Matt. 21:23. "By what authority doest thou these things, and who gave thee this authority?"
This complicated and stubborn problem has been discussed-- and cussed--many years in the legislative halls with unrelenting prejudice and "No," has been the seemingly unalterable verdict rendered, as many would have you believe.
The old black vulture of the dark ages expiring on the threshold of a better day dropped our old black feather, or two. These have caused much trouble.
The blessed gospel which Jesus preached was, and is, the glorious emancipation of woman.
And wherever this gospel is preached and accepted, women are no longer slaves and toys, but are lifted by it to a level with man.
But still in this Christian nation, we find the dregs of the dark ages here and there, and a few people go around with an old black feather in their caps opposing the progress of woman. But woman, we all know has taken out of man in the full blaze of Eden's glory to be a helpmeet to him.
She was not taken out of his head to be ruled by him, nor out of his feet to be trampled under foot by him, but she was taken out of his side to be equal to him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved. We can readily believe that all nature was soothed into peaceful hush, even the nightingale and mocking-bird ceased their musical trilling--as this most momentous of all operations were executed by the Divine hand.
This method of creation expresses the uttermost possible unity of the husband and wife, unity of life, of soul, of feeling, and of home. "They two shall be one flesh."
The best can only come to any family when this unity is fully realized, and to any nation when this realization if universal.
This is one of the most stupendous and unmistakable tests of progress. Goethe's wizards once sang in chorus:--
"When toward the devil's house we tread,
Woman's a thousand steps ahead."
I am here to say, and it's the truth, and all of you know that it's the truth,--
"When our eyes to Jerusalem we turn,
Woman leads in the race we run."
From the beginning of creation to the present day, woman was intended to be a helpmeet and a blessing.
In many cases, I am aware of the fact, she has proven a curse. Delilah was a curse to poor old Samson. She possessed more potency than a Philistine army, armed with sword and spear. She could carry off the iron gates of Samson's good resolutions, as easily as he shouldered the mighty gates of Gaza. Delilah, in the Bible, stands among the company of wicked women, "who proved a curse to man, instead of a blessing," such as Adah, and Zillah and Bathsheba, and Athaliah and Jezebel, and Herodias.
How deplorable the influence of such women! In sharp contrast, contemplate Rebecca and Phoebe, and Huldah and Sarah, and Zipporah, and Tryphone, and Jephtha's daughter, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and Dorcas the Bible needle-woman, who was also a disciple. We, of course, find the excellent characters of good women, contrasted with the deformed characters of wicked women in history of more modern times than Bible history. But there have always been good men, and bad men, and there will always be good women and bad women.
The old world thrills with the names of Marie Antionette [sic], and Josephine, and Joan of Arc, and Maria Theresa, and hundreds of others who sang the sweetest cantos, and enchanted the nations with their arts and swayed the mightiest scepters.
While on the other hand the names of Mary I of England, Margaret of France, Julia of Rome, and Elizabeth Petrovna of Russia, have scorched the very pages of history with their abominations, and their names like burnished spears have gone shrieking and cursing through the world.
When I hear a man magnifying the weakness of woman, and parading her inability to do anything, I immediately suspect that he is another Solomon, with Solomen's wisdom left out. In some parts of the country women are thought to be plenty able to plow in the field. In Texas, and some of the other Southern States, the maidens are plenty able to pick cotton,
and many a frail little woman, with two or three little children hanging onto her skirts are plenty able to take in washing to help pay the home bills.
Women are smart enough to clerk, and keep books, and teach school, and keep post office, and some are even smart enough to become physicians and trained nurses, and a few women have been sheriffs and some legislators; and one that I know of has been mayor of a large city, and some few are ministers; and on the latter the war of prejudice is waged.
Such rank inconsistency makes one indignant. If she is permitted to work every where else, why not accord her the free privilege of trying to help save those who are lost?
That is the question which prompted this address.
Shall a woman preach? Yes. Why not? She is admitted to almost every other profession in life. Why not also be ambassador for Christ? By this I do not mean, that women should indulge in the modern theological, metaphorical, scientific, sermonic preaching, so prominent in our pulpits today.
It is a great pity that the men have fallen into such a trap. Because such preaching is unknown in the Bible, and it is, in my estimation, a great misfortune that it has become known in the church.
More than nineteen hundred years ago the Lord whom we all adore, positively commanded, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." It was the gospel of Christ--the gospel of love and power that he wanted preached, and not star dust and rose water, and the political issues of the day.
It is a scathing rebuke to us as followers of Christ, and to the churches at large, that there are more unevangelized heathen today than when the commission was given. If every minister in the wide world would begin to preach Christ and Him crucified, this old sin-cursed earth would experience a great revolution in a few months, and the empty churches would be filled with people anxious to hear. Christ and Him crucified would sound like a new doctrine in some churches.
We need the doctrines of Christ preached, and I say, shame on any man who would dare snatch the sweet message of Christ's
love from any messenger, be that messenger, man or woman, when the present needs are so great.
Would you believe it? There's a thousand million of heathen in the world today. Two hundred million Mohammedans and Jews, and three hundred million Roman and Greek Catholics, beside millions of spiritually dead Protestants, and gospel hardened sinners under Protestant influence perishing for the bread of life.
And the unchanging commission still rings loud and clear like a silver church bell in some stately steeple. "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." Just whether women are included in this commission or excluded remains to be seen and proven by the word of God which none will dare to deny.
Now the only thing you will have to do to see the truth is just to look where I put my finger on the chapter and verse. Old dark Africa, with her thousands of Ethiopian kings and waiting subjects is stretching out her hands to us, and is pleading for men and women who know Christ, to come and tell them the life-giving story of his love.
Asia, the very cradle of humanity with her time-honored heathen empires, with her false philosophies and pagan orgies has waited six thousand years for the sweet influence of the Christian's religion, and the story of full salvation.
