Phoebe Palmer



CHAPTER III.

The “promise of the Father" alike to his daughters as to his sons.


Pride and self-sufficiency smile at the idea of a female prophet, a female judge, a female poet, a female warrior; and yet, in truth, women have filled all these offices with credit to themselves, and with satisfaction to the public, in the honored list of those who 'through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens,' female names, too, stand recorded with commendation and renown.

AUTHOR OF SACRED BIOGRAPHY.


Did the tongue of fire descend alike upon God's daughters as upon his sons, and was the effect similar in each? And did all these waiting disciples, who thus, with one accord, continued in prayer, receive the grace for which they supplicated? It was, as we observe, the gift of the Holy Ghost that had been promised. And was this promise of the Father as truly made to the daughters of the Lord Almighty as to his sons? See Joel ii. 28, 29. "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit." When the Spirit was poured out in answer to the united prayers of God's sons and daughters, did the tongue of fire descend alike upon the women as upon the men? How emphatic is the answer to this question! "And there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them." Was the effect similar upon God's daughters as upon his sons? Mark it, O ye who have restrained the workings of this gift of power in the church. "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak as the Spirit gave utterance." Doubtless it was a well nigh impelling power, which was thus poured out upon these sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty, moving their lips to most earnest, persuasive, convincing utterances. Not alone only did Peter proclaim a crucified risen Saviour, but each one, as the Spirit gave utterance, assisted in spreading the good news; and the result of these united ministrations of the Spirit, through human agency, was, that three thousand were, in one day, pricked to the heart. Unquestionably, the whole of this newly-baptized company of one hundred and twenty disciples, male and female, hastened in every direction, under the mighty constrainings of that perfect love that casteth out fear, and great was the company of them that believed.

And now, in the name of the Head of the church, let us ask, Was it designed that these demonstrations of power should cease with the day of Pentecost? If the Spirit of prophecy fell upon God's daughters, alike as upon his sons in that day, and they spake in the midst of that assembled multitude, as the Spirit gave utterance, on what authority do the angels of the churches restrain the use of that gift now? Has the minister of Christ, now reading these lines, never encouraged open female testimony, in the charge which he represents? Let us ask, What account will you render to the Head Of the church, for restricting the use of this endowment of power? Who can tell how wonderful the achievements of the cross might have been, if this gift of prophecy, in woman, had continued in use, as in apostolic days? Who can tell but long since the gospel might have been preached to every creature? Evidently this was a
specialty of the last days, as set forth by the prophecy of Joel. Under the old dispensation, though there was a Miriam, a Deborah, a Huldah, and an Anna, who were prophetesses, the special outpouring of the Spirit upon God's daughters as upon his sons, seems to have been reserved as a characteristic of the last days. This, says Peter, as the wondering multitude beheld these extraordinary endowments of the Spirit, falling alike on all the disciples, this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel, "And also upon my servants and upon my handmaidens will I pour out my Spirit."

And this gift of prophecy, bestowed upon all, was continued and recognized in all the early ages of Christianity. The ministry of the Word was not confined to the apostles. No, they had a laity for the times. When, by the cruel persecutions of Saul, all the infant church were driven away from Jerusalem,
except the apostles, these scattered men and women of the laity "went every where preaching the word," that is, proclaiming a crucified, risen Saviour. And the effect was, that the enemies of the cross, by scattering these men and women, who had been saved by its virtues, were made subservient to the yet more extensive proclamation of saving grace.

Impelled by the indwelling power within, these Spirit-baptized men and women, driven by the fury of the enemy in cruel haste from place to place, made all their scatterings the occasion of preaching the gospel every where, and believers were every where multiplied, and daily were there added to the church such as should be saved.

Says the Rev. Dr. Taft,

If the nature of society, its good and prosperity, in which women are jointly and equally concerned with men, if, in many cases, their fitness and capacity for instructors being admitted to be equal to the other sex, be not reasons sufficient to convince the candid reader of woman's teaching and preaching, because of two texts in Paul's Epistles, (1 Cor. xiv. 34; 1 Tim. ii. 12,) let him consult the paraphrase of Locke, where he has proved to a demonstration that the apostle, in these texts, never intended to prohibit women from praying and preaching in the church, provided they were dressed as became women professing godliness, and were qualified for the sacred office. Nor is it likely that he would, in one part of his Epistle, give directions how a woman, as well as a man, should pray and prophesy in public, and presently after, in the very same Epistle, forbid women, endowed with the gifts of prayer and prophecy, from speaking in the church, when, according to his own explication of prophecy, it is 'speaking unto ethers for edification, exhortation, and comfort.' Besides, the apostle, in this Epistle to the church at Corinth, says, 'Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.' Again, 'I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied.' Here the apostle speaks to the church in general; and the word all must comprehend every individual member; and since he had just before given directions about a woman's praying and prophesying, we conclude that his desire extended to women as well as to men. Certainly the word all includes both men and women; otherwise the mind of Paul, 'who was made a minister of the Spirit,' would have been more narrow than that of Moses, who was only a minister of the law; for when Joshua came and told Moses that Eldad and Medad prophesied in the camp, and desired him to forbid them, Moses said unto him, 'Enviest thou for my sake? Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that he would put his Spirit upon them.' Now, all the Lord's people must certainly comprehend the Miriams and Deborahs in the camp, as well as the Eldads and Medads.


