Phoebe Palmer


OUR theme is novel, and addresses itself to all Christians, irrespective of sect. We are disposed to think it the most important that can, in these last days, claim the attention of the religious world. We may seem to overrate our subject, but if the reader will suspend judgment till he has prayerfully weighed the doctrines of this volume in the balances of the sanctuary, we shall be satisfied. Many years have passed since the magnitude of this theme has been pressing upon us. We have repeatedly been solicited, in behalf of common Christianity, to give our views to the public, but have declined, and, in turn, urged others, whom we deemed more competent than ourselves, to undertake the work. We were at last unexpectedly constrained to present what we believe to be truth on this subject, by the following circumstance:­—

At a large social meeting, where ministers and people of various denominations were assembled, a lady of strong and influential piety, known to some in that circle to be an individual of more than ordinary mental and cultivated ability, rose to speak. The privilege of being placed in circumstances where she might open her lips in testimony for Jesus before her brethren, was of rare occurrence. Her testimony was most memorably affecting. But we must pause only to glance at its special indices, which were about thus: She had, with unutterable longings, been seeking that the Promise of the Father to his daughters of the last days, might be fulfilled in her experience. As the Marys and "other women" assembled with their brethren on the memorable morning which ushered in the dispensation of the Spirit, she had resolved that she would obey the command of her risen Lord, and wait in unyielding faith for the promised tongue of fire. But, lo, the strange and affecting dilemma in which, through church ordainments, she had been placed! In coming to the decision that she would, in unyielding, humble prayer and faith, wait for the promised baptism of fire, she drew nigh unto God; as ever the day of the Lord is near in
the valley of decision. And now the Spirit, whose grace she supplicated, drew nigh unto her, and in unmistakable terms assured her if she would have the promised grace, she must comply with the obvious conditions. When Mary and the other women disciples received the tongue of fire in answer to the Promise of the Father, they at once used the gift and spake as the Spirit gave utterance. She now felt that she had entered, as it Were, in audience with the Deity. The Holy Spirit was demanding of her acquiescence with the condition, whether she would be willing to pass through the crucifying process of speaking, as the Spirit gave utterance, in the social assembly, though those utterances were in danger of being withstood by the church. And here, though intellectually and piously strong, she stood and wept over the dilemma. And what a dilemma! The will of the church and the will of Christ in conflict! We need not say, that the entire of that waiting company were in sympathy with the scene. What could be done? We knew that not only the church to which this lady belonged, but many other churches, in like manner. would withstand the utterance of a Spirit-baptized Mary in the church assembly, though they had seen the tongue of fire descend upon her.

Though in love with church order, we concluded where church ordainments conflict with the manifest order of Head of the Church, it were better to stand up with TRUTH. We therefore stood up, and gave what were our convictions of the mind of the Spirit in accordance with the lively oracles, believing that where Church order is at variance with divine order, it were better to obey God than man.

Our defense, though humble, seemed to be received with favor. An elder of the church to which the lady whose affecting dilemma we have stated, belonged, rose and made a motion to the effect that our views be embodied in writing and given to the public. A congregational minister seconded the motion, and by the unanimous concurrence of the meeting, we were pressed to a service which we had long desired that a more able hand might perform. We believe the error contemplated lies at the foundation of wrong-doing, immensely detrimental to the upbuilding of Zion in well nigh all religious bodies.

Since we commenced the preparation of our volume, we have received letters from persons of various denominations, in connection with the interests of our work, a portion of which we will present to the reader.

Pictou, Nova Scotia, September 25, 1858
Mrs. P. Palmer
Dear Sister:

I have had sufficient time to examine your new work, "The Promise of the Father," to get subject, the universal church will see and acknowledge that the gifts of the Spirit are "special" and not partial. I have often sighed over the prejudices of the church in relation to woman' s exercising her gift in speaking. Think of it! Woman held in bondage by the church! Well, after all it does seem appropriate and significant that, having lost to such a degree the power of love, the church should imprison its form in the person of woman. hold of your idea. It is a grand one, and, I have no doubt from your manner of treating the

Man is regarded as the head of the woman: it is no less true that she is the heart of the man. If man is capable of uttering words of wisdom under spiritual afflatus, t is also apparent that woman can speak in words of love which breathe and burn into the souls of men. If man can enlighten and instruct, woman can do more; she can warm and melt into penitence the dead and frozen sensibility of the sinner, when her own affections are sanctified under the "baptism of fire."

What is the want of this age? Is it not spiritual power? 'Where is that power to come from? From men and women filled with faith and the Holy Ghost, under whose blended testimony, like the union of heat and light, the wilderness and the solitary place will yet blossom as the rose. We need instruction, but need power more; but love is power, and woman is a form of love. What can she not do, when she is sanctified?

The church has been truly in a winter state, in which there has been no lack of light and intellectual splendor, increased a thousand fold as it came reflected in prismatic glow by snow and ice. But with all this glitter was there warmth? Was there the beautiful forms of vegetable life? No. It required the mingling of the woman's love, set on fire by the Holy Ghost, with man' s sanctified intellect, to give us the beauty, the glory, the power of summer, and the fruit of glad, rejoicing autumn.

Bless the Lord, the winter is over and gone, the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. The turtle, beautiful emblem of love through the voice of womanhood in the service of the church.

A fresh installment of spiritual power is coming down upon us. Its first tokens are seen in the part which woman is taking in the humanitarian movements of the age. Her sphere will widen and embrace the service of the sanctuary. Then shall wisdom and love stand before God' s altar, and be united in the sacred and inseparable bonds of holy marriage. O, sacred wedlock of faith and charity! What prolific and luxuriant fruits of holiness will appear as the result of this Heaven-approved union! Power will be the result — mighty power. Zion shall travail and bring forth children, comely and fair, walking in the beauty of holiness; and the church will be a diadem in the hand of the Lord. God bless and prosper you in your work labor of love, and may he make your book a blessing to the church.

