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THE want of the world is moral power. Philosophy has become clear-sighted to the importance of physical and mental improvement; new discoveries in science are rife on every side, each one designed to aid man in his appointed task of subduing the earth; but who has found out the way to attain that moral power which only can enable him to govern his own spirit, and thus fit him to rule in righteousness and peace over the world he is conquering?
Schools of learning educate the mind, but not the soul; the world's school develops physical energies, sharpens the senses, enlightens the understanding, incites the passions; but does not purify the heart. Even the blessed Gospel, as set forth by its appointed teachers, fails to move the mass of mankind the right way. There is a dead weight of earthly propensities pressing down the Christian world; every advance in material prosperity and intellectual power brings in its train an increase of degradation and misery to a large class of society, and new devices of crime and sin to darken history and discourage hope.
Are these things always to continue? Is the theory of those philosophers, who hold that mankind will remain to the end of time in this miserable state of perpetual change without moral advancement, true? Not if the Word of God is true. A better time is promised,— the "good time," when "the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever.' And the time will surely arrive, as the prophet predicted, when beholding by the spirit what the nations of the earth should become, he declared "They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree; and none shall make them afraid."+
There must then be somewhere an agent to promote this radical change, and, in harmony with the Gospel, and by the aid of the divine blessing, carry on and out the moral advancement of society.
Now I believe (allow me to use the "pronoun in the first person singular," as I only am responsible for the views this preface contains) that I have found the true source of moral power in human nature, and also the way in which this power must be regulated and applied to ensure the absolute moral advancement of mankind. I believe, and trust I shall make it apparent, that WOMAN is God's appointed agent of morality, the teacher and inspirer of those feelings and sentiments which are termed the virtues of humanity; and that the progress of these virtues, and the permanent improvement of our race, depend on the manner in which her mission is treated by man.
There are learned theologians who hold that the human heart is utterly corrupt by reason of the "first transgression." Other theologians, equally learned, reject this doctrine of total depravity, affirming that there are good dispositions or qualities inherent in human nature, which may be cultivated and become noble moral virtues.
Without entering into the arguments on either side of this question, permit me to say that my theory satisfies both. Man, by the "fall," was rendered incapable of cultivating, by his
* Isaiah, Chap. xxxii., verse 17.
Micah, Chap. iv., verse 40.
own unassisted efforts, any good propensity or quality of his nature. Left to himself, his love becomes lust, patriotism, policy, and religion, idolatry. He is naturally selfish in his affections; and selfishness is the sin of depravity. But woman was not thus cast down. To her was confided, by the Creator's express declaration, the mission of disinterested affection; her "desire" was to be to her husband not to herself; she was endowed with the hope of the Good, which, in the fulness of time, developed by her seed, that is, by Christ, would make war with the Evil, and finally overcome Sin, Death, and the Grave.
And now let us turn to the holy Bible, the only record of truths which teach divine wisdom, for confirmation of this theory I have ventured to propound.
I entreat my readers, men, who I hope will read heedfully this preface, to lay aside, if possible, their prejudices of education, the erroneous views imbibed from poetical descriptions and learned commentaries, respecting the Creation and the Fall of Man. Go not to Milton, or the Fathers, but to the Word of God; and let us from it read this important history, the foundation of all true history of the natural character and moral condition of mankind.
“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."'*
Here we are instructed that the term man included woman; the twain in unity, the female being the complement of the male, formed the perfect being made in the "likeness of God.” Such was the recorded result of the human creation; the particular process of the formation of man is afterwards described.
"And the Lord God made man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into him the breath of life; and man became a living soul."-Genesis, Chapter II., ver. 7.
The process of the creation of woman is detailed in the same chapter, verses 18, 21, 22, 23, 24.
"And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
"And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
"And of the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, her unto the man.
"And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh."
Who can read this, and not fail to perceive that there was a care and preparation in forming woman which was not bestowed on man?
Why was this recorded, if not to teach us that the wife was of finer mould, destined to the most spiritual offices,—the heart of humanity, as her husband was the head? She was the last work of creation. Every step, from matter to man, had been in the ascending scale. Woman was the crown of all, the last, and must therefore have been the best in those qualities which raise human nature above animal life; the link which pressed nearest towards the angelic, and drew its chief beauty and strength from the invisible world.†
Men, ay, good men, hold the doctrine of woman's inferiority, because St. Paul says she was created "for man." Truly she was made "for man," but not in the sense this text has
Genesis, Chapter I., verses 26, 27, 28.
† See Biography of Eve, page 38.
heretofore been interpreted. She was not made to gratify his sensual desires, but to refine his human affections, and elevate his moral feelings. Endowed with superior beauty of person, and a corresponding delicacy of mind, her soul was to "help" him where he was deficient. -namely, in his spiritual nature. She was made for him, not to minister to, and thus increase his animal appetites, but to purify his tastes and exalt his hopes. She was made "a help meet for him" in Paradise; and that he there needed her help shows that he was not perfect while standing alone. She must have been more perfect than he in those qualities which were to "help" him. She had not his strength of body or his capacity of understanding to grasp the things of earth; she could not help him in his task of subduing the world; she must, therefore, have been above him in her intuitive knowledge of heavenly things; and the "help" he needed from her was for the "inner man." This will be shown more clearly as we proceed.