But I thank God that the glorious light is now bursting from every shore and even penetrating the dark interior. The hiding place of uncharitable, and un-Christian prejudice is being discovered. The ugly monster is being driven from our ranks, terror-stricken before the dazzling search-light of undeniable truth. The Islands of the Sea, South America and Central America and Mexico are revolting against the intolerable tyranny of papal priest-craft, and are asking for missionaries to come and teach them the way of life.
Of women not a few have heard the cry, and with the message of a resurrected Lord have gone to them with hearts full of love and pity for the unsaved. And when the final day of judgment comes many heathen saved and cleansed by the blood of Christ will rise up and call them blessed.
Who would say "Nay--O Woman, keep to thyself thy message and let the heathen perish"?
All the churches in Christendom, when they hear this cry for help, are exceedingly willing to say "Yes," to their women who want to become foreign missionaries.
They will educate them, and send them by the hundreds to heathen lands, "where they are too big a coward to go." but she must keep still in this country according to some people's doctrines and dogmas.
But where is the evangelical church today that has not her women missionaries in the foreign field? And if they are given such a wide latitude in foreign lands, and are preachers and teachers of the gospel there, why can't they do the same thing over here or in any other civilized country?
Now come on, we are ready for the fray. Don't be a coward--I am going to take you right through the Bible, and we will see what kind of land there is to explore between the two lids. I am going to show you some women preachers as we go along that will doubtless surprise you. And they were not foreign missionaries either, but actual home preachers and honored by their day and generation. And their names are still honored by the Christian people of this day and generation, for they have named their baby girls for them in honor of their work.
In Psalms 68:11 reads the inspired Hebrew, as testified to by Dr. Clark, and the revised version:--"The Lord gave the word, and great was the army of those women that preached it." Isn't that a wonderful prophetic vision photographing the glorious evangelism of the latter days, when great armies of women, such as General Booth's Salvation Army in which there are more than five thousand women preaching the word of the Lord? They carry the gospel where nobody else will go fulfilling the commission of our blessed Lord, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature."
Millions of angels would gladly volunteer to help us, or to take the place God offers to the poorest child of his, in the spreading of this glorious gospel, and the ushering in of the millennium but they are excluded--but not so with the women.
The evangelization of the world is not given into the hands of angels but to consecrated men and women.
"And great was the company of those women who preached the Word." That doesn't sound as if women are excluded from the commission--"Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel," does it?
But what does the Bible say further about woman's work? Let us see. We will commence with the expulsion of the children of Israel from Egypt, which occurred 1411 B.C.
And here in the beginning of ecclesiastical polity, I find a woman, of whom we have all heard, occupying a prominent position, and that by Divine appointment.
In Micah 6:4 we have this language.--"For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt and redeemed thee out of the house of servants: and sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam." Miriam, without doubt was one of the divinely appointed leaders of the children of Israel, and closely associated with her brothers in both civil and ecclesiastical authority. For the record says "I have sent before thee Moses, Aaron and Miriam."
The children of Israel divided themselves into two grand companies after they had victoriously, escaped the enemy, and crossed the Red Sea. The men under the leadership of Moses and the host of women under the leadership of Miriam. Moses with his male chorus, sang triumphantly "I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: The horse and his rider hath he thrown into the Red Sea."
Then Miriam with her company of women armed with musical instruments answered them,--"Sing ye unto the Lord for he hath triumphed gloriously: The horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea."
The fellows who wanted the women to keep silence were all drowned in the sea, and Miriam and her chorus of women were free, and at liberty to sing and work for the betterment of the people for their men folk were Christians and offered no objections whatever, so far as the record goes, to the women doing all the good possible.
In Exodus 10:20 we have more about this sister of Moses and Aaron,--"And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron took a timbrel in her hand and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing." Here Miriam is called
"The Prophetess," "A Woman Prophet." She was not only the leader of a great company of women in singing and dancing--mind you the women all danced to themselves--and rejoicing over the downfall of their enemy, but the record goes farther and proclaims her a Prophetess. She was divinely appointed, as we have already seen to go with Moses and Aaron the recognized leaders of the children of Israel, before the people out of the land of captivity into the land of promise. And now the record introduces her to us in the capacity of Prophetess. Now what is the work of a Prophet or Prophetess? That is the next question of interest.
Sanballat said to Nehemiah, "Thou hast also appointed Prophets to preach of thee at Jerusalem." Then according to Sanballat,t he first thing a Prophet is to do, is to preach for some one having been appointed to do so.
Hodge in His "Outlines of Theology" page 390, in answer to the question:--"What is the Scriptural sense of the word Prophet" says: "A Prophet of God is one qualified and authorized to speak for God to men, foretelling future events is only incidental." And Geikie in "Life and Works of Christ," Volume I, page 393 says "A Prophet in the Jewish point of view was less a seer than a fearless preachers." So according to the understanding of these two theologians, corroborated by Sanballat, "A 'Prophet' is a preacher" (Neh. 6:7).
Also in I Cor. 14:3,4, we have this concerning the work of a Prophet, "But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation and comfort: But he that prophesieth edifieth the church."
Here we find that according to Paul's understanding that a Prophet's work is to speak to men, to edification and exhortation.
Miriam the Prophetess, was a woman Prophet, "A Woman Preacher" and she spoke like the men Prophets, "With thus saith the Lord" 2: Chron. 34:23:24, and she answered them, "Thus saith the Lord of God of Israel," "Tell ye the man that sent you to me," "Thus saith the Lord, behold I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitation thereof." These were all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the King of Judah.
In Exodus 38:8 "And he made the laver of brass and the foot of it brass, of the looking glasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation."
