Daughters of Zion Excelling
PREACHED TO THE LADIES
IN HOPKINTON NEW-HAMPSHIRE,
AUGUST 18, 1814.
BY ETHAN SMITH, A. M.
MINISTER IN SAID PLACE.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter
of Jerusalem: Behold, thy King cometh --.
C O N C O R D:
PUBLISHED BY GEORGE HOUGH.
Sept. - - - 1814.
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Hopkinton, August 18, 1814.
THE members of the Cent Institution on Hopkinton present
their thanks to the Rev. Ethan Smith, for his excellent
and appropriate Sermon this afternoon; and request of him
a copy for the press.
SALLY FRENCH, } Committee.
Rev. Ethan Smith.
Hopkinton, August 18, 1814.
I tender my grateful acknowledgment to the members of
the Cent Institution in this place, for their polite note of
thanks presented by you. I rejoice, if my Discourse met
the approbation of your Society. As a copy is requested for
the press, it is submitted, such as it is, to your wishes, by
your friend and servant,
Mrs. Ellen Chase,
Sally French, } Committee.
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PROVERBS XXXI. 29.
Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
IN this chapter we are presented with one of the best of mirrors for the daughters of the human race. In it they may adorn themselves to great .advantage for time and for eternity. In this glass they may view themselves, and each other; and may "put on, and adjust those ornaments, which arc in the sight of God of great price, and which will decorate the soul for future glory.
This chapter seems to have been penned by the mother of king Lemuel; and was, at some period annexed to the Proverbs of Solomon. Who this Lemuel was or who was his mother, it seems not certain; nor is it material to us. Some conjecture that he was Solomon; and hence that the mother was Bathsheba. Others, that he was some neighboring prince; and his mother a pious Israelitess. Be this as it may, it seems that the tender parent perceived that her royal son was addicted to some follies; against which she solemnly cautions him. And to add an effectual stimulus to her caution, and to impress her son with a just estimation of real female excellence, she presents before him -- from verse 10th to the end of the chapter -- a most beautiful picture of a virtuous woman: just at the close of which delightful description, we find the words of our text: --
Upon which I shall take occasion to remark,
I. Upon women's doing virtuously.
II. Upon their excelling.
"Many daughters have done virtuously" The word translated virtuously, imports, with good mental endowments; -- with a good disposition. It is the same word used by Jethro, Exod. xviii. 21. where it is applied to men, who might aid Moses in the government of Israel; and is translated able. The meaning is there thus explained, "able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness."
The virtuous daughter then, possesses the following excellencies:
1. The true fear of God. She knows, acknowledges, adores and obeys her Maker, and Redeemer. Without this, there can be no true evangelical virtue. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." And says our context, "A woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised."
2. She pays her first attention to the cultivation of her mind, rather than to her external person. "Whose adorning (says the apostle, when describing the virtuous woman) let, it not be the outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of the meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight, of God of great price. For after this manner, in the old time, the holy women also, who trusted in God; adorned themselves." It is a great mistake, when the body has more attention than the soul. The body is the inferior part, which allies to earth and, dust. But the soul is the far superior part, which allies to angels; and is capable of the most sublime improvements, and of the bliss of heaven. The mind then is worthy of the first attention, after
paying our devotion to God. This is to be cultivated. Pride and irregular passions are to be subdued. Evangelical virtues are to be exercised. Virtuous habits must be cultivated. And the mind must be stored with useful knowledge Correct literature -- the knowledge and study of books of the solid kind -- are highly important in female education, or in the endowments of the virtuous daughter.
3. The study and practice of economy constitute an interesting trait in the character under consideration. Without this, other characteristics will prove ineffectual. The human race are formed for activity. And such are the circumstances attending human life, that discreet and strict economy -- to obtain and improve the bounties of heaven -- is a virtue by no means to be confined to the male sex. To the female the sacred passages equally apply -- "Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work" -- "The diligent hand maketh rich" -- "Gather up the fragments which remain, that nothing be lost." Beautiful strokes of this part of the virtuous female character, are found in our context --" The heart of her husband doth safely confide in her -- She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She considereth a field and buyeth it; with the fruit of her hand, she planteth a vineyard. -- She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. -- She is not afraid of the snow for her household; for all her household are clothed with scarlet. -- She maketh fine linen and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchants. Strength and honor are her clothing. -- She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the
bread of idleness." How solid and amiable are these characteristics of the virtuous daughter! The person, who thus gathereth by labor, shall increase, and shall have property for the service of God, and for the conveniences of life.