Permit me, however, to remark here, that I am not aiming to controvert the authority of the husband, or the right of men to make laws for the world they are to subdue and govern. I have no sympathy with those who are wrangling for "woman's rights;" nor with those who are foolishly urging my sex to strive for equality and competition with men. What I seek to establish is the Bible doctrine, as I understand it, that woman was intended as the teacher and the inspirer for man, morally speaking, of "whatsoever things are lovely, and pure, and of good report." The Bible does not uphold the equality of the sexes. When created, man and woman were unlike in three important respects.
1st. The mode of their creation was different.
2d. The materials* from which each was formed were unlike.
3d. The functions for which each was designed were dissimilar.
They were never equal; they were one; one in flesh and bones; one in the harmony of their wills; one in the unison of their souls; one in their hope of earthly happiness; one in the favour of God. Thus perfect was their union in Eden while they were innocent. Yet as in their corporeal forms woman was the most refined and delicate, so her spirit (by the term, I mean heart, soul, mind, including all the affections and passions) was purer and holier than man's. He was formed of the earth, and had in the greatest development those powers of mind which are directed towards objects of sense; she, formed from his flesh and bones, had in greatest development those powers of mind which seek the affections. But these differences did not hinder their union; such diversities only served to enhance the intensity and enlarge the variety of their enjoyments. It is not disparity of intellect, or difference in the innocent enjoyments of life, which make the miseries of the married pair; it is disunion of hearts and hopes, the conflicts of passion and will; these mar domestic bliss. There was nothing to disturb the serenity of Eden till sin entered; then we learn how the sexes differed.
In the Biography of Eve, I have given a particular account of the manner of the "fall;" showing that the man and woman were together when the serpent tempted her; and that the idea of her being out alone gathering flowers is as fabulous as the story of Proserpine. The Bible says:-" And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave unto her husband with her; and he did eat." Genesis, Chap. III., ver. 6.
Most commentators, men, of course, represent woman as the inferior, and yet the most blamable. She could not have been both. If man, who had the greatest strength of body, had also the greatest wisdom of mind, and knew, as he did, that the serpent was a deceiver, then surely man was the most criminal. He should have restrained or at least warned his wife.
* Chemically tested, their bodily elements were similar; like diamond from carbon, woman had been formed from man; yet the refining process which increased her beauty and purity did not alter this elemental identity; and hence they were one in the flesh.
The Bible, however, is the authority to guide us in understanding which was the guilty transgressor; which sinned because loving the things of earth more than the wisdom of God. St. Paul says that "The woman, being deceived, was in the transgression;" thereby affirming that if she had understood what was to follow, she would not have disobeyed.
That this is the true interpretation of the apostle's words is made sure by the trial of the guilty pair, and their sentence from their Creator, who knew their motives and could weigh their sin.
Woman pleaded that she was deceived-" The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”
The man said "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat."
That Adam intended, in thus accusing his wife, covertly to throw the blame on God for creating her, seems probable from the severity with which his sentence is worded. He is judged as though he was the selfish criminal, disobeying God from sensuous inclinations— "of the earth, earthy;"-his sin is so great, that the ground is "cursed for his sake;" like a felon he is condemned to hard labour for life; and his death, connected with his origin from dust, is set before him in the most humiliating light. The only ray of hope to which he could turn was the promise made to his wife; thus showing him that she was still considered worthy of trust, and must therefore have been the least culpable. A corroboration of this is found in the sentence pronounced against the serpent or spirit of Evil which had deceived her; the clause reads thus :-" And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Gen. III. 5.
Now mark the words :-God says,—" I will put enmity between thee and the woman." Is not here the assurance that the female had still in her nature the disposition towards good, which should be opposed to evil in this world? How could there be "enmity" between her and the tempter, if her heart was wholly corrupt? The conflict with sin was to be first waged by her and with her. How could this be, unless she was then endowed with the germ of divine grace, which, unfolded by the breath of the Holy Spirit, would, in the fulness of time, be honoured by her glorious "seed," the Saviour, who would "put all His enemies under His feet?"
This "enmity" between sin and the woman, which is as positively predicted as the coming of Christ, and his conflict with the powers of Evil, has never been noticed by any writer on the Bible. Yet the history of the world proves it is true, that 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.
The difference between the sin of the man and that of the woman, and the condition in which they stood before their omniscient Judge, may well be illustrated by a passage from the sermon of a learned and pious clergyman,* who had no thought, however, of this application. The text was from Psalms, CXIX., ver. 11. "Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee." In the course of the sermon this true and striking description of human nature occurs: "Man is what the affections make him. His body, in its physical powers, obeys the behests of his HEART. Mind, in its wondrous faculties, is also moulded by the same influence. The Will bows to the Affections; the Judgment is reversed by its decisions; Reason yields to its power; and Conscience even is taught to echo what the HEART desires."
It is the record of the Bible that the heart of the woman desired wisdom. Even in the act of disobedience she did not withdraw her heart wholly from God. True, she sinned, because she disobeyed, or in other words, aspired above her human condition, which God had forbidden. Yet her aspirations were heavenward, while the man disobeyed wilfully and from
* Rev. Dr. Stevens, Rector of St. Andrew's Church, Philadelphia.