I am sure these women here spoken of were deeply consecrated, or they never would have parted with their looking glasses, that is, if they were anything like the women of today. We therefore infer that they were very pious.
The revised version says, "And he made the laver of brass and the base thereof brass, of the mirrors of the women which assembled to minister at the door of the tent of meeting."
Judges 4: 4, 5. "And Deborah, a 'Prophetess,' the wife of Lapidoth: she judged Israel at that time--" Listen at that--"She judged Israel" and she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel, in Mount Ephraim, and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment."
This woman was not only a "Prophetess" and "Judge" in Israel, but she was a warrior also.
Judges 4:14. "And Deborah said unto Barak: Up, for this is the day in which the Lord hath delivered Sisera into thine hand, is not the Lord gone out before thee?"
Judges 4:8. "And Barak said unto her, if thou wilt go with me, then I will go, but if thou wilt not go with me, then will I not go."
How does that sound? Barak said "I will not go out to meet the enemy in battle unless you will go with me." In the 9th verse Deborah said, "I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honor, for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman, and Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh."
Judges 5:1. "Then sang Deborah and Barak the son of Abinoam on that day, saying, Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel when the people willingly offered themselves."
Deborah got happy in the next verse, and said "Hear, O ye Kings; give ear O ye Princes: I, even I, will sing unto the
Lord; I will sing praises to the Lord God of Israel." She said "I will," and nobody dared to say "you won't." When God had just delivered Sisera the Captain of Jabin's army with his chariots and his multitude into her hand. Only one man opened his mouth before the battle that we have any record of, and that was Barak, and he said "I will not go up with these ten thousand men to face the enemy, unless you go with me."
2 Kings 22:14. "So Hilkiah the priest and Ahikan and Achbor and Shaphan and Asahiah, went unto Hulda the Prophetess the wife of Shallum, the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keepers of the wardrobe (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college) and they communed with her."
Quintessence of all wonders. Here we find the prime minister, the secretary of state and the High Priest seeking the Word of the Lord at the mouth of a woman,--and that in the time of Jeremiah, and Japhaniah, both prophets of Judah.
Francis E. Willard said, "Women like men should be freely permitted to do whatever she can do well. What the world needs is mothering." And most of all in the spirit's nature--at home--at church--and on the Sabbath Day; it needs the tender sweetness of the alto voice, the jubilant good-will of the soprano in sermon, as well as in psalm.
Tenor and bass become monotonous at last and the full diapason of power and inspiration is impossible except we listen to the full chorus of humanity.
God hasten that great day of a full chorus in church and state, with its deep-hearted love and its celestial hope.
Isaiah 8:3. "And I went unto the Prophetess and she conceived and bare a son. Then the Lord said to me call his name Mahershall hashbaz. For before the child shall have knowledge to cry my father and my mother the riches of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria shall be taken away before the King of Assyria.
Neh. 6:14. "My God think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat, according to these their works, and on the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets that would have put me in fear." There is not a doubt but that we have plenty of proof in the old Bible to substantiate the position of prophetess. You can not doubt it, if you believe the Word of God at all, for I have given you chapter and verse.
Women never became priests but they were certainly admitted to the high office of prophet. And all the prophetesses of the Bible were good women, full of good works, except Noadiah and she was classed with Tobiah and Sanballat who tried to frighten Nehemiah. A priest is man's spokesman, but a prophet is God's spokesman.
Geikie says of John the Baptist, that though a hereditary priest he chose the high mission of prophet. Throughout the Old Testament we find the prophets rebuking the priest, and we hear Moses "The Prophet" instructing and commanding Aaron the Priest.
The Old Testament honors women with the responsible office of prophet, and that was and is the greatest honor ever conferred upon either man or woman. With all the women prophetesses "preachers" in the Old Testament, we come at last to Joel 2:28, 29, and here in the light of prophecy we weld the silver link in the chain of Bible history and experience, which connects us with the New Testament.
Joel 2:28, 29. "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy--your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions, and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit."
No ecclesiastical body, no synod, nor, general assembly, nor general conference, nor convention can forever keep the women out of the pulpit. For God has said "They shall" be and preach, and preach they will whenever they are called. What is the question? "Shall a Woman Preach?" Accord-
ing to the Old Testament Scriptures, "She shall" and who will stand up in the face of the Old Testament and say "No."
For fifteen years the writer has been what is usually sarcastically called "A Woman Preacher" and I have been hacked at by every prejudiced ecclesiastical bigot in the country. They have discussed the "Woman Preacher" and in many instances the "dis" was left off, and I have sometimes felt woefully beset.
But as I have, for the benefit of others, searched the Old Testament for Scripture to substantiate my position as Ambassador of Christ I am greatly encouraged to press onward.
Sir Edwin Arnold said of women:
"They healed sick hearts till theirs were broken,
And dried sad eyes till theirs lost sight.
We shall know at last by a certain token
How they fought and fell in the fight.
Salt tears of sorrow unbeheld,
Passionate cries, unchronicled,
And silent strifes for the right--
Angels shall count them and earth shall sigh
That she left her best children to battle and die."
Just let Satan howl accompanied by all of his imps and bloated demons, and let "dry bone" preachers croak from every iceberg pulpit of every north-pole church in the land; but they cannot erase God's "they shall prophesy" from the pages of the Book of all books.
They may work, and their co-laborers may toil and sweat a lifetime and at last leave their bones to moulder away in the cellars, but they can never reach half high enough to blot out God's unalterable and everlasting words.
Give the women a chance, and I will tell you what they will do. They would despoil Satan of his grogshops and close every saloon and brothel in this country, and fill every jungle of heathendom with blood-washed, and Holy Ghost-baptized missionaries, and belt the old globe with the gospel of Christ.
They would turn this old world, "so long groaning and reeking with crime" right side up, for it has been wrong side up ever since Satan upset things in the Garden of Eden.
