal the soul as well as condiments to heal the body? The Sunday-schools and public schools are practically in the hands of women teachers, they are practically educating the citizens of this republic, and especially when we look back a little farther into the family we see the mothers giving the children of the land their first lessons in the duties of life. It is only on the outposts, in the pulpit for instance, that we restrain woman. Woman has always been less a heretic than man, always more religious, and a greater moral and spiritual blessing to her kind than the opposite sex. This nation and world can be vastly improved by women voting and preaching, just as men do.
"These are my sentiments; hastily expressed, but firmly held."
A well known Congregational pastor and professor spoke as follows: —
"Victor Higo says: ‘The nineteenth century is woman's century.’ The twentieth century will be more so. I would like to live in it and through it. I expect to live to see it, to look down upon it from a higher sphere. The Apostle John saw it, or a bright and beautiful image of it, in prophetic vision. He says: ‘I saw an angel standing in the sun.’ I do not know what the commentators make of that, but I know what it signifies to me. It signifies the educated, sanctified Christian womanhood of this and the coming age. It aptly symbolizes woman when she had added to her faith virtue, and to her virtue knowledge. It fitly represents woman enlightened, sanctified, and exalted to her proper sphere. And the next vision in the
Apocalypse is the millennium, Satan bound a thousand years, and the new Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And then, behold! The tabernacle of God is with men, and they shall be his people, and he shall be their God, and God himself shall be with them, and will wipe away all tears from their eyes; for the former things are passed away. Such is the paradise lost in Eden, regained on Calvary; begun on earth and consummated in heaven; which the promises and providence of God authorize us to expect, and whose coming we are encouraged to hope and believe will not be long delayed."
A Methodist doctor of divinity in New England writes thus: —
"We are told that the office of deacon was a mere temporal one, and that we have no record that Phoebe, or any other woman in the Bible, received ordination as an elder or a bishop. We reply that there was no such distinction between temporal and spiritual offices in the apostolic church as this objection implies; that the names deacon, elder, and bishop are used interchangeably in the New Testament, and that we have no proof that the men who preached received such an ordination as the church now confers. While we have no proof from the New Testament that women or men received a formal ordination at the commencement of their ministry, we have unquestioned proofs that women exercised the essential functions of the ministry.
"Is St. Paul here describing the ideal state of man and woman, the state which God ordained and in which he intends them to remain? or is he here describing the state of man and woman in their fallen condition? He is plainly describing the latter, and, lest we should mistake it
for the ideal state, Paul at once adds the important qualification noted under the first point, ‘Nevertheless, neither is the man without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord.’
"After reading Paul's letter as a whole, who would dream of affirming that Paul is writing, not an apotheosis of love, but a Magna Charta of personal rights? As well might we say that the fact of his taking no compensation is proof that he had no right to compensation for his labor, that his command to Jews and Romans not to confess Christ at Corinth is proof that they had no right to confess Christ in Hebrew or Latin, and that his prohibition of any man to seek his own is proof that a man has no right to his property, as to say that Paul's command to women to keep silence in the churches, and to obey their husbands, is proof that they had no right to speech or liberty. But still more, as if Paul foresaw that his words on the subjection of woman might be tortured into falsehood, in this very letter to the Corinthians, after mentioning the historical fact that man is the head of the woman, he adds, ‘Nevertheless, neither is the man without the woman nor the woman without the man in the Lord,’ and in Galatians (R. V. ) he declares unqualifiedly: ‘There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither bond nor free, there can be no male and female; for ye all are oneman in Christ Jesus.’ Our children will be as much astonished that we could hold to the divine subordination of women, in the face of this last clause, as we are now astonished that slave-holders and Jews could hold to the divinely ordained subordination of the African and other races in the face of the first two clauses.
"As well might one declare that the thorns and briers which God said the earth should bring forth on account of man's sin are an expression of the ideal attitude of nature toward man, and that we violate the divine constitution in tilling the soil and improving its products. Again, the
80whole effort of Christ was to restore to mankind what was lost in Adam. ‘For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.’ If Christianity is completely to restore that which was lost in Adam, how can it stop short of completely abolishing the subordination of woman, which the Bible declares to be the direct result of sin, and of leading us back to that Edenic proclamation: ‘Let them have dominion over all the earth?’
"I am convinced by some years of study upon this question, and from an examination of every commentary to be found in the public libraries of Boston and in the British Museum, that the Bible cannot be reconciled with itself upon the old theory of the divine subjection of woman to man at the creation. The various passages of the Bible can be reconciled with each other upon the theory that the subjection of woman was due to the fall, and that, as we approach a Christian civilization, subjection based on sex disappears. Paul's statement in 1 Cor. xi. 2 and in Eph. v. 22 can be fully harmonized with his declaration in Galatians; and I would gladly attempt the explanation here did space permit.
"We do not ask that all barriers be broken down and that women be allowed to crowd our pulpits at their will. We are quite willing that the conditions of admission to our pulpits be raised, provided only that when an exceptional woman feels called of God to the ministry and successfully passes all the tests, and receives a providential call to a church, she then be allowed to serve that people, just as a colored man or a foreigner would be permitted to serve a church under similar circumstances. All we ask is that a bishop or a conference be not forced by a law of the church to interfere with certain forms of Christian work, on the ground of sex, any more than they are now forced to interfere on the ground of color or of race, until they first learn whether the work be of God or not. Dr. Gracey, our
81beloved missionary from India, says that thousands of women there might have been baptized had the sisters, who alone were admitted to the zenanas and who led these women to Christ, been permitted to perform the service. I understand Dr. Thoburn of India, and Dr. Baldwin of China, whose splendid services are known to all, hold substantially the view expressed by Dr. Gracey. Bishop Taylor has been forced, by his boundless field and his scanty number of workers, to admit women, without ordination, to his mission conferences, and appoint them to charges in Africa. It is only fair that our sisters, who freely accept the early and dangerous work in foreign fields, from which their brothers often shrink, should receive at their departure the same solemn blessing and consecration at the hands of our church which we brothers receive in entering upon our sacred work at home. It is only reasonable that women who, in these foreign fields, penetrate to female circles beyond the reach of men, should be authorized by the Church to baptize and receive into the visible fellowship of disciples those whom they have made partakers of the heavenly kingdom."
Another ministerial gentleman of the Methodist persuasion puts the case in the following common-sense fashion: —
"Professedly we have three qualifications for the ministry; but really we have four. A candidate for ordination must have grace, gifts, and usefulness — and must be of the masculine gender. But beyond all these is an inward call from God. The first three requisites women possess — nobody disputes it. The only ground on which it is possible to oppose the ordination of women is that God has not called them. Our opponents know that this is their only ground
82and will make a desperate effort to maintain it. But we ask them, first, how do you know that God has not called them? Has he ever said that he could not or would not call women to preach his Gospel? Is there anything in the character of the work that imperatively excludes them? We ask again, how do you know that they are not called to this work as truly as men? Surely you do not ground your opposition to their ordination, and take the possible risk of ‘fighting against God,’ on a mere inference or personal opinion. Nothing short of positive evidence can longer justify our church in refusing to provide for the ordination of some of its women; that evidence is not forthcoming and, in the nature of the case, cannot be produced.
"But our opponents may claim that the burden of proof rests with us, and may ask the question, ‘How do you know that these candidates for ordination are called of God?’ We are ready for this question. In the nature of things we cannot have positive evidence either in the case of men or women candidates. No doubt, mistakes have been made in ordainingmen, whom God never called, for this very reason, but we can have precisely the same evidence in the case of women as men, and evidence that is and ought to be satisfactory. Now, what evidence do we have in case a man claims to be called of God to preach the Gospel? First, we have the man's own word: he says, ‘I feel drawn to this work by the voice of the Spirit in my soul; I am sure it is my duty,’ yea, "Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel." ‘Second, we have the candid and unselfish opinion of the man's brethren and sisters who know him best, to the same effect.’ They say, ‘It is our solemn judgment that this man is called of God to the work of the ministry.’ A third evidence we always have is that of actual trial and success in the work; it is said, ‘This man has been preaching more or less for two, four, or more years. Under his preaching Christians have been benefited, the backslidden have been
83reclaimed, men and women have been awakened to lead a new and a better life.’
"Now, upon such evidence as this we ordain men to preach; where this evidence is strong, and other qualifications are met, a man never fails of securing ordination in our church. Now we present this same evidence precisely that God has called women to the same blessed work. There are women who are willing to say, in the language of our ritual, ‘We trust that we are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon us the office of the ministry in the church of Christ,’ ‘we think in our hearts that we are truly called according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ to this work.’ Now, why not believe these women as well as men under the same circumstances? Are women any more likely to lie about their call, or to be mistaken about it, than men?
"The second class of evidences is the same as in the case of men; there are members of the church who have heard these women preach repeatedly; they are convinced that they are truly called of God, and that they ought to be ordained. The third class of evidence is found; churches are built up and sinners are awakened. What would you more?"
Another gives us this opinion: —
"Just as the New Testament is now misinterpreted to sanction the holding of women in perpetual inferiority and subjection, so the Jewish rabbins crushed woman by a false exegesis of Old Testament Scriptures. One of these rabbins says: ‘Whence is it proved to us that a mother may not be held to teach her own son? Because it is written in Deut. vi., "Ye shall teach and ye shall learn," the verbs being in the masculine. Whoever are commanded to learn are commanded to teach. Whoever are not commanded to learn are not commanded to teach. That a woman is not
84commanded to teach herself, whence is it proved? From Deut. xi. 19, where it is said: "And ye shall teach your children" Whence, also, is it proved that others should not teach a woman? Because it is said: "Ye shall teach them to your sons." It is not said also to your daughters.’ This interpretation given by the rabbi to the above passages, by which he proposed to exclude women both from teaching and being taught, even the mother from teaching her own children, because the command is given in the masculine gender, is about equal to the decision in more modern times of certain high ecclesiastics that it is illegal to license or ordain women, however gifted and pious, as preachers in their church, because the discipline of said church uses the masculine in providing for such licensing and ordination. We see no special difference between the logic of the ancient rabbins and that of the modern bishops.
"A few years ago, when sitting at the table of a returned missionary of the Dutch Reformed Church, whose wife is a lady of intelligence and culture, I addressed her, saying: ‘Mrs. Joralman, what did Paul mean when he said "Let your women keep silence in the churches?’" She promptly replied: ‘If you had been in the East where I have been, and seen what I have, you would not need to ask that question. When the women come together for any kind of service, it is almost impossible to keep from talking about anything they see and hear. If the speaker says anything they don't understand, they stop him by asking questions, and sometimes all get to talking at once.’"
A well known Methodist D. D. replies to my inquiries in these words: —
"I have not the slightest trouble with St. Paul on the question of woman's place in our present Christian activities.
His counsels were local, and occasioned by the oriental opinions concerning woman and the condition in which she was placed in society. It was the same in reference to the position of the slave; but the Gospel was gradually and inevitably emancipating both, and could not certainly intend to fasten forever and ever to her the limitations which she herself was dissolving. One can see in a moment that a literal interpretation of these precepts would close the mouth of women in all Christian offices and services, and the whole Christian world would protest against this.
"I do not think any person should be freely admitted to the pulpit and to conduct public religious worship without having received the sanction of church authorities. This is our only defence against the presence and eccentric services of poorly balanced and unworthy men and women. It cannot be doubted that, in these latter days, it has pleased the Master, in a signal manner, to call into his vineyard remarkably well equipped, devout, consecrated, and very able women. He has blessed their efforts. He is opening special opportunities for their education and training. Some will doubtless consecrate themselves to a single life, although, I think, no woman should, without distinct providential limitations, place herself under such a vow. The Church should recognize the gifts, education, and graces of these women, and ordain them, or receive them, as seems most expedient, and thus hold them, in a measure, under her supervision in this work.
"I see no more occasion to hesitate here than in their appointment as deaconesses, or at the head of important institutions of education or charity. The providence of God will offer the suitable field for their public services. It may be a pastorate for a period, it may be an evangelistic work, it may be a missionary field at home or abroad. The women are already in the field. They have been thrust out. They have demonstrated the divine character of this
86call to service. They do preach with great acceptance and conduct public services with singular propriety and power. It has become, therefore, a necessity that the church should recognize the hand of God, and throw around this new, divinely constituted agency the proper restraints and defences."
A distinguished presiding elder of the Methodist Episcopal Church writes the following: —
" Should it please God to call woman to preach the Gospel, I see no reason why I should not rejoice in it. Let him send by whom he will. The message of salvation is as acceptable to me from the lips of a woman as from any other.
"The church must ascertain the genuineness of a woman's call to preach, just as it does that of a man. When a woman tells me that she thinks she is divinely moved to preach the Gospel, I put her claim to the same tests precisely as I would that of a man. I ask do her general character and circumstances make it probable that her impression is from God? Has she a sound judgment, a good understanding, a clear perception of divine truth? Has she sufficient education, intelligence, and tact, to make her an acceptable public religious worker? Is she modest, impressive, and pleasing in her style of address? Is she able and willing to pursue a course of study to fit her for her work, such as is required of men who are to be preachers among us? Is she an earnest, devoted, consistent Christian? Can she win souls? Have any been converted under her efforts? Has she the confidence of the people among whom she lives?
