Phoebe Palmer



CHAPTER XVIII.

Female disciple oversteps the precincts of her own church fold.



"What we have felt and seen
With confidence we tell,
And publish to the sons of men
The signs infallible."


"But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and ye shall be witnesses unto me."

THE SAVIOUR.

WE have had opportunities to witness wonderful renovations in opinion, both in the clergy and laity, on this subject, immediately consequent on the reception of the full baptism of the Holy Spirit. We remember a distinguished minister of literary fame, whose talented wife, while listening to the utterances of a female disciple who had received the gift of the Holy Ghost, was convinced that herself and the mass of Christian professors were living far below the gospel standard of Christian privilege.

She had incidentally stepped over the precincts of her own church fold, where female testimony was ruled out or not permitted. Otherwise she never would have heard that Simple yet wonderful testimony, whose inspirations, as a link of light, were destined to enchain all her future destinies to the throne of God, and to lead scores of redeemed spirits thitherward through her instrumentality. After she had heard this testimony, she did as all who name the name of Christ should do; that is, "she concentrated her attention with the most earnest and absorbing diligence, to the study of the Scriptures, in order that she might ascertain, beyond all controversy, whether the testimony to which she had listened was clearly set forth, in the Scriptures of truth, as the privilege of all believers. The result of these scriptural searchings was, that she saw that God required present holiness; and the reception of the full baptism of the Holy Ghost was not only the privilege, but the fact that it is the privilege constitutes it the present duty of all believers.

Just as soon as she became convinced that this is the heritage that the Redeemer of the world has purchased for all the redeemed family, she felt that it was not left optional with herself whether she would obey the command, and wait for the promise of the Father. In the way of God's appointment, she set herself apart to seek with all her heart for the promised grace. And who ever sought with singleness of purpose and unyielding faith the purchased blessings of grace without attaining them? Who ever brought all the tithes into the Lord's storehouse without proving that God, true to his promise, opens windows in heaven, and pours out blessings beyond what there is room to receive; and then the lips, as on the day of Pentecost, are constrained to utter abundantly the memory of God's great goodness. And it was thus in the case of this our friend. She received the overflowing blessing, and felt a constraining influence to testify of it.

And God would have honored his name by making her a channel of communication to others. The grace she had received was not her
own. It was God's grace. God had opened the windows of heaven, and this blessing, which poured out through those open windows directly from the throne of the Father, through the Son of his love, God would have poured out through her upon others. But she belonged to a church where the testimony of women is not received. Still she felt that she must obey God rather than man, and she dared not refrain her lips. The Lord our righteousness had now become her all in all, and she felt the imperativeness of the command, "Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name," and that she must say with David, "I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation; I have not concealed thy loving kindness and thy truth from the great congregation;" "I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest."

But not a sympathetic chord leading to the heart of the church could be touched, by which her way might be open to speak as the Spirit gave utterance. The church was not in sympathy with her Lord on this subject. The testimony of Jesus from the lips of woman was not to be received, even though it might be an acknowledged belief that she was filled with the Holy Ghost. O, what a serious responsibility does it involve for a church not to be in sympathy with its Head, who is her wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption!

Christ had taken up his abode in the heart of this precious disciple, and now he would have used her lips to testify of the blessedness of the full baptism of the Holy Spirit. Had she been permitted freely to have given in her testimony, many might have believed through her instrumentality. So irrepressible were the constrainings of her heart that she could not endure. She turned to a loving, sympathizing one, in whom, above all others under God, she had confidence; but, though a most affectionate sharer in her former solicitudes, she had now come to a point where she could not find a responsive chord, even here.

He did not doubt her sincerity, but he probably hoped that she was mistaken, and assumed a dissuasive attitude, and, mentioning the officiating minister's name, he exclaimed, "What will Mr. A___ say!" And what does St. Paul say in regard to women's speaking in the churches? Perhaps on no other subject could she have sought for sympathy in that ever-accessible, loving heart, and not have found it. But it would seem as if there were no subject within the range of our religious observations on which the tempter has more successfully and cruelly, as an angel of light, withstood the order of God, than in regard to the gift of prophecy as bestowed upon women.