It was woman and the devil that turned it upside down in the beginning. Now give her and Christ a chance to turn it right side up again and see what will be done. Men are prone to lay the blame of the world's condition at the woman's door, because she was the first one Satan attacked and the first to fall. Satan was once an angel of light, and by no means a fool, and he knew if he could win the woman he was sure of the man. But I guess old Adam ate about as much of the red apple as Eve did and said it was good.
When man sinned and fell from his lofty estate of pristine glory, it was through the "woman" that promised him redemption. Then when God went about the fulfilling of that promise he sent his angel messenger to consult a "woman" and tell her what part she should play in the wonderful scheme. A woman was called to the high office of mother--not the mother of an ordinary human being, but to be the mother of the Son of God through whom the world looked for redemption.
This is the grandest fact in the universe. A "woman" was the mother of Jesus. To be the mother of a noble son or a darling daughter is the grandest thing in the wide, wide world but the thought that a "woman" was the mother of the world's Redeemer, is transporting.
In discussing missionaries and their ability, Bishop Taylor speaks up and says, "Whereas I prefer a husband and wife, but if I have to take a single person for a missionary, give me a 'lone woman' rather than a single man."
This great man I suppose has had a deeper insight into gospel work than any other missionary, and he gives his verdict in favor of women as single missionaries. But let us not forget the question, "Shall a Woman Preach?"
We will now commence our search in the New Testament for a final answer, and by it we will abide.
We found plenty of women prophetesses in the old Testament, and now we will see if any can be found in the New Testament
Luke 2:36, 37, 38. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Aser; she was of a great age and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity. And she was a widow of about four score and four
years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayer night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Now Simeon lived at Jerusalem and God had promised him that he should not see death until he had seen the Lord's Christ. Simeon was a man full of the Holy Ghost and was lead by the spirit into the temple at the time that Jesus was brought in by his parents to be circumcised."
The records say, "Then took he him up in his arms and blessed God, and said, Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy Word, For mine eyes have seen thy salvation."
At this very instant Anna the Prophetess came in and did the very same thing that Simeon did, and the record says that, "she also spake to all those that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." I suppose her text was, "This is indeed the Christ, believe ye on Him." "And she departed not from the temple worshipping [sic] God with fastings and supplications night and day."
Historians say that around three sides of the temple were chambers, or cloisters, for the abode of the priest and attendants, and for the keeping of treasures, and Anna the prophetess probably dwelt in one of these temple cloisters, for the Word states emphatically that "she departed not from the temple day or night."
On one occasion Jesus journeying from Judea to Galilee, passed through Samaria, and when he approached Sychar he was weary and sat down by Jacob's well to rest.
And there came a woman of Samaria to draw water, and Jesus entered into conversation with her, as to the mode of their worship and the water of life which he would give to all who asked him.
She was astonished when Christ told her of her sins and bad conduct. She was not a very good woman; but when she heard of the living water that would forever quench the thirst of her soul, she said simply and without preliminaries "Give me this water that I thirst no more."
And with the blessing of heaven upon her and a well of living water springing up within her soul, she left her waterpot at
the well and ran into the city, and gladly proclaimed the Christ. She said "Come and see a man which told me all things, that ever I did." Can this be the Christ?
Soon the inhabitants of the city were pouring out to welcome the Messiah, whom this woman had proclaimed. The disciples had been in that city to buy food, but it is not recorded that they turned a single soul to Christ. But is is written, that "from that city many Samaritans believed on him because of the words of the woman."
She turned a whole Samaritan city to Christ in her first sermon--that's more than you ever did, brother. How many men preachers do you know that ever turned a whole city to Christ? There are many great and grand men who are giving themselves wholly to the Lord's work and they are fully consecrated to his service, but not one of them will you find raising his voice against what little a woman can do.
They are great men who have great faculties and whose specifie [sic] greatness of soul is such that they would rather encourage those who try to help in lifting up the fallen than discourage them.
They are so great that they hammer with their intellect against the stone walls of incomprehensible impenetrable philosophical problems, and their supreme achievements, blazing like a hundred suns have dazzled all mankind. But not one of them is so little that they can step on a woman and crush her in her humble efforts to be of use to God and the church. These souls stand so tall that if they stretched out their mighty arms, they would touch the pillars that stand against the sky, and if they leaned against the polished columns the ceiling of nature would creak and the roof would tumble down, and the splinters would fly like snowflakes in winter.
They are so great that a broken reed they will not bruise, nor quench the smoking flax, for they realize how great the need of faith and grace is in the church.
Luke 8:1, 2, 3. "And it came to pass afterward that he went throughout every city and village preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God and the twelve were with him and certain women." The names of some of these women
are given and you can find them recorded in this eighth chapter of St. Luke. There is Mary called Magdalene, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others. These women did not only follow Jesus on his preaching tours, but they also followed him to Calvary.
Mark 15:40. "There were also 'women' looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome, who also when he was in Galilee followed him, and ministered unto him and many other women, which came up with him unto Jerusalem."
These "certain women," who followed Jesus on his preaching tours were first at the tomb on the resurrection morning, and it is nowhere recorded that he disapproved of their conduct, or at any time told them that they should stay at home, and learn what they wished to know about him from their husbands.
If they had waited to be told by their husbands that Christ was alive from the dead, they would have been like many a poor woman today--still waiting.
A woman first tells of Christ's resurrection Matt. 28:5, 6. And the angel answered and said unto the women, "fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen as he said. Come see the place where the Lord lay, and 'go quickly,' and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead, and behold he goeth before you into Galilee; and there shall ye see him; lo, I have told you."