4. Faithfulness in the circle of relative duties, is an important female virtue. To be obedient and respectful to parents; tender, discreet, peaceful and attracting, to brothers and sisters; as a companion, to be faithful, tender, submissive, and amiable, to the husband; as a parent, to be kind, provident, exemplary, and affectionate to her children; kind to neighbors; and just and faithful to all: these are traits of character, without which there can be but little true virtue. These embellish and adorn the female character.
5. Beneficence and a charitable conversation are excellencies of great moment in the virtuous female. Yes, "She stretcheth out her hands to the poor; (says our context) yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy." Lovely, heaven-born virtue! God showers down his blessings on the family of man. And his virtuous female follower imitates her Lord in this. Extending her liberal hands to the poor, she will relieve her tender heart, by administering to their wants. And she is so far from tattling and sowing discord from house to house, that "she openeth her mouth with wisdom, (says the context) and in her tongue is the law of kindness." Her words are examined, and weighed, before she utters them; and they express the kindness and goodness of her heart.
This is a hint of the character of the virtuous woman. And it is a character truly eminent. But there are degrees of eminence of character among the virtuous.
This leads to remark,
II. Upon females excelling. "But thou excellest them all." I shall note some things, in which they may excel. And then suggest some motives to excite them thus to do.
1. There are peculiar objects, at times, which demand special attention, and in which virtuous females may unite to great advantage, to aid the cause of religion and humanity. In times of declension, and danger to the people of God, good women may unite and strengthen each other's hands in special prayer; prayer in their closets, and in female circles. Pious daughters of our Israel, in various places, have of late thus united -- to pray for Zion, to pray for their ministers, to pray for the Missionary cause, the salvation of the heathen and the destitute, to pray for the Holy Spirit, and the conversion of perishing sinners around, and to pray for the children of affliction. They share in the following promise, of their Divine Lord:
"If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father who is in heaven:" And, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them." Well may the sisters in Zion rejoice in the gracious promises, and unite to improve them. Many are thus doing.
Virtuous females may unite in charitable associations, to afford aid to the indigent, and relief to the distressed. Such associations are formed of late in many places. The friends of religion and humanity rejoice to find them multiplying. Asylums for orphans and destitute children; a Corban Society, to aid pious indigent young men in
preparing; for the Gospel ministry; Fragment Societies, in which clothing is prepared for those, who are not able to provide it for themselves; one female association, to collect poor black children and furnish them with a school; another, to accommodate poor miserable children of white people, (whose parents are dead, or absconded, or are unable to support their offspring) and to furnish such children with good instruction, literary and religious. Many ladies in Boston, in Portsmouth, and in many of our great towns, are doing nobly in these respects; and are indeed excelling all that has been customary in preceding times. A number of these schools, in different places, I have had the pleasure, not long since, to visit; and the scenes were truly pleasing and affecting. Many children, whose prospects had been miserable, are thus enjoying the well directed beneficence of charitable female associations. Such things have of late increased, and are increasing. Blessed be the Father of lights, for such gifts of his benignity!
One extensive Institution, in which virtuous females are indeed excelling, and may excel, is the Cent Institution. Several years ago, on one of the public occasions in Boston, at a dining table, the conversation turned upon the importance of propagating the salvation of the Gospel. It was remarked, that if people would retrench a little of their expenses, a revenue might easily be saved which might do considerable toward extending the means of salvation. Their glasses of wine flood before them. One person determined to make the beginning. The glass of wine was set back; and a cent presented in its place. The example was followed. The hint was improved; and a Cent Institution originated, in which those
ladies who are disposed, engage to pay one cent a week, to aid the propagation of the cause of Christ. This Institution has already afforded a very considerable revenue. Thousands of dollars within several years, have been collected in New England. And the prospect is opening with pleasing rapidity. In this State, last year, between seven and eight hundred dollars were received, and applied to their object. With this sum, a missionary is stationed in Bridgewater -- an important stand -- where he appears to be doing much good. And between three and four hundred dollars of this money have been appropriated for bibles, and religious books, for charitable distribution.
The societies in New-Hampshire, from which remittances were received last year, are in the following towns. -- Dover; Exeter. Chester, Goffstown, Bedford, New Boston, Amherst, MontVeroon, Francestown, Lyndeborough, Holles Stoddard, Litchfield, Pelham, Windham, Londonderry, Fitzwilliam, New-lpswich, Peterborough; Keene, Walpole, Croydon, Cornith, Lebanon. Hanover, Lyme, Oxford, Haverhill, Bath, Plymouth, Sandbornton, Concord, Hopkinton, Northwood, Pembroke, Henniker, Atkinson, Hampstead, Salem. From Bedford upwards of 60 dollars were received; from Keene upwards of 57 dollars. And many other societies did nobly in this object.
