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Good Words 1860
Woman's Noblest Attitude


A PHOTOGRAPH FROM THE GOSPEL HISTORY.
(Concluded from page 56.)

The Redeemer of the world is on His second Preaching Circuit throughout Galilee, carrying through town and village the glad news of the Kingdom of God about to be set up. All noiselessly had He done this before, nor indeed did He ever "strive, or cry, or cause His voice to be heard in the streets;" but on this second progress He bears about with Him some of the notable trophies of the first. A band of healed and grateful women were permitted to accompany Him, and honoured to minister to His temporal wants and those of the Twelve, during all this tour. The names of some of these attached debtors to the love of Jesus, and one or two particulars of their case, serve, like the touches of some inimitable artist, to identify and familiarise them to every student of this divine picture. We have been looking at them in our two former papers one by one, and observing with delight, but with no surprise, how common attachment to the Lord Jesus, common attendance upon Him, and common services to Him, had welded them into one sisterhood of dear affection for each other, which drew and held them together at all the most stirring scenes which followed this one in the earthly history of their Lord.

But as we were preparing to take our leave of them, we beheld in the countenance of a Christian sister who had followed us in our study of this picture, something like an expression of envy, which seemed to say, 'Ye Galilean women, why was not I with you on that evangelistic tour, ministering to the Lord of my substance also? Mine's a debt as large as yours, and mine the heart through grace to pay it; but I was born, it seems, out of due time for such service.'

Not so, my sister in Christ Jesus. Listen to me, while I now read you the picture which we have been studying in common, or, in other words, try to bring out the idea3 for all time which it embodies. If I do this to any purpose, you will find yourself in the very position of these Galilean women, but in a sense every way more exalted.

Know, then, that although Christ Himself is now " rich," never again to "become poor," He has left His cause upon earth in the same necessitous condition as Himself was in the days of His flesh; that faith and love have now to do the same offices to it which then they did to Him; and that Christ in heaven so identifies Himself with His Cause upon earth, that whatsoever is done in faith and love to it, is, in His estimation, done to Him.

"Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" said the ascended Redeemer, in overpowering glory, to Saul of Tarsus, as he drew near to Damascus to crush out the life of Christianity there. "And I said, Who art Thou, Lord? And He said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutes!." (Acts xxvi. 14, 15.) ' Thou hast punished me oft in every synagogue; many of my saints hast thou shut up in prison; and, when they were put to death, thou gavest thy voice against Me.' Yes, in every indignity done to His saints, every blow aimed at His truth, every attempt to extinguish His interest or "His name" upon earth, He feels Himself to be the Object struck at. Catching up this awful idea, one apostle speaks of those who have " trodden under foot the Son of God," (Heb. x. 29,)—dreadful charge to underlie!—and another represents the whole antichristian territory as a second Jerusalem, "the great city where our Lord was crucified." (Rev. xi. 8.) Nor was it to teach us merely the sympathy of the Redeemer, in the loose sense in which it is commonly apprehended, that the Son of God was 3een walking with the three Hebrew youths in the midst of Nebuchadnezzars' burning fiery furnace (Dan. iii. 25); but that He identifies Himself with His suffering witnesses, and holds Himself the party cast into the fire.