"If the above questions, or others like them, can be answered in the affirmative, I see no good reason why the Church should withhold from a woman a license to preach."
The following is from a Presbyterian clergyman of eminence, who has been moderator of the General Assembly: —
"There is one line of argument that weighs more with me on the whole subject of women speaking to promiscuous audiences than any other. It is cited with commendation, when used by Gamaliel in Acts v. 34, but especially verses 38, 39. It was the line of argument used to overcome Peter's objection to going down to Cornelius, a Gentile; it was the conclusive line of argument used in the council at Jerusalem, of which the account is given in the fifteenth chapter of Acts, and especially stated by Peter in that chapter, verses 7-11, and by James, verses 14-21. That argument is simply this, that the obvious work and conspicuous blessing of the Holy Ghost upon either a work or workers in a new, unexpected field, against which work and workers our prejudices are likely to be aroused, is, nevertheless, such an argument of approbation as did satisfy the Sanhedrim, Peter, and the council of the Apostles."
One of our Chicago divines, states his position thus: —
"Philosophically, the right of a woman to preach is but one phase of a larger question, the rights of woman as woman, — her right to vote, to own property, to teach or lecture, or do anything she can in the thought and work of the world. And hence, dogmatically, those who oppose her preaching would limit her sphere in other things. All this line of argument and opposition rests at bottom upon the thought of man's superiority; and his pride and ambition to maintain his position have naturally enough led him to hold on to the places of trust and honor and power in both Church and State.
"As to the specific question of the right of a woman to
88preach the Gospel, there is no reason in the nature of things, and certainly none in the peculiar nature of religion, why this right should be questioned. She has reason, intuition, a quick and tender sympathy; she has voice, oratory, emotion, and certainly has not been denied the gifts of the Spirit; and if the end of preaching be to do good, and a woman accomplish that end, why should she not have the right to do so? For the Church to deny this right, is to incur a tremendous responsibility.
"The only reason for such denial is ecclesiastical, — a man-made order of the Church, — and this rests upon no better foundation than the pride and jealousy of men, lest their assured and exclusive dignity and authority of office, might in some way be lowered. For if once authorized to preach, women might become elders, and even bishops. But suppose they should? Is the glory of England any the less because she is ruled by a queen? And if the kingly office may be filled by a woman, why should it be thought that the priestly office must be the exclusive possession of men? And as to Paul's idea that a woman should not teach with her head ‘uncovered,’ it certainly does not imply that she shall not teach at all, but rather that she may."
A Congregational D. D., a College President, and author of books, sends this: —
"A Christian church that is ready to deny ordination to women calls for a thrice-repeated vision of somewhat the same character as that granted to Peter. He was constrained by this special revelation to accept the truth that the Gospel may be preached to all; and a church so favored would be led to the kindred truth that the Gospel may be preached by all. The vision should be triple; not only to overcome the force of religious custom, but because the denial of ordination to one who has the ability to preach the Gospel stands
89in the way of the highest personal right, the use of the highest powers; stands in the way of those who through the preacher would receive the Gospel; stands in the way of the divine call, indicated in the very fact of the desire and capacity to disclose God's grace."
Once more, a Congregational pastor: —
"My thought, in general, is this: — First. The passages of Scripture used by our opponents to prove that women should not preach, do not so directly apply to preaching as to teaching, that is, the word ‘teach,’ and not preach, is used. ‘I suffer not a woman to teach,’ etc. And if these are literally enforced after their method of interpretation, they prove too much; and would silence every Sunday-school and even public school teacher.
"Secondly. Woman's active work in teaching, lecturing, evangelistic work, etc., has been a necessity of God's providence; she has not simply chosen it, but she has had to do it, to meet the most powerful conviction of her mind. Does God work, in his providence, against his word?
"Thirdly.Where women have preached, as among the Friends, and as evangelists, and occasionally as pastors, no harm has come to the spirit or progress of the Gospel, but the opposite.
"Fourthly. The strongest passages against women preaching are quoted from St. Paul, yet he actually made provision for their preaching, which shows that the said passages, and all others of similar import, have local and other applications, different from what our opponents give them; viz., 1 Cor. xi. 5. Lest the women of the church should be classed with the unveiled courtesans, Paul directed them to prophesy with veils on. But this was only a, matter of expediency (verse 16). Prophesying waspreaching(1 Cor. xiv. 3). The word ‘churches’ in 1 Cor. xiv. 34, means congregations at Corinth."
A leading Methodist D. D. of New York State writes thus: —
"The convictions of the great mass of our people are grounded upon God's word. Many reforms have been greatly hindered by false interpretations of this Book. Our opponents generally go back as far as Genesis for arguments, but even then they do not go back far enough. They stop with a true account of the false relation into which man and woman were thrown by sin, and quote this account as the original charter for mankind: ‘Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.’ If they will only go back to the creation of Adam and Eve, and to their natural and divine relation before the fall, they will fail to find a sentence which hints at the subordination of woman. Woman was not made in man's image, neither was the dominion of the world committed to him alone. On the contrary, the record plainly says: ‘In the image of God created He him, male and female created He them, and God said: Let them have dominion over all the earth.’ So far as the superiority of either might be inferred from the account of their creation, that inference is plainly in favor of woman.
"If the order of creation means anything, if we find God gradually advancing in his work from the inorganic earth to the mineral kingdom, then to the vegetable kingdom, and then to the animal kingdom, and last of all making man, the fact that woman is made after man suggests her higher qualities rather than man's superiority. There is no marked difference between the sexes. The Bible does not represent Adam and Eve as separate species. The highest qualities belong to humanity in common. Christ is as much the typical woman as the typical man of the race. But I pit against the spurious claim of man's divine superiority the Bible account of the creation advancing in a gradually
91ascending scale, man being formed from the ground and the breath of God, Eve being formed from Adam by the act of God, and Christ, the head of the new humanity, springing from woman by the Divine Spirit. It takes an immense amount of ingenuity to make out woman's inferiority from the simple scale of creation presented in God's word. The fact that two-thirds of the Christian church are composed of women favors the theory of their higher spiritual nature if the preference is given to either.
"Now, when Adam and Eve descended from the sphere of spirituality to the animal sphere, when they turned from a life of faith to follow appetite, God said to man that even nature should rebel against his animal life: ‘The earth shall bring forth thorns and thistles.’ The history of every drunkard and man of lust proves that nature fights against him, and confirms the prophecy. And God said to woman that in this lower animal life with man she would be constantly worsted; ‘Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.’ Six thousand years of history have proved the terrible truth of this prophecy.
"And yet this declaration of woman's subordination — which does not belong at all to the account or her original creation, and which is directly due to sin, and which we see sprang from the very nature of the two and from the sinful contest on which they then entered — is quoted repeatedly as the divine declaration of the ideal state of the sexes, and we are constantly told that any attempt to change it is a violation of the divine constitution. As well might one declare that the thorns and briers which God said the earth should bring forth on account of man's sin are an expression of the ideal attitude of nature toward man, and that we violate the divine constitution in tilling the soil and improving its products.
"Again, the whole effort of Christ was to restore to mankind what was lost in Adam. For as in Adam all die,
92so in Christ shall all be made alive. If Christianity is completely to restore that which was lost in Adam, how can it stop short of completely abolishing the subordination of woman, which the Bible declares to be the direct result of sin, and of leading us back to that Edenic proclamation: ‘Let them have dominion over all the earth?’
"It may be that not one woman in a hundred cares to enter the law, or medicine, or the ministry, but we insist in her case, as we insisted in the case of the Africans, that every avenue be thrown open on similar conditions to all, and that each human being shall be free to sow and then reap what he or she has sown. Society has a right to self-preservation, and, for the good of all, may impose restrictions and adopt regulations, under which each individual may practise medicine, or vote, or do any other work. But these regulations must apply to all alike. For society to say that no Jew shall hold office because he is a Jew, that no German shall practise medicine, that no colored man shall preach the Gospel, or that no woman shall practise law or cast a vote because she is a woman, is simply an impertinence of tyranny. Our cause rests back upon the fundamental principle of Protestantism, the freedom of the individual to work out his own destiny and take the consequences. Nay, it rests back upon the fundamental principles of the Bible and of the divine government. God himself respects individual freedom so highly that he will not invade the sanctuary of the will unbidden, and override our personality. He reasons with us and invites us. But he will stand by sorrowfully, yet with self-restraint, while we go down to ruin. Society has no right rudely to enter the sanctuary of one-half the race and restrict their lives to a particular work, while God himself only stands at the door and knocks until he is bidden to come in.
"The advocates of the subjection of women have studiously avoided Christ and made much of Paul. Why should
93they put him against his Master, when he speaks of women, as well as men, as fellow-workers in Christ, and gives as much praise to them? Like a sensible man, the apostle accepted social institutions as he found them, and gave the directions that the circumstances required to men, women, slaves, and children. There were good reasons for saying, ‘Let the women keep silence in the congregations’ at Corinth; — where the people revelled in the excesses of wealth and luxury; where they abandoned themselves to vice and profligacy; where hundreds of bold courtesans appeared on the streets and in public places, and the name ‘Corinthian,’ as applied to a woman, meant a bad character; where virtuous women, for their own protection, had to go veiled; where the worship of Venus was attended with a shameful licentiousness, and where the low ideas of morals, resulting in ‘uncleanness, and fornication, and lasciviousness,’ endangered the life of the church. To apply this ‘keep silence’ to women now, and thus bury their talents by apostolic law, is an insult to them and to Paul, and a sin against God."
DEAR MISS WILLARD: — I fail to find any expression in print of that which I know was my father's thought and frequent statement, that women whom God calls to preach should be licensed and ordained by the Church. I am sorry.
V. Testimony of Women Preachers.
The foregoing extracts fairly indicate the consensus of opinion among ministers who belong to the progressive school of exegesis.
Let us now hear from a few "women preachers." It is estimated that there are in the United States five hundred women who have already entered the pulpit as evangelists, and at least a score (exclusive of the 350 Quaker preachers) who are pastors, of whom several have been regularly ordained. The denominations that have ordained women are the Methodist, Baptist, Free Baptist, Congregational, Universalist, and Unitarian. As is well known, the Society of Friends has, from the first, in all things, recognized the equality of men and women in the house of God. What have these women to say for themselves, who, in face of so much prejudice (i. e., their cases being not judged on their merits, but pre-judged), have gone forward as ministers of Christ?
First, I give a personal letter from a dear friend, who, for nearly fifteen years, has been preaching in the Methodist Church, with invitations from our leading pulpits in almost every Northern State,
95enough to occupy all her time for years ahead; with thousands of additions to the church, growing out of her ministry; a woman so gentle that she is beloved by all who meet her, and so eloquent that I have seen doctors of divinity and theological professors deeply moved by her sermons; a woman who always takes a text and stands in the pulpit, pleading, as a mother with her children, "Be ye reconciled to God." Here is what she writes: —
"July 13, 1887.
"MY DEAR FRIEND: — I shall find it very difficult to put my views on these questions in writing, for I do not write for the press. If you were only here how gladly I would talk with you. I have felt that the Lord did not wish me to make any defence of my peculiar position, so have never committed my views to writing. You understand; he sent me out simply as an illustration. So I have gone forth, never allowing myself to be drawn into an argument on the subject, and never saying a word in personal defence, but I knew all the time the Lord would send somebody to take care of the defence. One minister in Ohio said to me, ‘I have my views on these subjects all ready to publish to the world, when you come along, every now and then, with a practical demonstration that confounds me.’ As to the texts so often quoted, I am not a Greek scholar, but a Greek student told me that in one place where women were forbidden the original word meant ‘to prattle, to gabble, to make a noise.’ These formed part of the same church that was drunk at the sacrament, and whose sins were too bad to talk about. And these Corinthian women to-day, our missionaries tell us, are ignorant, prattling, noisy disturbers of their
96meetings; and yet, even among these, Paul found some whom he allowed to minister, and gave in the very same letter directions regarding how they should dress when preaching; charging them to be more guarded than usual, because of the boldness of the masses of women about them. Paul gives the names of twelve or fourteen women whom he recognized as ordained ministers or deacons. As for me, I shall go on standing as an unwelcome and unanswerable fact before opposers. And, at the end of their profound arguments and fearful prophesying, I will still point to my five blessed boys, and meekly inquire, ‘Have they gone to ruin?’"
The next is from an ordained and settled pastor of the Congregational church. She spoke one Sunday years ago, when the minister of her own church was absent, and has gone on ever since, the church steadily growing not only in spirituality, but in numbers and material resources. This lady writes: —
"I am not given to argument on this question, believing in works much more than words. As a question in ethics, I see no controversy. It is surely right for a messenger to give a message of truth. My sainted mother believed that if our Lord gives the word to any of his children to impart, there is no question as to male or female, bond or free; and so do I, gladly receiving it from any."
A third woman preacher, having a regular pastorate, sends this: —
"July 15, 1887.