This Female Institution in New-England seems indeed to have a claim to the praise in the last clause of the text; "But thou excellest them all." It does excel all that has been customary in modern times. We heartily bid it God speed. Much we anticipate from its blessed influence. From what has already appeared, we with pleasure
reflect, that should the great community of adult females engage to reserve each her cent a week, to propagate-the cause of Christ, in these perilous days, how much might be done! What a revenue it would afford! How powerful its influence. What a harvest of souls might result from it, to praise God in eternal ages!
This leads, as was proposed under this head,
Secondly; To suggest some motives, to induce our female friends to pursue this object.
1. I might plead their incalculable influence in society; and how desirable it is that this influence should be improved for the cause of salvation. If our dear sisters of the community make not our laws, nor immediately officiate in public concerns; yet it is a notable fact, that their influence in the civilized world is vast. We acknowledge with delight.: Yes, this influence is felt in every grade of society, to polish, and to control. Like a main spring our of sight, I had: almost said it governs the community. And this influence, discreetly exerted in well concerted measures for the cause of Christ, would have a most salutary and powerful effect.
The Congress, in our revolutionary war, adopted a salutary measure, when they circulated to the ladies through the United States a request, that they would aid the war by using their influence with men, to excite them to zeal and heroism in the cause of their country, If a due portion of this influence --from the tender sympathetic female breast -- might be properly improved in some special united exertions, in favor of the Christian Salvation; -- how happy might be the result! Wicked men would be ashamed; -- the covetous and despisers confounded. And it would powerfully tend to excite a spirit of noble emulation.
2. The first promise from heaven, in favor of fallen man, involves an amazing motive to the daughters of Eve, to unite their exertions for the destruction of the works of the devil. When all was despair -- the devil having destroyed the race of man by deceiving the woman -- light and salvation dawned upon our dark region in the divine denunciation, that the Seed of the WOMAN should bruise the serpent's head. By a virtuous daughter the almighty Remedy should be introduced. The first promise, and first title of the Savior, thus involved an exclusive honor to the female part of our race. Is not a motive hence furnished to this sex to excite their prayers and all due exertions to promote the application of this divine Remedy for the salvation of fallen man?
Notable subsequent promises, relative to this Seed of the woman, directed the eyes of all nations to the Jewish virgin, to behold the Author of salvation. Yes, a virgin should bear -- should bring forth the long desired Immanuel. She should be honored as the mother of the Person, whose name should be called "Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace."
Hence, when the Messiah was about to appear, the angel Gabriel descended, and held his important interview with Mary. He hailed her as the most highly favored; and assured her, that she soon should bring forth the Son of God. What an honor conferred on her, and on the female community! Ought not the latter to be peculiarly active, that Christ may be formed in souls the hope of glory?
3. When God became manifest in the flesh, the wonderful Person received the first supports
of his humanity, and its tutorage in youth, from the virtuous female. Into her arms he was cast. Yes, ye matrons in Zion, the King of kings, and Lord of lords hung upon the female breast, was nourished there, and imparted to it an immortal honor! And it was under maternal care, that he "increased in wisdom and stature, in favor with God and man."
And after Jesus entered his public ministry, much of his sustenance in life he derived from the beneficence of pious females. Take one sacred testimony for this. In Luke viii. 2, 3. we read of certain women, who had been healed -- Mary, Joanna, Susanna, and many others. -- "who followed Christ, and ministered unto him of their substance." Here our divine Lord, in his public labors, derived much support from the contributions of charitable sisters in Israel. Ye mothers and daughters in our Israel, are ye not hence presented with a commanding motive to go and do likewise?
4. Pious females, in the time of Christ's deepest affliction, were the most bold and forward to attempt something for his comfort and to testify their sympathy and love after he was put to death. After men, who had pretended friendship. had deserted Christ; after the disciples themselves had forsaken him and fled; and Peter had wickedly denied his Lord; we find a phalanx of pious heroic females uniting and following him.
