Phoebe Palmer



CHAPTER XIV.

Female laborer before a New York audience.



"One of the results of God's great work which is now going on in the world will be to raise and perfect woman's position and character. The darkest page in human history is that of the treatment of woman."

DR. UPHAM.

WE might speak of one personally known to ourselves, and we doubt not, as eminently called to speak for God as was Miss Miller, or Mrs. Taft, or any of the female servants of the church referred to in the preceding pages. When placed in circumstances where the gift of prophecy, with which God has endowed her, has been recognized, she has spoken as the Spirit gave utterance, to the edification of hundreds. We remember, on some special occasions, when she was thus brought out before a large audience in New York, through the instrumentality of the Rev. Mr. L____, a deeply experienced minister of Christ; and the expectations of the people were far more than realized. There were some present, who, alike with the mass of Bible readers, seemed to have forgotten or to have passed unnoticed the fact, that it is written as characteristic of the last days, "I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy."

And now that they had heard this daughter of the Lord Almighty speak with such manifest power, wisdom, and unction, so evidently betokening a divine commission, they were well nigh as much amazed as were some of the listeners, on the occasion which ushered in the last and glorious days, when woman, in common with her brethren, newly received the gift of prophecy.

But though, in thus proclaiming the unsearchable riches of Christ, she only obeyed the conscious constrainings of the Spirit, and we heard not a dissenting voice, but that in obeying these divine convictions, she had spoken in the wisdom and demonstration of the Spirit, and multitudes desired again to hear the utterances of those Heaven-touched lips, still those in authority shrank from the responsibility of encouraging her to use this gift of prophecy so divinely bestowed. And she was too well taught of the Spirit to conceive that it were better for her to press her services knowingly where such sentiments prevailed. The refinements of grace removes all moral obtuseness, and gives yet keener perceptions to the naturally refined sensibilities, rendering them still more acutely alive to every thing that is pure, and lovely, and of good report.

That the Head of the church had intrusted to this daughter of the church the gift of prophecy to speak to "edification, and exhortation, and comfort," was doubtless as unquestionable to that church community, to whom she ministered, as were the labors of those women who were Paul's helpers, for whom he kindly bespeaks the sympathizing aid of the church. But did that church lend a helpful hand to this devoted Christian woman who would have labored in the gospel? No! Though it was a church community, whose apostolic founder, by his example, recognized the gift of prophecy in woman, and who, by his favorable recordings, is still saying, "Help those women that labor with me in the gospel," yet this church of her choice turned away from the reception of this gift of prophecy intrusted to this devoted female disciple.

The attitude of this church, in regard to female speaking, authorizes us in assuming that the rejection of the gift on this occasion was not from the improbability that a daughter of the church might not feel the urgings of the Spirit to duty in this direction, but that it had become unpopular in that church to recognize such constrainings. Months passed on, and still that daughter of the Lord Almighty felt the Spirit working in her mightily, till she dared neglect the gift no longer, and turned to another church community, where she might be a worker together with God, in obeying the dictates of his Spirit, to labor for souls in the way of God's appointment.

Again we cannot forbear referring to the amount of responsibility incurred in refusing to accept and use an endowment of power, so evidently designated as a special bestowment of the last days, If God, even before the prophetic announcement was made, that he would thus pour out his Spirit on his daughters, raised up a number of acknowledged prophetesses, as we have already shown, is it too much to suppose that he would in these last days occasionally raise up such as he would have openly acknowledged as helpers in the gospel? Shall it be thought a thing incredible that God, at this remote period of the latter days, should raise up female laborers? Is not this just what ought to be anticipated? We have before briefly referred to Psalm lxviii. 11; but in view of the peculiar significance of this passage, we will, for the consideration of those not familiar with the original reading of this text, give the literal rendering, as given by the Hebrew scholar, Rev. J. Benson, in his voluminous and deeply-spiritual commentary. He says, the clause here given, "The Lord gave the word, great was the company of those that published it," literally translated, is, "
Large was the number of the women who published the glad tidings." That eminent linguist, Dr. A. Clarke, is equally explicit.

