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Title: Consecrated Womanhood - A Sermon Preached in the First Congregational Church, Portland, Oregon
Author: Marvin, Frederic Rowland
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    _Five hundred copies of this
    edition have been printed
    from type in the month
    of August, 1903
    by the Gilliss

  Consecrated Womanhood

    Consecrated Womanhood

    A Sermon


    The First Congregational Church










  [Illustration: THE·GILLISS·PRESS· logo]

  Introductory Notice

To those who have long lamented the prevailing tendency in Christian
churches to deny to women the honors and responsibilities of sacred
offices and duties, such a sermon as "Consecrated Womanhood," written
by an American clergyman is like a breadth of fresh air in Neapolitan
church-buildings that have never known the beauty of sunlight, and the
atmospheres of which have grown heavy through the centuries with the
oppressive weight of suffocating incense.

The preacher opens his discourse with the statement that "the Bible
honored woman when every other book was blind to the true dignity
of her character." Scholars differ, and little is certain when we
go back far enough in the ancient writings of our race. But I think
there can be no doubt that in all the earliest literatures of which
we have knowledge, the thought of the world was more favorable to
the development of womanly independence, than in later compositions,
especially such as have come from patristic and monastic sources.
Certainly we find the great Greek tragedians unfolding their noblest
ideals in the character of an Alcestis, and expressing through the
lips of an Antigone their loftiest conceptions of virtue, and their
purest and bravest ethical teachings. The Jews did not stand alone,
as this eloquent sermon clearly shows, in honoring woman; but the Old
Testament is devoid, as its most careless reader cannot but see, of all
that wretched admiration for feminine feebleness of mind and body which
seems to have sprung from masculine vanity, and has been fostered by
centuries of priestly instruction and popular superstition. As the most
illustrious Jewess now living, Lady Battersea, wrote in her admirable
book some years ago, when she was Miss Constance de Rothschild, "The
ideal woman of the ancient Israelite was always strong and fearless—a
Miriam, a Deborah, a Judith, an Esther. Not a word in that older Bible
denies to woman the right to exercise every power of speech or action
granted her by Jehovah."

Nothing assuredly can be more broadminded or more generous than Dr.
Marvin's whole treatment of the claims of women, whether in politics,
in the religious life, or in the domestic circle. In my humble opinion
it would do infinite service in awakening thought and dispelling
prejudice, could the sermon on "Consecrated Womanhood" be preached in
every church and chapel in England. The good Quakers alone, so far as I
know, have no need for its admonition.


    Dolgelly, North Wales,
    June 21, 1903.

  Consecrated Womanhood

    "She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the
    distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she
    reacheth out her hands to the needy. Strength and honor are
    her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She
    openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of

It is the peculiarity of the Bible that it honored woman when every
other book was blind to the true dignity of her character and the
royal possibilities of her nature. The old Testament exalted her not
only as wife and mother, but as citizen and ruler, and some of the
most stirring songs and daring deeds of patriotism are recorded in
the Bible to the honor of woman. Her inspired pen is immortalized in
the Word of God, and if it be not meet that her voice sound from the
halls of Congress, it is a fact of history that it was heard on the
field of battle and in the chamber of justice more than three thousand
years ago, when, by the mouth of Deborah and the hand of Jael, the Lord
delivered Israel from the power of the spoiler. She may not be thought
competent to have part in framing the laws of a State, but she was
competent to judge the chosen people and to mould the character of the
world's Redeemer.

The conservative who would obstruct the wheels of progress endeavors to
accomplish his end by an appeal to the Bible. Sacred Scriptures were
represented as the friend of slavery; they are now cited in defense
of Papal idolatry and Mormon impurity; and how often we hear them
quoted against the emancipation of woman. But the Bible is the most
radical book in all the world, and its maxims of wisdom and virtue
are in advance of every age. Whatever has been accomplished for the
improvement of woman's lot may be traced to its hallowed influence.
"It found her the slave of man's appetite in the East, the servant of
his cupidity in the West, and the victim of his cruelty in the South,"
and it broke the chain that bound her soul in darkness and the social
fetters that linked her womanhood with dishonor.