Of Christ's going to the cross, we read, "And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, who also bewailed and lamented him." Of this association of sympathetic female friends, the suffering Savior took particular notice. "But Jesus turning to them, said, daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me; but weep for
yourselves and for your children." And in the three following verses Jesus proceeds to predict to these daughters of Jerusalem, the utter ruin of the infidel Jews. Behold the distinguishing public honor here conferred upon zealous female associations following their Lord in the greatest perils! In the midst of all the crowds, the Lord of glory was found conversing with them, and unfolding to them some of the most interesting events of futurity.
After the tremendous scene of Christ's passion, we read, "And the women also, who came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment." Here note, women from Galilee followed Jesus in his extreme dangers. They are presented as the chief mourners at his funeral. They "followed after!" They saw the dear body deposited. And they immediately betook themselves to preparing costly spices and ointments, to embalm the remains of their Lord. But even this must not be done on the sabbath. They would rest according to the commandment. Brothers of the human race! shame on the want of zeal, the covetousness, and want of piety notable in too many of us! Look at those daughters of Zion; and let our hearts be filled with self-abhorrence!
One pious woman had before anointed Christ's body to the burial, with a box of perfume, very costly and precious; washing his feet with her tears, and wiping them with the hair of her head. And from her Lord she had received a public and high commendation, left on sacred record. Do not these inspired testimonies furnish an amazing motive to present female Christian zeal?
5. Pious women, after Christ's resurrection were the first, who were blessed with the knowledge of the event. Their zeal carried them first to the sepulchre. And their Lord rewarded it by making them the first heralds of his resurrection. See those amiable daughters of Zion going in haste, as soon as possible after the Sabbath, "while it was yet dark," to embalm the body of Christ! -- bearing the costly spices, which their beneficence and zeal had richly furnished. So engaged were they in the business, that they seemed to have forgotten that a vast stone on the mouth of the cave must obstruct their access to the body, and that a guard of Roman soldiers might insult or destroy them. Their zeal and love overleaped obstacles like these. They would trust in the Lord; and would venture their property and their lives in honor of their Savior. And, behold their immediate reward! Two angels, in shining forms, appeared to these women, and tenderly addressed them; "Fear not. For I know that ye seek Jesus, who was crucified. Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen, as he said Come, see the place where the Lord lay. Remember how he spake unto you, while he was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 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: lo, I have told you." How glorious an honor to female zeal! And this was not all. For we read;
"They departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy and did run to bring the disciples word. And as they went to tell the disciples,
behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid. Go, tell my brethren, that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me." In a parallel passage it is, "Go, tell my disciples, and Peter" --Yes, Peter, you, after your shameful desertion of your Lord: shall be assured of his resurrection by the more constant and heroic women. They shall be charged with the message to you by name, from the mouth of their Lord; who honored them first with his presence. Oh, shall the daughters of Zion ever fear to be engaged in the cause of their Lord, even should men desert this glorious cause? No verily!
6. Females afforded their beneficent aid, in the first propagation of the Gospel. -- Not by public preaching; but by encouraging, and administering to the wants of the ambassadors of Christ. Hear the following testimonies: "I commend unto you Phebe, our sister, who is a servant of the church that is in Cencrea -- that ye receive her in the Lord as becometh saints; and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you. For she hath been a succorer of many, and of myself also" The pious Priscilla in the next verse is named before her husband, as Paul's helper in Jesus Christ, and unto whom not only Paul, but all the churches of the Gentiles gave thanks. Paul proceeds, "Salute Tryphena, and Tryphosa, who labored in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, who labored much in the Lord." Again. "And I entreat thee also, true yoke fellow, help those women, who labored with me in the Gospel." Here pious women labored with Paul in the first propagation of the Gospel -- not by preaching in
public. For this he was inspired to forbid. But they labored with him by their prayer, influence, examples, and their charitable contributions; "addicting themselves (as Paul expresses it) to the ministry of the saints" --ministering to their necessities.
Much is left on sacred record, relative to female beneficence to the cause of salvation: Females in ancient Israel spinning for the furniture of the temple, and presenting their noble contributions for the house of God. Also the poor widow in after days, presenting at the treasury of the temple her two mites, making a farthing; but being more, in the estimation of Christ, than the great sums of the rich. Things like these are left on record to invite imitation by the daughters of Zion.