Here it is recorded that a "Woman" is commissioned by an angel "go quickly" to carry the good news of a resurrected Lord to the sorrowing disciples. And in the tenth verse of the same chapter it is recorded that they met Jesus, and he said "Be not afraid. Go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee and there shall they see me."
This woman was doubly commissioned--first by the angel, and then by Christ himself, to "go" with the tidings. In St. John 20:17 Jesus said unto her, "Touch me not: for I am not yet ascended to my Father: But GO to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God."
Then when Jesus appeared to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, after the resurrection, they said to him, "Certain Women of our company amazed us having been early at the tomb
and when they found not his body they came saying that they had seen a vision of two bright angels who said he is alive." (Luke 24:22).
"Disciple," is a broad term, and it was not limited to the Apostles. They were usually called the twelve, or the eleven, or the Apostles.
Luke 6:13. "And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples, and of them he chose twelve, whom he also named Apostles." From this Scripture we see that he had many more disciples than the twelve, who were chosen and named Apostles.
Joseph of Arimathea was called a disciple. Matt. 23:07. 'When the even was come there came a rich man of Arimathea named Joseph who also himself was Jesus' disciple." Joseph was a disciple of Christ but not of the twelve. Tabitha, Timothy, Ananias, and Mnason [sic: Mason] were also called disciples, and none of them were of the twelve.
Acts 9:3. "Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named "Tabitha" which by interpretation is called Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and alms deeds which she did." Tabitha was a "woman" disciple, and the record says she was full of good works, "a very good report for a woman."
It was a woman who was first divinely commissioned to proclaim the resurrection of Christ to the "brethren," to "the disciples," in other words to the followers of Christ. They returned from the sepulcher, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest." I Cor. 15. After that he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once.
They must have had a men's meeting only if there were no women in that company of five hundred, who saw Jesus at one time.
Rev. Lee Anna Starr gives the following notes on the mission and work of women, who were commissioned to tell of the resurrection of Christ.
She says "As far as our investigation has extended, the consensus of scholarship fixes this meeting in Galilee at the mount where Jesus had appointed." "Whither the eleven also resorted." (Matt. 28: 16, 1). Where the women who had been commissioned by Christ to gather together this company of
believers into Galilee in that assemblage. Yes, verily the angel said to them "he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see me." (Matt. 28:7.)
Acts 2:14, 15, 16. In this Scripture we see that the women as well as the men received the Holy Ghost on the Day of Pentecost, and the Apostle Peter points back to the prophecy of Joel as being fulfilled on that very day. The prophecy could not have been fulfilled if the "daughters" and "handmaids," did not receive the Holy Ghost and prophesy. For Joel said, "Yea, and on my servants and on my handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit and they shall prophesy."
Acts 2:17, 18. "And it shall come to pass in the last days saith God I will pour out of my spirit upon all flesh and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my spirit, and they shall prophesy."
These are the exact words of the prophet Joel, and the Apostle in the full blaze of the day of their fulfillment, exclaims "this is that which was spoken by the prophet."
The opponents of woman's rights in the ministry have only two passages of Scripture, which they imagine arrays Paul against the ministry of women. And I must say that with the help of the King James translators they have had some degree of success. The records of the Old Testament concerning women, and "the predictions of prophets" and the recorded practice of Jesus, counts almost nothing with them: so long as they have these two Scriptures before them. Instead of trying to make Paul harmonize the facts in Scripture, "the prophets," and "the teachings of Christ," they try to bend the recorded facts of "Scripture," "The predictions of prophets," and "the teachings of Christ" to harmonize with Paul. These two passages of Scripture have served faithfully, as canons in the warfare against the ecclesiastical equality of women quite long enough.
Notwithstanding the proclamation of the Apostle "'That all are one in Christ Jesus," and therefore "there can be no male and female," for centuries past painstaking effort has been put forth to array all the world against the ministry of women, and unalterably bar her from the pulpit.
Something is certainly wrong. The Old Testament, "the predictions of prophets" and "the practice of Christ" is wrong, or else the commonly accepted exegesis of them is wrong.
Now we come to it. I Cor. 14:34, 35. "Let your women keep silence in the churches." I Timothy 2:12. "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor usurp authority over the man." Here our opponents camp with their artillery and batteries, and vomit forth shot and shell. And like the ancient Babylonians, they sarcastically smile down on us from walls of adamant, while they foolishly congratulate themselves with the idea that they are impregnable. But we will see by the search light of the Word just how impregnable they are, and somebody had better be careful or they will get a tremendous fall when the walls come down. For I am going to put a stick or two of dynamite under the old grim wall and blow her sky high.
Take I Cor. 14:34, 35. and I Tim. 2:12 out of their scriptural vocabulary and their opposition would be forced to fall like the walls of Jericho.
These two passages, if we accept our opponents' exegesis of them, do not harmonize with Paul's other teachings nor his practice. Hence we must not be guilty of the crime of making Paul contradict himself, but we must seek to know the meaning of the Word and harmonize it with the recorded facts found elsewhere.
"Let your women keep silence" is thundered at me from almost every quarter. Now if you are going to abide by Paul's words "Let your women keep silence" strictly, then a woman would be breaking the rule to sing in church or teach in Sunday school. Silence is silence. Stick to it now, if you believe in it so ardently. But pray tell me where is the preacher who objects to the women members of his church singing in the choir and teaching in Sunday school?
O, you would have a jolly time if the women should go on a silence strike. You would have lovely singing, for more than half of the soprano voices in our choirs belong to women. The Sunday school would be sadly in want of teachers, and the
Ladies' Aid and the Missionary Societies would go to the bad.
Ask all the women missionaries in foreign fields to keep silence and a universal cry will burst from heathen lips to curse you, and a universal protest will come from every evangelical church in the universe.
Ask all the women in America who are church and Sunday-school workers to keep silence and every Holy Ghost preacher in this country will hold up his hands in horror.