We have in the Bible pictures of womanly tenderness and nobleness,
and also of womanly debasement unequaled in secular literature. I
know how exalted are the women of Homer—"The Heroes' Battle-Prize,"
"The Heavenly-Minded," "The Sought-For," "The Sister of Heroes,"
"The Widely-Praised," "Ruling by Beauty," "The Far-Thoughted," "The
Hospitable," "The Ship-Guider," and "The Web-Raveler"—names that
indicate the queenly beauty of the women who bore them; but I search
Iliad and Odyssey in vain for one trace of that glorified character,
sublime self-sacrifice and unwavering faith which "crowned the
daughters of Israel and made them daughters of Jehovah." On the other
hand, Shakspeare's "Lady Macbeth" is weakness itself when compared with
Jezebel, who from the harem of Ahab mounted with blood-stained feet the
throne of God's chosen people, and there defied the majesty of heaven.
How cold, cruel, implacable and lost to all that is human was that
accursed daughter of murder, whose crimes were far greater in number
and turpitude than those of her infamous father Ethbaal. We hear from
her lips no cry,

                "Come, you spirits
    That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here;
    And fill me, from crown to the toe, top-full
    Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood,
    Stop up the access and passage to remorse
    That no compunctious visitings of nature
    Shake my fell purpose!"

Her entire nature was not only unsexed, but dehumanized. In her
"woman's breasts" the milk was turned to gall.

Lord Lytton, the elegant and shallow trifler, tells us, "A woman's
noblest station is retreat," but "retreat" is a word forever unpopular
with the women of the Bible. Miriam, Huldah, Deborah and Anna were
not of Lord Lytton's opinion. They joined in one temperament silk
and steel, and added to the sweetness of womanhood the strength of
manhood. Keen and flexible as the Damascus blade, they were not wanting
in the gentleness and modesty which are a woman's crown of honor. I
open Exodus and read a song from Miriam, the prophetess, that is older
than the most ancient pagan lyric, and that will continue when English
literature is forgotten. And there is Deborah, the nurse of Rebecca;
how tenderly the Bible records her humble but faithful service. In
ancient times and in the East nurses were held in greater esteem than
now with us. Homer sang their praise; Virgil celebrated their virtues;
and Ovid extolled their wisdom and kindness. It is no trivial office to
guide and direct the development of a child's life. The nurse is second
mother, and her influence is sometimes, perhaps often, deathless as the
soul she instructs. The Bible teaches respect and consideration for
those who are socially beneath us as servants, nurses, and dependent
children of humble toil. The true lady takes her politeness into the
kitchen; it is her ability to do so that makes her the lady she is.
Not fine manners in the ball-room, but a genuine and gracious dignity
seasoned with womanly kindness, creates the true lady. Few think of the
Bible as a book of social and domestic etiquette, and yet such it is.
Let a man follow its precepts, and he shall become not only a good man,
but a _gentleman_; and whatever woman will conform to the spirit of the
Sermon on the Mount shall find her life steadily developing into all
that makes a beautiful character and fine address.

And there is the other Deborah, a prophetess and judge in Israel—the
woman divinely illuminated. I turn to the fifth chapter of Judges,
and read a song she wrote long before the gods of Greece held sacred
counsel upon snowy Olympus—centuries before the lyric muse took up her
abode beneath the shadow of the Parthenon. To what glorious victory she
led the hosts of the Lord when the enemies of Israel perished among the
"oaks of the wanderers."

    "After the days of Shamgar, son of Anath,
    After the Helper's days,
    The highways were deserted,
    The traveler went in winding ways.
    Deserted were Israel's hamlets, deserted,
    Till I Deborah rose up—rose up a mother in Israel."

What a lovely poem is that of Ruth, and who does not linger with
delight over the story of Esther, so royal and so simple, so queenly
and so modest?

Turn to the New Testament and see how honored is Mary, the mother of
Jesus. Hear the angelic salutation:

    Hail, thou art highly favored, the Lord is with thee. Fear not,
    Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And behold, thou
    shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a son, and shalt
    call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called
    the Son of the Most High: and the Lord God shall give unto him
    the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the
    house of Jacob forever: and of his kingdom there shall be no
    end. (Luke i:28, 30-33, Revised Version.)

Is it surprising that the name "Mary" is the most popular in all the
world, and that nearly a third of the women of France bear it in
one form or another? What noble service was rendered to the early
churches by the four daughters of Philip the Evangelist, Priscilla who
instructed Apollos, Phœbe, Persis, Tryphosa and Tryphena.

