Woman’s Place in the Work of the Denomination
August 26, 1887 — American National Baptist Convention, Mobile AL
How pleasant it is to wander over, and enjoy this beautiful world God has made. Its green meadows, its beautiful fields, its dense forests with wild flowers and rippling streams, its wide expanse of water and lofty mountains all delight us. But while charmed with its beauty, our joy is greater if we can comprehend that it “was without form and void” and contrast its present beauty with the roughness of its former state. So in viewing the wonders of divine grace, we need to note its results in connection with what might have been, and before attempting to describe woman’s work in the denomination and the great blessings God has bestowed upon her, we will first consider her condition when His gospel found her, that we may better appreciate the grace which wrought the change. Among all nations woman was degraded. Besides being bartered or sold as a thing of merchandise, there were barbarous laws and customs among the Phoenicians, Armenians, Carthaginians, Medes and Persians, and all too revolting and indecent to be mentioned. Greece, whose land abounded in scholars, heroes, and sages where the sun of intellect illumined the world, looked upon her as an object “without a soul.” Gibbon says; “the Romans married without love, or loved without delicacy or respect.”
In China, Japan and Africa the condition is the same except where Christianity has emancipated her. And wherever the religion of the true Messiah has spread its snowy white pinions and lighted up the deep dark recesses of man’s heart, woman has been loved adored respected. I will not affirm that all virtue and joy were unknown: There are some fertile spots in the most arid deserts; there is light in the darkest places amid all this wickedness and infidelity. God has preserved the spark of faith, purity, and love. Though we live in the Nineteenth century, and have it in its beauty and strength, our own beloved America is not free from the curse. Modern Athens is not totally unlike ancient Athens.
The leaven of infidelity is infesting this land. Immoralities, indecencies and crimes as revolting as ever withered and blighted a nation are of usual occurrence. They fearlessly maintain their hold and flaunt their wicked banners in the face of the government which is either too corrupt to care, or to timid to oppose. Who is to wipe these iniquities from our land if it be not Christian women? A reform in these things can not be effected by the ballot, by political station, or by mere supremacy of civil law. It must come by woman’s unswerving devotion to a pure and undefiled Christianity, for to that alone, woman owes her influence, her power and all she is. To establish this truth we will recount history as its light comes to us from the pages of the Bible. Fortunately the records of the past present an array of heroic and saintly women whose virtues have made the world more tolerable, and chief among these are the wives, mothers and daughters of the Holy Scriptures.
In the formation of the world when the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, the fish of the sea and the beautiful garden of Paradise were made for the happiness of man, and when man himself was made in the image of his Creator, God plucked Eve from the side of Adam “without childhood or growth” to be “a helpmeet for him.” When Adam first looked upon her he was enraptured with the perfectness of her form, the splendor of her beauty, the purity of her countenance and in this excess of joy he exclaimed: “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife.” They knew naught but divine happiness. Their hearts were filled with pure love unsullied by sin, but alas! in a short time the scene was changed — Eve was tempted — partook of the forbidden fruit and gave to Adam and he did eat. In this fallen state they were driven from the garden, yet she proved still a helpmeet for her husband, sharing his sorrow as she had shared his joy. Many have been the reproaches uttered against her — few have been her defenders. Dr. Pendleton says: “Eve acting under a mistake and a delusion was by no means excusable, but Adam was far more inexcusable than she for he acted intelligently as well as voluntarily. He knew what he was doing.” There is much to admire in the character of Sarah, wife of Abraham, her reverence for her husband; her devotion to her son; her faithfulness to duty; her willingness in its performance. She was beautiful, chaste, modest and industrious — all these she