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Woman’s Work

September 14, 1893 — National Baptist Educational and Foreign Mission Convention, Washington DC

 

l come to you rejoicing in the fullness of the gospel, rejoicing for what God has wrought for the world, and above all, foe what he has done for woman through the gospel of his dear Son. “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” — (Acts xv. 13.) And gradually has his works been made manifest to the world.

“How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in his excellent word!
What more can he say, than to you he has said,
To you, who for refuge to Jesus hath fled.”

To-day, with holy awe and reverence, we are to consider the gospel message which says, “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.”

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. Emerging from this state of chaos and darkness, God presented man, for his habitation, a beautiful garden fragrant with the perfume of flowers; resonant with the carol of birds, and supplied with all that was necessary for the well-being of man, and then said: “It is not good that the man be alone, I will make an help-meet for him.” Beginning with creation we find that woman has figured conspicuously, by proving herself a desirable help to man in every important dispensation of God’s providence. As woman was instrumental in the fall, God also used her in redeeming fallen humanity. He gave us this, assurance in the first promise — “The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.”

When God called out a peculiar people for himself, he made choice of the mother of Israel; thereby instituting the holy ordinance of matrimony and directing his children how to enter into it. But alas! as in other things, so in this all-important matter, we’ve left the commandment of God, and followed the doctrines of men ¾ to the ruin and havoc of social blessedness. The following poetical strain applies to matrimonial bliss, as well as our Christian relation; in fact, Christ likens his love for his church to that which should exist between husband and wife:

“Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in mutual love,
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.”

No union, based upon anything than true love, as a result of real worth of character of the contracting parties, can be happy and productive of the great good God destined by the holy ordinance. In the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage, it was the love and wisdom of woman that preserved, nourished and trained the man child that God called to be the leader, judge and priest for his people. Just here, as the care and training of children is preeminently the work of woman, we pause to say a few words concerning the influence and duty of women to children.

The fondest love and strongest ties of earth exist between mother and child.

“At home or away, in alley or street,
Whenever I chance in this wide world to meet
A girl that is thoughtless or boy that is wild,
My heart echoes softly, ‘t’is somebody’s child.’

No matter how far from the right she has strayed;
No matter what inroads dishonor has made;
No matter that sin and pain has tarnished the pearl;
Through tarnished and sullied, she is some mother’s girl.

No matter how wayward his footsteps have been;
No matter how deeply he has sunken in sin;
No matter how low is his standard of joy;
Though guilty and loathsome, he is some mother’s boy.”

The mother transmits her virtues or her vices to her children; in fact, she reproduces herself in her children, and she is exerting an influence for good or ill, in spite of her will, from the time the child is sensible of anything until it leaves the world. Oh, how careful ought she to be to make the most of herself, physically, mentally and morally, that her children might be a power in the world for good, and rise up and call her blessed! If there was no other reason favoring the higher education of women than the fact that they are to be the mothers of the nation, that one alone is all-sufficient; for the mother has almost the entire care of the child in early life. She is its first God-given teacher, and wields an influence no one else can. Let women see to it that they use every opportunity for development of all their powers.

A more important position is filled by no one than that held by the mothers of our country, not even the executive head of the government, for it is what the mothers make the boys that will give us a good or bad government; and the mothers control their children, while the executive head of this government is the servant of the people, since it is a government of the people, for the people and by the people.

We are learning now that we are responsible for the well-being of our children, and our neighbors’ children, as to their bodies, minds and spirits, and feel the weight of this responsibility to the extent that we are trying by organized effort to prepare ourselves to meet it; that we may help on the onward march of all that is grand and glorious.

The story of Hannah leads us to understand how soon we should begin the training of our children. When the child was weaned, she carried him to the temple and gave him to the Lord, and God used Samuel as a powerful agency to reprove the wrong and defend the right.

In union there is strength, so the organizations of Christian women are giving them strength of character, and preparing them for effective service ¾ such organization as the W.C.T.U., Missionary Circles, Kings Daughters, Bible Bands and Fireside Schools ¾ the last named organization is a plan God has recently given our beloved sister J. P. Moore. It is so comprehensive that every woman in the land can enjoy its blessings. It is an organization for the improvement of the home life; the development of the women and the training of children. As the name indicates, it is a school around the fireside, and though it is of recent birth, God has wondrously blessed it, and there is already a host of women in the South-land as witnesses of its effectiveness in the elevation of our homes. Brethren and sisters, let me entreat you to encourage and foster the Fireside School, and as this sainted mother of Israel, who has given her life for our people, declines in strength, and step by step walks out of labor to reward, a halo of glory may crown her efforts, and she may go home rejoicing with the laurels of a victorious conqueror.