The opinion prevails that Providence intended woman to occupy a place
of humble dependence; that she is inferior in the composition of her
mind and fragile in physical constitution; that she is called of God
to lead a life of entire self-abnegation; that she was created as an
everlasting sacrifice to man's pleasure and ambition; and that it is
her peculiar mission to be wife and mother to an extent to which it is
not man's mission to be husband and father. Lord Lytton's dictum is
widely received—"A woman's noblest station is retreat." It prevails in
the State, robbing her of civil rights, debarring her from the exercise
of popular suffrage, and closing against her the door of public office.
It permeates society, circumscribing her influence, dispossessing her
of individuality, and preventing her from the full and free exercise
of whatever taste, talent or genius God has given her. It is in the
church, forbidding her to enter the pulpit, restraining her from the
important offices of deacon and trustee, and, in some churches, denying
her even a voice in the ordinary government of the society.

Men who advocate the subjection of women plant themselves upon the
Bible and say to us, "You radicals want to turn things upside down. You
have no respect for the settled order of society. You would destroy the
divine harmony Heaven has established. You set aside the teaching of
the great Apostle who said, 'I suffer not a woman to usurp authority.'"
But the Bible is always on the side of progress. Jesus and his
immediate followers were innovators, agitators and leaders of public
thought and morals. The Jews quoted the Old Testament against them as
Southern preachers quoted the New Testament against us when we demanded
the abolition of slavery. We must remember that it is the mission
of the Bible to lead men and not to follow them. The age that shall
overtake the New Testament will be right in discarding it. Open the
Bible—what does it teach? "The genuine perfection of humanity, instead
of being the forced obedience of one-half to the other half, is the
spontaneous obedience of both halves to the law of God. The incomplete
statement of Paul, 'I suffer not a woman to usurp authority,' is
supplemented by the far deeper words of Jesus, 'Ye know that the rulers
of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise
authority over them. Not so shall it be among you: but whosoever would
become great among you shall be your minister; and whosoever would be
first among you shall be your servant.' (Matthew xx.:25-27, Revised
Version.) _That is the ideal of the future._" Neither man nor woman
shall usurp authority, but both, in mutual helpfulness, shall yield
willing obedience to the perfect law of God. A consecrated womanhood is
a womanhood of surrender, not to social prejudices and superstitions,
nor yet to political disability, but to Heaven. It is a surrender
without defeat and a victory without conquest. A woman may dance a
ballet or sing in an opera, but the moment she enters the pulpit to
preach a sermon, steps upon a platform to deliver a lecture, or goes
to the polls to vote, society rises in indignation and disgust. If a
woman may tend as a nurse, why may she not practice as a physician?
If a woman has a calling to medicine, divinity, law, literature, art,
mechanics, instruction or trade, what law of God prohibits? But is it
wise to open our colleges and schools of science to women? Why not?
Are they not capable of receiving a liberal education? The part woman
has played in ancient and modern history, in the arts and sciences,
as well as in political life, constitutes not only an answer to the
question, but a positive demand for admission to every department of
knowledge and industry. Open all the doors and remove every barrier.
Subject girls to the same requirements you exact of boys in colleges,
but in all justice and fairness set before them the same rewards.
The best educators tell us that some of the finest mathematical
students are girls. They read Virgil and Cicero, Xenophon and Homer
as well in every way as do young gentlemen. In mixed schools you will
find, as a general rule, more girls than boys, and they are found in
examination to carry off the greatest proportion of prizes. Wherever
co-education has been honestly and competently tried, girls have shown
themselves the intellectual peers of their brothers. They have more
than held their own. There have been women every whit as well educated
as the most learned men of their day, and much better educated than
the majority of men in any age. When Elizabeth was Queen of England
the languages were an essential element of a lady's education. The
daughters of Sir Anthony Cooke, to whom was committed the instruction
of the young Edward VI., were thoroughly trained in both ancient and
modern languages, and in the literatures of many lands and ages. One
of those gifted women wrote Latin verses of great beauty; another
was, according to Roger Ascham, one of the best Greek scholars of
the age, with the single exception of Lady Jane Grey; still another
was an accomplished theologian who corresponded in Greek with Bishop
Jewell. The distinguished Reiske affixed his wife's portrait to his
excellent and famous edition of "The Greek Orators." And in the
preface to that work he acknowledged his great indebtedness to her
learning and industry. So well acquainted was she with the language and
literature of ancient Greece, that she shared with her husband his most
profound investigations, and read for him, correcting as she read, the
proof-sheets of his book as they came from the press. There is nothing
in the constitution of a woman's mind nor in the anatomy of her body to
prevent her from following the same studies that occupy the time and
attention of young men in an ordinary college course. On the contrary,
the duties of the class-room are often far less fatiguing than those of
household labor.[A] I believe in co-education. Boys and girls should be
brought up together so far as possible. The influence they exert over
each other is in itself a great civilizer. The separation of the sexes
in church, state, family and school has always been productive of evil,
and of evil only.