sacrificed for the good and welfare of those around her. It was in this family God preserved the seed of righteousness. Also we find Miriam cheering on the hosts of Israel with her timbrel in her hands as she uttered the songs of praise “Sing, sing ye to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously, the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.” God’s thought and appreciation of woman’s work appears when he appoints Deborah to be a warrior, judge and prophet. Her work was distinct from her husband’s who, it seems took no part whatever in the work of God while Deborah was inspired by the Eternal expressly to do His will and to testify to her countrymen that He recognizes in His followers neither male nor female, heeding neither the “weakness” of one, nor the strength of the other, but strictly calling those who are perfect at heart and willing to do his bidding. She was a woman of much meekness and humility, but of great force of character. Her song of praise, when Israel overcame the enemy, has only been excelled by the Psalms of David: “and Israel had rest forty years.” Mention might also be made of Huldah, wife of Shallum, who dwelt in Jerusalem in a college, to whom went Hilkiah, the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor and Shapham and Asaiah to enquire concerning the words of the book that was found in the house of the Lord. It was a woman whom God had chosen as a medium between Him and His people who would faithfully report all that he desired. Huldah’s dwelling 4n college shows that she was anxious to become familiar with the law — to better prepare herself for the work of Him Who had called her. Woman’s faith and devotion are beautifully illustrated by the touching scene between Ruth and Naomi, when Naomi besought Ruth to return to the home of her birth, thinking that the pleasure of childhood days had endeared it to her, and when Ruth with that pathos of devotion, and fairness said: “Entreat me not to leave thee, or [illeg.]/ return from following after thee: For whither thou goest, I will go; and when thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people and thy God [illeg.]/ God; where thou diest I will die, and there will I be buried; the Lord do so me and more too if aught but death part thee and me.” We cannot forget [illeg.]/ maternal tenderness of Hagar, the well kept promise of Hannah, the [illeg.]/ devotion of Jephthah’s daughter, nor the queenly patriotism of Esther. But woman bore such recognition as Mary the mother of Jesus, who was chose to bear a prominent part in human regeneration. After the fall of our [illeg.]/ parents, God promised that a virgin should bear a son who should be [illeg.]/ Redeemer of the human race. The memory of this promise was preserve through all nations, and each was desirous of the honor. The story of the birth of Romulus and Remus coincides with the miraculous birth of Jesus [illeg.]/ Silvia became their mother by the God Mars, even as Christ was the son the Holy Ghost. An effort was made to take the life of these boys by throwing the cradle which contained them into the river Arnio, whence it was carry into the Tiber. The cradle was stranded at the foot of Palatine and the [illeg.]/ were carried by a she-wolf into her den where they were tenderly cared This escape is likened to the flight into Egypt, and while this story become a myth, the birth of Christ becomes more and more a reality. They are others who claim this mysterious birth. The most revered goddess of Chinese sprung from the contact of a flower. Buddha was claimed to [illeg.]/ been borne by a virgin named Maha-Mahai, but none realized the power the words spoken by the angel, Hail full of grace, the Lord is with thee! [illeg.]/ are thou among women, [illeg.] save Mary.” History and tradition tell us she excelled her young companions in her intelligence and skill. Denis, the [illeg.]/ says: “She was a dazzling beauty.” St. Epiphanius, writing in the [illeg.]/ century, from traditions and manuscripts says: “In stature she was above medium, her hair was blonde; her face oval; her eyes bright and slightly [illeg.]/ in color; her eyebrows perfectly arched, her nose equaline and of [illeg.]/ able perfection and her lips were ruby red. The ardent sun of her country slightly bronzed her complexion; her hands were long, her fingers slender” as a virgin she honored one of the most beautiful virtues of [illeg.]/ as a mother she nourished a Redeemer. She gave the world an example non-excelled maternal devotion; of the most magnificent grief which [illeg.]