Phoebe Palmer



CHAPTER II.

A question in vital connection with the triumphs of the cross.


WOMAN.

"Not she with traitorous kiss her Saviour stung;
Not she denied him with unholy tongue:
She, while apostles shrank, could danger brave,
Last at his cross, and earliest at his grave."


IMPORTANT QUESTION.

A question of grave interest is now demanding the attention of all Christians, irrespective of name or sect. Especially does it demand the attention of the Christian ministry, inasmuch as it is believed by many to stand in vital connection with the ultimate triumphs of the cross.

And ere we lay this question before you, Christian reader, let us ask, that you will present yourself, as in the more immediate presence of the Father of Lights, and implore the illumination of the all-gracious Spirit, resolved that you will yield your mind up to the convictions of truth, and in outspoken declaration defend its claims.

The question is this: Has not a gift of power, delegated to the church on the day of Pentecost, been neglected? Or, in other words, has not a marked specialty of the Christian dispensation been comparatively unrecognized and kept out of use?

When the Founder of our holy Christianity was about leaving his disciples, to ascend to his Father, he commanded them to tarry at Jerusalem until endued with power from on high. And of whom was this company of disciples composed? Please turn to the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. Here we see that the number assembled in that upper room were about one hundred and twenty. Here were Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alpheus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. "These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication with the women, and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren." Here, we see, were both male and female disciples, continuing with one accord in prayer and supplication, in obedience to the command of their risen Lord; they are all here, waiting for the promise of the Father.

And here let us ask, From whence has the doctrine obtained, that women may not open their mouth in supplication and prayer in the presence of their brethren? Surely, those who thus set forth, teach for doctrines the commandments of men. And if the usage of apostolic days reprove those who have thus
publicly taught, is not a public refutation of the error called for? Has not an endowment of power thus been kept back in the church? and will not God require for this? Who that has heard the melting, subduing tones of the female voice, as it has fallen on the ear of man in prayer, but will be penetrated with the force of the fact, that a gift of power has been withheld from the social assemblies of the pious, of serious magnitude?

And who were these women who continued with one accord in supplication with their brethren? Were they not those female disciples who followed the Man of Sorrows with unflinching faith and undaunted step, during all his homeless journeyings, listening: to his teachings, and ministering to him of their substance? Were not these the women, who, after all the male disciples forsook their suffering Master, followed him to the cross, and, with agonized hearts, witnessed his last sufferings, heard his expiring groan, and followed his body to its burial, and, after the sepulcher had hidden his form from their vision, sat over against the tomb to mourn, till the curtain of night shrouded the place where their Lord lay from their weeping eyes? Yes, these were the women, who early, ere the day had yet dawned, were with their costly spices at the tomb of their Lord, the strength of whose quenchless love knew no barriers. Neither the great stone, nor the governor's seal, could debar them from the object of their love.

"Not she with traitorous kiss her Saviour stung;
Not she denied him with unholy tongue:
She, while apostles shrank, could danger brave,
Last at his cross, and earliest at his grave."


Reader, are you one of those who, with unhelping hand and repulsive glance, have looked down on the loving, self-sacrificing manifestations of woman's devotion to her Saviour? How unlike are you in spirit to the mighty angel at whose very presence the earth quaked, when those hardy keepers of the grave became as dead men! That countenance which, as lightning, struck terror to the hearts of the sturdy guards of the grave, only beamed in love and gentleness on these devoted women. Had the world ever witnessed suck unyielding love? -- such unflinching constancy, amid scenes of ignominy, suffering, and terror? O reader, have you ever rejected a loving, persuasive testimony in honor of Jesus, because it fell from the affectionate lips of a woman? Behold these women, now about to receive from the lips of this mighty angel the first commission ever given to mortals, to proclaim a risen Christi "Fear not," said the angel, "for I know that ye seek Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come see the place where the Lord lay." How sweet the message, and how loving and sympathizing the tones of this mighty angel to the stricken hearts of these affectionate mourners! But he would not have them linger. And well did the mighty angel know that it was not in woman's heart to be selfish in her joy; and he bids them hasten quickly, and tell the disciples that their Lord had risen from the dead, and would go before them into Galilee, where they should see him. What a message! And from what a source was it received!