    "The woman's cause is man's; they rise or sink
    Together, dwarfed or God-like, bond or free."

Miss Sophia Jex Blake, whose opinion in all questions connected with
the education of women is of great weight, has thus expressed herself
touching the subject of co-education: "That society is most happy
which conforms most strictly to the order of nature as indicated in
the family relation, where brother and sister mutually elevate and
sustain each other.... A school for young men becomes a community in
itself, with its own standard of morality and its laws of honor; but
in a college for both sexes the student will find a public sentiment
not so lenient as that of a community of associates needing the same

Miss Blake elsewhere answers, it seems to me with reason and justice,
the oft-repeated objection to co-education, founded upon the imaginary
danger of a too early romance and a hasty attachment, followed by an
unwise and to-be-repented-of marriage:

"There is something in the association of every-day life which appeals
to the judgment rather than to the fancy, and weeks and months of
steady labor over the same problems, or at the same sciences, will not
be more likely to create romances than casual meetings at fêtes and

But I turn from the secular and civil aspect of the subject to inquire
what service woman may render the church, and here I am confronted
by another question it would be difficult to answer: What service
has she not rendered? Our churches, most of them, will not ordain
her to the ministry, and yet do they not derive their spiritual life
from her influence? Could they exist without her effort and faithful
service? Who preached the first Christian sermon, and proclaimed to
an unbelieving world, "He is risen from the dead!" if not the women
who ran with great joy from the empty sepulcher, bearing with them a
license to preach from the Christ himself, given through the Angel of
the Resurrection, who said, "Go quickly and tell his disciples that he
is risen from the dead, and behold he goeth before you into Galilee;
there shall ye see him?" That was a very short sermon and had no text,
but no pulpit rhetoric and no Sunday oratory will ever eclipse its
sublime eloquence. If priests received their commission to preach from
the Apostles, the Apostles received theirs from the women who mourned
at the sepulcher and found it empty. Women can better afford to remain
out of the pulpit than the pulpit can afford to exclude them. When the
Christ shall return and His kingdom be established forever, the nations
shall hear once more the old Easter sermon first preached by a woman,
"He is risen from the dead!" The most tender and faithful friendship
our Saviour ever found in his weary and painful pilgrimage upon earth
burned in the heart and shone in the life of a noble and consecrated

    "Not she with trait'rous kiss her Master stung,
    Not she denied him with unfaithful tongue;
    She, when Apostles fled, could danger brave—
    Last at his cross, and earliest at his grave."

And if the church was cradled in the arms of Mary, have not the
daughters of Mary been singing to the child Jesus all along the ages?
It was Charlotte Elliott who wrote, "Just as I am without one plea,"
and Mrs. Adams who gave the church that immortal hymn, "Nearer, my God,
to Thee." "Fade, fade, each earthly joy," "I need Thee every hour,"
"Lord, I hear of showers of blessing," "I think when I read that sweet
story of old," "I love to tell the story," and "How blest the righteous
when he dies"—all these were written by women. What sweet singers chant
cradle hymns to the child Jesus—Felicia D. Hemans, Joanna Baillie,
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Eliza Cook, Mrs.
Baxter, Mrs. Codver, Mrs. Bonar, Mrs. Barbauld and the Cary sisters. If
wise men came from the East with gold, frankincense and myrrh for the
infant Redeemer, wise women are coming every day from all parts of the
earth with gifts of heavenly song.

The success of every church depends in large measure upon the
consecration of its women. I never knew a church in which there
were not more women than men; they constitute the majority in every
religious meeting; and it would seem as if fifty women go to heaven
for every man who makes even a moderate effort to get there. It was
the service of faithful and active women that saved Israel in the hour
of national peril. "When the men of Israel," to employ the language
of another, "bowed in helplessness before Pharaoh, two women spurned
his edicts and refused his behests. A father made no effort to save
the infant Moses, but a mother's care hid him while concealment was
possible, and a sister watched over his preservation when exposed on
the river's brink. To woman was intrusted the charge of providing for
the perils and wants of the wilderness; and in the hour of triumph
woman's voice was loudest in the acclaim of joy that ascended to heaven
from an emancipated nation." The same womanly courage, patience, love,
tact and wisdom must be the hope and strength of modern Israel.