But there was no conceivable point to which she might turn for sympathy but to the heart of her ever-sympathizing Saviour. Yet, O, how consoling and strengthening, under such desolations from without, to turn to the ever-abiding Comforter within, and say,—

"I dwell forever on his heart,
Forever he on mine."


On no subject, seemingly, has the church manifested such an aversion to sympathize with her female membership as on this. It is humiliating to refer to the manner in which female gifts of the highest order, and most manifestly intrusted by Christ, have been slighted and ultimately rejected. Women whose wisdom is acknowledged, and whose position is venerated, when thrown in the society of men of refinement, either of the ministry or laity in polite circles, are, when brought into the church circle, treated by the same men with a coldness which shows that her opinions are lightly esteemed, and her position but little regarded.

Will not men of piety look at the inconsistency of their position in relation to this matter? We delight to talk before the world of the lovely proprieties of grace — the beauties of holiness; but would the men who sympathize with this error in the church in many places, love to have brought out before men of the world just what her bearing has been towards some of the most deeply pious and talented women of the church? "Be courteous" is a divine admonition; but do men of the church take as much pains to manifest courtesy towards women in the social church assembly as men of the world do in social assemblies?

That the general principles of Christianity are calculated to exalt woman is a fact too obvious to need comment. Where Christianity is not acknowledged, men are barbarous in their treatment of the female sex. Might is right, and man, wholly depraved, manifests his supreme selfishness by making woman his slave. But where Christianity is acknowledged, though it be but a general acknowledgment of its principles, there woman is honored and her opinions regarded, and a breach of courtesy towards the sex is summarily condemned as unchivalric and disreputable. Says the author of Distinguished Women, "To degrade and demoralize the female sex is one of the first and most persevering efforts of false religions, of bad governments, and of wicked men." Again this author says, "I venture to assert that in the moral progress of mankind, woman has been God's most efficient agent, the co-worker with his providence, in those remarkable events which have changed the fate of nations, brought light out of darkness, and given impulse and direction to the souls of men, when these sought to advance the cause of righteousness."

Would we have the world infer that the general principles of Christianity, when brought to those specific and personal realizations which result in the formation of church organizations, diverge from these
general principles, and favor such a course towards woman as would be calculated to provoke the courteous worldling to hostility?

But it gives us satisfaction to record, in the case of our friend, to whom we have just referred, that but a few months had passed before the distinguished husband of this devoted lady also set himself apart for the attainment of the same grace, and received the promise of the Father. We said we had witnessed wonderful transformations of opinion in regard to the gift of utterance, as bestowed upon woman, consequent on the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost on the part of those who have withstood the use of this gift in women; and thus, doubtless, it has ever been.

It was a marked interest with us to observe the change of opinion consequent on the change of experience of this devoted husband, whose faith had led him to such glorious experiences that he seemed well nigh ready to out-distance the faith of his pioneer wife. How far was he now from manifesting a disposition to withstand the testimony of a Christian woman in the church! He had now cast off every weight, and entered upon the highway cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in. And as he daily made progress in this way, light, beaming more directly from Him who sitteth on the throne, shone more clearly on his upward path, and the more clear and comprehensive views did he obtain of Bible truths, and of the various hindrances which prevent the Christian church from putting on her beauty and strength, and coming up out of the wilderness, terrible as an army with banners.

And we have heard him express it as his deliberate opinion, that of all the machinations of the arch adversary to prevent the aggressions of Christianity, this neglected gift of prophecy, as intrusted by the Head of the church to woman, is the greatest. And let the Christian reader mark the man, the demonstrations of whose life show that he has received a similar baptism to that which the disciples received on the day of Pentecost, and he will see a man who has a most appreciative sense of the gift of prophecy, as bestowed upon woman, regarding her as the "help meet" for man in the gospel; and, with the apostle Paul and the most apostolic men who have lived in all ages of the church, he will endeavor not to bury her talents by crowding them out of use, but he will regard the refined sensibilities of her nature, and courteously avail himself of her aid, by bringing her talents into use, and will ever be ready to say with Paul, "Help those women who labored with me in the gospel," and thus will incite others to a similar courteous, consistent course of action.