Both of these learned commentators seem surprised at the plain Hebrew rendering of this text, as though it divulged a curious fact, with which they were themselves astonished, and which might astonish their readers, but which they were forced to admit. Says Benson, "Indeed, the Hebrew word
הַמְבַשְּׂרוֹת hambasseroth, here rendered that published it, is in the feminine gender, and therefore refers chiefly to women." Dr. A. Clarke quotes the original text, הַמְבַשְּׂרוֹת צָבָא רָב ham-mebasaroth tsaba rab, and follows it with the literal rendering, "of the female preachers there was a great host." And then, as though he anticipated the incredulity with which this literal rendering would be received, and resolved on relieving himself of the responsibility of a non-reception of it, he affirms, "Such is the literal translation of the passage," and leaves it with the reader to make the application, with the exclamation, "The reader may make of it what he pleases."

But though this excellent commentator suggests that the reader make what use of it he please, it certainly ought to be assumed that all sincere Christians, whether male or female, will in their Scripture searchings make it their highest pleasure to ascertain the mind of the Spirit. The individual who shrinks from seeking, with all holy carefulness, to know the mind of the Spirit, adopting the Bible mode of interpreting the Scriptures by comparing scripture with scripture, fearful that he may be compelled to the sustainment of some unpopular theory, is not in a state of mind to warrant the belief that he shall know of this or any other doctrine, whether it be of God.

And let no one, whatever his position may be, imagine that he is in sympathy with Christ in the upbuilding of his kingdom, who actually thus fails to acquaint himself with this or any other important truth, because of its unpopularity. Non-acquaintance with this truth, on this ground, amounts to a virtual rejection. It was on this principle that the Scribes and Pharisees, those who in fact assumed the position of teachers, and ought to have been the first to have led the people into truth, rejected the Saviour. It is true that in their gainsayings they occasionally brought up isolated portions of Scripture, as teachers in our Israel have done in this case. "Search and look," said they; "for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet." But bad they, with a sincere desire to know the truth, searched the Scriptures, comparing scripture with scripture, they would have clearly ascertained that they testified of Christ as the promised Messiah, and would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

But the truth which was now being urged upon their minds was
unpopular. Jesus was the despised Galilean. His kingdom was not of this world. Those that confessed their belief that he was the true Messiah were cast out of the synagogue. They sought not to be convinced of the truth by scriptural searchings, as ordained by God, but preferred to remain in the dark, because they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. It was, therefore, in their self-imposed blindness, they crucified the Son of God.

And thus, also, has Christ been crucified in his members, in connection with the greatly important truth contemplated in this volume. We believe hundreds of conscientious, sensitive Christian women have actually suffered more under the slowly crucifying process to which they have been subjected by men who bear the Christian name, than many a martyr has endured in passing through the flames. We are aware that we are using strong language, but we do not use it in bitterness, but with feelings of deep humiliation before God that the cause of truth demands the utterance of such sentiments. We conscientiously believe, and therefore must speak.

Thousands are in this day enduring this crucifying process, perhaps as never before. God has given the word, and in this wonderful season of the outpouring of the Spirit, great might be the company who would publish it. This, in a most emphatic sense, is the day of which the prophet spake, when God would pour out his Spirit on his sons and daughters. Though many men have in these last days received the baptism of fire, still greater, as in all revivals, have been the number of females. These, added to the far larger proportion before in the field, constitute a great company, who would fain, as witnesses for Christ, publish the glad tidings of their own heart experiences of his saving power, at least in the social assembly.

And when the reception of the gift of prophecy is thus recognized in all the disciples of the Saviour, whether male or female, the last act in the great drama of man's redemption will have opened. Says the distinguished Dr. Wayland, "Private believers will feel their obligation to carry the gospel to the destitute as strongly as ministers." O, if the word of the Lord, unrestrained by human hindrances, might only have free course, how great would be the company who, with burning hearts and flaming lips, would publish it!

"The Lord shall clear his way through all;
Whate'er obstructs, obstructs in vain;
The vale shall rise, the mountain fall,
Crooked be straight, and rugged plain.
The glory of the Lord displayed
Shall all mankind together view;
And what his mouth in truth hath said,
His own almighty hand shall do."