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To dwell in paradise, to be blessed with direct communings with the Eternal and His heavenly messengers, are indeed not ours; but many a home-ay, many a lot-is a sinless paradise to a young and gentle girl; and loving parents will so throng her path with care and blessings, that of evil she knows little, and temptation is afar of. And often, too often, like Eve, these blessings are undervalued and sacrificed, not through her sin and disobedience, but from woman's unfortunate desire to grasp something more than is her allotted portion ; -her discontent with the lowlier station, which her weaker frame and less powerful mind mark imperatively as her own-her mistaken notion, that humility is degradation; and unless she compels man to concede to her her rights, they will be trampled on and never acknowledged-her curiosity leading her too often to covet knowledge which she needs not for the continuance of her happiness. O let not woman deny that such too often are her characteristics, and exclaim with scorn of Eve's weakness, that had she been in Eve's place, surrounded with felicity as she was, the forbidden tree might have remained for ever ere she would have touched it. She who thus thinks, commits unconsciously Eve's first sin, trusting too much in her own strength; and, in consequence, is just as likely to fall beneath the very first temptation which assails her.
Let her not quiet such fears by the thought that Eve's particular temptation cannot be her's. No; but snares innumerable, and equally fearful, surround us. Each day brings its own temptations, each day calls upon us to pray against them; for we know not how, or in what shape they may arise, and how soon, if we trust in our own strength, they may triumph and lead us to per
dition. Had Eve been truly humble she had not sinned. And if in Eden HUMILITY was needed, if even there, without such panoply of proof, woman fell, how much more should we encourage it now. Humility is to woman her truest safeguard, her loveliest ornament, her noblest influence, her greatest strength. Teaching her her true station in regard to man, it leads her ever to the footstool of her God, thence to derive firmness, devotedness, fortitude, consolation, hope, all that she needs. While such privilege is her's, let her not repine that God lowered Eve and made her less than man; let her not look back with anger that the sin of one woman should thus punish her descendants. From the very first she was endowed differently to man; had she not been the weaker, the serpent had not marked her as his easier prey. And as our own nature is even now as Eve's let us rather thank God that his Love has granted us that lowly station where our natural qualities may best be proved, and our weaknesses and onr failings have less power to work us harm. Let us cultivate, with all our heart and soul and might, the lovely flower of humility, which, by teaching us to think lowlily of ourselves, will render us contented and thankful for the blessings around us, the gifts bestowed upon us, instead of urging us to covet more;-the sweet flower on whose breath our souls are enabled more continually to ascend to God, and whose petals, seemingly so frail and tender, have yet more power to guard us from temptation and presumption that an unsheathed sword. Let us not pause till it is found and worn; and if it make us invisible as itself, save to those who seek and value us, it will shed around us an atmosphere of love and peace and joy, with which no other flower can vie; and in
death, as in life, we shall bless God for its possession, as for the dearest gift He has vouchsafed.
Would I, then, some may exclaim, deny all privileges to woman-refuse to acknowledge their equality with man-degrade them as the Jewish religion is falsely accused of doing? No! for in the sight of God, in their spiritual privileges, in their peculiar gifts and endowments, the power of performing their duties in their own sphere, in their responsibility, they are on a perfect equality with man. But I would conjure them to seek humility, simply from its magic power of keeping woman in her own beautiful sphere, without one wish, one ambitious whisper, to exchange it for another. While there, while satisfied and rejoicing in the infinite love and wisdom which placed us there, we are not only in the privileges enumerated above man's equal, but,— however, in strength of frame, immense capability of physical and mental exertion, in might and grasp of intellect, his inferior-yet in the depth and faithfulness of love, in the capability of feeling and enduring, in devotedness and fortitude-alike in bodily and mental trial-we are unanswerably his superior. Then has not woman enough to call for gratitude? Endowed with influence over the heart of man, O let her remember for what fearful end Eve used that influence, and keep a constant guard of watchfulness and prayer over her heart to preserve her from its similar abuse. Let her remember the employments of Eve in Eden, and so cultivate her intellectual faculties in the study of God and nature, both animate and inanimate, that her mind may be strengthened, and in the contemplation of the beauties of creation, she may learn the true value of the beauty which may be hers. How small is its relative
proportion, and yet how blessedly it may be used, even, as the beauty of creation, for the glory of God, in its mild, soothing and benignant influence upon His
Above all, let the history of Eve impress this truth upon the hearts of her young descendants-that however weak and faulty and abased, however sorrowing and bereaved, however reaping in tears the effects of indiscretion or graver error,-yet still the compassion, the long suffering, the exhaustless love of their Father in Heaven is theirs; that no circumstance in life can deprive them of that love, can throw a barrier between woman's yearning heart and the healing compassion of her God. No; not even departure from Him, neglect, or forgetfulness, will make Him forget or cease to compassionate, if she will but return in true repentance and clinging faithfulness to His deep love once more. We cannot measure that exhaustless fount--for as high as the heaven is above the earth, so great is its extent. We cannot weary that never-ceasing Mercy—for as far as the East is from the West, so far, when we return to Him, doth He remove our transgressions from us. And will woman-whose whole existence still is love-neglect or despise these thrice-blessed privileges; will the exile, the despised, the persecuted-for such has been, and is, the woman of Israel-will she not receive with grateful adoration the love vouchsafed, and come and make manifest the Sustainer, the Comforter, the Mainspring of her being? To woman of every creed, of every race, of every rank— life, though it may seem blessed, is a fearful desert without God. What then, without Him, is it to the woman of Israel, the exile and the mourner, who hath no land, no hope, no comforter but Him?
CHAP. II. SARAH.
So varied and so important are the incidents comprised in the life of Eve, that, on a mere superficial view, Sarah's biography appears somewhat deficient in interest. Yet, as the beloved partner of Abraham, she ought to be a subject of reverence and love to her female descendants; and we will endeavour to bring her history forward, that such she may become. Much of the Eternal's love and pity towards His female children is manifested in her simple life, and also in the life of her bondwoman Hagar, which is too closely interwoven with hers to be omitted.
The real relationship between Abraham and Sarah, before marriage, has never yet been clearly or satisfactorily solved. Some commentators asserting she was his niece, the daughter of Haran his elder brother; and others, that she was, as Abraham himself declares, his half-sister-" She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife." We believe the latter assertion much more likely to be the correct one, because, in the first place, there is no foundation whatever for the idea that she was Haran's daughter, except the supposition that Iscah means Sarah (Gen. xi. 29); and, in the second, it is not probable that, when questioned by Abimelech, Abraham would have condescended to utter a falsehood. The Bible mentions Lot only as the child of Haran; and Abraham himself says, Sarah was his half-sister. The latter relationship, as preventing marriage, is no proof in favour of her