"MY DEAR FRIEND: — In 1863-4 the Universalist Church ordained two women to the ministry. The success of these women proved the wisdom of the act. The Universalist Register now contains the names of twenty-seven women ministers, most of whom are in charge of active churches. The Unitarian denomination also accords women full ordination, and has a number of eminently successful women in charge of large and growing parishes. Several women have been ordained by councils, — acting not with denominational authority, but independently, — especially Congregationalists and Baptists. Of course, the matter must be set right on Biblical grounds; but with the educated and close Bible student we have no difficulty.
"The strongest argument in favor of a woman ministry is found in woman herself, in her sympathetic and intuitional nature, in her high moral sense, in her deep and fervent religious spirit. The mother element in woman's character gives her a peculiar power in religion that is seen very distinctly in her influence over the children and young people of the church, a class that has been most neglected in the regular church administrations, but one that the world is beginning to realize as the most important factor of the people. Then, too, in the parish work, where the best influence is exerted, I think it impossible, from the very nature of the case, for any man to do it as a woman can. I know this is true when I am admitted to the sick-chamber where religious consolation is needed, but where the presence of a man, except the husband or father, I claim, is not in keeping with the best interests of either the sick one or the household. Of course, I think we should have women physicians for such cases.
"Then, the confidence of the sorrowing and sinful ones that a pastor holds — I cannot understand how it can be so
98readily given to a man. Finally, the work needs many laborers. Our young men are being drawn from the ministry through financial attractions, and as the women have gone to the school-room they must go to the pulpit, and the same qualities that have made woman's work a success there will make her a success in the higher capacity of a religious teacher. I do not mean every woman is qualified for the work any more than every man; I only contend that there are women who are particularly adapted to it, and that in the gifts and graces of a woman's nature there is that which so qualifies her for this work that the synod or council that forbids her entrance upon it is acting in opposition to the higher power that ordains through gifts of mind and character, and through deep spiritual aspirations, certain women to this divine work.
"I speak out of twelve years' experience: I find the work so natural, so easy in the sense of adjusting myself to its demands, so gratifying, and so much of it to do, that every day seems too short for the sacred ministries vouchsafed to me."
Here is another, from a lady whose pioneer work has made easier the path of every woman who has followed her: —
"After twenty-five years' experience as pastor and preacher, I am convinced that there is no work outside the home circle upon which women can so consistently and properly enter as that of the Christian ministry. Although a mother of children born during the years of my ministry, I presume that there are few, if any, clergymen who have lost as little time as I have. That is to say, I doubt not that I have preached more Sundays in the last twenty-five years than the average preacher. I never take vacations,
99and, excepting a very few Sundays when my children were born, have really lost no time; and yet I think it is conceded by my neighbors that my children are as well cared for as theirs, at any rate. I mention this to show, from actual experience, that the work of the ministry is not necessarily inconsistent with the duties of a wife and mother. The subjects dealt with are those peculiarly interesting to women, and surely none can be so well fitted by nature for understanding the great problems of character and destiny as those whom God has appointed to give birth to new life and to mould the characters of the young.
"I believe that it is an accepted rule of interpretation that an author may be allowed to explain himself, that is, that collateral passages may be used in explaining an author's meaning. Thus, when the great apostle says, ‘It is a shame for a woman to speak in church,’ I turn back to the eleventh chapter of First Corinthians, and read that he gave directions that they should have their heads covered when they speak in a church — that is, prophesy, for prophesying you know, in the New Testament, is not foretelling future events, but preaching, — and I say such a man as Paul has not contradicted himself. He has evidently expected women to speak in a church, when they are properly qualified and the conditions are fitting; but not to speak foolishly, or to babble in a confused meeting where men are speaking, to no purpose, without understanding or order, for ‘God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.’
"We must so interpret any statement made by an author that it shall be consistent with his other statements. Paul sent women out to preach, and commended those who labored with him in the Lord. Hence, whatever he said which seems to teach otherwise must be interpreted so as to be consistent with this action and these words.
" I might write at great length on this, furnishing many illustrations; but I have given you the principle upon which
100I proceed. I am in the greatest possible haste, not on account of ministerial or domestic duties, — these would be light and pleasant, — but on account of special work in the campaign which we are carrying forward here."
A leading Quaker preacher and editor writes as follows: —
"The prophecy of Joel ii. 28-30 settles the question for our dispensation, and the Apostolic Church recognizes this liberty and call to prophesy, and allowed it so far as the prejudices and customs of that Oriental country would permit. I think the equality of men and women under the Gospel was one of the great principles that was to be announced by the apostles, and then left to a slow but sure unfolding.
"The truth is, every revolution of the wheel of evangelization brings this truth into fuller recognition. It is very interesting to me to see how God is providentially making room for us, in spite of the iron-clad prejudices of the churches. For instance, some seventeen years ago, lady medical students were hissed in clinic rooms in Philadelphia, and, if I remember rightly, mobbed. Then the call came from India for female medical missionaries, and Miss Swain went. The demand has sanctified the service in the eyes of the church, and now the lady physician is as honored as she was once despised. Now I notice in my missionary exchanges, and in late missionary literature, that the need of female evangelists for the foreign field is being recognized in conservative circles; not Quakers and Methodists, but Calvinists are saying. ‘The women of heathen lands must be reached by the ministry of their Christian sisters,’ and Dr. Thoburn, in an article written for the Advocate, goes so far as to say the ordinances will have to be administered by women to the inmates of the zenanas, for one
101generation at least. And so, you see, I am looking for this problem also to find its solution in the foreign field, and the heathen prejudice against woman's ministry to be relegated back to its cradle, or rather to the land from which it sprung, for its final blow. I believe the preaching of the Gospel by women missionaries will dispel the prejudice against woman's preaching in the home church, much as the services of the medical missionaries have altered the home sentiment about lady physicians."
From the National Superintendent of Evangelistic Work in the W. C. T. U.: —
"You ask for my view of woman as preacher and pastor, and why? I believe the day is past for an argument to prove her fitness for the work. Much of the best pastoral work of the churches has been done by the women of the church for many years.
"Before the Woman's Christian Temperance Union came into existence, long before I ever thought of woman as a preacher, my pastor — of Court St. Methodist Church in Rockford, Ill., our lamented brother, Wm. Aug. Smith, brought me a little book with one hundred names of people whom he wished me to visit in his name as a sub-pastor, saying, ‘I cannot reach them; if they are ever reached it must be by a woman.’ The incidents of those visits would fill a volume; they were interesting in the extreme, and the results were beyond our hope. A woman of consecrated tact and common-sense can find her way anywhere about the house, seek people out just as they are, when a male pastor would be left to make his call upon theone member of the family who should be considered most presentable. The woman can, if necessary, make back-door calls, and there are people who, if they ever receive a pastor in their homes, must receive one at the back door. And besides, male pastors
102are constantly exposed to the danger of slanderous reports if they make the calls that should be made, and go really where the lost sheep are. I know pastors who have decided never to make calls in families unless they know that the men are about, or unless they can take their wives with them, just as a matter of personal protection from busy-bodies. If for no other reason, the womanly pastor should become a recognized fact in the Church.
"As preachers, I believe women, because of their more intimate relation to human life, are better able to make practical application of the Divine Word, and so more quickly and thoroughly to awaken the conscience of the world. And there is a large class of men who will listen and accept the truth preached by women, who will repudiate any word of men. I do believe that a woman pastorate is absolutely needed by the church, — a pastorate endowed with all the powers of that high office."
Testimony concerning a young woman now (1888) studying theology in Garrett Biblical Institute, Evanston, Ill.: —
"Miss —, a young preacher of the Methodist Church, undertook her first parish November 4, 1884, in a small country neighborhood, and continued until October, 1886.
"The church was spiritually dead, only twenty-three names were upon the record; while prayer-meetings, and, in fact, the entire religious life of the church, were a thing of the past.
"Miss — immediately established a prayer and class meeting. During the time of her pastorate, the attendance at class varied from forty-eight to seventy-two; and attendance at prayer-meeting from thirty-five to sixty.
"A two weeks' revival service resulted in twenty-two conversions.
"She preached during the two years one hundred and sixty-three sermons, and rode some 4460 miles to the appointments in her circuit. During the long winter season the thermometer ranged from ten to forty-two degrees below zero, and the snow was from three to four feet deep. But in spite of snow-drifts and cold weather, she missed only one appointment during the two years, being always provided with a shovel, so that she could dig herself out of deep snow as she was often obliged to do.
"A minister, who lived only eight miles from his appointment, failed to put in his appearance for six successive Sundays. He then went to quarterly conference, and said that Miss —'s church ‘had so little life and backbone that they had to have a woman preacher and a woman Sunday-school superintendent.’ A sturdy man, who was one of the stewards in Miss —'s church, immediately rose, and said, ‘Yes, we have a woman preacher, and we have our appointments filled too, although she has had to ride a distance of eighteen miles to her nearest appointment, and twenty-five miles to the second.’ This indefatigable young woman began her work in the ministry in 1883, by temporarily supplying the pulpit in the town where she was reared. Her first revival work continued fourteen weeks.
"In the winter of 1887, she began revival work which continued four months; four weeks of that time being spent in northern Minnesota, where the thermometer ranged from twenty to forty-five degrees below zero, and during the time she preached one hundred sermons."
Mrs. Catharine Booth, Joint-chief of the Salvation Army, writes: —
"The first and most common objection urged against the public exercises of women is that they are unnatural and unfeminine. Many labor under a very great but very
104common mistake, viz., that of confounding nature with custom.
"Use or custom makes things appear to us natural which, in reality, are very unnatural; while, on the other hand, novelty and rarity make very natural things appear strange and contrary to nature. So universally has this power of custom been felt and admitted that it has given rise to the proverb, ‘Use is second nature.’ Making allowance for the novelty of the thing, we cannot discover anything either unnatural or immodest in a Christian woman, becomingly attired, appearing on a platform or in a pulpit. By nature she seems fitted to grace either.
"God has given to woman a graceful form and attitude, winning manners, persuasive speech, and, above all, a finely toned, emotional nature, all of which appear to us eminent natural qualifications for public speaking. We admit that want of mental culture, the trammels of custom, the force of prejudice, and one-sided interpretations of Scripture, have hitherto almost excluded her from this sphere; but, before such a sphere is pronounced to be unnatural, it must be proved either that woman has not the ability to teach or to preach, or that the possession and exercise of this ability unnaturalizes her in other respects; that as soon as she presumes to step on the platform or into the pulpit, she loses the delicacy and grace of the female character. On the contrary, we have numerous instances of her retaining all that is most esteemed in her sex, and faithfully discharging the duties peculiar to her own sphere, and at the same time taking her place with many of our most useful speakers and writers. Why should woman be confined exclusively to the kitchen and the distaff, any more than man to the field and workshop? Did not God, and has not nature, assigned to man his sphere of labor ‘to till the ground, and to dress it?’ And if exemption is claimed from this kind of toil for a portion of the male sex, on the ground of their
105possessing ability for intellectual and moral pursuits, we must be allowed to claim the same privilege for woman; nor can we see the exception to be more unnatural in the one case than in the other, or why God in this solitary instance has endowed a being with powers which he never intended her to employ.
"There seems to be a great deal of unnecessary fear of woman occupying any position which involves publicity, lest she should be rendered unfeminine by the indulgence of ambition or vanity; but why should woman any more than man be charged with ambition when impelled to use her talents for the good of her race? Moreover, as a laborer in the Gospel, her position is much higher than in any other public capacity; she is at once shielded from all coarse and unrefined influences and associations; her very vocation tending to exalt and refine all the tenderest and most womanly instincts of her nature. As a matter of fact, it is well known to those who have had opportunities of observing the private character and deportment of women engaged in preaching the Gospel, that they have been amongst the most amiable, self-sacrificing, and unobtrusive of their sex.
"‘We well know,’ said the late Mr. Gurney, a minister of the Society of Friends, ‘that there are no women among us more generally distinguished for modesty, gentleness, order, ... than those who have been called by their Divine Master into the exercise of the Christian ministry.’
"Who would dare to charge the sainted Madame Guyon, Lady Maxwell, Susannah the talented mother of the Wesleys, Mrs. Fletcher, Mrs. Elizabeth Fry, Mrs. Hannah Whitall Smith, Mrs. Whiteman, or Miss Marsh, with being unwomanly or ambitious? Some of these ladies, we know, have adorned by their private virtues the highest ranks of society, and won alike from friends and enemies the highest
106eulogiums as to the devotedness, purity, and sweetness of their lives. Yet those were all, more or less, public women, every one of them expounding and exhorting from the Scriptures to mixed companies of men and women. Ambitious doubtless they were; but theirs was an ambition akin to His who, for the ‘joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame;’ and to his who counted all things but dross, and was willing to be regarded as the off-scouring of all things that he might win souls to Jesus and bring glory to God. Would that all God's people had more of this ambition!
"Justin Martyr, who lived till about A. D. 150, says, in his dialogue with Trypho, the Jew, ‘that both men and women were seen among them who had the extraordinary gifts of the spirit of God, according as the prophet Joel had foretold, by which he endeavored to convince the Jews that the latter days were come.’
"Dodwell, in his dissertations of Irenseus, says that the gifts of the spirit of prophecy were given to others beside the Apostles, and that not only in the first and second, but in the third century, even to the time of Constantine, all sorts and ranks of men had these gifts; yea, and women too.