The men who have accomplished most owe much to woman's influence.
From her counsel the hero derived his courage, and in her approving
smile received his reward. The great poems of the world are, many of
them, from her inspiration. Blanche of Lancaster lives in the antique
English of Chaucer, Laura in the sonnets of Petrarch, and Beatrice in
the Divina Commedia of Dante; and who can look upon the marbles of
Michel Angelo and not behold the influence of Vittoria Colonna? In all
literature there is not a nobler sonnet addressed by man to woman than
this which Michel Angelo laid with bowed heart and reverent hand at the
feet of Vittoria Colonna:

    "The might of one fair face sublimes my love,
    For it hath weaned my heart from low desires;
    Nor death I heed, nor purgatorial fires.
    Thy beauty, antepast of joys above,
    Instructs me in the bliss that saints approve;
    For, oh! how good, how beautiful, must be
    The God that made so good a thing as thee,
    So fair an image of the heavenly dove.
    Forgive me if I cannot turn away
    From those sweet eyes that are my earthly heaven;
    For they are guiding stars, benignly given
    To tempt my footsteps to the upward way;
    And if I dwell too fondly in thy sight,
    I live and love in God's peculiar light."

John Stuart Mill, dedicating his immortal "Essay on Liberty" to
the memory of his beloved wife whose earthly frame he had laid to
rest beneath the shades of beautiful Avignon, described her as
"the inspirer, and in part the author, of all that was best in his
writings." The three "guardian angels" whom Comte associated with
his secret thoughts, and whom he enshrined in his innermost heart as
the sacred judges of his every wish and achievement, were his mother
Rosalie Boyer, his friend Clotilde de Vaux, and his servant Sophie
Bliot. Of Madame de Vaux he wrote six years after her death: "Adieu,
my unchangeable companion! Adieu, my holy Clotilde, who art to me at
once wife, sister, and daughter! Adieu, my dear pupil, and my fit
colleague. Thy celestial inspiration will dominate the remainder of
my life, public as well as private, and preside over my progress
towards perfection, purifying my sentiments, ennobling my thoughts, and
elevating my conduct. Perhaps, as the principal reward of the grand
tasks yet left to me to complete under thy powerful invocation, I shall
inseparably write thy name with my own, in the latest remembrances of
a grateful humanity." The Taj Mahal which the poet Heber describes as
"a dream in marble, designed by Titans and finished by jewellers,"
is a tribute of love raised over the tomb of Moomtaza Mahul by her
husband, the great Mogul, Shah Jehan. She died in giving birth to a
daughter, and her last request was that her husband would hallow in
his heart her love as the solitary and immortal sanctity of his life.
The Taj holds directly under the centre dome, "gleaming like a silver
bubble at the edge of the sky, almost as transparent in appearance
as the azure itself," the tombs of Shah Jehan and his beloved wife.
There the "married lovers" rest, encased in jasper from Punjaub,
turquoises from Thibet, agate from Yeman, garnets from Bundelkund,
and onyx, amethyst and lapis lazuli; and over them a single stone is
inscribed with the ninety-nine names of God. To this day fresh flowers
are placed upon the marble sarcophagi, and above them is to be seen
the ostrich egg, symbol of the all-encircling Divine Providence. "The
most exquisite building on the globe" is a memorial of the love a
noble and beautiful woman inspired in the heart of a devoted husband.
Who shall measure the power and authority of woman in the worlds of
art, literature and social life? And yet, great as is her influence in
these, it is even greater in spiritual matters. Woman turns through a
natural instinct to the field of religious usefulness, and Renan is
not mistaken when he tells us that she has a special tendency to "long
after the infinite." Of this Frances Power Cobbe gives us a forcible
illustration in a foot-note to her able essay on "The Fitness of Women
for the Ministry of Religion." The illustration is taken from Mrs.
Kemble's autobiography, and runs as follows: "She describes the late
Lady Byron as often expressing envy of her (Mrs. Kemble's) public
readings, and her longing to have similar crowds in sympathy with her
own impressions. 'I made her laugh,' says Mrs. Kemble, 'by telling her
that more than once when looking from my reading-desk over the sea of
faces uplifted toward me, a sudden feeling had seized me that I must
say something _from myself_ to all these human beings whose attention I
felt at that moment entirely at my command, and between whom and myself
a sense of sympathy thrilled powerfully and strangely through my heart
as I looked steadfastly at them before opening my lips; but that on
wondering afterwards what I might, could, would or should have said to
them from myself, I never could think of anything but two words—'_Be
good!_'" Miss Cobbe writes: "I believe that nine women out of ten of
the better sort would, if they had the choice, oftener speak of duty
and religion than of any other theme." Is not Goëthe right?