Dr. Clarke says, (Rom. xvi. 12,)
'Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labored in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord' -- two holy women, who, it seems, were assistants to the apostle in his work, probably by exhorting, visiting the sick, &c. Persis was another woman, who, it seems, excelled the preceding; for of her it is said, she labored much in the Lord. We learn from this, that Christian women, as well as men, labored in the ministry of the word. In those times of simplicity, all persons, whether men or women, who had received the knowledge of the truth, believed it to be their duty to propagate it to the utmost of their power.

Many have spent much useless labor in endeavoring to prove that these women did not
preach. That there were some prophetesses, as well as prophets, in the Christian church, we learn; and that woman might pray or prophesy, provided she had her head covered, we know; and that whoever prophesied, spoke unto others to edification, exhortation, and comfort, St. Paul declares, 1 Cor. xiv. 3. That no preacher can do more, every person must acknowledge; because to edify, exhort, and comfort, are the prime ends of the gospel ministry. If women thus prophesied, then women preached.


Chrysostom and Theophilact take great notice of Junia, mentioned in the apostle's salutations. In our translation (Rom. xvi. 7) it is, "Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsmen, and my fellow-prisoners, who are of note among the apostles." By the word kinsmen one would take Junia not to have been a woman, but a man. But Chrysostom and Theophilact were both Greeks; consequently, they knew their mother tongue better than our translators, and they say it was a woman; it should, therefore, have been translated, "Salute Andronicus and Junia, my kinsfolk." The apostle salutes other women who were of note among them, particularly Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labored in the Lord, and Persis, who labored much in the Lord.

Again, if we look into ecclesiastical history, we shall find women very eminent in the church long after the days of the apostles; I say women who were distinguished for their piety, their usefulness, and their sufferings. Witness the story of Perpetua and Felicitas, martyrs for the Christian faith, which contains traits that touch the most insensible, and cannot be read without a tear. Eusebius speaks of Potominia Ammias, a prophetess in Philadelphia, and others, who were equally distinguished by their zeal for the love which they bore to Jesus Christ.

Justin Martyr, who lived till about A. D. 150, says, in his Dialogue with Trypho, the Jew, "that both
women and men were seen among them who had the gifts of the Spirit of God, according as Joel the prophet had foretold, by which he endeavored to convince the Jew that the latter days were come; for by that expression, Manassah Ben Israel tells us, all their wise men understood the times of Messias."

Dodwell, in his Dissertations on Irenæus, says, "that the extraordinary gift of the spirit of prophecy was given to others besides the apostles, and that not only in the
first and second, but in the third century, even to the time of Constantine, men of all sorts and ranks had these gifts — yea, and women too." Therefore we may certainly conclude that the prophetic saying of the Psalmist, lxviii. 11, was verified: "The Lord gave the word, and great was the company of those that published it." In the original Hebrew it is, "Great was the company of women publishers, or women evangelists." Grotius explains Ps. lxviii. 11, "Dominus dabat sermonem, id est, materiam loquendi uberem, nempe ut feminarum, praedicantium (victorias) multum agmen diceret, scilicet, eaquae sequuntur" -- "The Lord shall give the word, that is, plentiful matter of speaking; so that he would call those which follow the great army of preaching women, viz., victories, or female conquerors."

A SUPPOSITION.

Suppose one of the brethren who had received the baptism of fire on the day of Pentecost, now numbered among those who were scattered every where preaching the word, had met a female disciple who had also received the same endowment of power. He finds her proclaiming Jesus to an astonished company of male and female listeners. And now imagine he interferes and withstands her testimony by questioning whether women have a right to testify of Christ before a mixed assembly. Would not such an interference look worse than unmanly? And were her testimony, through this interference, restrained, or rendered less effectual, would it not, in the eye of the Head of the church, involve guilt? Yet we do not say but a person may err after the same similitude and be sincere, On the same principle that Saul was sincere when he withstood the proclamation of the gospel, and made such cruel havoc of the church. He verily thought he was doing God service. But when his mind was enlightened to see that, in persecuting these men and women, he was withstanding God, and rejecting the divinely-ordained instrumentalities by which the world was to be saved, he could no longer have been sincere unless he had taken every possible pains to make his refutation of error as far reaching as had been his wrong. And how the heart of that beloved disciple of the Saviour would have been grieved, and her hands weakened, by one whom she would have a right to look to for aid against the common enemy, and for sympathy in her work!