And this, unquestionably, will be the true state of things in the Christian church just so soon as the reception of the full baptism of the Holy Spirit becomes the general experience of the Christian ministry and membership. A man who has himself experimentally apprehended the significance of the promise, "I will pour out of my Spirit upon my sons and daughters," and daily lives under the influence of these outpourings of the Spirit, will have been too correctly taught of the Spirit not to discern that the promise made to him, as a son or servant of the Lord, was, with equal explicitness, made to his sister in Christ, as a daughter or handmaiden of the Lord. He will, if favored with the abidings of the Spirit, have learned, that in Christ Jesus there is neither male nor female. The same constraining spirit of prophecy which moves him to earnest, holy utterances, he is aware, has also been given to that female disciple, who, alike with himself, has claimed the promise of the Father; and he would no sooner be guilty of the sacrilegious act of withstanding the Holy Spirit's utterances through her, than would any of those ancient disciples, who were baptized with the Spirit on the day of Pentecost.



It is our purpose to close up this volume with portrayings from real life of some of those who profess to have received the gift of which the prophet Joel spoke, and of which Peter gave confirmation on the day of Pentecost. We say portrayings from real life. We will present no overwrought picture of ideal goodness of which the lives of other Christians may not be a transcript. The cause of truth needs no such effort, neither is it advantaged by them. The sketches we will present shall be those of whose daily walk and conversation we have personal knowledge. That they have received the endowment from on high of which they affirm, the power of their lives for extensive good evidently exhibits.

For many years have we known personally of the excellency of the walk of these devoted ones. And we only state what we believe scores and hundreds of responsible witnesses would gladly unite with us in affirming, were we to record that these witnesses, which we now bring forward, have long and largely been received as "living epistles, known and read of all men." The minutiae of their every-day life furnishes a living comment on what they profess. And what do they profess? Why, only that God is faithful to his ancient promise; that is, that the promise of the Father is, in these last days, being fulfilled to his sons and daughters, his servants and handmaidens. And it is our purpose to bring the testimony of well-accredited witnesses, both male and female.

It is reasonable, as the promise has been specifically made to both God's sons and daughters, that, before we take our leave of the reader, a few of each should be specifically called out to testify to the faithfulness of God. "Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord." If God fulfills his ancient promise in these last days, he demands testimony to that effect. Who would dare to assume that he does not fulfill his promise? To doubt whether he has witnesses in these last days, who are empowered, from their experimental realizations, to testify to this fact, is impious. Yes,
impious, inasmuch as by the sure word of prophecy God has declared that he would do it; and they that would assume that there are no witnesses in these days of the fulfillment of the promise of the Father, assume the ground that God has not fulfilled his promise; and surely such a suggestion is impious.

And, if there are witnesses who stand ready to testify of the faithfulness of God in fulfilling his promise in bestowing this endowment from on high, where are these witnesses? The Christian world demands their testimony. And to withhold it would be to withstand God, and grieve the Spirit of eternal truth. Witnesses are called to speak of that they know, and testify of that they have seen. Other testimony is not regarded as valid in a court of law, and only such is received in the court of heaven. We might bring forward scores and even hundreds of witnesses, attesting the faithfulness of God in the bestowment of this gift, personally known to ourselves; but our limits will only permit as to present a few. We will commence with the testimony of a friend, the light of whose example has emitted a steady flame for many years past. And as we present these examples, setting forth how the baptism of the Holy Ghost was obtained, and how it has been retained through a series of years, let the reader remember that God is no respecter of persons, and resolve to sacrifice all for this pearl of great price.

"Were I a persuasive female voice,
That could travel the wide world through,
I would fly on the beams of the morning light,
And speak to men with a gentle might,
And tell them to be true;
I would fly, I would fly, o'er land and sea,
Where'er a human heart might be,
Telling a tale or singing a song
In praise of the right, in blame of the wrong.

"Were I a consoling female voice,
I'd fly on the wings of air;
The homes of sorrow and guilt I'd seek,
And calm and truthful words I'd speak,
To save them from despair;
I would fly, I would fly, o'er the guarded town,
And drop, like the beautiful sunlight, down
Into the hearts of suffering men,
And teach them to look up again."