7. As a further motive to excite female zeal in the cause of Christ, let it be noted; there is much appearance, that God, in gathering in his chosen, makes more than a proportionate selection from the female sex, as subjects of his grace. It is a notable fact, that many more females than males own their Lord before men, and publicly espouse his cause. Look at the churches in the Christian world! Perhaps but very few present themselves, where this is not the case. The fact is so universal, that it has been a subject of much query and consideration. As a specimen, look at the church in this place. Our return last year to the General Association was 176 members. Of this number, 60 were males, and 116 females. The additions to this church, during the time of my ministry here, (a little upwards of 14 years) have been 155. 13 of them were admitted by letters from other churches; and 42, by new
profession. Of the latter, 41 were males, and 101 females. Probably the disparity is not so great in all churches. But I believe, in the visible kingdom of grace, there are many more women than men. Does not this special mercy of God to our female friends, claim from them a tribute of some signal exertions for Christ?
8. The discreet virtuous female is adopted, in the language of revelation, as a symbol of the church. And the relation of a virgin espoused is much used to denote the relation of the church to Christ. Thus the church is Christ's spouse, his bride, the Lamb's wife. She is the king's daughter, all glorious within, who shall be brought to the king in raiments of needle work. "My love, my undefiled, is one; she is the only one of her mother; the choice one of her that bare her." "Come with me, from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon; look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon; from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards." "As the lily among the thorns, so is my love among the daughters." How frequently is the church addressed by her Lord, as `the daughter of my people; the daughters of Zion! To an impious, insulting tyrant, God said; "The virgin, the daughter of Zion, hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee." Again, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: Behold, thy King cometh..." "Let us be glad and rejoice and give honor to him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come; and his wife hath made herself ready." This spouse of the Mediator is a "woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown f twelve
stars. Her offspring, the succession of the church, is brought forth, and protected of God, as though caught up to his throne, from the rage of the infernal dragon." -- When the abundant use of this allufion is considered; this, in the view of honors already noted as conferred on the female sex, must afford a motive of some weight to all discreet females, to signalize themselves in his cause, who has conferred on them such abundant honor.
9. There is reason to expect, that in the wars and doleful scenes of the last days, special aids must be derived to the cause of Christ from the united exertions of women. Men will be greatly thinned by wars and desolating judgments. This is implied in many prophecies, particularly in Isa. iv. i. Here, in a prediction, which will be ultimately fulfilled in the terrible scenes just before the Millennium, it is suggested, that seven women shall be left to one man. The property and exertions of men, at that period, will be much absorbed in wars and schemes of ambition. And Christ -- as in the days of his flesh on earth -- will probably again derive a large portion of his support -- in his cause among men -- from the beneficence of the daughters of Israel.
Much more might be adduced to our purpose, from the consideration of peculiar blessings and honors conferred on the sisters of the human race, as noted in the word of God, and as furnished from history, and from notable facts, ancient and modern. Among the latter, you recollect a HANNAH MORE -- an adept in literary and religious instruction -- a female teacher indeed. And a HARRIET NEWELL -- lifted up and matured in early youth in gifts and graces to give a spring, like an electric shock, to this part of the Christian world. Such stars of commanding effulgence that
Christ will effect much, in behalf of his cause, by female influence. -- But it is needless to enlarge. Discreet considerate females know their obligations to God, arising from these considerations, as well as from a view of the rich and abundant blessings, temporal and spiritual, which they enjoy in common with the great family of the human race, where the Gospel is enjoyed.
My worthy Friends, of this branch of the Cent Institution! You have here led the way to make some special exertions for the cause of Christ. -- Nearly 70 have already united to reserve their cent a week for Christ. As your institution is new, your number indeed is laudable. No doubt others will unite with you, so soon as they shall have opportunity, or shall have considered the subject. Thousands in New-England have thus associated themselves. And their numbers are yearly and daily increasing. This is indeed excelling, in an important particular, those who have gone before you. This is among the new and blessed things of modern date. It bears a graceful part in the fulfillment of this delightful prediction, which emphatically relates to the present period, "When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit or the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." We have seen the enemy coming in like a flood. We have seen the standard by the Spirit of the Lord lifted up. And your Institution is among the events which fulfill this figure. Yes the Spirit of Grace is aiding the lifting up of this standard, by a phalanx, new in modern times -- a union of the daughters of our American Zion, to come up to the help of the Lord, the help of the Lord against the mighty! This is a host, against which the enemies of our religion had made no
calculations. And much it promises to do toward confounding the designs of infidelity, and gladdening the hearts and strengthening the hands of the people of God. This is a pleasing aid in the slight of the missionary Angel of the last days, through the midst of heaven, to preach the Gospel to all nations. Go on, ye sisters in our Israel, animated by the noble examples, testimonies, and motives, presented to you from the sacred word. Be followers of those noble minded pious females of ancient date, who have contributed for the building of the temple of salvation; of those, who ministered to Christ of their substance; who boldly followed him when openly "despised and rejected of men;" who prepared costly spices for an embalming of his body; who hastened while it was yet dark, to his tomb; who there were blessed with a vision of angels, and obtained the first knowledge of his resurrection; who first beheld their risen Savior; and first proclaimed him in to the disciples. Animated by these examples, and by these tokens of the divine approbation, as well as by the examples of those women who aided in the first preparation of the Gospel in perilous days, go ye and do likewise. Show yourselves worthy of believers in the same cause. And let your hearts be animated with a noble emulation to excel.