/ affords. The life of Christ furnishes many examples of woman’s work, [illeg.]/ and devotion. They took part in the Savior’s work, followed Him on His journeys, believed on Him and loved Him. They were “last at the cross and first the grave.” Christ did certainly atone for the sins of man, but His mission to woman was a great deal more; for He has not only saved her soul, but actually brought out and cultivated her intellect for the good of His cause. He was her friend, her counselor and her Savior. She bathed His feet with her tears and wiped them with the hairs of her head. He found comfort in the home of Mary and Martha when burdened, or tired from a day’s journey. At the well of Samaria He converses with a woman which was unlawful for a man of respect to do, but He not only talked with her but permitted her to do good for mankind and the advancement of His cause. Filled with enthusiasm she leaves her water pot and hastens to proclaim her loyalty to One Who had won her heart and spoken to her of “living water.” She testified that she had seen the true Messiah and invites others to see Him for themselves. To Mary Magdalene was the commission given to bear the joyful intelligence that Jesus had risen. It was the women more than men whose faith ventured to show Jesus those personal kindnesses which our Lord ever appreciated. In the lives and acts of the Apostles women are discovered praying, prophesying and spreading the gospel. Prominent for good works and alms deeds which she did was Dorcas. Like the Savior she went about doing good, but in the midst of this usefulness she died and so great was the grief of the widows unto whom she had ministered that the Lord again restored her to them. Paul placed much value on the work of Phebe and commends her to the churches as “our sister.” Phebe was a deaconess of the church of Cenchrea and was, no doubt a great helper of Paul s “in the gospel.” In the letter she carries to Rome, mention is made of quite a number of women who had been co-workers with the apostle. One of the first on the list was Priscilla, the wife of Aquilla who had with her husband laid down her neck for him. She possessed high qualities and did active work in the cause which she espoused. Lydia was the first European convert — after she received the word into her heart; at once opens her house and offers a home to the apostle who had been instrumental in her conversion. At Thessalonica we find “the chief women not a few” among the workers of the church. The church today wants more Priscillas, Phebes, Chloes, Elizabeths, Marys, Annas, Tryphenas, Tryphosas, Julias and Joannas to labor in the gospel, to give of their substance; to follow Jesus; to be willing to sacrifice their substance; to follow Jesus; to be willing to sacrifice their lives for the love they bear their Lord. It is not Christianity which disparages the intellect of woman and scorns her ability for doing good, for its records are filled with her marvelous successes. Emancipate woman from the chains that now restrain her and who can estimate the part she will play in the work of denomination? In the Baptist denomination women have more freedom than in any other denomination on the face of the earth. I am not unmindful of the kindness you noble brethren have exhibited in not barring us from your platforms and deliberations. All honor I say to such men. Every woman in the world ought to be a Baptist, for in this blessed denomination men are even freer than elsewhere. Free men cannot conscientiously shut the doors against those whom custom has limited in privileges and benefits. As the vitalizing principles of the Baptists expand and permeate the religious principles of the world women will become free. As the Bible is an iconoclastic weapon — it is bound to break down images of error that have been raised. As no one studies it so closely as the Baptists their women shall take the lead. History gives a host of women who have achieved and now enjoy distinction as writers, linguists, poets, physicians, lecturers, editors, teachers and missionaries. Visit the temples of the living God and there you will find them kneeling at His shrine as ready now as in centuries past, to attest their faith by their suffering and if need be by the sacrifice of life. As they by their numbers, who followed Christ up Calvary’s rugged road, caused the cowardice of man to blush, so in the crowds of worshippers who do Him honor to-day put to shame the indifference and the coldness of man’s allegiance to God. But to the limited subject,
WHAT IS DENOMINATIONAL WORK?