"Eusebius speaks of Potomania Ammias, a prophetess, in Philadelphia, and others, who were equally distinguished for their love and zeal in the cause of Christ."
Says Mrs. Phebe Palmer, of sainted memory: —
"The Scriptural idea of the terms preach and prophesy stands so inseparably connected as one and the same thing that we should find it difficult to get away from the fact that women did preach, or, in other words, prophesy, in the early ages of Christianity, and have continued to do so down to the present time to just the degree that the spirit of
107the Christian dispensation has been recognized. And it is also a significant fact that to the degree that denominations which have once favored the practice lose the freshness of their zeal, and, as a consequence, their primitive simplicity, and, as ancient Israel, yield to a desire to be like surrounding communities, in a corresponding ratio are the labors of females discountenanced."
A Presbyterian lady (not a preacher) furnishes this exegesis: —
"Men have interpreted and preached, and women have silently acquiesced, and have taken the place assigned to them from the pulpit, where the situation has not been rightly apprehended. From the third chapter of Genesis we understand that creation ceased when woman was made, leaving her in the ascending scale nearer to God in her gifts than the rest, and so fitted to be the moral guide of the race. That she has been so potent always, under all circumstances, for good or evil, should convince the doubting. The story of the fall is plain, though the logic of the translation is bad. However, the curse fell because of disobedience, and the curse fell on woman double, as she was the more responsible. Half her curse was that man should rule over her, showing by the new decree that there was a change in the relation originally established. Any thoughtful mind can see the bitterness of the situation. The laws then laid down for her were for her punishment, proving nothing for her abilities or her relations, except as a culprit. The rules and Bible teaching through the old dispensation and the new, from that time, concern woman in her new position as culprit and prisoner, till the time be fulfilled, and do not, let me say again, define her original position, or sum up her abilities, any more than man's curse has to do with him in this way, or that of the Jews
108concerns them, but bears the same relation that the punishment of any State culprit does to the one concerned.
"The inability on the part of teachers to rightly understand the situation has almost driven the question outside for settlement, and many intelligent mothers turn from the pulpit teachings on the subject, and look for relief to the educators and philanthropists.
"Should not the teaching from the pulpit be this new statement showing what man's attitude towards his prisoner has been? Then may follow St. Paul's declaration of the continuance of the relation, showing what man's attitude towards his prisoner should be — the head, as Christ is the head of the church. And how is that? He gave his life for it that he might finally present it without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, holy and without blemish. Under the old dispensation woman had nothing. Under the new, the crumbs that have fallen from man's table.
"With these truths granted, that woman's position since sin entered the world by her is her punishment, and not her place, I think men will come to see where they have been hard task-masters, and Christian men be shamed that Christianity has done so little for woman; that, instead of occupying towards her the position Christ occupied towards his church, giving the best of his labor, and laying down his life for her good and advancement in every way, they have been more like the Egyptian task-masters, who required the full measure of bricks without furnishing the straw.
"We come now to the consideration of woman's physical disabilities, the fact that she can be a mother being regarded as the crowning disability. Medical authority and statisticians declare that women have greater tenacity of life than men.
"History shows that among the savage and heathen nations (physically more normal than the civilized) maternity
109has not prevented women from bearing always the heaviest physical burdens. Christian lands have their own showing of mines and factories, and while I do not think many nursing mothers would apply for admission to the pulpit, this condition has not prevented them from letting their voices be heard at the other end of the church, oftentimes to greater comfort and edification than the voice of man is heard from the pulpit.
"And notwithstanding the curse pronounced upon woman in the bearing of her children, mothers are able to stand and sing in choir, oratorio and opera, for a longer time than one could possibly listen to a sermon; so that neither lack of voice nor of physical strength can be offered in argument against her appearing in the pulpit."
Finally, I quote from one of the best known women preachers in the United States, who has had an experience of over fifteen years: —
"Shall women preach? Certainly, if God calls them to preach. He cannot make a mistake. He is not the author of confusion. But will it not subvert the existing social order? If the existing social order is not in harmony with the divine plan, it will have to be subverted. Will it not make havoc with domestic relations and duties? It did not seem to do so in the case of Susannah Wesley, whom the learned Adam Clarke pronounced ‘an able divine,’ and yet who held her nineteen children to a regimen as firm as that of West Point, though so gentle and tender that the same wise man writes of them: ‘They had the reputation of being the most loving family in the county of Lincoln.’ Catherine Booth has solved the same problem. Hardly Spurgeon himself is a better preacher or has a wider influence than she; yet her nine children are so loyal to her and
110her work they seem to think there is only one thing in the world worth the doing, that is, to get everybody to Christ as soon as possible.
"Quaker women have never found the question a difficult one. They have always been free to obey ‘the inner voice;’ and there are no lovelier women on the planet than those same gentle Friends, with their free step and well poised heads.
"Through false Biblical interpretation the prejudices of the majority of the Lord's servants will bristle in woman's path like an abatis; and she will learn that she cannot argue down a prejudice. She may as well take the advice of good, wise old Sojourner Truth: ‘What's de use o' makin' such a fuss about yer rights? Why dun ye jes' go 'long an' take 'em?’"
No woman has ever, since the world began, been placed in a more public position than Queen Victoria; and yet, after fifty years of the fierce light that beats on thrones, we read these words of her from a political opponent, the editor of the Pall Mall Gazette: —
"This woman movement, so incalculable in its influence upon the future of our race, has undoubtedly been helped considerably by the fact that the throne has been occupied by a woman of high character and great common-sense. Her Majesty, from her earliest days, has accustomed the nation to the spectacle of a woman whose discharge of the highest political functions never impaired her womanliness, and who has been able to show, day by day, for fifty years, that the affairs of state, even when most engrossing, never interfered with the ideal of the wife and the mother, or destroyed the homeliness of the home.
"We are not given to eulogize monarchs, and we fear the excessive laudation of the queen may provoke a reaction when the jubilee is over, but it is only common justice to admit that among the great silent influences which have worked for the emancipation of woman, few have been more potent than the spectacle, constantly before the eyes of all her people, of a woman crowned, yet womanly, the first politician in her land, and yet an ideal wife and mother, who, although the head of the greatest empire in the world, ever showed that her heart was centred in her home."
Who will pretend to say that a woman preacher and pastor could not discharge her duty as acceptably to the public as Queen Victoria has discharged hers, and yet be a wife and mother?
From John Wesley's last deliverance concerning women preachers, I take the following sentences, which occur in a letter to one of them: —
"London, Jan. 31, 1791.
"But conscience will not permit you to be silent when God commands you to speak. Yet I would have you give as little offence as possible; and, therefore, I would advise you not to speak at any place where a preacher is speaking at the same time, lest you should draw away his hearers."
How the great leader's practical sagacity strikes straight to the core of the subject in that last homely bit of covert satire and of sound advice!
But men have grown more magnanimous since Wesley's day, and are, at this hour, moving on rapidly toward that consummation so devoutly to
112be wished, the removal from Christ's faithful daughters of every disability that has ever been ecclesiastically imposed upon them.
Note. — From the Teachers' Edition of the Revised New Testament, the following collated references are taken, as furnishing some of the most important Bible texts relating to Woman and her work: —
Ex. xv. 20, etc. (Miriam). Judges iv. 4 (Deborah). 1 Sam. i. 24; ii. 1, etc. (Hannah). Joel ii. 28 (the promise of more prophesyings by women). Matt. xxviii. 5, 7 (women sent by Christ to tell of his resurrection). Luke i. 41-55; ii. 36, etc.; x. 42; xxiii. 49, 50. John iv. 28, 29. Acts i. 14; ix. 36; xi. 5; xvi. 15; xviii. 26; xxi. 9. Rom. xvi. 1-15. Gal. iii. 28. Eph. v. 22. Phil. iv. 3. 1 Tim. ii. 9-15. 2 Tim. i. 5; iii. 15. Titus ii. 3-5. 1 Pet. iii. 1-6. 2 John, i..
"One text is not as good as a thousand, or an unwasting God would not have given us the other nine hundred and ninety-nine."
VI. Henry J. Van Dyke, Sr. D. D. of Brooklyn, N. Y., on the Subject.
Chapter II. of this book appeared originally in the "Homiletic Review" for December, 1887.
The following article in reply to the said chapter appeared in the same Review for January, 1888:
The first essay in this symposium is admirable for its sincerity, courage, and enthusiasm; and these good qualities ought perhaps to be accepted, even in an exaggerated form, as an excuse for some others that are not so agreeable. The writer denounces ecclesiasticism and ecclesiastical leaders in unsparing terms. She maintains that the great obstacle to the progress of the Gospel is not the offence of the cross, but the polity of the Church; even going so far as to affirm that "it is chiefly ecclesiasticism and not Christianity that Robert Ingersoll and Elizabeth Cady Stanton have been fighting." In all this, Miss Willard seems to forget the fact that she is herself an ecclesiastic of a very pronounced type. She is, however, fully
114conscious of being the leader in a movement in the Church whose avowed purpose is to overturn the ecclesiastical polity of all the Christian ages and reorganize the working force of Christianity upon a new plan, the boasted invention and outgrowth of the nineteenth century.
Not content that women should "license themselves" and exercise the large liberty of prophesying which this age and country afford them, she demands their official recognition and co-ordination with men as preachers, pastors, and rulers in the Church. This demand is enforced by prophetic warnings. Notice is served upon "the few leaders who are insecurely seated on the safety-valve of that mighty engine, Progress." The new organization called the W. C. T. U. is introduced and eulogized not only for its influence in the temperance cause, but as illustrating the capacity and the desire of women for the work of the ministry. Its evangelistic department is described as having the elements of an ecclesiastical system by which all things are to be made new. If the Church will adopt and adjust her polity to these new theories and agencies, the advocates of them will gladly take their places under her supervision; but, if not, "the women of this age are surely coming to their kingdom," and the conservative sons of the Church who "will not yield to the leadings of Providence and the importunities of
115their more progressive brothers" must take the inevitable consequences.
If in this brief summary we have misconceived or misrepresented one jot or tittle of Miss Willard's views, whether in their letter or their spirit, we shall be profoundly sorry. Still more sorry shall we be if any reader of this article shall infer from it that we are insensible to the excellency or jealous of the legitimate influence of women in their appropriate sphere as defined by the word of God and the constitution of their own nature. To Miss Willard's praise of good women we heartily respond, and could add to it largely out of the heart of a son and husband and the long experience of a Christian pastor. The successors of those who ministered to Christ and his apostles, and assisted them in their work, have been an ever-increasing multitude in all the Christian ages. Their good works and the alms-deeds that they do are fully recognized and blessed of God and men, even in "the hierarchical Presbyterian, Episcopal, and Roman Catholic Churches." There are organizations of Christian women, more numerous and powerful than the W. C. T. U., who are wearing the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, and working the works of God in their respective churches, without making any attempt to revolutionize their ecclesiastical polity. But this is extraneous to the subject before us. Let us stick to the question.
Miss Willard correctly defines its scope, as referring not only to the licensing of women to preach, but their co-ordination with men in the pastoral office, the administration of the sacraments, and the government of the Church. As her essay is perhaps the best argument that has been or can be made on the affirmative side, it will not be improper to present the negative in direct antagonism to her position. We hope to do this with the utmost candor, and, at the same time, with the utmost courtesy.
I. Women have no special qualifications for the work of the ministry. They are not holier by nature than men, and if they were this would not make them better ministers. An angel from heaven is not more fitted to preach the grace of Christ than was Saul, the chief of sinners. The assertion that Christ "did not designate women as His followers;they came without a call;" is not only new Theology, but new History. Miss Willard intimates that if the twelve apostles had been women there would have been no traitor among them, and asks whether the choice of Judas is to be regarded as a precedent. She charges upon men, as separate from women, all the corruption and cruelty that have stained the pages of church history. "Men have invented hierarchies, lighted inquisitorial fires, and translated the Gospel, so suitable to the proclamation of a woman's
117lips, into terms of sacerdotalism, dogma, and martyrdom." This also is new history. There were two in the apostolic church who were struck dead for lying to the Holy Ghost, and one of them was a woman. Catharine de Medici, the wife of one French king and the mother of two, had "a woman's heart that never changes." And yet her heart devised and her voice directed the massacre of St. Bartholomew. Bloody Mary, Queen of England and head of the Church, turned back the Reformation, rekindled the fires of Smithfield, and went beyond her own bishops in the spirit of persecution. We need not continue the catalogue. But, going back to the beginning of all human woe, we are reminded that it was the woman who was first in the transgression, and it was part of the condemnation of man that he had "hearkened unto the voice of his wife." It is not pleasant for us to repeat these things. But we cannot sacrifice the truth of history on the altar of gallantry, nor set aside the foundations of Christian theology for the misty sentimentalism that expatiates on the natural goodness of woman. She also is a fallen being, and needs the effectual calling and washing of the same grace that man needs. Even the Virgin Mary was not immaculate. We are sure that Miss Willard will agree to all this, though in her enthusiasm for her cause she seems to forget it. But if women are not morally better than men by
118nature, have they not, by virtue of their womanly endowments and instincts, a clearer insight of the grace of God, and are they not thus better qualified than men to preach the Gospel and to shepherd the flock of Christ? Miss Willard affirms this in the strongest terms. She says, "The mother heart of God will never be known to the world until translated into terms of speech by mother-hearted women." We are not disposed to dispute what is said about "the dual-natured founder of Christianity," though we dare not dogmatize on what is not revealed. It may be that the analogy between the first Adam and the last Adam (1 Cor. xv. 45) extends to the fact that the first man was made male and female (Gen. i. 27), including the woman in his side; and so "the second man, who is the Lord from heaven," may have been endowed with all the sinless qualities of both the sexes. But, whatever may be the mysteries of His holy incarnation, the fact remains that He came in the form of man, and not of woman, and in all his ministry he said not one word about the mother heart of God. Did He not rightly and fully declare the Father from whose bosom He came forth? Did not John and Peter and Paul, and the multitude of uninspired but divinely illuminated men who are their true successors as preachers, understand the grace of Christ and feel the tenderness of his love as well as any woman? Into what "terms
119of speech" does this new order of preachers, "with the sweet Madonna halo about their head," propose to translate the Gospel? Will they alter the Lord's Prayer, and make it say " Our Mother which art in heaven"? Will they say to the sorrowful and careworn, "Your Mother which is in heaven knoweth ye have need of all these things"? These views about the motherhood of God are not new. They are the essence of Mariolatry. They are also embodied in the doctrine of the sect known as Shaking Quakers, who hold that the incarnation of what they call the Christ Spirit in the person of Jesus was not complete, but has been perfected by a second incarnation in the person of a woman named Ann Lee.