A large proportion of the most intelligent, courageous, and self-sacrificing disciples of Christ are females. "Many women followed the Saviour" when on earth; and, compared with the fewness of male disciples, many women follow him still. Were the women who followed the incarnate Saviour earnest, intelligently pious, and intrepid, willing to sacrifice that which cost them something, in ministering to him of their substance? In like manner, there are many women in the present day, earnest, intelligent, intrepid, and self-sacrificing, who, were they permitted or encouraged to open their lips in the assemblies of the pious in prayer, or speaking as the Spirit gives utterance, might be instrumental in winning many an erring one to Christ. We say, were they permitted and encouraged; yes, encouragement may now be needful. So long has this endowment of power been withheld from use by the dissuasive sentiments of the pulpit, press, and church officials, that it wilt now need the combined aid of these to give the public mind a proper direction, and undo a wrong introduced by the man of sin centuries ago.

But more especially do we look to the ministry for the correction of this wrong. Few, perhaps, have really intended to do wrong; but little do they know the embarrassment to which they have subjected a large portion of the church of Christ by their unscriptural position in relation to this matter. The Lord our God is one Lord. The same indwelling spirit of might which fell upon Mary and the other women on the glorious day that ushered in the present dispensation still falls upon God's daughters. Not a few of the daughters of the Lord Almighty have, in obedience to the command of the Saviour, tarried at Jerusalem; and, the endowment from on high having fallen upon them, the same impelling power which constrained Mary and the other women to speak as the Spirit gave utterance impels them to testify of Christ.

"The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." And how do these divinely-baptized disciples stand ready to obey these impelling influences? Answer, ye thousands of Heaven-touched lips, whose testimonies have so long been repressed in the assemblies of the pious! Yes, answer, ye thousands of female disciples, of every Christian land, whose pent-up voices have so long, under the pressure of these man-made restraints, been uttered in groanings before God.

But let us conceive what would have been the effect, had either of the male disciples interfered with the utterances of the Spirit through Mary or any of those many women who received the baptism of fire on the day of Pentecost. Suppose Peter, James, or John had questioned their right to speak as the Spirit gave utterance before the assembly, asserting that it were unseemly, and out of the sphere of woman, to proclaim a risen Jesus, in view of the fact that there were men commingling in that multitude. How do you think that He who gave woman her commission on the morning of the resurrection, saying, "Go, tell my brethren," would have been pleased with an interference of this sort?

But are there not doings singularly similar to these being transacted now? We know that it is even so. However unseemly on the part of brethren, and revolting to our finer sensibilities, such occurrences may appear, we have occasion to know that they are not at all unusual in religious circles. We will refer to a Christian lady of more than ordinary intellectual endowments, of refined sensibilities, and whose literary culture and tastes were calculated to constitute her a star in the galaxy of this world.

A LIFE PICTURE.

I have seen a lovely female turn her eye away from the things of time, and fix it on the world to come. Jesus, the altogether lovely, had revealed himself to her, and the vision of her mind was absorbingly entranced with his infinite loveliness, and she longed to reveal him to others. She went to the assembly of the pious. Out of the abundance of her heart she would fain have spoken, so greatly did her heart desire to win others over to love the object of her adoration. Had she been in a worldly assembly, and wished to attract others with an object of admiration, she would not have hesitated to have brought out the theme in conversation, and attracted listeners would have taken her more closely to their hearts, and been won with the object of her love. But she is now in the assembly of the pious. It is true many of them are her brothers and sisters, but cruel custom sealed her lips. Again and again she goes to the assembly for social prayer and the conference meeting, feeling the presence and power of an indwelling Saviour enthroned uppermost in her heart, and assured that he would have her testify of him. At last she ventures to obey God rather than man. And what is the result? A committee is appointed to wait on her, and assure her that she must do so no more. Whisperings are heard in every direction that she has lost her senses; and, instead of sympathizing looks of love, she meets averted glances and heart repulses. This is not a fancy sketch; no, it is a life picture. Ye who have aided in bringing about this state of things, how does this life picture strike you?

WHO WAS REJECTED?

Think of the feelings of the Christian lady, who has thrown herself in the bosom of your church community, in order that she may enjoy the sympathies of Christian love and fellowship. Has grace divested her of refined sensibilities? No! grace has only turned those refined sensibilities into a sanctified channel, and given her a yet more refined perception of every thing pure, and lovely, and of good report. What must be the sufferings of that richly-endowed, gentle, loving heart? But was it not her loving, gentle, indwelling Saviour, that would fain have had her testify for him? and in rejecting her testimony for Jesus, did not Jesus, the Head of the church, take it as done unto himself?

And what is TRUTH? should be the word:
And every human soul
Should feel his inmost being stirred,
To know it as a whole.

Truth is divine, though it may flow
From human lip or lyre;
And he who touches it shall know
God will for this require.

O, what are human agencies!
Themselves, alas, how weak!
But God ordains as he cloth please,
And through them he doth speak.

And when TRUTH speaks, whoe'er may touch
To turn aside the word,
God will reprove the act as much
As though from Sinai heard.

Who toucheth truth, or blunts its force,
May heedlessly pass by,
Unmarked in time; but deep remorse
Awaits him endlessly.