I deem it to be the most honorable, the most exalted and the most enviable. It strengthens the link between the church militant and the church triumphant—between man and his Creator. All Woman who are truly christians are candidates in this broad field of labor. It calls for valiant hearted women who will enlist for life. None whose soul is not overflowing with love for Christ and whose chief aim is not to save souls need apply. Success need not necessarily depend on learning, genius, taste, style, elegant language, nor a rapid use of the tongue, but it is the earnestness of the soul, the simplicity of the Word accompanied by the Spirit of the living God. The Maker of all has wisely distributed these talents and whatever characterizes the individual He has commanded to “to occupy till I come” and to use well the talent entrusted to your care. It often happens that some humble woman bent on her staff full of fervor yet unlettered, does more by her upright living, her words of counsel, her ardent prayers “that go up to God as a sweet smelling savor” than many who pick their words and try to appear learned. This denominational work demands active labor in and for the churches. It does not demand that every woman shall be a Deborah, a Huldah, a Dorcas, or a Phoebe — It simply asks that every woman be a woman — a christian woman who is willing to consecrate all for the cause of Christ. A story is told of a woman who when she was unable to express intelligently and satisfactorily what the Lord had done for her and when the anxious crowd was about to turn away disappointed she exclaimed: “I cannot talk for Him, but I can die for Him.” “Whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.” To serve the church we must die daily to selfishness, pride, vanity, a lying tongue, a deceitful heart and walk worthy of the calling in Christ Jesus. We are to pray without ceasing—to be fervent in season and out of season — to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable before God which is our reasonable service.” We are to speak as the spirit shall give utterance, that He may work in us to will and to do His good pleasure. I know Paul said “Let the woman keep silence in the churches” but because he addressed this to a few Grecian and Asiatic woman who were wholly given up to idolatry and the fashion of the day is no reason why it should be quoted to the pious women of the present. A woman may suffer martyrdom, she may lift her voice in song, she may sacrifice modesty to collect money from the church, for her work in this particular is considered essential and it matters not how prominent a place she occupies in fairs, festivals, sociables, tea parties, concerts and tableaux, but to take part in the business meeting of the church is wholly out of place because Paul said so. We are apt to quote Paul and shut our eyes and ears to the recognition and privilege Christ, his Master, gave, us, and not only did the Apostle appreciate the labors of women, and show towards them the greatest care and tenderest affection, but we find him in some places greatly dependent upon them, for co-operation in the foundation of the churches. But a change is coming; it has already commenced, and God is shaking up the church — He is going to bring it up to something better and that, too, greatly through the work of the women. Already the harvest is great. Can ye not discern the signs of the time? Do you not see how wickedness and crime are flooding our country — how tares are growing up in the midst of the wheat? See the foothold the Catholics are getting in our Christian land. They are taking our children putting clothes on their backs, food in their mouths and educating them that they must swell their number and represent their claim. See how nations, every where, are opening to the reception of the gospel. Listen to the cry of Africa’s heathen sons — note the” rush of other denominations to offer their faith, their belief, to satisfy the hunger of their souls and quench the thirst of their spirits. Can ye not discern the signs? It is quite time Christian soldiers were taking the field for Christ. The doctrines of our denomination must be so thoroughly diffused that a man though he be a fool need not err. A good pastor should have a good wife. He should find in her rest from care; comfort when distressed; his depressed spirits must be lifted by her consoling words; she must be his wisdom; his courage; his strength; his hope; his endurance. She is to beautify his home and make it a place of peace and cheerfulness — she is to be an example worthy of pattern for the neighborhood in which she lives — she is to take the lead in all worthy causes. Women are to look after the spiritual interest of the church as well as the men. Let them be punctual at services and make the prayer meeting interesting. Woman’s power of song, her heartfelt prayer, her ability to go into the highways and hedges and compel singers to come in, have marked her as proficient in revivals. A praying mother exerts more influence over the minds of the youth than all else. The recollections of such seasons when the tender plants were garnered in can never be effaced. The voice of that sainted mother still lingers upon them, and memory can never relinquish the priceless treasure she holds. Some of our best men owe their conversion and all that they are to the influence of a sainted mother, a devoted sister or some dear female friend. For money raising woman has no equals.
Our churches are largely supported by her financial efforts, but she should discountenance many of the plans to which she and her daughters are subjected — they are gates of vice that lead to destruction — this begging money from any and every body only invites and encourages insults and it must be stopped. Our churches must have some system in money raising and thereby save the girls. Many a girl with good intent got her start downward by this very act of soliciting money. A woman’s place is to assist the pastor, work in the Sabbath school, visit the sick, to care for the sick and lift up the fallen. She has a conspicuous place in
THE NEWSPAPER WORK OF THE DENOMINATINON
which is a powerful weapon for breaking down vice, establishing virtue, spreading the gospel and disseminating a general knowledge of the work of the denomination. Here she can command the attention of thousands. She can thunder from the editor’s chair and make the people hear. It has a wider circulation and as has been said “penetrates the most remote corners of the country.” In this field we need strong intellectual women. We need women of courage, who dare defend the faith and make the truth felt. As an editor a woman can better reach the mothers, daughters and sisters. Let her be a regular correspondent. Let the articles be strong and vigorous, let them show thought, learning and an earnestness for the cause represented. If she cannot be a regular correspondent she should write occasionally such articles as will give the people something to think and talk about. She should make them so plain and attractive that children will read them with eagerness and let some be especially to them; make them feel that some one else is interested in them besides mother and father and endeavor to impress them with upright living. Assist the editor in getting subscribers and see that a Baptist paper is in every home. See that the Baptist family reads your denominational paper.