And is it, for a moment to be thought that the ascended Redeemer still experiences through His members contempt, dishonour, imprisonment, and death, but does not, in the opposite treatment of them, feel Himself countenanced, kindly entreated, espoused, and honoured? Let Himself give the answer: "When the Son of Man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory. And before Him shall be gathered all nations, and He shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. And He shall set the sheep on His Tight hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered, and ye GAVE ME MEAT; I WAS THIRSTY, AND YE GAVE ME DRINK; I WAS A STRANGER, AND YE TOOK ME IN; NAKED, AND YE CLOTHED ME; I WAS SICK, AND YE VISITED ME; I WAS IN PRISON, AND YE CAME UNTO me." (Matt. xxv. 31-36.) 'Not we,' the astonished souls reply; 'we never did that, Lord; we were born out of due time, and enjoyed not the high privilege of ministering unto Thee.' 'But ye did it to my poor ones, to these my brethren, now beside you, whom I cast upon your love.' 'Truth, Lord, Thy name was indeed dear to us, and we thought it an honour too great to suffer shame for it. When amongst the needy and distressed we espied any of the household of faith, we will not deny that our hearts leapt at the discovery; when they came to us as petitioners, it seemed as though "our Beloved Himself had put in His hand by the hole of the door, and our bowels were moved for Him." (Cant. v. 4.) Sweet was the fellowship we had with them, as though we had "entertained angels unawares" (Heb. xiii. 2); all difference between giver and receiver melted away under the beams of our common love of Thee; it knit us together; or, if any difference remained to be felt, it was when, leaving us with expressions of gratitude for our poor givings, we seemed the debtors to them, rather than they to us. But, Lord, it was not Thee we were kindly entreating V 'Yes, it was me,' replies the King from the throne of His glory—'Me in the disguise of my poor. I came to you, and ye knew me; when a homeless "stranger ye took me in." Seized and imprisoned by the enemies of the truth, "ye came unto me," at the risk of your own liberty and life, cheering me in my solitude, and "oft refreshing me in my bonds." When shivering in nakedness, "ye clothed me," and I felt warm. My parched lips, when thirsty, ye moistened with cups of cold water; and when famished with hunger, "ye gave me meat," and my spirit recovered. "Ye did it unto me." As for you on the left hand, ye did nothing for Me. I came to you also, but ye never knew Me, and had neither warm affections nor kind deeds to spend upon Me. I was as one despised in your eyes." 'In our eyes, "Lord, Lord?" We never saw Thee until now, and sure never so behaved ourselves to Thee." 'Yes, ye did; for in the disguise of these My poor members I came soliciting your pity, but ye shut up your bowels of compassion from Me. I asked relief, but ye had none to give Me. Take back, then, what ye gave — your own coldness, your own contempt, your own dismissal. Ye bid Me away from you:—"Depart from me, therefore, ye cursed!'"

On these mysterious "ministrations," then, to the lord of Glory in disguise upon earth—as once on this Galilean circuit, so in His evangelistic operations from age to age—will He suspend, it seems, each one's blissful or blighted eternity. " Come, ye blessed, for ye did it unto me.—Depart, ye cursed, ye did it not to me." In that "me" lies an emphasis which no tongue can utter. On the affection we shall be found to have borne, and the services of love we shall be found to have rendered here below to Him who shall gather before Him all nations, will turn our everlasting weal or woe.

But certainly, of the Redeemer's debtors, woman has the least cause to envy her Galilean sisters the honour of being "with Him, and ministering to Him of their substance." For these Galilean women did but exemplify woman's noblest altitude and special sphere in the service of Christ.