We believe that God meant what he said in Gen. ii. 18, as in Mark xvi. 16; and I’m sure you all agree that woman is a help along the line I’ve spoken; but we advance further, and affirm that it is not good for man to be alone anywhere. Those places to which he goes, to the exclusion of women, such as saloons, club-rooms and legislative halls, are not suitable for him, and he is not safe, and we are sure it is not good for him, because God says that it is not good for man to be alone; and the wreck and ruin that result from his frequenting places of ill-repute, and the unjust and imperfect laws he makes are substantial proof that danger and death await those who disobey God’s word. But what about man going alone to war? We answer by asking who was it that drove the nail into Sisera’s temple? and what of the heroism of Joan of Arc? War is one of man’s inventions; it is not good in itself, neither is it good for man to go to war alone, most especially in the Lord’s work. “Neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man in the Lord.” 1 Cor. xi. 11. In the Lord we must be together. Esther and her people laboring together with God saved her nation. Anna and Simeon together welcomed Jesus when he was brought to the temple for the first time after his birth. In these perilous times, when our men’s hearts are failing, and there are distress and perplexities of various kinds, there is the same need of the prayers of earnest Christian women that there was when Peter was in prison.

The power of prayer can not be over-estimated. “If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” Many a husband, father, brother and son have been saved in answer to the faithful prayer of woman, and God has given you this evidence of woman’s worth, that you might encourage her, and recognize her as your help-meet in evangelizing the world. We still have the poor and neglected, the widows and orphans, and hence Dorcas’ work needs to be continued; the travelling servant to God are to be administered unto, and Lydias are in demand to entertain them, especially at such times as this; and since others need to be instructed in the way of the Lord more perfectly, Pricillas can find work to do.

We praise God that we all have the same blessed Savior, and Master, who has give us all the same blessed Gospel that he gave the Samaritan woman at the well, and Mary at the Sepulchre; and he is calling now; loudly calling you and me; calling by the lightning; by the storm and tempest; by persecution, famine, pestilence and death, and by the Gospel of his dear Son, ever from the mouths of women and children, do we hear this pleading voice, take the Cross and follow on.

We claim for woman her God-given name, help-meet, and insist that man needs her help in every department of life. He cannot be right to put woman in one corner and man in another. All of our church work stands greatly in need of the united effort of its members, and since the majority of the membership is women, unless they work, very little can be accomplished.

Isn’t it strange, men will suffer women to do all the drudgery work, plow, plant, cultivate and gather the crop, draw water and split rails, and all other kinds of drudgery; but when it comes to mental or spiritual work, men wish to exclude women; as if they thought women had all the muscular strength and they had the brains and thinking powers.

Friends, we must come to the acknowledgement of this truth, “That it is not good for man to be alone,” and our church work needs the wisdom of both sexes to carry it on as God ordains it.

The President has a Cabinet and an errand boy that stands by his side; both are his helpers; he needs both, but could better dispense with his errand boy than with his Cabinet. Now, we would like to whisper to man that he needs woman’s help more in his cabinet than as an errand girl.

Did I say woman more needed in your cabinet than as an errand girl? Yes, brethren, you will find her of service upon your Executive Boards, both State and National. She’ll do you good everywhere, all the days of your life; for God has said, “It is not good that man should be alone.”

God help us to examine this subject in the light of his Word! Do it for the sake of the children, who need the united wisdom of men and women to guard their wayward feet in the path of righteousness; do it for the sake of our homes, where we want love, order, peace and purity; but know we cannot have them unless husband and wife work and plan together. Let us do it for the sake of our country, where good and just laws are so much needed for the protection and encouragement of both man and woman; and above all for the sake of the Lord Jesus, who has prayed the Father that we might be one even as he and his Father were one; that the World might believe he was sent of the Father.

What a glory shall follow in the wake of the acceptance of this glorious truth. God’s Church will awake, Jews and Greeks; bond and free, male and female, and when awakened, a mighty host will be in action — stalwart men, women and children ¾ and the Gospel Message shall soon extend throughout the earth, and we shall say no longer, one to the other, “know ye the Lord,” but all shall know him, and

“From Greenland’s icy mountains,
From India’s coral stand;
And Afric’s sunny fountains,”

shall ascend songs of praise to the Lamb that was slain.

“And Jesus shall reign, where’er the sun
Doth his successive journeys run;
His kingdom, spread from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.”

In closing my thoughts on woman’s work, as presented in God’s word, Mr. Moody’s four words necessary to the study of God’s word are very suggestive, “Admit, Submit, Commit, Transmit.” Admit — believe it all, from Genesis to Revelation; don’t stop at the Jordan, but grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Submit — yield to its requirements. Commit — learn it, treasure it — “Thy words have I hid in my heart.” Transmit — “give it to others,” (Deut. vi. 6-9.) — that we may all take heed thereto, and go forward as laborers together with God, seeking to save this lost world!

 

 

Source: National Baptist Magazine, 1:1, January 1894, pp. 30-35.

 

Also: Women’s Work, as Gleaned from the Women of the Bible, 1904.