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“ minds should be corrupted from the simplicity " that is in Christ.” Remember always, that whatever teacher or teachers would avail themselves of the warmth of your passions, or the vivacity of your imaginations, to seduce you into any system unfriendly to a good temper and a good life, do either mistake the true design of the gospel, or have an ill design on you. But then on the other hand you may be equally assured, that whatever teacher or teachers would attempt by dry disputation, or cold inquiry, to convert or edify souls, are strangers alike to nature and to christianity. What in truth is the latter, but an affectionate and powerful address to the former, divinely adapted to take hold not of the understanding only, but of the con. science, the will, and the passions ; that is, of the most vital and operative principles of the heart?
Among the rest I mentioned the passion of Fear. We are told by an apostle, that “ perfect love a casteth out fear.” But perfect love, in matters of religion, cannot, strictly understood, be supposed compatible with human frailty. To that is the system of Jesus graciously proportioned. There the passion I speak of is applied to, in a manner the most striking that can be conceived. For what purpose ? To damp resolution, or dishearten hope? No; but to restrain the impetuosity of desire, and to prevent he misery of disorder; not to frighten you from the mercy-seat, but to show you the necessity of taking shelter there. You, my female friends, are naturally fearful. A conscious weakness prompts you continually to seek protection, Feeling yourselves, and knowing your sex to be helpless, you flee to men for safety. But do you, always find it in them ?-Need I point you to a sure refuge ? I have done it already. Are you
mortified at the timidity of your nature ?
Are you depressed by the feebleness of your frame? I know not that
I am certain you have noti
if a sense of your condition have induced you to put yourselves under the guardianship of Omnipotence. Many of you, it is evident, have the art of turning your infirmities to your own advantage, so far as concerns your influence with our But that power, which
thus extract from imbecility, is often, alas! by the unhappiness of your passions, only rendered productive of new and greater weaknesses; whereas, if you were wise, you might on your natural frailty build an invincible strength, by securing the protection of the Almighty.
Your encouragements to do this, by the practice of such a piety as I am now recommending, I will consider in the next place ; those encouragements, I mean, which both Providence and Scripture present to your sex with an appropriation as observable in itself, as it is merciful
Nothing can be more plain, than that Providence has placed you most commonly in circumstances peculiarly advantageous for the exercises of devotion, and for the preservation of that virtue, with, out which every profession of godliness must be regarded as an impudent pretence. The situation of men lays them open to a variety of temptations, that lay out of your road. The bustle of life, in which they are generally engaged, leaves them often but little leisure for holy offices. Their passions are daily subject to be heated by the ferment of business ; and how hard is it for them to avoid being importuned to excess, while sometimes a present interest, frequently a pressing appetite, and
yet more frequently the fear of ridicule, stimulates them to comply! How very hard for a young man to withstand
« The world's dread laugh,
In the case of our sex, do we not often see ranked on the side of licentiousness that reputation which ought to attend on sobriety alone? Is not the last openly laughed at by those to whose opinion giddy young men will pay most respect, their own companions? Is not its contrary cried up as a mark of spirit? And if, in their unrestrained conversation amongst a diversity of humours, they meet with affronts, are they not constantly told, that the maxims of honour require them to take revenge ? Is not all this extremely unfavourable to the religious life, of which so great a part consists in purity and prayer, in regularity and coolness, in selfcommand and mild affections ? But from such snares your sex are happily exempted.
In many instances men are attacked by folly, before they surrender ; whereas women must generally invite it by art, or rather indeed take it by violence, ere they can possess themselves of its guilty pleasures. So far the Almighty, in consideration of their debility, and from a regard to their innocence has raised a kind of fence about them, to prevent those wild excursions into which the other sex are frequently carried, with a freedom unchecked by fear, and favoured by custom.
Corrupt as the world is, it certainly does expect from young women a strict decorum ; nor, as we have seen before, does it easily forgive them the least deviation. Add that, while
Add that, while you remain with
out families of your own, few of you are necessarily so engaged, as not to have a large portion of time with daily opportunities for recollection, if you be inclined to improve them. I go farther and subjoin, that your improving them by a piety the most regular and avowed, if withal unaffected and liberal, will be no sort of objection to the men, but much the reverse.
A bigoted woman every man of sense will carefully shun, as a most disagreeable, and even dangerous companion. But the secret reverence, which that majestic form Religion imprints on the hearts of all, is such, that even they who will not submit to its dictates themselves, do yet wish it to be regarded by those with whom they are connected in the nearest relation. The veriest infidel of them all, I am apt to believe, would be sorry to find his sister, daughter, or wife, under no restraint from religious principle. Thus it is, that even the greatest libertines are forced to pay, at the same instant, a kind of implicit respect to the two main objects of their profligate satire, Piety and Women; while they consider these as formed for each other, and tacitly acknowledge that the first is the only effectual means of insuring the good behaviour of the last. Let them talk as long, and as contemptuously as they will, about that easy credulity, and those superstitious terrors, which they pretend to be the foundation of your religion ; something within will always give them the lie, so long as they perceive that your religion renders you more steadily virtuous, and more truly lovely,
But let us turn to scripture, and see what peculiar incitement you have from thence to the profession and pract ce of godliness. How encouraging to Vol. II.
reflect, that the very first promise made to the human race distinguished your sex with a mark of honour, as signal as it was unexampled! Need I explain myself by saying, that the greatest personage who ever visited our world, he who came on the most important design, and who executed it in the most wonderful manner, none other and none less than “ the Son of God, who was manifested " to destroy the works of the devil,” and on their ruins to raise an empire of righteousness and happiness, elevated as heaven, and lasting as eternity
that He, I say, was from the beginning predicted under the singular and interesting character of * the seed of the woman?" How exalting a cir. cumstance for your whole sex, that the Saviour of men, the admiration of angels, and the prince of heaven, was accordingly " in the fulness of time 66 made of a woman !” And Oh, my young friends, what dignity will it for ever reflect on maiden virtue, that " a virgin conceived and bore " a son, the only begotten of the Father, full of " grace and truth?” Where is the religion, or the philosophy, that has lifted your nature so high, or placed the beauty of female purity and excellence in a light so conspicuous and noble.
Nor must we forget to take notice of the particular honours, with which individuals of your sex have had their memories transmitted to posterity by the sacred records. Not to insist on the females of the Old Testament, that " through faith “ have obtained a good report ;” it merits your observation, how many we read of in the New, who for the duties of devotedness to their Saviour, the liberalities of respect to his person, and even the heroism of zeal in his cause, are mark