Female Piety—The Young Woman's Guide through Life to Immortality
John Angell James, (1785—1859)
Woman was the finishing grace of the creation. Woman was the completeness of man's bliss in Paradise. Woman was the cause of sin and death to our world. The world was redeemed by the seed of the woman. Woman is the mother of the human race; our companion, counselor, and comforter in the pilgrimage of life; or our tempter, scourge, and destroyer. Our sweetest cup of earthly happiness, or our bitterest draught of sorrow, is mixed and administered by her hand. She not only renders smooth or rough our path to the grave, but helps or hinders our progress to immortality. In heaven we shall bless God for her aid in assisting us to reach that blissful state; or amid the torments of unutterable woe in another region, we shall deplore the fatality of her influence!
This work was delivered originally in a course of monthly sermons, to which I was led by a conviction that woman, as regards her specific duties, is too much neglected in the ministry of the church; an omission which must be traced to a morbid delicacy unworthy of the pulpit. Happily this reproach does not appertain to the press, to which perhaps, in the opinion of some, this subject ought to be exclusively consigned. But why? Can any good and valid reason be assigned for shutting out from the house of God instructions to so important a class of the community? Many people almost instinctively shrink from such addresses, from a fear lest matters should be introduced at which modesty would blush, and by which the finer sensibilities would be wounded. There is a prudishness in such feelings which can be justified neither by reason nor revelation.
It may be as well to announce in the opening chapter that the whole course will be of a decidedly religious nature. For all the general directions and excellences of female character, I shall refer to the various works which on these topics have issued from the press. My subject is religion—my object is the soul—my aim is salvation. I view you, my female friends, as destined to another world, and it is my business to aid and stimulate you, "by patient continuance in well-doing, to seek for glory, honor, and immortality," and to obtain eternal life! I look beyond the painted and gaudy scene of earth's fading vanities, to the everlasting ages through which you must exist in torment or bliss; and, God helping me, it shall not be my fault if you do not live in comfort, die in peace, and inherit salvation!
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