We have been reasoning and reasoning for a long time, and I fear many of us have come to the wrong conclusion. Shakespeare said, "Good reason must perforce give way to better." Your reasoning may have been good in your own estimation, but I trust that mine may prove better in this case, and that I may be able to prove to you that these two passages of Scripture have no reference to women preaching the gospel whatever. So far as I am personally concerned I do not hesitate for a moment to reject the commonly accepted exegesis of I Cor. 14: 34, 35, and I Tim. 2:12 from the simple fact that it makes Paul self-contradictory. For he in many other instances encouraged and permitted the public ministry of women.
Now to prove my statement we will take up the teachings and practice of this Apostle elsewhere, and then we will come back and see how I Cor. 14:34, 35, and I Tim. 2:12 look. We will commence with Acts 18:24, 26. Here we read how a certain Jew named Apollos an Alexandrian by race and a most eloquent and learned man came to Ephesus, of whom it is recorded "Was mighty in the Scriptures.
This man Apollos, had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and being fervent in spirit began to speak boldly in the synagogue knowing only the baptism of John. And when Priscilla and Aquila heard him they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more carefully.
But didn't Paul say in I Tim. 1:12 "I suffer not a woman to teach a man?" and here we find Priscilla "a woman preacher" teaching the great Apollos the way of the Lord more perfectly.
This woman's name appears five times in the New Testament, and three times it precedes the name of her husband, both Paul and Luke conferred upon her this honor.
Here we have a woman, not only teaching a man but expounding to "a man" and that "man" was not an ordinary one, but a learned "man"--and mighty in the Scripture. And mind you this happened after Paul's eighteen months' residence in her home town (Corinth) during which time she certainly had abundant opportunity to find out his views on woman's rights to "teach" or "expound" or "preach"--or anything else she wanted to do.
But one thing is sure, it is not recorded that she was ever rebuked for her work. Now let us look at I Cor. 14:34, 35. We all know that passage of Scripture by heart, "Let your women keep silence."
But Priscilla didn't keep silence, and still Paul said, "Let your women keep silence." This exhortation, "Let your women keep silence," was given to the Corinthian men, concerning their wives, "The Corinthian women" and not to the Christian world at large. But why were they commanded to keep silence? I will tell you. Simply because the men were educated, and at times spoke in different languages, and the women were ignorant, and could not understand what they said. And of course they began to ask questions, and confusion and a general buzz was the result.
And if you get a dozen women started to asking questions in church there's not a preacher on earth who wouldn't at least want to say very forcibly, "Let your women keep silence" for I permit not a woman to ask questions in church while I am preaching.
But Paul had no reference whatever to the preaching of the gospel of Christ when he said to the Corinthian men, "Let your women keep silence." Every one seemed to have a Psalm or an interpretation of their own, and the men would speak in strange languages, and the women had some curiosity to know what they were talking about.
And Paul tried to teach them how to conduct themselves during public worship, by saying "Let your women keep silence" and if they wanted to know what their husbands were talking about, the proper place to find out, and ask questions was at home, where they wouldn't disturb anyone.
In the very same chapter where Paul said, "Let your women keep silence," he also said "Let the men keep silence." I wonder why our opponents could not find that too, when they were reading that Scripture so carefully?
Now if we still hold to the exegesis generally rendered concerning these passages, and bar the women from the ministry because Paul said to the Corinthians, "Let your women keep silence," we get ourselves into a horrible predicament, for he also said, "Let the men keep silence."
But there is no Scripture to corroborate the application of this text to all women or all men universally.
Paul, what have you got to say about that? Stand up and testify and let us forever settle this question.
Shall a woman preach the gospel if she is called? "No, no!" is shouted from our opponents but never from Paul. The devil says "No" and poor, stereotyped dark age theologians say "No" but not Paul.
In Romans 16:1 Paul says, "I commend unto you Phoebe, our sister which is a servant of the Church which is at Cenchrea.
The Greek word here translated "servant" occurs twenty times in Paul's epistles and sixteen times it is translated "minister" three times it is translated "deacon" and only once throughout Paul's writing is it translated "servant" and that is when it is used in reference to Phoebe.
Why did not our translators render this passage Phoebe our sister who is a "minister" of the Church that is at Cenchrea? The very same word is translated "minister" in Ephesians 3:7. "Paul was made a minister"--also in Colossians I:7 and of Epaphras that he was, "a beloved brother and faithful minister,"--and in Colossians 4:7 of Tychicus our dear fellow servant who is a faithful "minister" of Christ, and in Cor. 4:17 Timothy a faithful "minister" but the same word in Pheobe's [sic] case is translated "servant."
Women are servants to this blessed day in lands where the gospel of Christ is not preached, and in our authorized version translators were in sympathy with the heathen when the ministry of women was at issue.
Instead of Phoebe being a "servant" of the Church at Cenchrea, as our translators would have us believe, she was a "minister" of the Church.
And she received her appointment from the hands of Paul himself. Her visit to Rome was on church "business," and Paul demanded that the church assist her in whatsoever business she might undertake.
Who ever heard of an old "servant woman" being sent on business to the church abroad, by such a man as Paul. And if she had been a "servant" sent to scrub and clean up, I guess he would not have written a long letter of recommendation and commanded the church at large to "get busy" and help her do it. The very idea is extremely absurd.
We do not send our servants to attend to our church business at Synod, General Assemblies or General Conference, and send word to the church to see to it that they help them.
O, no, that is not the work of servants, but it is the work of the church's representatives, persons of intellect, upon whose good judgment we can rely. Phoebe was a "minister" of the church at Cenchrea and not by any means a servant.
