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claims on our esteem and praise. The " wo"man who feareth the Lord, (he shall be "praised."
Piety adds beauty to the beautiful; but piety has charms and attractions in herself unspeakably more winning and commanding, to all who have their " senses," i. e. their spiritual discernment and taste, properly " exercised," than all the elegance and brilliancy of corporeal form. We read of the beauty of holiness; in a pious woman it shines with peculiar brightness, and with happy effect. The apostle Peter was sensible of the happy influence of female excellence and piety; their chaste, correct, pure, and refined conversation, their inward adorning of a meek and quiet spirit, winning their husbands to the obedience of the truth. The infidel and irreligious may be rendered thoughtful, may be led to perceive the truth, while they perceive the excellence of religion, in the example of holy men, but more especially of holy women,; their " light so shines before men, "that they seeing their good works," are constrained " to glorify their Father in hea"ven." If such is the influence of female K 2 piety
piety and worth, according to the apostle's expectation, over infidels themselves; how benign and effectual must it not be over those who already feel the power of godliness? They are highly delighted, they admire and venerate their worth and amiable qualities, they imitate them in their own temper, and behaviour, and conduct.
Whether a pious man or woman can do most for promoting the improvement, the holiness, and the happiness of the world, and of those among whom they dwell, cannot easily be decided. Many women have done much; many women, in particular circumstances, have excelled. Might not we say much of the influence of a pious young woman breaking the fascinating power of unhallowed pleasure in her admirers, and gaining and controlling the heart that is in danger of being carried away in the stream of dissipation and vice ? In the circle of her own companions, has not a pious woman often gently corrected and restrained the giddy, sweetly persuaded the forward? Has not she encouraged and emboldened her young pious friends in the profession, exertions, and constancy stancy of goodness? Have they not, by her superior excellence, been determined (to use the expression of our Lord) to " go and do » likewise?"
But it is when (he becomes a matron, the head of a family, a wife, and a mother, that the pious woman becomes highly respectable, and a blessing and a praise in her generation.
Who is there that is not forward in the praises of friendship, and does not highly value the communications, the interest, the confidence and satisfactions of minds in unison, when affection has been justified by experience, and increased by time? If worthy qualities produce esteem; if an acute mind, a tender heart, accurate observation, extensive knowledge, general respect, and much influence, unite in greatly enhancing friendship; what must they be in the wife of the bosom, whose residence is always ours, and the term of the sweetest friendship is that of life itself? The conjugal duties are lightened, or rather, I should say, endeared, by remembering the Author and the objects of the institution stitution of marriage, by recollecting the apostle's comparison of Christ and the church, by a riling family, the object of common cares, and promises and vows.
In her faithful bosom are poured his sorrows; to her joyful heart are imparted his satisfactions; by her soft soothings, adversity's rough brow is smoothed; by her wise counsels, intricacies and difficulties are made plain and easy; by her example, and advice, and prayers, the blandishments of prosperity lose their fatal influence, and dignity, and generosity, and usefulness, are preserved and secured; where perhaps folly, and extravagance, and vice, had been but too ready to enter, with all their degradations and wretchedness.
The two spheres in which a pious woman moves, and where her excellence is especially conspicuous, are those mentioned by the wise man in the passage before us; the one, that of the mistress of a family; the other, that of a mother.
In different periods of society, and in the
various various ranks and conditions of life, the actual exertions of the mistress of a family, and of the mother of children, may be very different, in perfect consistency with worthy principles, and the practice and attainments of piety. But, if I mistake not, no situation, in any period of society, exempts the mistress of a family and a mother, from concern and exertion. We well know, or can easily figure, the malign influence of unconcern, frivolity, and dissipation, in both characters; and turn, with respect and reverence, to the frugal, the industrious, and the pains-taking, who contributes to the independence, and prosperity, and piety of her family; in whom her husband reposes every confidence, and whose "children arise and call her blessed." It is in this sphere, in the cares and exertions of maternal duty, that the excellence of female piety is, in a more particular manner, manifested and enhanced.