Were one internal evidence of the truth of the Bible, and of the divinity of the religion which it discloses, to be demanded of me—one that should be at once decisive and level to ordinary capacity— perhaps the position which it assigns to Woman might be as safely fixed upon as any other. Whether we take her destination before the fall, her condition under the fall, and what the religion of the Bible has done to lift her out of it, the finger of God is alike clearly to be seen. The formation of Woman was not the creation of a superior, to overawe or rule over the man, nor of an inferior, to be looked down upon and used by the Man for subordinate ends, but the formation from his very self, and from the region of his heart, of "an help meet for him," (literally, "over against him," "answering to him,") the counterpart of him, his second self. Had Woman been made without the intellectual capacity to enter into and sympathise with all that Man was made for, she would not have been his " counterpart," and the man would, to the whole extent of this deficiency, have been "alone" which the lord God had said " it was not good that he should be." But this peculiar vocation of Woman has been expounded with a clearness and variety at once affecting and beautiful, both by the fall and by the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. Dearly has Woman paid the penalty of her bad priority in transgression. As it was she that drew the Man down under the curse, he, in the ferocity of his fallen nature, has been judicially permitted to trample on all that is sacred and sweet in Womanhood, making her the slave of his brutal tyranny, and the minister of his guilty passions. In all lands beyond the pale of revealed religion, this is woman's condition. And yet even here, the original characteristics of the sex peer forth " as life through the hollow eyes of death." What clinging still to her male abuser; what heroism of uncomplaining endurance; what unapplauded and unseen martyrdoms—many times suffered during one life—at the hand of Man, and, in spite of all, laying herself out to be, so far as permitted and able, "a help meet for him!" What would such qualities be, one is apt to say, were they but redeemed from the curse, purified and refined by grace, consecrated to their true ends, stimulated and cheered by a corresponding change in the other sex! Well, this is just what Christ has done for Woman; this is just what we see Christianity accomplishing. Woman is now made capable of becoming—in the ample and beautiful sense originally meant—"an help meet for Man;" his counterpart, not only in identity of interest, mind, and heart with him, in things divine as well as human, but in that peculiar tenderness, that confiding dependence, those clinging affections, that heroic fortitude and self-sacrifice which are the very seal of Womanhood, not to speak of perceptions quick as instinct, and jealous sensibilities, which, if they lay Woman open to many and deep wounds, cause her also to melt under kindness shewn her, and surrender herself to the manifestations of even seeming affection. What are characteristics like these capable of becoming, when healed by the balm of Gilead, and directed to their proper, their highest Object?

Space forbids us to trace the earnest of this consecration of Womanhood to Christ under the Old Testament, and its full manifestation under the New. Church history but continues the record of Christian Womanhood which the living oracles have begun. Wherever there has been any purity, any zeal, any activity, any prosperity in the Church of Christ, there Woman's presence and aid, as "a help meet for" the other sex, while they have been bearing the heat and burden of the day, will be found no unimportant element. It is so at this day in an eminent degree. Nor do I at all doubt that in the Church's further efforts to carry the Gospel into all lands, and get for their lord the sceptre of the world, the spirit and mind of our Galilean women will be more and more seen stamped upon Christian Womanhood; and as Jesus "makes His progress through town and village with the glad tidings of the kingdom of God," there will be found in His train, not only the successors of the Twelve, but "many women," who, having been "healed by Him," will say, in the fulness of their hearts, "Entreat me not to leave Thee, nor to return from following after Thee," and will count it their highest honour to be allowed to "minister unto Him of their substance."

O woman, self-ruined but dearly ransomed, "how much owest thou unto thy lord!" You feel it, and ask, "What shall I render?" I answer, not only all that thou hast in common with other disciples, but, over and above this, all the characteristics of sanctified Womanhood. You may, like those women whom the apostle celebrates, "labour much in the lord," and earn the thanks, not only of a Paul, but of "all the churches of the Gentiles." But some of the most beautiful specimens of female Christianity will never be heard of till the resurrection morn.

"Unseen, unfelt their earthly growth,
And, self-accused of sin and sloth,
They live and die; their names decay,
Their fragrance passes quite away;
Like violets in the freezing blast,
No vernal steam around they cast:—
But they shall flourish from the tomb,
The breath of God shall wake them into odorous bloom."
—Keble.

This should be enough with male or female. "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me?" Then, " Feed my lambs—Feed my sheep." Go work in my vineyard. "Give him of the gold of Sheba." (Ps. lxxii. 15.) That thou doest do cheerfully, and love will convert it into gold. "She hath done what she could" was a noble testimony from the Lord's own lips to one who poured over His adorable head her box of ointment. Oh, if every debtor to the Grace that plucks brands from the fire, and ransomed Woman in particular, were but to do what he or she could, what busy activities would be brought into play, and how would the Kingdom of Christ everywhere break forth as streams in the south ! Christ's work is honourable and glorious, but there remaineth very much land to be possessed. Yet the earth is already the Lord's by purchase, and will soon be His in possession.

"And the base world, now Christ has died,
Ennobled is and glorified."
Rise, the Master calleth thee!


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