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The Duties and Graces of the Christian Woman.,
that it was something of an undue solicitude to provide for the enjoyments of this life. He does not, however, forbid her diligent and anxious hospitality; for so far as it was an error, it was an error of the head, not of the heart. But, in her address to Him there is something very reprehensible. Had He not been more disposed to forgive than to blame ; her rude and inconsiderate appeal might have drawn forth his just rebuke. But, with mildness, He only disapproves her angry preference of the task, which she had chosen, repelling her desire to draw away her sister from an indispensable, and far more important, occupation. The recreations and festivities of life
be provided and enjoyed, so long as they do not occasion a neglect of any of the Christian vir. tues ; so long as they do not influence, or delude the mind to any purpose or desire in disobedience to the Divine will. That obedience is to supersede every thing in our regards; and the one thing needful is, to acquire a knowledge of the Divine will, with the qualifications, the ability, and habitual disposition to fulfil it. It is rightly termed the one thing
The Duties and Graces of the Christian Woman.
needfül; because on it depends all our happiness, both of the present and the future world. In this persuasion Mary acted un. mindful of the household affairs; and, in some degree, of the offices of hospitality; to listen to the instruction of her Heavenly guest. Martha was under a different impression. She conceived herself under a stronger obligation to provide a costly entertainment for her Saviour and friend, than, at that time, to give her attention to his discourse. Yet we should not hence conclude either that she was any way averse to learn his doctrine, or to observe his precepts; or that Mary was usually inata tentive to the necessary domestic occupations. In Martha's judgement, the particular and becoming object of her concern, at that hour, was to make ready an entertainment fit for Him, whom, above all others, she loved, ree vered, and honoured. Mary supposed that she should give the best demonstration of her respect and regard for Him, by attending with humility and earnestness to his Heavenly instruction. Here, then, we have before us the example
The Duties and Graces of the Christian Woman.
of two pious women, the approved friends of Him, in whom were all the treasures of Heavenly wisdom, engaged on a particular occasion, according to their tempers or different modes of thinking, in two distinct modes of Christian duty: one busy in domestick affairs, and the offices of hospitality; the other acquiring religious knowledge, and learning the way to Heaven. The former occupation being re. quisite to the comfortable subsistence of man in the present life, is the less important; the other, being essential to lead him to life everlasting, is above all things needful, and consequently, when the two duties come any way in competition, to be preferred.
These duties belong to every woman, whether she live in the lowest class of poverty, or in the highest gradation of rank and affluence. For no woman, whatever be her riches or dig. nity, if she have a household to preside over, can be innocently exempt from the cares appertaining to the discreet and sober manager ment of her establishment, to the right direction of her servants, to such an education of her children, as may make them useful in the
The Daties and Graces of the Christian Woman.
present world, and forever bappy in the future. And, as most women either have this charge upon them, or look to a situation, where they will have it; every woman should be prepared and qualified to discharge its obligations. The superintendance of a Christian family involving both the duties exemplified in the passage, whence
text is taken; she cannot be competent to the task, who is not religious both in mind and practice, and well informed in the Gospel of Heaven, as well as careful and skilful to inspect or execute the several family offices. Whatever be the other qualifications of the female, who has this important work to do ; whatever fashionable accomplishments she may have learned; whatever acquirements following the caprice of the day, she may have made in the elegant, or higher parts of learning: if she have not learned the art of domestick management to all the ends of temperance, moderation, peace, order, harmony, social affection, chastity, industry, integrity, above all, true Christian piety; all her boasted edua cation is not worth the spider's web : at the end of her life, it will be found to have
The Duties and Graces of the Christian Woman:
fited little or nothing to the design of her being, and to her hopes of futurity.
Inculcating the feminine duties, however, let me not be understood to exonerate the stronger sex from the obligations to godliness. The piety of Mary is exemplary to both sexes. The one thing needful, the knowledge of the Lord, the way, the truth, and the life, is not to be neglected by man, more than by woman. For, we are all running the same race, striving for the same prize; and to all the event will be what our own efforts, or omissions, to apply diligently the powers given us from above, may determine it-happiness or misery everlasting
Nevertheless it must be admitted that a meek, charitable, and pious mind, a pure, virtuous, and holy life, appear naturally more amiable, and from custom they are certainly more appropriate, in the female character. Without these recommendations, indeed, woman seems not herself, and uninvested with the powers, which nature intended for her, of conciliating our esteem, and forcing our regard. And, there are cases, where the knowP 3