Think you that John, James, or Peter would have received that message with a repulsive look, because delivered by the angel to a woman, and first communicated to man by her? How strange and unwarrantable the infatuation of some who profess to be Christ's disciples of the present day, who contemptuously hear "the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy," because it falls from the lips of a woman!

But though these women were by this mighty angel intrusted with the most glorious commission ever delivered to mortals, this was but a small honor, compared with that which awaited them. As they ran quickly, so true to the principle of their unselfish, womanly natures, to bring their sorrowing brethren word, Jesus, the Prince of life and glory, the blessed and only Potentate, Lord of lords and King of kings, met them. And what were a commission from the most mighty of angels, compared with a commission from the Lord of angels? "All hail!" said He who spake as man never spake. They pause. Though no longer the man of sorrows, his sympathies are unchanged, and he greets these, his beloved courageous female disciples, with most inspiring words. "All hail!" exclaims the newly-risen Prince of life. Joyous salutation! Its inspirations speak more than friendship; it is the voice of affection, and flows out from the heart of infinite love, inspiring blissful confidence, and moving them to holy adoration; Their risen Lord is still their Friend, and in untold transports they bow and worship before him, and cling to his feet. Does he chide them? No! Had a vestige of fear lingered about their stricken hearts, it were now forever banished. "Be not afraid: go tell my brethren, that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me." Wonderful commission! Behold the first heralds of the gospel of a risen Saviour! The first commission ever given to mortals, direct from the newly-risen Head of the church, is now being given to these affectionate, unflinching female disciples, who, with undaunted step, had followed the Man of Sorrows through all his weary pilgrimage here on earth. Blessed daughters of the Lord Almighty! now is your constancy rewarded. The first proclamation that falls upon the ear of man, of a risen Jesus, is to burst from your lips. The first sight ever given to mortals of the glorified body of the world's Redeemer, is now being given to your entranced vision. O, amazing sight! Yet your glorified Lord is still your same compassionate friend as when he communed with you before passing through the portals of the grave!

He would not that your timid natures should be overawed with the wondrous sight which is now being revealed to your astonished vision, nor with the magnitude of the amazing commission which ye are now to receive from his glorified lips. No, the tones falling from those lips are still, as ever, all gentleness and love: "Be not afraid. Go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." What a message! Think you that those dear apostles, the brethren of our Lord, rejected this message from the Saviour, because it fell from the lips of a female disciple?

"Go tell my brethren," said the Son of God. Says an eminent commentator, in reviewing this text, "Behold what honor God puts upon those who persevere in his truth, and continue to honor him before men. Thus these faithful women proclaim the gospel of a risen Saviour to those who were afterward to be the teachers of the whole human race," We will not here speak of the assumptions Of those who arrogate to themselves the sole privilege of preaching the gospel; but we here see who received the first commission to proclaim a risen Saviour; and we think the fact sufficiently suggestive to demand a consideration of the question, whether the endowment of power, promised as a
specialty of the Christian dispensation, has not been singularly neglected.

And "Fear not ye" was gently said,
For why do ye thus seek
The living here among the dead?
Did he not to ye speak
Of this his rising when he was with thee?
Remember ye his words in Galilee?

O, they his words remembered then,
For memory's spell is broken,
And thought's deep fount is fathomed when
The words of Christ are spoken:
And holy Joy, with its attendant train,
Brings to the greeting soul sweet bliss again.

Thus it was now with those;
But ah! the very joy
Which from some sweet disclosure flows
Will almost bliss alloy;
For when they his remembered words received,
For very joy they scarcely yet believed.