The field of juvenile literature is open. I said recently before the National Press Convention, held in Louisville Ky. there are now published 24 secular papers and magazines in the United States for the children with a circulation of 775,934. The largest of which is the “Youth’s Companion” with a circulation of 385,251. Of the religious journals there are 47 with 678,346 circulation. Sunday School Journal (Methodist) claim 81,090: “The Sunday School Times” 77,500 and “Our Young People” 47,000. Of this number, 71 secular and religious papers, there is not one so far as I know, edited especially for colored children. There is a little paper whose name does not appear on the list that is written for the colored youth, being edited and controlled by Miss J. P. Moore of Louisiana. It is known as “Hope” and though of humble pretentions, in its silent way it is sowing seed from which shall spring an abundant harvest.
The educational work of the denomination belongs principally to woman. Three centuries ago women were almost universally uneducated and a half century ago found American women shut out from all places of learning. Ignorance seemed a bliss while wisdom a foolish idea. A young girl in Italy and a young widow in France almost simultaneously conceived the idea of educating young girls. It was the beginning of an institution that was destined to reform the world and this they comprehended, for they said “This regeneration of this corrupt world must be accomplished by children, for children will reform the families, families will reform the provinces and the provinces will reform the world.” Mademoiselle de Sainte-Beuve, foundress of the “Ursilines” of France, purchased a house at the Faubourg St. Jacques where she had two hundred pupils. It was her delight to watch them in their sport and as she looked upon them with maternal gaze she charmingly said “They sprung not from her loins, but from her heart.” At her death her portrait represented her before a window, her eyes fixed with intent devotion upon a garden full of beehives, with the legend “Mother of Bees.” Mary Lyons, in our own century, opened the way, and established Mount Holly [Holyoke] Seminary, the first institution established for girls. This is what woman has done, and may not our women do ever more for the denomination with the surrounding advantages? May they not found more “Spelman” and “Hartshorn” seminaries, more “Vassars?” The women have been promoted from mere kitchen drudgery, household duties, and gossiping from house to house — they can teach not as subordinates merely, but as principals, as professors. Woman has not only the art of inspiring the affections in her pupils, but also in keeping them interested in the tasks to be performed. I think the duty of our women is to impressibly teach the Scriptures and the doctrines of our denomination to the young under their care. I think we talk and preach baptism, “The Lord’s Supper,” and the “Final Perseverance of the Saints,” too little. Not one-half of the members of our churches can give a doctrinal reason why they are Baptists. We are too fearful of feelings, when we have the Bible that makes the Baptist churches on our side. They should instill in the child’s mind love toward God, his Creator, his Benefactor, his Saviour, and respect for all mankind.
As an author, woman has shown rare talents. The profession of mind affords the strongest evidence that God created her for society. As the fragrance which is in the bud will, when the bud expands, escape from its confinement and diffuse itself through the surrounding atmosphere, so if forms of beauty and sublimity are in the mind, they will exhibit themselves, and operate on other minds. The genius of woman was long hidden. Greece had a Sappho and a Carina; Israel had a Miriam. Antiquity turned a deaf ear to the cultivation of woman’s talent. The home of Cicero and Virgil neglected her intellect, but the revolution of ages and the progress of the present century have wrought a new change of affairs, and now woman has the pen and participates in the discussion of the times. It was when Christianity and infidelity were wrestling in Europe, that Hannah More came from retirement to take part in the contest. It was when slavery was at its highest, that Phillis Wheatly, Francis Ellen Harper, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, gave vent to their fullness of their souls in beautiful lines of poetry and prose. The human voice is fast receding, the written voice predominates. Since this is true, let the women see that the best and purest literature comes from them. Let them feel that they are called upon to consecrate all to truth and piety Lecturers address the people through the sense of hearing; writing through the sense of sight. Many persons will pay goodly sums to hear a good talk of some subject, rather than spend the time investigating books. As public lecturers women have been successful, and have secured good audiences. Rev. Mr. Higginson says: “Among the Spanish Arabs women were public lecturers and secretaries of kings, while Christian Europe was sunk in darkness. In Italy, from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century, it was not esteemed unfeminine for women to give lectures in public to crowded and admiring audiences. They were freely admitted members of learned societies, and were consulted by men of prominent scientific attainments as their equals in scholarship.