II. Women have special disqualifications for the ministry. We have no sympathy with any form of rivalry between the sexes, with any claim of personal superiority on the part of man as such, with any form of masculine tyranny. The woman is the glory of the man, and if we did not worship God we would prefer her to every other idol. "Either sex alone is half itself," and the highest ideal of "the single pure and perfect animal" is "the two-celled heart beating with one full stroke." In this the modern poet does but interpret the ancient apostle, "Neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man, in
120the Lord." The principle which underlies the divine ideal of marriage applies to all the relations of men and women in the family, the state, and the Church. Counterparts are things that differ in order to agree. Harmony is the just adaptation of parts to each other. The agreement must always recognize the difference and be based upon a definite order. Order, which is Heaven's first law, necessarily involves subordination. The subordination of woman (not her inferiority) is written upon the constitution of her nature, in the history of her creation, and in all Christian theology." The head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is the man. For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man." (1Cor. ii. 3, 8, 9.)
Miss Willard tells us that "nature has given woman but a single disability: that she can never be a father; and this is offset by man's single disability: he can never be a mother." This is quite startling; but we must not hold her too rigidly to the terms of the antithesis. It means only that you cannot make a woman out of a man, nor a man out of a woman. The author tells us again that "men preach a creed, women declare a life; men deal in formulas, women in facts; men reason in the abstract, women in the concrete; a syllogism symbolizes the one, a rule of life the other."
121Women, then, differ from men not only in the physical capabilities of their sex, but in mental characteristics and habits of discourse. This is certainly true, though the statement of the truth is very much exaggerated for the sake of the antithesis. There are multitudes of men who preach a life and deal in facts, and there are women who understand and can use a syllogism, though we are not sure that their legitimate influence is thereby increased. But, accepting the statement as correct in general, we see in it the disability of women for the work of the ministry. The Church never has been and never can be sustained without a creed. Christianity consists not only in facts but in revealed doctrines lying back of and interpreting those facts. Paul before Felix reasoned concerning temperance, righteousness, and judgment to come. The kind of preaching which ignores reasoning and throws aside doctrine, and despises catechisms, and consists in appeals to the feelings, is another gospel than that which Paul preached, and will not promote the kind of life which the Church needs. The cure for dead orthodoxy is not to throw away the orthodoxy, but to quicken it anew with the zeal which reasons out of the Scriptures, and declares the whole counsel of God.
But the great disability of woman for the work of the ministry is directly connected with her
122physical constitution, with the fact that she can be a mother, and that motherhood, with all its burdens and blessings, is her divinely appointed destiny. "I will, therefore, that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully." (1Tim. iii. 14.) Any state of society, and any form of ecclesiastical polity, which forbids or discourages marriage, is contrary to nature and to the Word of God. Miss Willard denounces the Romish doctrine of the celibacy of the ministry as a defrauding of both manhood and womanhood of their rights to the sanctities of home. In this we fully agree with her, and trust she will not shrink from the logical consequences of the doctrine. If it is not good for man, and especially for ministers, to be alone, it must be equally not good for women, and especially for preaching women, to be alone. The perils of a ministry composed of female celibates are even greater than those which surround the celibacy of men. We trust, therefore, that the advocates of this new departure do not propose to require or even encourage women to remain single in order to enter or continue in the ministry. They will not abolish, but only alter, the apostolic precept, so that it will read, "A bishop must be the wife of one husband, one that ruleth wellher own house, having her children in subjection with all gravity."
Now, without speaking all that is in our heart and mind on this delicate point, we will only say that a child-bearing woman and a nursing mother is disqualified for the exposure and nervous strain of the pulpit and the exhausting duties of the pastoral office, by a regard for public decency, for her own health and the health of her offspring. To lay this new burden on her soul and body is a refinement of cruelty. We are well aware that this argument applies equally to other occupations and professions. And if the scope of this essay would permit, it would be easy to show that, instead of devising new ways in which women can work for their own living, it would be a higher mark of civilization and Christianity to remove the obstacles in the way of marriage, and to teach men "how that so laboringthey ought to support the weak."
III. Women are not authorized to enter the Christian ministry. There is no Scripture warrant for it. Miss Willard quotes from the Revised Version of the Psalms "that wonderful and blessed prophecy (Psalms 1xviii. 11), ‘The Lord giveth the Word: the women that publish the tidings are a great host.’ "Any one who reads the context will see that this is not a prophecy, and has no reference to the future. The whole Psalm is a thanksgiving to God for the past victories of the Israelites over their enemies, for which a great
124host of women sang the song of triumph; as when Miriam, at the Red Sea, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and dances; or when the women celebrated the victory of David over Goliath. To take this statement of a historic fact and turn it into a prophecy that women are to be the preachers of the Gospel, only shows what an utter dearth of proof texts there is on that side of the question.
If it is an evangelical prophecy, Christ and his apostles strangely ignored and acted contrary to it. The fact that Mary Magdalene, to whom the Saviour first appeared, was sent to announce his resurrection to the other disciples, or that many women were present when the Saviour preached and when he gave his final instructions to the apostles, are far-fetched, and little worth as proofs that women ought to be ordained to the ministry. Equally irrelevant is the statement that Christ "by no utterance of his marks woman as ineligible to any position in the Church he came to found." He did not mark the ineligible, he only marked the eligible. If he came to found a Church, to set up a kingdom, to establish the order of a new dispensation, which is to continue till his second coming, not his silences, interpreted according to our imaginations and wishes, but his positive utterances and acts are to be the rule and
125measure of our loyalty to him. He chose twelve apostles, to whom he gave extraordinary powers, not only for the preaching of the Gospel, but for the organization and government of the Church. Not one of these was a woman. There is a reason and an abiding force in this exclusion. To say that in this, or in any other act or word, he only complied with the prejudices of a barbarous age, is to attribute to him an unworthy motive. The Acts of the Apostles, whom he inspired and endowed with plenary authority, are recorded for our learning, and there is not in the whole book a single instance in which any woman was ordained to any office in the Church, or took any public part in its instruction or government.
All the instructions in the pastoral epistles in regard to preaching and ruling the Church are addressed to men. We read about the wives, but nowhere about the husbands of bishops and deacons. (See 1 Tim. iii. ) This utter want of Scriptural authority seems to be conclusive. But this is not all.
IV. The Word of God expressly excludes and prohibits women from the work of the ministry. It is admitted "that Christ, not Paul, is the source of all churchly authority and power." But then the question at issue in this discussion is, who is the better qualified to know, and the more authorized to declare the mind of Christ, an inspired
126apostle of the first century or an uninspired woman of the nineteenth? As between these two we are of Paul. What he says Christ says. So the Christian Church has held in all ages, and will continue to hold even to the end of the centuries. "Whoever," says Miss Willard, "quotes to the intelligent and devout women of the American Church to-day the specific instructions given by Paul to the illiterate and immoral women of Corinth does so at the expense of sound judgment, not to say scholarship." The testimony which it is thus attempted to strike out is as follows: "Let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. What! Came the word of God out from you, or came it unto you only? "On this passage we make the following observations: —
(1)There is no kind of evidence that the women in the church at Corinth were either illiterate or immoral. The assertion that they were so is a gratuitous assumption to sustain a foregone conclusion.
(2) The apostle expressly declares that his instructions are not specific, or applicable only to that one church. He speaks not of Corinthian women,
127but of women as such. He censures the church at Corinth for introducing a practice which was unknown elsewhere. "What! Came the word of God out from you?" "Is the church at Corinth themother Church? Was it first established, or has it been alone in sending forth the word of God? You have adopted customs which are unusual. You have permitted women to speak in a manner unknown to other churches."
3) If the ignorance or immorality of these women had been the reason for the injunction of silence, Paul was man enough to say so. But he assigns very different reasons, which are universal and applicable even to the best of American women. This reason is twofold: first, it is contrary to the law, which enjoins the subordination of women; and secondly, it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
Both the injunction and the reason for it are repeated by the apostle in a passage where the application cannot possibly be restricted to any church or any period of Christianity, because the reason is rooted in the history of creation and in the divinely appointed relation of the sexes. "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 deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression." (2 Tim. ii. 12-14.)
We have no apology to offer for these words nor for the quotation of them. There is not space to expound their meaning and attempt to adjust them to the varied relations of our modern church life. It is not necessary, for the purposes of this discussion, to do so. For, whatever else they forbid or permit, they certainly do prohibit women from assuming the office of the Christian ministry. The real scholarship of the Church has always so understood them. And, moreover, the great majority of women, especially of those who reverence their husbands and are loved by them even as Christ loved the Church (Eph. vi. 25-33), bow to their authority, while their own womanly instincts confirm the wisdom of the teaching. And so we believe it will always be.
VII. Prof. L. T. Townstead's Reply to Dr. Van Dyke's Counter Argument.
No questions are of such weight and solemnity as those of right and wrong. The question, therefore, of what is right or wrong for women to do, especially when considered upon ethical rather than prudential grounds, is of such grave importance that it is not by men to be trifled with. And we may add that if it is morally wrong for a woman to do certain things, she assumes, when attempting to do them, responsibilities that are in many ways perilous; and she should be earnestly warned and entreated not to persist in her wrong-doing.
But, on the other hand, if it is right for a woman to do certain things, it is no unimportant affair for one to throw obstacles in her pathway; especially men would better not assume too great responsibility, indeed no responsibility at all, unless there are reasons that are well-nigh unquestioned. This responsibility, however, our esteemed friend, the author of the "Counter Argument," unhesitatingly
130has taken upon himself. That Miss Willard is all wrong and that he is all right to him seems clear as sunlight.
While the rhetoric of the "Counter Argument" may well receive commendation, and while the reasoning on account of its intended fairness is entitled to a candid reply, and while our worthy doctor has given us a defence of the so-called "ecclesiastical polity of all the Christian ages" as good perhaps as can at present be given, still the feeling of every reader, upon a few moments' reflection, must be that the writer of the "Counter Argument," is very far from being sufficiently impressed with the gravity of the subject discussed. Indeed there is apparent throughout a sort of heedlessness or recklessness ill becoming the treatment of such a subject.
The "Counter Argument" is open to criticism in other respects. Those who carefully weigh the entire discussion will not fail of the conviction that Miss Willard's positions, in more than one instance, have not been fairly represented, that her words have been strained to mean what manifestly was never intended, and certainly the friends of Miss Willard will lay down the book with the feeling that the good doctor, though having the advantage of being the attacking party, has been by this earnest woman at every point outreasoned.
The four general divisions of the "Counter Argument" are: —
"I. Women have no special qualifications for the work of the ministry.
"II. Women have special disqualifications for the ministry.
"III. Women are not authorized to enter the Christian ministry.
"IV. The word of God expressly excludes and prohibits women from the work of the ministry."
These divisions are progressive and give to the argument an outward form of completeness. But the first and third divisions, as will be seen, being merely negative, are not entitled to any considerable weight. And it may be said that when in an argument two out of four of its main propositions on one side are stated negatively, that side betrays poverty of resources.
The "Counter Argument," as any one can readily see, when critically analyzed, and when positively and briefly stated, amounts merely to this: All women are constitutionally and scripturally disqualified from exercising the functions of the Christian ministry.
Is this proposition true, is the only question, so far as the "Counter Argument" is concerned, that need be examined and answered. Still, perhaps, the importance of the subject, and a certain courtesy due disputants from each other, are such
132as hardly will allow the ignoring of either of the four propositions before us. Therefore we take them up one by one.
