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instruction. A wonderful providence seems to lift us up miraculously to a lofty region of observation, tbat we may see the shock of empires, and tremble, and be thankful. Indeed, it would seem, as if a last experiment were making among us, to prove, whether a nation can profit any thing, not merely by the history of its predecessors, but by a series of dreadful events, which are passing direcily before its eyes. God grant, the grand experiment may succeed ! You and I, and generations yet unborn, are interested in it. It is to be seen, whether religion has found here that permanent shelter, she sought. It is to be seen, whether the only valuable blessings of human life, order, virtue, mental cultivation, religious liberty and religious sentiments can co-exist with a state of permanent and unexampled peace and prosperity. It is to be seen, in short, whether a people can be entrusted with the very blessings, for which thousands of great and good men have most earnestly sought; or whether we shall add another to the list of corrupted and corrupting states, and go down with the rest, enervated by the crimes of youth, to the vast cemetery of nations. God, of thy mercy, avert this result! Scourge us, distress us, reduce us, alarm us, if we may, by any means, preserve that righteousness, which exalteth a nation, and may escape that sin, which is the ruin of any people.
PHIL. IV. 3.
1 KNTREAT THKL,HELP THOSE WOMEN, WHICH LABOURED WITH ME IN THE GOSPEL,
WHOSR NAMES ARE IN THE BOOK OF LITE.
This is one of the numerous passages in the gospel history, where honourable mention is made of ihe female sex. From the angel's salutation of the virgin mother of our Lord, to the letter of John, the beloved apostle, to the elect lady and her children, the New Testament is full of their exertions, their affection, fidelity and influence. In the course of our Saviour's ministry, sublime and solemn as was bis supernatural character, we find frequent examples of his attention to them, and of their attachment to him. To the woman of Samaria be made the first declaration of his Messiahship, and imparted the first principles of bis new and spiritual doctrine; and this, too, with a condescension, which surprised his disciples, who wondered, that he talked with the woman. We find him, also, a frequent guest in the family of Martha and Mary; for Jesus, we are told, loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. One of these affectionate sisters, to testify ber respect for his person, just before his sufferings, came with a box of costly perfume, and poured it over his head, as le sat at meat ; and with so much pleasure did he receive this offering of female affection, that even the disciples murmured, while he declared, that, wherever bis gospel was preached, it should be told for a memorial of her.
Mary Magdalene, too, a Jewish lady of some wealth and consideration, makes a distinguished figure among the friends of Jesus. She has been most strangely and unjustly confounded with that penitent female, who had been a sinner, and who bathed our Lord's feet with tears of contrition. But Mary Magdalene had been cured by our Saviour of one of the most terrible maladies, which can afflict our suffering nature; and the fondest employment of her recovered reason seems to have been, to listen to her deliverer, and to minister to bim of her substance. With many of the women, she followed bim from Galilee through that scene of suffering, when all the disciples from our sex forsook him, and fled. The women never lost sight of him, till he was raised upon the cross ; then they stood by and witnessed his expiring movements. They left not the body, till it was deposited in the tomb; then they saw where
: it was laid, and prepared their spices to embalm it, On the sabbath they were obliged to leave it, and rest, “according to the commandment;" but their wakeful eyes caught the first streaks of eastern light on the morning of the resurrection; and to the women, watching and weeping at the sepulchre, appeared the first delightful vision of the Lord of glory, risen in all the freshness of his new and immortal life.
Some of the earliest and most faithful converts of the apostles were also from this sex. To the assembled saints and widows, Peter presented Dorcas alive, who had been full of good works and alms-deeds, which she did. The tender heart of Lydia was melted at the preaching of Paul; and, in his epistles,
he seldom fails to send salutations to some of those excellent females, who, by their works of charity and labours of love, cherished the feeble community of persecuted christians, and illustrated the amiable spirit and benignant influence of the religion they professed.
Perhaps it is not difficult to account for these frequent examples of female christianity, so interesting, and yet so honourable to the gospel. The men, in Judea, were looking for a prince, as their Messiab, who should answer their ambitious hopes, not only by the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, but also by dispensing individual honours and personal distinctions in bis approacbing dominion. Every Jew, therefore, as be expected a share of this splendid power, felt a portion of that vanity, which belonged to the expected masters of the world. Hence, they at first approached our Lord with impatience and high-raised hopes ; but finding him, contrary to their previous fancy, so poor, meek, unpretending, spiritual and unambitious, they often retired in disgust, which, in the great men of the nation, his rebukes often inflamed to rage.
Meanwhile the Jewish women, in their retired and subordinate station, bad little sbare in these ambitious expectations. The mother of Zebedee's children, when she came to ask a favour of Christ, solicited nothing for herself, but only for her sons, that they might have offices in his kingdom. To the happiness of the Jewish women it was of little consequence, whether the standard of the expected universal empire waved on the temple at Jerusalem, or the capitol at Rome. No wonder, then, they were delighted, when they saw the Christ, the prince, the idol of the Jewish expectation, treating their sex with distinguished kindness. They were more at leisure to feel and contemplate the moral greatness of Jesus, the sufferer; while the other
sex were eager to see the sign from heaven, whichi should mark out Jesus the triumphant. The women were won by the tears, which they saw him shed at the grave of Lazarus, in sympathy with the afflicted sisters ; but the men, who were standing by, were dissatisfied, for, said they, Could he not have caused that Lazarus should not bave died ? and when Jesus, the wonder and glory of Judea, the suffering prince, casts bis last look from his cross down on the fainting Mary, and says to John, with his last breath, Behold thy mother! is it to be wondered at, that the women, who stood by and heard it, should have begged this body, and embalmed this corpse, from which a spirit so affectionate had just taken its flight?
This regard for the founder of our faith they seem to have continued to the apostles ; for the christian communities, in the first ages, were distinguished by an order of women, who ministered to the necessities of the saints, who brought up children, who lodged strangers, who washed the saints' feel, who relieved the afflicted, and diligently followed every good work, thus embalming anew the remains of their Lord in the fragrance of their charities towards the church, which is his body.
I fancy myself standing in the presence of their successors, who have not forfeited the religious character of the friends of Jesus, and who yet feel the unimpaired influence of his affectionate religion. Do not imagine, that we disparage the glory, or that we lightly esteem the power of christianity, when we say, it is the only religion for the female sex; for, though it was introduced for the good of the whole world, it produces much of this good by its effects on their condition, and its power on their hearts.
When we find, upon opening the gospels, such language as this ; Blessed are the poor in spirit; blessed are the meek, the merciful, the peace-makers, the calumniated, is it surprising, that the most fond and