Yours, In The Bonds Of Gospel Love And Truth,
Presbyterian Minister.

Brunswick, Maine, December 20, 1858
Dear Sister Palmer:

I recognize the divine hand in the work you are called to publish, having relation to woman's position in the church. Such a work is greatly needed. No Christian denies that the Spirit of the Lord descends with like power on man and woman; that this Spirit is subject to no human limitations; that the grace of God is diffusive, and freely to be imparted as received. And yet a large proportion of the church, by reason of the law of custom, sit in silence at every social gathering of her members for prayer, praise, and exhortation. Thus the church suffers loss. "The eye cannot say to the hand or foot, I have no need of thee." Each member of the body of Christ, deriving life from the same vital source, has a work to accomplish, a breath of life to diffuse, which no other member can impart.

heart, which, in an important sense, may be considered the heart of the church, must be developed in its naturalness and strength, under the operation of holy love, before the church arises in her majesty and beauty, and has power to conquer the world. The women brought of their offerings to build the ancient tabernacle. They have an important work to do in building the New Jerusalem church. "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father, the same is my mother, and sister, and brother." The mother, the sister, are thus placed on an equality with the brother. The laws that appertain to the kingdom of this world, to Satan's kingdom, or the do minion of selfishness, do not obtain in the kingdom of Christ. In his kingdom there is no usurpation of man or woman, Christ alone being the Head, and each one deriving his or her power and commission from him, and responsible alone to him.

It gives me pleasure to add, that my husband, who has given no small degree of attention to this subject, coincides with these views.

I doubt not the Spirit of the Lord will accompany the truth, and make this volume subserve the good of the church and the glory of its divine Head.

Your Friend And Sister In Christ,

Portland, [Maine] December 20, 1858
Mrs. Phoebe Palmer
Dear Sister:

I had the pleasure, a few days since, while in Boston, of examining the
proof-sheets of your forthcoming work — "The Promise of the Father."

Permit me to express my unfeigned gratitude to God for the assistance he has rendered you in the production of a work of such soul-stirring interest. I regard the subject of incalculable importance to the Zion of God at this time.

What part has woman in the great work of human redemption? How far is she to exercise her gift in the church of God? How far is it her right to prophesy? How far may she receive the
tongue of fire, and use it for the salvation of the world? These are questions which have divided the "sacramental host of God's elect;" but I rejoice that these questions are answered in this volume, clearly, fully, scripturally, and practically.

When the mantle of Miriam, Deborah, Mary, Priscilla, Lois, Eunice, Elizabeth, Anna, and the daughters of Philip, shall fall upon the daughters of Zion as it fell upon Miss Bosanquet, Lady Huntingdon, Hester Ann Rogers, and others, whose record is on high, then will the story of Jesus, who saves to the uttermost, be
felt and proclaimed with tongues of fire, as in days of old.

I can but bellow that this volume, so replete with the spirit of holiness, will do much, under God, to produce these much-to-be-desired results.

Wishing it all the success which shall be for the glory of God and the good of the world, I subscribe myself,

Yours, In The Bonds Of A Pure Gospel,
Minister of the M. E. Church.

Brooklyn, N. Y., December 23, 1858
Dear Sister Palmer:

I am glad to learn that your new book is about to issue from the press. I believe it will prove a great blessing to the church, conveying to them just views of a most important subject, and encouraging many to "stand up for Jesus," whose testimony might be lost in their silence. I was greatly pleased with those portions of the book which you permitted me to read. Your citations from the Scripture were apt and forcible, and your comparison and explanations of these seemed to me very clearly to harmonize with the letter and spirit of the divine teaching.

When God says, "Ye are my witnesses," he addresses his people, and lays a responsibility upon every one of them. He reveals himself to them, and they are to make him known. As they believed through the word of others, so they are to speak, that others may believe through their word. Every man, woman, and child, who knows the love of Christ, and has a tongue to speak, can and ought to tell of the blessedness they know. In the several situations and spheres of action in which God has placed them, let each one confess Christ, and give to others, by their word of testimony, all that they know about him. None can be silent without suffering loss. If we do not speak to the praise of God, and publish abroad his grace, the light within us will fade away, and God will withhold those soul-gladdening assurances of his approbation and favor, which he is wont to give in abundance to those who speak for him boldly and faithfully.

All this applies to women as well as men. That common sentiment which forbids females to speak in the gatherings of Christians is net only depriving them of precious blessings, but it is robbing the church of those benefits which it might have, and withholding from the world a vast amount of valuable testimony. Considering the fact that a large proportion of the church is composed of females, and in the meetings of many denominations these are restrained to silence, I think I am warranted to say that
two thirds of the talent of the church is buried and smothered. I do not think it would be scriptural or proper to ordain women to the office of the ministry. The apostle Paul, as I understand him, has shown that they are not to act as authoritative teachers. That office is reserved to men called of God and solemnly ordained of the church; but there is a wide interval between the positions of the ordained teacher and the silent hearer, into which any and all of the members of Christ's family may step and exercise their talents. Once I was an advocate for the silence of women; but when the Holy Ghost came down and converted many to Christ, and females as well as others were ready, out of the fullness of their hearts, to tell what the Lord had done for them, I could not forbid their testimony, and I found it greatly promotive of the work.

In meetings for the promotion of holiness I have found the testimony of women equally valuable with that of men; and, in addition to the great benefits which 1 have known others to derive from it, I can say truly that it has been greatly helpful to me, by bringing me more fully into the knowledge and love of Christ, and strengthening me in every Christian grace.

In the love of Christ, your brother,
Congregational Minister.