First."Women have no special qualifications for the ministry." We hope the reader will weigh carefully what the doctor says under this proposition. There are nearly two pages of reading matter; but arguments and facts there are none. We find not one valid reason supporting this leading proposition. Our reply to it is, therefore, a flat denial of its correctness. And we offset our esteemed doctor's personal assertion by a personal assertion to match it, which is this: Women have special qualifications for the ministry.
If we should say no more upon this point, we should have done everything that the "Counter Argument" logically calls for, though of course we should be exposed to the very criticism we have made, namely, that of leaving a proposition unsupported by either argument or fact.
That women have special qualifications for the ministry is proved upon the ground of their peculiar endowments, and of the work which they have already accomplished. The evidence of the special qualifications of women for the ministry, derived from their actual success in the work, will appear further on in the discussion.
Confining attention for a moment to their peculiar endowments, the claim we make is that,
133as a matter of fact, women have reason and profound thought; and they have more accurate and quicker intuitions than those of men. Women have voice, earnestness, and oratory; and they have emotions and eloquence (persuasive) at least equal to those of men; and they have quicker and tenderer sympathies than those of men. Women have the gifts of the Spirit, a high moral and religious sense; and their mother-nature gives them peculiar advantage in winning souls to Christ and in building up Christian character. In pastoral work they can enter many homes from which men are debarred, and can enter sick-chambers to administer religious consolation at times when no man save the physician and the husband can be present. And by whom can the doctrines of the Incarnation and the vicarious Atonement be so profoundly comprehended and so convincingly set forth as by those whose "lips have blanched with agony" while learning from experience the meaning of those fundamental doctrines of our faith? No wonder that Hawthorne exclaims: —
"Oh, in the better order of things, Heaven grant that the ministry of souls may be left in charge of women!"
The second proposition of the "Counter Argument" is this: "Women have special disqualifications for the ministry."
The ground upon which this assertion is made to rest is threefold — (1) the mental make-up of women, (2) their mental methods, and (3) their physical constitution, connected with the fact that they can be mothers.
Throughout the discussion of this part of the argument our worthy doctor seems constantly to overlook certain matters that should be held firmly in mind.
For instance, no advocate of women's right to the pulpit claims that all women have special qualifications for the ministry; nor does Miss Willard or any one else deny that some women have special disqualifications for the ministry. What Miss Willard and others deny is that all women have special disqualifications for the ministry, those disqualifications arising simply from the fact that women are women and not men. In this respect the same may be said of men as of women: there are some men who have special disqualifications for the ministry. But some does not meanall.
Nor does any advocate of women's right to the pulpit claim that those women who have special disqualifications for the ministry are to be allowed to enter that holy calling. Only those women who are qualified are to be admitted; all others are to be excluded. And it has been well said that "if woman is to enter the pulpit, she must of
135course prepare for its work with as much thoroughness as man does; if she once takes up the tasks of the ministry, she must show that she can perform them, or some part of them at least, as well as man does. The stern law of the survival of the fittest will be sure to prevail in this department of the struggle for existence as well as elsewhere."
And yet the assumption of not a few who are discussing these questions seems to be that if women are licensed to preach, all the women of Christendom, or at least multitudes of them, qualified or disqualified, will at once abandon their homes, crowd the pulpits of the land, fill all ears with their harangues, and that in this order or, rather, disorder of things, children will be neglected; indeed, that there will be no more children, and that the race speedily will die out.
It would seem, however, that a few moments' reflection and a little common-sense might effectually quiet all these alarms. Even if the doors of the church were wide-open, not many women, from the very nature of things, would feel themselves called to the ministry; and, as with men, but "few would be chosen." Nature may be depended upon; she will see to it that the world is not left childless; and Christian society, with the true Pauline spirit, will protect itself against women of low caste, who have active tongues but empty heads.
With these matters, that are too often overlooked in the discussion, brought clearly before the mind, we are ready to reply to the second proposition of the "Counter Argument," and our reply, as in the former instance, is a flat denial of its correctness. That is, our esteemed friend, of Brooklyn, says that "women have special disqualifications for the ministry." We say that all women do not have special disqualifications for the ministry, neither on account of their mental make-up and methods nor on account of their physical constitution, connected with the fact that they can become mothers.
In support of this assertion we appeal to facts; and it is well to bear in mind, as Fox once dryly remarked, that "one fact is worth twenty arguments." This is especially true when the arguments opposed to facts are nothing but assertions.
In following out the line of reasoning adopted by the "Counter Argument," and in our appeal to facts, our reply requires the establishment of three points: —
First. Some women intellectually are not disqualified for the ministry.
Second. Some women physically are not disqualified for the ministry.
Third.Some women, on account of the fact that they are or that they can be mothers, are not disqualified for the ministry.
Our first thought, as we glance at these propositions, is that the plain statement of them almost renders any further argument unnecessary. But we are under obligation to have due respect for the argument of our friend, and we must not presume too much; for the overcoming of "the trammels of custom, the force of prejudice, and one-sided interpretations of Scripture" requires something more than mere statement, however plain.
As to women's supposed intellectual disqualification, we may say that it is rather late in the day to speak of such a thing. We doubt if even the author of the "Counter Argument" would venture to make the charge of intellectual inferiority. Indeed, in this matter he is quite magnanimous. It is woman's "subordination," not her "inferiority," that he insists upon. It is well that he goes no further. For, though the sphere of woman's work within the last quarter of a century has been immensely enlarged, and in many directions, still intellectually she has been fully equal to all the new exactions made upon her.
In the field of literature, on the platform, in the domains of science, in the management of educational institutions, and in whatever other intellectual arena she has stood, she has proved herself the peer not of ordinary men merely, but of those who are high-priests in their chosen callings.
138When we mention the names of the noted women of antiquity and of modern times, when we see girls in the universities of every land carrying off the prizes and honors, when we see the marked success that women have achieved in fields whose duties are analogous to those required by the ministry, — such as the organizing and prosecuting of missionary, educational, temperance, and political enterprises, and of all sorts of charitable measures that are designed to help the needy and unfortunate, we are astonished at the rashness of any man who says that women are intellectually disqualified for the ministry.
And, further, the plea that woman's mental methods are such as to disqualify her for the ministry is also utterly destitute of foundation. Woman's peculiar genius is not a disqualification, but should be ranked rather among her special fitnesses for the ministry. It is the "dry-as-dust" preaching of too many men in the ministry which is emptying into the street those that ought to remain in our churches. Of these fatal mental methods we hope women are and forever will remain destitute.
"Paul reasoned" is the triumphant announcement of the "Counter Argument." But a better translation would be, "Paul discoursed."
139But, even if he did employ syllogistic reasoning, what does that prove? Is he the only Bible writer after whom all must model? Are not the mental methods of the other apostles of equal authority? And what is to be said of the mental method of the great Teacher? In the technical sense he was not a reasoner. He announced. His "therefore" did not close a syllogism, but introduced a discourse. We cannot say positively, because we do not know, but the thought comes to the mind that it is just the use of this peculiar and divine mental method, which the "Counter Argument" disparages, that will do more intellectually than anything else in building up our depleted congregations. At least, it will be perfectly safe to try the experiment.
As to woman's supposed general physical disqualification for the ministry, we may say that it is hardly the fair thing to select the invalids, the hysterical women, in fine, those who have no proper physical development either by nature or discipline, and then point them out and say women are physically disqualified for the ministry. All we claim is that as a matter of fact some women (not babies) have abundant physical ability with which to discharge all the legitimate duties of the ministry.
In general, we may say that women have endured almost every kind of physical labor. They
140have been keepers of flocks, drawers of water, makers of brick, hewers of wood, and cutters of stone. They have sailed ships, faced storms on the sea even when men have hesitated, and have commanded armies. And to-day, in Massachusetts alone, between 250,000 and 300,000 women are earning their living in industrial pursuits; women physicians, women lawyers, women teachers in public and in Sabbath-schools, and women singers and women lecturers who speak daily to audiences numbering from one to ten thousand people have physical strength to achieve magnificent successes.
In a word, the fact that some women have all the physical strength necessary to address large assemblies, to endure the fatigues of travel, and to bear whatever other exposures are incident to the ministry even under its most rigorous conditions (see pp. 100, 101, of Woman in the Pulpit) is the proof that we set over against the assertion of the "Counter Argument," that all "women have special disqualifications for the ministry."
As to woman's supposed disqualifications for the ministry growing out of the fact that she is or can be a mother, we may say, first, that women are not obliged to marry, though the "Counter Argument" seems to imply that they must. Under some circumstances women would be fools to marry. They have an unquestioned right at
141any time and anywhere in our country to reject any suitor.
Nor is marriage essential to success in fields kindred to those of the ministry. Single women who are teachers in Sunday and day schools and nuns who do faithful missionary and pastoral work are proof of this statement. And, more than this, women who for Christ's sake choose a life of celibacy under the conviction that they can thereby the better fulfill life's mission, whatever that mission may be, unquestionably have in so doing ample Scriptural justification.
In this line of argument we may go still further. There are some married women who on the ground of motherhood are not disqualified for the ministry; they are not mothers; some of them are childless life-long, and all women are such during the greater part of their lives if they live the allotted three-score and ten years. What sense is there, therefore, in disqualifying 7,500,000 women in this country from entering the ministry upon grounds which in their case do not exist?
Nor can it be shown that all women even among those who have children are disqualified for
142the ministry. Nature seems to have made provisions for emergencies by giving to some women far greater tenacity of life than is given to the majority of men. Indeed, some weak women, even while wearing the holy badge of motherhood, will outlast strong men in caring for the sick of the household. In heathen lands maternity has not disqualified women from taking the brunt of life's tasks; and in civilized lands maternity has not disqualified women from speaking upon the platform and singing in the choir, oratorio, and opera for a longer time than is called for in preaching a sermon.
But at this point a new difficulty is urged upon our attention. It is this: that though mothers have strength, and though they might employ temporary substitutes while actually disabled, still for them to attempt the performance of the functions of the ministry would be perilous to the family. At first thought, here, in the judgment of not a few, is an insurmountable barrier. But, as this is an age of experiment, might not unborn generations have the benefit of a few experiments?
Women, tired women, burdened with drudgery, being cooks, laundresses, seamstresses, nurse-maids, maids-of-all-work,wielding the hoe, the sickle, and the muck-rake, are certainly not fitted to bring
143into the world the noblest type of manhood. Children of such antecedents are not born with a royal coat-of-arms, but with such as might be symbolized by scrubbing-boards, broom-handles, dish-pans, and wash-tubs. And even these untoward conditions may be, and, we may add, actually are, far more favorable to posterity than the gadding and shopping and gossiping of society women. Too many children are to-day bearing the stamp of the silliness, the petty deceptions, the nonsense, the timidities, and the isolations from all things inspiring and ennobling, which are inherited from mothers who in some instances are already hungering and thirsting for an improved condition of things.
Somehow we cannot escape the conviction that if mothers who have qualifications for the ministry, and who feel called to the work, should engage in it, and should be busy with its joys, its duties, its prayerfulness, its sympathies, its self-forgetfulness, its sacrifices, its sufferings for Christ's sake, they would give birth to a race of men not yet known in the world. Would experiment in these matters be in every respect perilous?
But we may add that this matter would not be altogether experimental. Says a woman preacher, who, with enviable success, has served the pulpit for nearly fifteen years: "As for me, I shall go on standing an unwelcome and unanswerable fact
144before opposers. And, at the end of their profound arguments and fearful prophesying, I will still point to my five blessed boys, and meekly inquire, ‘Have they gone to ruin?’"
We cannot dwell longer upon this point except to say that Madame Guyon, Lady Maxwell, Mrs. Fletcher, Mrs. Elizabeth Fry, Mrs. Hannah W. Smith, Mrs. Whiteman, and a score of others, by none excelled in devotedness, purity, and sweetness of life and character, have been public women; they were preachers, expounding the Word of God before mixed companies of men and women. This they did acceptably. This they did with no apparent peril to their families.
With reverence almost we may speak the name of Susannah Wesley, "whom the learned Adam Clarke pronounced ‘an able divine,’ and yet who held her nineteen children to a regimen as firm as that of West Point, though so gentle and tender that the same wise man writes of them: ‘They had the reputation of being the most loving family in the county of Lincoln.’"
We are too near the more recent lights fully to appreciate them; yet there is one name we are justified in speaking, that of Catherine Booth. "Hardly Spurgeon himself is a better preacher, or has a wider influence than she; yet her nine children are so loyal to her and her work they seem to think there is only one thing in the world
145worth doing, that is, to bring everybody to Christ as soon as possible."
They are these facts with which we offset the groundless assertion that all women, owing to the fact that they are or can be mothers, are specially disqualified for the ministry.
It appears, therefore, that the general proposition of the "Counter Argument," that women are specially disqualified for the ministry, is false in every particular. It is false in the light of woman's intellectual power; it is false in the light of woman's physical endurance, and it is false in the light of woman's maternity.
The third main proposition of the "Counter Argument" is this: "Women are not authorized to enter the ministry."
Carefully analyzing the reasoning employed by Dr. Van Dyke, we discover that he offers, in support of the foregoing proposition, the following proof: —
(1.) Christ did not choose women to be his apostles.