All good causes owe their success to the push of woman. The temperance cause had its origin in her, and to-day finds noble advocates in the persons of Frances E. Harper and Frances E. Willard. Indeed, the place of woman is broad, and of the vocations of life none are so grand, so inspiring, as that of being a missionary. Long before the organization of any general missionary society of our denomination in this country, Christian women were actively engaged in prosecuting the work of home missions. Little bands of women organized in the churches to help the pastors in the poor churches, by sending clothing and other supplies needed. When the Foreign Mission Enterprise was begun, it found in these women ready and powerful allies — they sent up contributions annually for both Home and Foreign work. The first missionary society ever organized in the country was by the women in 1800. It was composed of fourteen women. From this many branches sprang. The women of to-day are realizing that in the homes among the degraded there is a great work to be done. It belongs to woman’s tender nature, sympathy, and love, to uplift the fallen. A home can not be raised above the mother, nor the race above the type of womanhood, and no women are more ready to respond to the call than the women of the Baptist Church. They feel the necessity of meeting the responsibility with organized forces in the field. Many have been effected, and great has been the result.
This work is not exclusively confined to the churches, but to orphans, asylums, hospitals, prisons, alms-houses, on the street, in the home, up the alley, and in all places where human souls are found, have woman, with her love for Christ and fallen humanity, found her way, amid the jeers and scorn of those who were too foolish to care for any other save self and household.
Woman sways a mighty influence. It began with Eve in the Garden of Eden, and is felt even now. It has not been exaggerated nor exhausted. She exalts man to the skies, or casts him beneath the brutes. She makes him strong or she makes him weak. Under her influence nations rise or fall. In the dark days of Rome, when woman received her most cruel treatment from the hand of her lord, Cato said: “Even then the Romans governed the world, but the women governed the Romans.
Bad women sometimes have great power with men. It was Phryne who inspired the chisel of Praxiteles. Cotytto had her altars at Athens and Corinth under the title of “Popular Venus.” Aspasia decided peace or war, directing the counsel of Pericles. Demosthenes, the great orator, cast himself at the feet of Lais, and history gives scores of instances where women governed the passions of men for good or evil. It was Delilah who, by her words, persuaded Sampson to tell wherein his strength lay, and which Milton has so beautifully portrayed in these words:
Of what I suffer, she was not the prime cause, but I myself,
Who vanquished with a peal of words (Oh, weakness)!
Gave up my forte of silence to a woman.
It came to pass when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of his father, David. There was none like unto Ahab, who did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of God, whom Jezebel, his wife, stirred up. There are good women like Volumna, the mother of Coriolanus, who saved Rome by her influence over her son. The women of this country inspired the fathers and sons on to battle, and in all the affairs of life woman has encouraged or discouraged men; he is moved by her faintest smile, her lightest whisper. The Duke of Halifax says: “She has more strength in her looks than we have in our laws, and more power by hers than we have in our arguments.” Though woman is a mixture of good and evil, be it said to her credit, that history has never recorded a single instance where she denied her Saviour. Her influence is entwined with every religion, and diffuses itself through every circle where there is mind to act upon. It gives tone to religion and morals and forms the character of man. Every woman is the center around which others move. She may send forth healthy, purifying streams, which will enlighten the heart and nourish the seeds of virtue; or cast a dim shadow, which will enshroud those upon whom it falls in moral darkness. Woman should consecrate her beauty, her wit, her learning, and her all, to the cause of Christ. She should put aside selfishness, for a selfish person is not only hideous, but fiendish, and destructive. She should not rest at ease, heedless of the perishing souls who need her prayers, her songs of praise, her words of counsel, her interpretations of the Scriptures for their salvation. Many a conversion has been attributed to some soul-stirring song; indeed, there is no music so penetrating, so effective as that produced by the human voice. Much good has been accomplished by a well written tract commending some word of God, which has certainly not returned unto Him void, but has prospered in the thing whereunto God sent it. Often a short article, setting forth some digestible truth, is like seed sown in good ground, which will bring forth a hundred fold, or like bread cast upon the water, that may be seen and gathered after many days hence.