In Pheobe's [sic] case Paul certainly forgot that he was opposed to the ministry of women. In the light of his conduct here, "Let your women keep silence" sounds out of harmony with his "I commend unto you our sister Pheobe [sic] who is a minister of the Church at Cenchrea," but it will sound more unmusical the further we go, and will absolutely look distorted and will carry for us a different meaning by the time we are through with this proposition. In the sixteenth chapter of Romans Paul gives the names of eight women who are workers in the church and mentions two others. Phoebe, a "minister" of the church, Prisca, a "fellow worker," a co-laborer with Paul, Mary, who bestowed much "labor" on the Christians at Rome, Junia of "note" among the Apostles who was in Christ before Paul, Tryphena and Tryphosa who "laboured in the Lord," Persis who laboured "much" in the Lord, and Julia is mentioned here from which we infer that she laboured much in the Lord as did Persis.
He also sends greeting to the mother of Rufus, whom Paul says is his mother also. Prisca is called a fellow worker, Titus, Timothy, Philemon, Clement, Aquila, Mark, Aristarchus, Demos, Luke, and Justus were called by the same name "fellow workers."
Philemon 4:3. "And I intreat thee also true yoke fellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel with Clement also and with other fellow labourers whose names are in the Book of Life.
Here we have it? Paul said, "Help those women which laboured with me in the gospel." And Paul exhorts his true yoke fellow, supposed to be some eminent Christian to whom the epistle was to be presented, to help "those women" which laboured with me in the gospel. In this Scripture we have the sphere in which they worked named by the same man that said "Let your women keep silence."
Those women labored with Paul in the gospel, and Paul beseeches his "true yoke fellow" to take hold of the work together with them.
Rev. W. K. Brown, D.D., ex-president of the Cincinnati Wesleyan College, says: "The expression help those women indicates a leadership on the part of the women."
"The term also indicates a similarity in the labours of the male and female, and the charge is 'help those women' which being given to a man fully confirms the associate labor of men and women."
Acts 21:8, 19. "And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist which was one of the seven, and abode with him. And the same man had four daughters, Virgins which did prophesy."
"And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judea a certain prophet named Agabus." I wonder what is the matter with Paul? Here we find him visiting Philip who had four daughters who prophesied, and not a word of rebuke. It does seem at least reasonable to me, that if he had been such an opponent to woman's work as some of our twentieth century preachers would have us believe, he would have rebuked Priscilla and Phoebe and the four daughters of Philip.
What an opportunity was here given him to show to succeeding generations his disapprobation of the public ministry of woman. But it seems that he let the opportunity slip as there is no record of his disapproval.
I Corinthians 11: 4, 5. "Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered dishonoreth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head: for that is even all one, as if she were shaven." The first sixteen verses of this chapter is given over to the discussion of the proper attire of men and women who pray or prophesy. Dr. A. J. Gordon says "By common consent the reference is here to public worship, and the decorous manner of taking part therein is pointed out first for the men and then for the women."
It is certainly reasonable to suppose that if it had been a violation of the early church laws for women to take part in public worship, that sixteen verses of Paul's eleventh epistle to the Corinthians would not have been wholly given up to the discussion of the apparel they should wear when they prayed or prophesied. If Paul had been one whit like some people of the present day, he would have given sixteen verses of every chapter to bitter rebukes and upbraidings for women who dared to engage in any kind of public worship.
You might make some people believe that Paul was against the ministry of women but not those who read and search for the truth themselves. We women are no longer slaves, and ignorant toys. The libraries of the world are open to us, and the colleges and seminaries and places of education have opened wide their doors and given us a big welcome. And we can read and search for our rights and know for ourselves what is taught in God's Word concerning us.
Now have I not proven by Paul's teachings in other parts of his writings that I Corinthians 14:34, 35 has no reference to the preaching of the gospel of Christ by women? For Paul said, was we have already seen, "help those women who labored with me in the gospel." The fact that Paul lays down careful directions as to woman's apparel, when praying or prophesying in church is sufficient evidence to any unprejudiced mind that she engaged in such service.
I Timothy 2:11, 12. "Let the women learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."
The authorized version say, "Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man but to be in quietness." This passage before us could as properly be translated: "I permit not a wife to instruct her husband in the public congregation"--in the capacity of a supreme teacher. That would have outraged every prejudice of the age in which Paul lived. In the early churches, "teachers" were a distinct order.
We read of them in I Corinthians 12:28. "And God hath set some in the church, first, Apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers; after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues."
The New Testament differentiates throughout, between preaching and teaching. Paul and Barnabas tarried in Antioch "teaching" and "preaching." (Acts 15:30.)
Again, "I was appointed a 'preacher' and an 'Apostle' and a 'teacher'." We see by these passages--as you will also find throughout the New Testament--that a teacher was a member of an order. Some of our commentators say, that the "teachers" sat on a raised seat known as "the seat of Moses" with his disciples arranged conveniently around him. The teacher propounded questions and allowed his class of students to give their opinion, and ask questions also, if they so desired. This mode of teaching was carried over into the Christian Church.
In Acts 19:9, 19 we find Paul reasoning daily for two years in the school of Tyrannus at Ephesus. This method of imparting instruction involved disputation--controversy--the teacher reserving the right of authoritative decision on any question at issue.
Again in Acts 18:4 "Paul reasoned every Sabbath in the synagogue at Athens." This authoritative teaching and interpretation of teachers, by unlearned women, I believe is what Paul prohibited. But he did permit women to teach the great lessons of Christ's love, and did not condemn the public ministry of women. I am defending woman's right to preach the gospel of Christ which I know is not prohibited by God's Word. And we have no supreme teacher's bench in our modern churches, therefore we will have no trouble on that line.