(2. ) The Acts of the Apostles record no ordination of women.
(3. ) The Pastoral Epistles were not addressed to women.
One cannot help feelings of surprise that a thoroughly educated clergyman should present soberly for arguments these silences of the Scriptures.
146Certainly the writer of the "Counter Argument" must know that the method of reasoning he has employed, designated among logicians as argumentum e silentio, is not only unsatisfactory but is also exceedingly perilous. It is a sword with an edge on the back, whose edge sometimes runs round the entire handle; it is almost sure in some way to cut the man, however skilful, who uses it. We may illustrate; — Christ chose none except Jews, and Jews of his own country, to be his disciples; therefore no African, Asiatic, European, or American should presume to take upon himself the sacred office of a Christian apostle; Jews may, but Gentiles cannot.
The Acts of the Apostles record no administration of the Lord's Supper to women; therefore they should be excluded from all participation in it. And yet the Presbyterian church, in which Dr. Van Dyke is an ordained preacher, administers unauthorized the sacred emblems of Christ's sufferings and death to women. This is clearly sacrilegious if the ordination of women, on the ground of being unauthorized in the Acts of the Apostles, is sacrilegious.
The Pastoral Epistles were addressed not to Presbyterians in America but to two young Jews. The writer of these epistles did not have in mind a thought of American Presbyterians. Why, therefore, do Presbyterians — we include not a few
147Methodists — speak and act as though they must heed the admonitions of these epistles, going so far as to enforce against women the supposed injunctions of these epistles? Why are they meddling in these affairs?
We can easily imagine that upon nearly every recurring Lord's Day are heard from scores of Presbyterian and other evangelical pulpits these words: "Then began men to call on the name of the Lord;" "Jesus saith, with men it is impossible;" "It is appointed to men once to die;" "I will draw all men unto me; " "Live peaceably with all men; " "Will have all men to be saved." Women, in these passages, are not mentioned; therefore, these passages have no reference to women. Is not this the reasoning of the "Counter Argument"? That women are not included is all the clearer because the Scriptures elsewhere include both men and women in certain obligations required: —
"Let no man nor woman work;" "Man or woman hath a familiar spirit;" "Then thou shalt bring forth that manor that woman;" "Whether either man or woman shall separate themselves;" "Left neither men nor women alive; " "If any manor woman hath." Why, therefore, are women taught to think that the Bible, except when they are specially designated, is meant for them? The fact is that this style of reasoning employed
148in the "Counter Argument" would prove with equal clearness that nobody kept the Sabbath from the Creation down to Israel's sojourn in the wilderness, Ex. xvi. 23, a period of 2513 years. It would prove that no Jew was circumcised between the entrance into Canaan, Josh. v. 8, and the birth of John the Baptist, Luke i. 59, a period of 1451 years, "and that no one was sick till Jacob's illness, Gen. xlviii. 1, a period of 2315 years."
In 1 Cor. xii. 7-11 in the Revised Version, and in verses 28-31 of the same chapter in the Common Version, Paul does not mention men. Why, therefore, do men, in the midst of these silences, arrogate to themselves the directions in those passages? Have not women, reasoning from silence, the same right to exclude men from these provisions and requirements as men have to exclude women? Such is the argumentum e silentio. We recommend its disuse henceforth in what is termed masculine reasoning.
While this section of the "Counter Argument" is entitled to no more serious treatment than we have given it, still we are disposed, in the interests of truth, to deal with it seriously for a moment. The statement of our worthy friend is this: Women are not authorized to enter the ministry. We deny out and out this assertion, and offset it with the counter assertion that women are authorized to enter the ministry.
They have Gospel authority. Though Christ did not call women to stand among his original twelve travelling companions (he had respect to the existing customs of society, and may thereby have escaped scandal), still in the presence of the multitude he drew from Martha the same testimony he required of the twelve.
Women stood in his congregation and received the same solemn and sublime benediction as that conferred upon the other disciples, and were authorized to be henceforth his witnesses.
While the Acts of the Apostles does not state in explicit terms that women were ordained by the laying-on of hand, yet it is stated in the Acts of the Apostles that women received the same gifts of the Spirit as were given to men,
And while it is true that the Pastoral Epistles were not in form addressed to women, yet it is undeniably true that Paul, the author of these Epistles, expected women to preach; sent women out to preach; gave women directions how to preach, commended those who did preach, and gave the names of no fewer than twelve women whom he recognized as ordained ministers of the Gospel of Christ, designating them by the same word, deacon (8i*ovog~y), that was applied even to Paul and Apollos, and employing the same word, prophesy (ngocpqieluy^ ), in describing what women deacons were to do as was used in describing the preaching of the apostles.
We may go a step further than that taken by the author of the "Counter Argument," and show that women are authorized to enter the ministry by facts that took place in the early history of the Christian Church. Justin Martyr (A. D. 150) says: —
"‘Both men and women were seen among them who had the extraordinary gifts of the spirit of God, according as the
152prophet Joel had foretold, by which he endeavored to convince the Jews that the latter days were come.’
"Dodwell, in his Dissertations of Irenaeus, says, ‘that the gifts of the spirit of prophecy were given to others besides the apostles, and that not only in the first and second, but in the third century, even to the time of Constantine, all sorts and ranks of men had these gifts; yea, and women too.’
"Eusebius speaks of Potomania Ammias, a prophetess, in Philadelphia, and others, who were equally distinguished for their love and zeal in the cause of Christ.
"‘Every church was composed of three constituent parts: First, teachers, who were also intrusted with the government of the community, according to the laws; second, ministers of each sex; and third, the multitude of the people.’ He also says: ‘... The church had ever belonging to it, even from its very first rise, a class of ministers composed of persons of either sex, and who were termed deacons and deaconesses.’"
— Mosheim, History of Christianity.
Such is the evidence for the statement that women are authorized to enter the ministry. They are authorized by our Lord, in the Gospels; they are authorized by the apostles in the Acts; they are authorized by Paul, in his Epistles; and they are authorized by the prevailing custom of the church throughout its early history. If in all this there is not authority, we would like to be informed as to the kind and amount of authority that would be satisfactory to those who, on these grounds, are fighting the admission of women to the Christian ministry.
The fourth proposition of the "Counter Argument" reads thus: "The Word of God expressly
153excludes and prohibits women from the work of the ministry." If this proposition is true, the matter in discussion, so far as Christian people are concerned, is settled for all times and for all women.
In support of this proposition there are but two passages of Scripture employed by Dr. Van Dyke, and they are the only two explicit passages in the Bible that can help him; they are these: —
"But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness." — 1 Tim ii. 11.
"Let the women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak. It is shameful for a woman to speak in the church." — 1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35.
It must be perfectly apparent that if the prohibition in these passages is infallible, and if it refers to all women and embraces all times, then Miss Willard and her friends may as well first as last retire from this controversy. The writer of the "Counter Argument" has to himself the entire field; indeed, his opponents, to a man, and to a woman, are slain and laid out for burial.
But before an unconditional surrender is made, Miss Willard and her friends have an unquestioned right to ask whether these passages refer to all women, and whether they embrace all time.
Our learned friend, as to this question, is quite confident, as is clear from the following words:
154"The apostle expressly declares that his instructions are not specific, or applicable only to that one church. He speaks not of Corinthian women, but of women as such. He censures the church at Corinth for introducing a practice which was unknown elsewhere."
But this statement, upon a moment's thought, involves us in serious difficulties. For we have already proved, by the words of our Lord, by the Acts of the Apostles, by the Epistles of Paul, and by the practices of the Apostolic Church, that women are authorized to enter the ministry. Of this proof there can be no question. If, therefore, our esteemed brother, by these same authorities, has proved that all women, in all times and everywhere, are prohibited from entering the ministry, then the Bible plainly has contradicted itself. Now, if at this point the one who challenges the right of women to enter the ministry should say to us, What do you intend to do about this contradiction? we might reply, What do you intend to do about it? Either one of us can afford to rest with this charge hanging over the Bible as long as can the other. But can either afford to rest long?
When there is a peril of this sort, an honorable compromise is often of service; we, therefore, propose a compromise. It is this, to allow the word "some" to be introduced into this fourth
155proposition. It would then read: The Word of God expressly excludes and prohibits some women from the work of the ministry. If this change of a single word is allowed, the self-consistency of the Bible no longer will be imperilled. There can be a general hand-shaking, and Miss Willard and her friends will be perfectly satisfied.
But we can imagine that our courteous friend is for a moment indignant. He replies, "No, I will not allow the insertion of that word ‘some’ into my proposition; it would destroy my case. I insist upon the ‘letter’ and the ‘pound of flesh.’" With what tenacity men cling to their pets! Notwithstanding the proof to the contrary already presented; notwithstanding the self-contradiction in which the Bible is involved, it is still insisted that the word of Paul prohibits all women, everywhere, from even speaking in the church.
Manifestly, therefore, there are for Miss Willard and her friends only three things to do. The first is to show that the writer of these passages, though an inspired apostle, was not at all times clothed with infallibility, and with what the good doctor calls "plenary authority" (singular words for a Protestant). The second is to show that our learned friend is entirely wrong in his exegesis. And the third is to surrender the field. But these women are not yet ready to surrender. Indeed, they do not for a moment think of it. They,
156therefore, first ask whether Paul may not have been mistaken in some of his opinions?
That the apostles were infallible in their opinions, or that they were clothed at all times with "plenary authority," no thoughtful man for a moment would claim.
It was Peter's opinion, for instance, that our Lord, upon a certain occasion, should not go to Jerusalem; and Peter forbade him to go. But our Lord's opinion differed from that of the apostle, and his reply to Peter was not very complimentary.
And even later Peter's opinion was that no Gentile had a right in the kingdom of Christ. It required a heavenly vision to change that opinion; but it was changed.
157characteristics of infallibility, uttered with "plenary authority." And even in the passage upon which the "Counter Argument" places special emphasis only an individual opinion is expressed. "Ido not permit a woman to teach" is not even to Timothy a command, much less is it a command to the church of the nineteenth century. We must adopt, therefore, this as a law of interpretation, that as to some of the accidentals belonging to the administrative economy of the church the individual opinions of the writers of the Bible need not be regarded as infallible.
The other course left open for Miss Willard and her friends is to show that the "Counter Argument" is entirely wrong in its exegesis; and this can be done.
In support of the universality of Paul's prohibition, the doctor, it will be noticed, makes two remarkable statements. First, "There is no kind of evidence that the women in the church at Corinth were either illiterate or immoral. The assertion that they were so is a gratuitous assumption to sustain a foregone conclusion."
We are sorry, but we are compelled, in the interests of truth, to echo the last of the foregoing words. This assertion of the doctor "is a gratuitous assumption to sustain a foregone conclusion."
Farrar speaks of the Corinthian church as
158"largely composed of slaves and women." Conybeare and Howson, referring to a compliment paid the women of the Corinthian church by Clement, say, "Those women must, therefore, have been greatly changed since the time when (as Paul describes) fornication, wantonness, and impurity were the characteristics of their society." Says Dr. Schaff, "‘To live as at Corinth’ was a proverb meaning profligate indulgence, and the name ‘Corinthian,’ applied to a woman, was infamous." He also speaks of the "lax state of sexual morals" in the church.
Bearing in mind, what is generally acknowledged, that women in their goodness are better than men, but in their badness are worse, and keeping in mind the fact that those women to whom Paul referred (1 Cor. xiv. 34, 35) belonged to a church where the members were drunk at the communion service, and were guilty of sins too gross to mention, we can see abundant reason for special prohibitions.
159"If you had been in the East, where I have been, and seen what I have, you would not need to ask that question. When the women come together for any kind of service, it is almost impossible to keep them from talking about anything they see and hear. If the speaker says anything they don't understand, they stop him by asking questions, and sometimes all get to talking at once."
They were some of the women of that country, "where people revelled in the excesses of wealth and luxury; where they abandoned themselves to vice and profligacy; where hundreds of bold courtesans appeared on the streets and in public places; where the name ‘Corinthian,’ as applied to a woman, meant a bad character; where virtuous women, for their own protection, had to go veiled; where the worship of Venus was attended with a shameful licentiousness; and where the low ideas of morals, resulting in ‘uncleanness, and fornication, and lasciviousness,’ endangered the life of the church," whom Paul had in mind when he said, "— tfÅ yvvalxeg i^iv iv raig exxirjaiaig uiyaiiDouf," "Let your women," or "Let the women in your church assemblies," "keep silence." Doubtless, Miss Willard, had she been there, would have given a similar recommendation.
And yet in that church were some women who were authorized to minister, though they were advised to have their heads covered, which in
160Corinth was a mark that would separate them from the lewd women of the city. But for that covering these women preachers would have been exposed to the same insults that were heaped upon the disreputable.
The other remarkable statement of our worthy doctor, in support of the universality of Paul's prohibition, is given thus: "If the ignorance or immorality of these women had been the reason for the injunction of silence, Paul was man enough to say so. But he assigns very different reasons, which are universal and applicable even to the best of American women. This reason is twofold: first, it is contrary to the law, which enjoins the subordination of women; and, secondly, it is a shame for women to speak in the church."