Perhaps the most important place of woman in the denomination is to teach the children at home, and wherever she can reach them, to love God, to reverence His holy name, and to love the Baptist Church. The moral training of the youth is the highest kind, and it is of vast importance that the first opportunity be seized for installing into the minds of children the sentiment of morality and religion, and the principles of the Baptist doctrine. The future of the denomination depends on the rising generation, and too much care can not be taken in the development of their characters. It requires constant, anxious watching to realize the embryo. Though the seed be long buried in dust, it shall not deceive your hopes — the precious gain shall never be lost, for grace insures the crop.
The only foundation for all Christian graces is humility. Practice, as far as possible, Christ’s meekness, his benevolence, his forgiveness of injuries, and his zeal for doing good. Woman is the hope of the Church, the hope of the world. God is slowly but surely working out the great problem of woman’s place and position in life. Virtue will never reign supreme, and vice will never be wiped from the land, until woman’s work of head, heart, and hand is recognized and accepted. No great institution has flourished without her support, neither has man succeeded without her, but the two must be unified. The work is not confined within the narrow limits of the church walls, not to the prayers sent forth or the songs sung. It extends far beyond this. Her work is in every cause, place, and institution where Christianity is required. The platform is broad, and upon it she must stand. Although the responsibilities to be met are great, the position is to be maintained. China, with her degraded million, India, with her ignorance and idolatry, dark and benighted Africa, yea, the world, with its sin and wickedness, all have just and imperative claims on woman, such as she can and must meet.
Dear women, the cry comes to us from afar to bring the light of love, and to lead into the paths of peace and righteousness. From your ranks, as mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, little as you have hitherto thought of it, are to come the women of all professions, from the humble Christian to the expounder of His word; from the obedient citizen to the ruler of the land. This may be objectionable to many, but no profession should be recognized that fails to recognize Christ, and all the Christians’ have a legal right where He is, for “with Him 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.” There is no necessity for a woman to step over the bounds of propriety, or to lay aside modesty, to further the work, and she will not, if God be her guide. If, indeed, the King of all the Universe chooses a woman to kill a man who had opposed Israel for twenty years, it is all right, and who dare question God’s right, if he raise up a woman who shall become a judge, and a leader of his people? God, at one time, used a dumb brute to do His service, and that alone is sufficient to convince any one that He can use whom He will, and glorify himself by whatever means he pleases to employ. Should woman be silent in this busy, restless world of missions and vast church enterprises? No! A long, loud No! Give place for her, brethren. Be ready to accept her praying heart, her nimble fingers, her willing hands, her swift feet, her quick eye, her charming voice, the superintendent’s chair, the Sunday School teacher’s place, the Bible student, the prayer circle, the sick bed, the house of mourning, the foreign mission field, all these are her place.
Dear brethren, point them out, direct my sisters, and help them to work for Christ. My dear sisters, wherever you are, and wherever this paper may be mentioned, remember that there is no department of your life that you can not bend your influence to the benefit of our blessed denomination. Let us take sharpness out of our tongues and put in our pens; take the beauty from our face and put it into our lives; let us love ourselves less and God more; work less for self-aggrandizement, and more for the Church of Christ.
Do not then stand idly waiting,
For some greater work to do,
Fortune is a lazy goddess —
She will never come to you.
Go, and toil in any vineyard,
Do not fear to do and dare;
If you want a field of labor,
You can find it anywhere.
Source: Journal and Lectures of the Second Anniversary of the American National Baptist Convention (1887), pp. 45-56.