    "The eternal womanly
    Draws us upward and onward."

Great is the power of consecrated womanhood in domestic life. It has
been shown by able writers that boys who have sisters, and grow up in
their society, are more likely to develop into strong and noble men
than boys who are deprived of woman's influence. Whatever separates man
from woman separates both from God. The great objection urged against
social clubs is that they destroy domestic life by isolating the sexes;
they furnish an amusement for the husband in which the wife cannot
participate. Open the social club to both sexes, and its evil tendency
is removed.

Then there is the marriage relation. How many wedded lives come to
failure through ignorance. Men and women assume the most sacred
responsibilities without preparation, and with no knowledge of
themselves nor of each other. We say in the marriage service, "What God
hath joined together let not man put asunder;" but when God does not
join, is there anything to sunder? Passion dies, novelty disappears,
youth fades, and unless love be founded upon an intelligent and mutual
esteem, shall it not also crumble? It has been said, "one cannot be
at once lover and friend," but you may be sure one will not long
remain the former who is not as well the latter. We need to cultivate
friendship. Passion will come and go like the shadows of clouds
over the smooth surface of a lake, and no love is abiding without
friendship. He was right who exclaimed, "They who are joined by love
without friendship, walk on gunpowder with lighted torches in their
hands!" They who build love upon the foundation of mutual esteem—

    "Make life, death, and that vast forever
    One grand, sweet song."

How shall we strengthen love that it may endure when the fires of youth
and passion are cold? Only by the cultivation of those noble virtues
which like bands of steel weld together in one life and faith honest
and pure hearts. How shall two hearts grow old together? Only by the
persistent cultivation of those qualities which are ever young and
which age not with declining years. The young man will not be guilty
of an act tainted with meanness or baseness lest the maiden he loves
blot his image from the pure heaven of her heart; let the young husband
and wife cherish the same fear and honor, and they shall grow nearer
and dearer as the years silver their brows. The happiness of marriage
depends upon the very highest and most delicate of reserves, the most
noble and careful speech, the best and most honorable perception; upon
a kindness greater than that of a mother to her child.

The supreme glory of consecrated womanhood lies in the consecration
itself. The love of God makes every other love immortal. What love
through Him we give to others is forever. Only as we consecrate our
lives to the Divine Love can we hope to become heavenly-minded; and
they only consecrate themselves to the Divine Love who, in imitation
of our Saviour, give heart and hand to the service of mankind. There
is a fable that four young ladies, disputing as to the beauty of
their hands, called upon an aged woman who had solicited alms, for
a settlement of the dispute. The three whose hands were white and
faultless had refused her appeal, while she whose fingers were brown
and rough had given in charity. Then the aged beggar said: "Beautiful
are these six uplifted hands, soft as velvet and snowy as the lily: but
more beautiful are the two darker hands that have given charity to the
poor." Learn the lesson of consecrated womanhood. In olden times, when
the children of Israel prepared the Tabernacle in the wilderness, "all
the women that were wise-hearted did spin with their hands, and brought
that which they had spun, both of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet,
and of fine linen. And all the women whose heart stirred them up in
wisdom spun goats' hair." The wise-hearted women of to-day are the
daughters of modern Israel who from the love of God serve faithfully
the great family of mankind.


[A] It may be a matter of interest to some who read this sermon to
know who was the first woman to graduate from an American college. In
an article on "The First Female College" (the Georgia Female College),
in the "Century" for May, 1890, Mr. H. S. Edwards states that he has
been unable to obtain the name of any woman who graduated at Oberlin
in 1838. An Oberlin College catalogue, however, gives the name of
Miss Zeruiah Porter (afterwards Mrs. Tweed) as the graduate of 1838,
and therefore the first graduate of an American college. Miss Porter
graduated in the so-called literary course, which did not include
Greek. In 1841, Miss Mary Hosford, Miss Elizabeth S. Prall, and Miss
Mary C. Rudd took the degree of A. B. at Oberlin.

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