Worthy Female Friends, who have not as yet united in this Institution, but who, would be numbered among the virtuous, the fearers of God; permit a few words to be addressed to you. It is to be hoped and presumed that you too will unite in so noble an object. You have hardly as yet had opportunity. The Institution is but in the morning of its existence. Some, having seen the proposals, have united, and are leading the way. You
will probably be induced to follow them. To reserve one cent a week for Christ, (who though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich) will not exceed what tender and beneficent hearts be willing to undertake. To do this, at such a day as the present, in addition to what you may have been accustomed to do, will not be a greater exertion, than the signal dangers of the day, and the perishing state of millions destitute of the Gospel, seem to demand. Should the members of the Cent Society in this place become numerous, and their funds considerable, (and should thy so desire) they :may take the liberty to say how they might wish to dispose of their funds. They can select the objets of their own beneficence. In favor of your uniting in this Institution, and collecting a small charitable fund, consider, there is much that needs to be done, in support of the cause of Christ. Multitudes, blinded by the god of this world, are dying in sin. How blessed, if you might see their souls, as the fruit of your charitable contribution, and the crown of your rejoicing, in heaven. Great exertions are made by the enemies of Zion, subvert the cause of the Gospel. And so far as their malignant efforts succeed in any place, so far they introduce destruction to the best interests of men. Our exertions must counteract the exertions of the wicked. One great danger attending the cause of Christ arises from people's withdrawing from, or withholding its support. They threaten to "cut off the meat and drink offering from the house of the Lord." One great occasion of this evil is, that people carelessly or covetously form habits of neglecting to contribute to the support of the Gospel, and they
seem to forget that God has made this their duty. We are creatures of habit. We form habits and are governed by them. To prevent the formation of so bad a habit as withholding from the house of the Lord, and to familiarize people to the duty of contributing to the support of religion, (as well as to exhibit a type of Gospel grace) God of old instituted that none of the produce of the land should be used, till the owner had first brought a portion of the first ripe fruits, and presented them to the Lord. This had a most salutary effect. It reminded them that God was their Lord; and that they were his stewards. And a command, in allusion to that institution, is now binding on all of us: -- "Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of thine increase; so shall thy horns be filled with plenty, and thy presses burst out with new wine."
To form habits now of laying by us in store, as God has prospered, for evangelical purposes. even though our bounty should amount to but two mites, would have a salutary effect, and would secure the blessing of heaven, if done with proper views. What a living testimony has Jesus left to the pious bounty of the poor widow, in bringing her two mites to the temple! The public record of it must go down to the end of the world. Does this contain no meaning for you? In I Cor. xvi. 1, 2. we find a permanent order, under the Gospel, that people shall lay by them weekly in store, as God has prospered, for charitable uses. Has not this duty been too much forgotten? Will not you, worthy Female Friends, set an example of reform? Will you not thus lead the way to excite a spirit of emulation in that sex, over which you possess great influence? To engage in this
design, is so far to unite with your God and Savior, and with the thousands who, at this day, are uniting their endeavors in behalf of the salvation of perishing souls. How suitable, to unite with such characters, in such a cause! To do this, is to lend to the Lord. And "he that watereth, shall be watered himself." Look, my Friends, to the decisive day. See the Judge on his throne of glory, and all nations and ages of Adam's race, the quick and dead, convened before him. Behold the separation made; the righteous on the right hand; the wicked on the left; and the world itself now to be burned. Hear the infinite Judge proclaim to those on the right hand, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink." -- You charitably ministered to me of your property." Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these my brethren, yet did it unto me." How blessed, to be then found among the subjects of this address! Yea, and to behold numbers then with you upon the right hand, whose salvation was occasioned by your pious liberalities in this world! -- Verily, it will then appear to have been the most noble economy in this life, to "make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations." Or, to have improved your interest for God and the salvation of Zion; and thus to appropriate an eternal and infinitely more noble interest in the future world.