Just what women are doing today in the different avocations of life we have only to read to find out. There is one woman preacher who is spoken of in leading magazines as the Rev. Caroline Bartlett Crane, who has accomplished a work far-reaching in its influence for good. She is a recognized authority throughout the United States in sociological circles, and she is also a prominent woman suffragist. Mme. Duffant is a public cab-driver in Paris and immensely enjoys her work. Miss Mary B. Ashmead is one of the best-known commercial photographers in this United States. Miss Amy Wren of Brooklyn has been appointed receiver, and is the only woman to hold that office in New York State. Willimena Paton Fleming is a most eminent astronomer. Miss Mary B. Green is s successful pilot on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Dr. Mary Crawford of Williamsburg Hospital is an ambulance surgeon, and holds herself in readiness to go at any hour, day or night. For fourteen years Mrs. Kate Walker has kept a light-house on Robbins Reef, and she says that the light is ever off her mind, and even when she sleeps, she wakes every hour.
There are in New York and vicinity a dozen or more women dentists. Prominent among these is Dr. Rankin of Manhattan. According to the latest census reports there are 4,833,630 women workers in the United States. And in the list of unusual pursuits adopted by women 5 are "Pilots," 10 are "baggage women." on steam railroads, 31 "brake-women," and 26 "switch-women," "yard-women," and "flag-women," 43 are "carriage and hack drivers," and 508 "machinists."
There are over 100 women "architects," 150 "women builders and contractors," 167 "women masons," 540 "women carpenters," 40 "women plasterers," 1,709 "women painters, glaziers and varnishers," 12 "women plumbers," 241 "women paperhangers," and 2 "women slaters and roofers."
There are scores of women doctors and lawyers not a few, and a few women preachers. If all these women who are following unusual pursuits, are unmolested, why is there so much prejudice for a woman's work in the ministry.
I have been told that there's three ways to dispatch news quickly--"telephone," "telegraph," and "tell-a-woman," and the public don't always relish the idea of having the truth told
every time. That is one reason I think that men have so long tried to keep the women still. I have stood on many a platform, sometimes in the big churches, sometimes in little churches, and sometimes on the platform with confederate soldiers, and sometimes I am asked to deliver annual addresses for some of the lodges and twice I have delivered commencement addresses, and I have had flowers stacked up around me, and I have been complimented as well as discussed and "cussed," and my photo has gotten into the big papers and big things and little things, and mean things have been said about me, but the one compliment of which I have a constant reminder was bestowed upon me in Dallas a few years ago.
Mr. Morris and I were in the city during the state fair and I was asked to speak on evening; and at the hour appointed the house was crowded. My voice was in splendid trim, and I was speaking with great earnestness and the Lord was blessing both me and the congregation. There was an old man up there from Corsicana and he was coming down Elm Street having two or three drinks too many, and hearing a tremendous noise, "something unusual," he started in that direction at the top of his speed like a man going to a fire. He ran up to the door where I was speaking and was so completely amazed to find a little woman making all the noise that he stood right there in his tracks and never took his eyes off me during the service. When the congregation was dismissed and Mr. Morris and I came to the door that old man stepped out in front of him and said, "Look-a-here, I want to see that woman that's been making all that noise," and Mr. Morris said, "Well, sir, here she is; you can look at her." And he walked around and looked at me like a fellow looking at a race horse, and then came around and looked up in my face and drew a long breath as if he had had some trouble solving the problem, and said, "My, you shore have got a big mouth." Then he took a second look at me and said, "but you shore know how to use it." I appreciate that compliment more than any thing that has ever been said about me.
I was once speaking in a city mission and an old fellow staggered in and sat down in one of the middle pews and listened with wide-open eyes. And when I reached the very climax of my address, and the people were weeping, that old fellow jumped up as if a live wire had been touched somewhere in his make-up
and clapped his hands and shouted "Hurrah! hurrah! that's right, little sister, go it! go it!"
I am still going and will be going on to glory when the pearly gates unfold and Jesus says "Well done."
I was on the programme to speak before the General Assembly at Dickson, Tennessee in 1910 and after having done the best I could with the Lord to help me, scores and scores of Christian men and women came up and pressed my hand and said "God bless you." But one of the grandest old men in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church came up, and put his dear old hand on my head and said, "Little sister, wherever you go, remember that as long as I live, I am praying for you." God bless his white head, I had rather have his prayers than yellow gold.
My own little father and mother are praying for me, and my church prayers for me, and Jesus whispers "I will be with thee alway, even unto the end." What more do I need to encourage me to press right one?
It is a beautiful thing to be remembered in so many prayers, and with such help I will go on in the strength of our mighty God to do his will, and will not fear.
Now tell me truly, what do you think about the public mininstry [sic] of women? Has she a right to preach the gospel of Christ? Before you answer, remember Paul said, "Help those women who labored with me in the gospel."
The same Christ who commissioned Mary to carry the good tidings of his glorious resurrection to the church is still commissioning the daughters, and some of them are daring to follow the "still, small voice" and brave the storm of opposition. The old dark age of opposition to woman's rights is dying fast as the sun of Christian education mounts the sky of our pure and undefiled religion. Christ is the master mind in this great army of gospel preachers, around whom clusters our every hope.
Listen, Christ speaks to Mary: "Go, tell my brethren, that they go into Galilee and there shall they see me." Hear it, O Jerusalem, hear it, ye Patriarches, hear it, ye tombs of the prophets, hear it, O ye angels high up in heaven, and tell it as you fly until all the stars shall clap their jeweled hands and all the spheres go singing along their eternal circuits, "Jesus first commissioned a woman to carry the tidings of his resurrection." Let angels shave the darkness with rejoicing wing, let demons howl and carnal Christians croak, but still the commission from
the lips of Jesus is "Go tell my brethren, that in Galilee they shall see me."
"Not she with traitorous kiss her Saviour stung,
Not she denied him with unholy tongue;
She, while Apostles shrank, could danger brave
Last at the cross and earliest at the grave.