The analysis here is very easy. The "Counter Argument" endeavors to prove the universality of Paul's prohibition by showing that it is illegal for women to speak in the church, because, by divine announcement, Eve, after the fall, was made subordinate to Adam.
We need not dwell at length upon the unsoundness of this position. We can do no better, perhaps, than repeat the reasoning of this book (see, pp. 77-90), where it has been shown triumphantly that the subordination enjoined upon woman in the passage in question no more describes the
161condition in which God now would have the woman placed, than the struggle with "thorns and thistles," and "the sweat of the brow" describe the condition to which God forever would subject the man. But some one may ask, Are you not here antagonizing Paul, instead of the "Counter Argument"? By no means. The solution of this matter is simple enough. Sin had been committed. The subordination of women, the thorns and thistles, and sweat of the brow, to which may be added sickness, pain, and death, constitute the punishment for that sin. And has not the penalty been inflicted? Has not the earth been full of groans, and has not woman with great cruelty been oppressed? The fact of the subordination of women at the fall, no one disputes. But is there to be no restoration? is the question which in our day is upon many lips. Must the thorns and the thistles be left to grow? Or, practically, what shall Christians do? plant more thorns and thistles, in order to carry out God's plan, or root up those that are planted? Shall we increase the toil, the sickness, the pain, and the deaths of mankind, or try to diminish them? Does not the intelligent Christian spirit of the age bid us root out the thorns and thistles, visit and minister to the sick, build hospitals, and make the woes of the world less?
If these human mitigations of the consequences
162of sin are in harmony with God's will, then it cannot be God's will for men any longer to keep their oppressive heels upon the necks of Christian women. If Christianity bids us lift the curse from man, in the same breath it must bid us lift the curse from woman; and that is what will restore her original rights, when she, as queen, was bidden, with man, as king, to have dominion over the earth.
The progress from that day to this has been slow; but, perhaps, no slower than the progress of Christianity itself. And no one can doubt that just in proportion to the prevalence of an enlightened Christianity will be the elevation of woman, and her freedom from the curse of the law.
Even Paul was blessed with an inspiring vision of woman's redemption. When writing to the
163Galatians, he says: "There is neither Greek nor Jew, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female, for ye are all one man in Christ Jesus."
Next, the "Counter Argument" endeavors to prove the universality of Paul's prohibition by showing that "it is a shame for women to speak in the church." This, therefore, we speak it respectfully, is the last ditch in which those who deny woman's right to enter the ministry make their stand; "it is a shame, alo^go*, a deformity, an indecency, for a woman (for any woman, anywhere or under any circumstances) to speak in the church," is the heroic challenge.
But, some one replies, this is Paul's announcement, and you are, therefore, at war with Paul as much as with the "Counter Argument." Not at all. That we have here Paul's reasoning to show that it was an indecency for some unsanctified Asiatic women to speak in their church assemblies is true. And no one need hesitate to say that the
164prohibition and reasoning, thus restricted, are correct. Paul was quite right. But that we have in these passages Paul's reasoning to show that all women are prohibited from entering the ministry is what we deny.
We are thus brought to what may be termed short range, in this battle for truth; and, for various reasons, rapid firing for a few moments is a military necessity.
If the silence of women in the church is a command of God, then its violation is either a sin per se, or else a sin only under certain circumstances. If it is a sin per se, then it belongs to the division of ethics called "immutable morality." If it belongs to this class of sins, its wickedness must be as instinctively perceived by every moral intelligence as would be, for instance, the wrongfulness of ingratitude to a benefactor; for this is one of the characteristics of immutable morality. But does every moral intelligence instinctively perceive that if a woman speaks in church she is thus guilty of an infraction of immutable morality? But if, on the other hand, the violation of the command to keep silence is a sin only under certain circumstances, then, when those (Asiatic) circumstances are absent, no sin is committed though the prohibition is disregarded. This dilemma we throw into the last ditch. Our friend may take which horn he pleases.
Again. If it is illegal and a shame in a literal, universal, and absolute sense for a woman "to speak in the church," or "to teach" anywhere, then it is a sin and a shame for any women to sing in the choir, or to instruct classes in the Sunday-school, or in the public school, or for any mother to teach her children even in the privacy and sanctity of her own home. And the work of the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union, with its departments of evangelistic service, in which are employed "an aggregate of several thousands of women, who are regularly studying and expounding God's Word to the multitude, to say nothing of the army in home and foreign missionary work, who are engaged in church evangelism," and the mammoth temperance and national conventions, organized and addressed in some instances exclusively by women, should all be branded as violations of God's eternal law; and the women guilty of these illegal and indecent proceedings should be forthwith summoned to appear at the bar of the church to answer for their sins. If, therefore, our opponents hesitate to insist upon the literal, universal, and absolute enforcement of the prohibition in question, then American women may feel free to enter the ministry. But if a literal, universal, and absolute enforcement is demanded, then, as we have seen, contradiction and confusion are carried into the
166Scriptures, and war is made upon the common sense and common practice of modern times, to such extent that the whole civilized world will rise in arms against it. This dilemma we also throw into the last ditch. Our friend may take which horn he pleases.
Again. The public speech of some women is unquestionably prohibited in the passages already repeatedly referred to. But the public speech of some other women is unquestionably regulated in 1 Cor. xi. 5 and elsewhere. When there are two statements made by the same writer, the one prohibiting and the other regulating a given practice, it follows that the prohibition must have come after, or at the same time with, or before the precept regulating the practice. If the prohibition came after the precept regulating the practice, then the prohibition belongs not to the essentials, but to the variables in Christianity. If both the prohibition and the precept regulating it came at the same time, then, unless there is a contradiction, the practice was prohibited in one place or under one class of circumstances but was allowed in another place or under other circumstances; therefore the prohibition belongs not to the essentials, but to the variables of Christianity. If the prohibition came before the precept regulating it, then not only does the prohibition belong to the variables of Christianity, but the regulating precept,
167which implies permission under certain circumstances to practise what is prohibited under other circumstances, is now in force.
Good friends of the opposition, which of the three positions do you take? We have no special choice. But one or the other must be taken, and whichever is taken is fatal to that part of the "Counter Argument" now in question.
Or, as before, we may put this matter in the form of a dilemma. A practice prohibited in one sentence and regulated in another, by the same author, shows either variability in opinion, or else an intended limitation in the original prohibition. Which horn is chosen?
Again, if all the positive commands and express prohibitions, even in their accidentals, are permanent, and if upon this ground of unchangeableness the command for women not to speak is to be enforced, then must other practices also be enforced. And our worthy doctor, to be consistent, must withdraw the "Counter Argument," or else with the same zeal with which he has carried on his present argument he must insist that his people, instead of shaking hands, shall greet one another with a holy kiss;
This dilemma we cast in with the others, hoping, however, that the good doctor will not imperil his reputation for sound judgment by insisting that these accidentals, which belong to the administrative economy of Asiatic churches rather than to the fundamental and unchanging principles of the Gospel of Christ, must be enforced among all Christian people.
Is it not time that we all had learned that it is contrary to the genius of Christianity to insist upon the observance of minute precepts and prohibitions? Christ arraigned in the severest terms, more than once, the Jewish authorities for magnifying the letter of the law, as well as for disregarding its spirit. "All things to all men," was a broad generalization of the very apostle who is so misinterpreted by others that he is made to lock in silence the lips of more than half the Christian world.
True Christianity lodges the principles of love and of filial obedience in the heart, and then allows their working out differently under different circumstances.
"One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
"He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the
169Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
"I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.
"...Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died...
"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
"For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence."
We, therefore, insist that the fourth proposition of the "Counter Argument," in its general scope and in all its particulars, is incorrect, being antagonistic to the common-sense of the world and to the entire spirit of the Gospel of our blessed Lord and Master.
There are bits of dogmatizing in the "Counter Argument" to which we must just refer because of what was charged in our indictment. The "appropriate sphere" of woman and her "legitimate influence," "as defined by the Word of God and the constitution of her own nature," are
170matters announced without proof. The begging of questions in such a wholesale way is not allowed in masculine reasoning. "This regimen is to last," "the Christian church will continue, to hold, even to the end of the centuries" (the views now held) are harmless predictions, not arguments. The only thing one need do in reply is to make counter predictions. This we do. The Christian church will not continue to hold even to the end of the centuries the views of this subject that have been held. The old regimen is not to last; it ought not to last; it is contrary to the Bible and common-sense, and therefore cannot last; and it is not lasting. Women are to be ordained, and are being ordained. There is a louder call to-day for ordained women than ever before. In some heathen lands Christian converts cannot receive the ordinances of the church except at the hands of ordained women. This is what Dr. Thoburn says of India, and what Dr. Baldwin says of China. "Bishop Taylor has been forced, by his boundless field and his scanty number of workers, to admit women, without ordination, to his mission conferences, and appoint them to charges in Africa."
If the only way in which those women in the zenanas who have been led to Christ by women can receive the ordinances of the church is to
171receive them at the hands of ordained women, then there is but one manly and Christian thing for the men who are in charge of those fields to do, provided the churches at home refuse to act, and that one thing is for them to pray and to place consecrated hands upon those women missionaries, and say to them, not by authority given by the Methodist Episcopal Church or the Presbyterian Church, but by authority given by the Great Head of the Church, "Take thou authority to execute the office of a deacon in the Church of God; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," and "Take thou authority to read the Holy Scriptures in the Church of God, and to preach the same." After doing this, then let those godly missionaries report their grave misdemeanor to the ensuing General Conference.
And what is to be said as to the Christian women of America? In some instances they have remarkable spiritual and intellectual gifts. In other respects, too, they have exceptional qualifications to meet all the conditions required of men who enter the ministry. They have "gifts, labors, and usefulness." When, therefore, such women hear the command of God bidding them speak and preach, what are they to do? What right have they to be "disobedient to the heavenly vision"? Or what right have they to hide their
172candle under the bushel? These noble women should knock only once more at the doors of the Methodist General Conference, and if their signals and entreaties are again uncivilly disregarded they should never knock again; they should call together some of the noblest Christian women of the land, and, in solemn convocation, by the laying-on of hands and by prayer, they should set apart for pulpit and parish work those who trust that they "are inwardly moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon themselves the office of the ministry in the Church of Christ, to serve God for the promoting of his glory and the edifying of his people."
When that step is taken, if those women are willing to extend an invitation, they will be surprised at the number of clergymen who, with a noble Wesleyan spirit, will hasten to render assistance at the ordination.
"Oh, in the better order of things, Heaven grant that the ministry of souls may be left in charge of women! The gates of the Blessed City will be thronged with the multitude that enter in, when that day comes! The task belongs to woman. God meant it for her. He has endowed her with religious sentiment in its utmost depth and purity, refined from that gross intellectual alloy with which every masculine theologist — save only One, who merely veiled Himself in mortal and masculine shape, but was, in truth, divine — has been prone to mingle it." — HAWTHORNE.
At the outset (Acts vi. 1-6), seven men were ordained for the purpose of ministering in the temporal affairs of the church, especially in the distribution of charities; but after a time the office was enlarged, so that two at least of the original seven deacons became preaching evangelists (Acts vi. 8-10 and viii. 5-8), and the term "deacon" was extended so as to be applied even to the leading apostles. In 1 Cor. iii. 5, Paul styles himself and Apollos not preachers but deacons. Compare 1 Tim.. i. 12; Acts xx. 24; Col. iv. 17; 2 Tim. iv. 5; Rom. xii. 7; Eph. iv. 12; 2 Cor. vi. 3 and iv. 1, where "deaconship" is the exact rendering of the Greek word for "ministry."
In support of the view that women were elected and ordained deacons in the Christian ministry, Dr. Daniel Steele furnished us with these observations: —
"The case of Deacon Phebe is not solitary, though the English translators are disposed to hide her office under the term ‘servant,’ which is well enough if they had applied the same term to the male deacons. Paul gave explicit directions respecting the ordination of women deacons in 1 Tim. iii. 11. Here the translators have put a bushel over the deaconesses by using the word ‘wives.’
"In his Biblico-Theologieal Lexicon, Cremer, a German, a man of a nation strongly inclined to keep women down in a very low ‘sphere,’ is constrained by his candor to admit that this text is a ‘passage which for preponderating reasons must be taken as referring to deaconesses.’ Says Dean Alford: ‘In this view the ancients are, as far as I know, unanimous.’ A succession of first-class exegetes, from Chrysostom to Philip Schaff, sustain this interpretation, among whom are Grotius, Mosheim, Michaelis, DeWette, Wiesinger, Ellicott, and Whedon.
"An equal array of exegetical authorities can be brought to interpret 1 Tim. v. 9, ‘Let a widow not less than sixty years of age, etc., be enrolled,’ or set apart for ecclesiastical duties, either as deacon or elder. In fact in the early church they were called presbutides elderesses, having duties corresponding to those of the presbyters. They sat unveiled in a separate place, by the presbyters."
And "prophesy," by the highest unprejudiced scholarship, means "to instruct, comfort, encourage, rebuke, correct, stimulate their hearers" (see Grimm's Lexicon); "the utterance of their own conscious intelligence informed by the Holy Spirit" (Alford).