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WOMEN MAY NOT TEACII IN THE CHURCII.
(To the Editor.) SIR-Your correspondent, rauua, asks, in your Number for May, p. 306, “ May not women teach in the church?” He understands the passage, 1 Cor. xiv, 34, as forbidding women to talk, or tattle, but not to teach in the church. In defence of this view, he produces some reasons, on which I beg that you will allow me to offer a few remarks.
1. Having asserted the gossipping propensities of modern Greek ladies, your correspondent asks,“ might we not reasonably expect the ladies to indulge that curiosity, which, as the daughters of Eve, is all their own, in frequent and audible applications to their male friends for explanations ? That these ladies of other times did make such applications is not merely probable, it is evident from the connexion; but unless your correspondent can establish the new translation, which he subsequently proposés, the admission makes nothing for his argument.
2. Your correspondent proposes a new rendering of the text which has been cited, and of the following verse. “Let your wives be silent in the assemblies, for it is not permitted them to talk, but to be in subjection, as also saith the law. But if they wish to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is unseemly to women to talk in an assembly.” I cannot perceive that your correspondent either gains or loses much by exchanging women for wives, and churches for assemblies; the stress of his argument lies in the rendering of Xaleiv. He tells us, that Mintert says, that in profane authors Aéyelv signifies to speak with premeditation and prudence, but laleiv to speak imprudently, and without consideration. On such a question it might have been as well if rápua had turned to his Greek Concordance. He would there have found, that however applicable his author's interpretation may be to profane writers, it is totally inapplicable to the New Testament. The four first citations, laleiv in Henr. Stephani Concordantiæ, are the following: Matt. ix. 18, while he (Jesus Christ) spake (Aalõvytoc) these things unto them. Matt. ix. 33; And when the devil was cast out, the dumb spake, (ésálnoev.) Matt. x. 19; But when they shall deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak, (Aalnonte.) In the remaining clause of the verse, and likewise twice in the next verse, we find the same word employed to signify speaking, not merely with premeditation and prudence, but by inspiration. So far is the one word, according to New Testament usage, from implying premeditation and prudence, while the other implies imprudence and inconsideration; that the two words are used interchangeably. Rom. iii 19; “ Now we know that what things soever the law saith, (éye,) it saith (alē) to them that are under the law.” It will not be contended that the former instance is to be understood of speaking with premeditation and prudence, and the latter of speaking imprudently and without consideration.
To multiply citations would be tedious ; I will merely add, that in the chapter immediately under consideration, many instances may be found in which the verb dalēly is employed, not only to express speaking with premeditation and prudence, but also to express speaking by divine inspiration.
Your correspondent says, " I do not, however, conceive, that a new version much affects the question ; what I would particularly invite attention to here is, the significant antithesis in the words, “it is not permitted to wives to talk in an assembly, but if they wish to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home.” But in order to make the antithesis bear significantly on his argument, it is necessary to allow the justice of his new translation. He then adds, “ let it be observed, that Paul is speaking of the wives as learning, not as teaching.” He is so, in the 35th verse, but that he is speaking of learning in the 34th verse, is the very point which rápua ought to have proved, and which, if his new translation is inadmissible, he has certainly failed to prove. In the 34th verse the Apostle forbids the speaking of women in the churches, and so strict was the prohibition, that lest, under a pretence of asking questions, some very loquacious ladies should obtrude themselves upon the assembly, the Apos. tle, in the 35th verse, forbids the asking of a question in the church.
The reason of the injunction contained in the 34th verse, clearly proves that the Apostle designed something more than a mere prohibition of the asking of questions. “They are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” And what violation of obedience would there be in the asking of questions? Legal examinations excepted, the questioner assumes the humblest form of social intercourse.
In the concluding part of his second reason for female preaching, your correspondent indulges in a somewhat singular style of scriptural interpretation. “ Should it be urged," he says, “ that St. Panl does forbid some wives to teach, viz. in the other passage, which is cited against pious females, amongst the friends and others; I simply reply, that in this text, Paul is speaking of a wife's deportment to her husband in the domestic circle, and not in an assembly of worshippers, so that I humbly conceive it has no manner of relation to the question in hand." The text referred to, is 1 Tim. ii. 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.” According to rájua's interpretation of this text, it forbids a woman to instruct her husband in private. This would be a violation of modesty, decorum, and scriptural rule. At home, though a female Solomon, she must be silent as death. The bonds are drawn rather tightly about her in the house ; but let her not repine, she has ample length of tether abroad. She may lead her husband to a public assembly, and there lecture him, and five hundred men besides.
rápua asks, “ Is it not clear that females did teach in the primitive assemblies of the brethren ?" See 1 Cor. xi. 5. “ We may suppose,” says Dr. Macknight, “ the Corinthian women affected to perform these offices (in praying and prophesying) in the public assemblies, on pretence of their being inspired ; and though the Apostle in this place has not condemned that practice, it does not follow that he allowed it, or that it was allowed in any church. His design here was not to consider whether that practice was allowable, but to condemn the indecent manner in which it had been performed.” “ Women's praying and prophesying in the public assemblies, the Apostle afterwards condemned in the most express terms. We have an example of the same method of teaching, 1 Cor. viii., where, without considering whether it was lawful to join the heathens in their feasts on the sacrifice in the idol's temple, the Apostle showed the Corinthians, that although they thought it lawful, because they knew an idol was nothing, yet the weak, who had not that knowledge, but who believed the idol to be a real, though subordinate god, might, by their examples, be led to join in these feasts, and thereby be guilty of direct idolatry. This evil consequence the Apostle thought proper to point out, before he determined the general question; because it afforded him an opportunity of inculcating the great christian duty, of taking care never to lead our brethren into sin.” It may be added, that in every rational system of scriptural interpretation, obscure passages will be interpreted by such as are plain, and not plain passages by the obscure. Adopting this principle, we find female preaching as much forbidden by the Bible as drunkenness or idolatry.
Female preaching is so gross a violation of nature, that without some powerful counteractives, as in the case of the Friends, it must be injurious to female modesty. None can exceed the female Friends in chastity; but, so far as I have had an opportunity of observing, even they are not often distinguished by the meek retiring delicacy, which is the brightest charm of the female character, and the surest pledge of connubial blessedness : while, with regard to modern fraternities, which have allowed female preaching, the practical argument is strongly against it. So far as they have passed under my notice, the female preachers of the offsets from Methodism have been living censures of the practice for which rájua contends. A party of this description fixed themselves for a while in the place of the writer's residence, not long since. On taking their departure, they carried with them, as a preacher, a servant girl of suspicious character. This girl subsequently enlisted her sister, a child of about fifteen years old, in the same service. This latter has lately, in the course of a preaching excursion, become the mother of an illegitimate progeny. I only introduce this disgusting relation, for the sake of saying, that not all the powers of eloquence which ráppa may possess, could ever have persuaded these girls, that, in their cases, there were not “ unusual circumstances which called them to address religious assemblies.” Admit the principle, and the mischief is certain. In the family, in the school-room, and from the press, our Marys, and Marthas, and Phæbes have ample and most unquestioned scope for the exercise of their “ aptness to teach," but as for female preaching, amid all the preposterous usages of a world, reckless alike of the laws of nature, and of the commands of Deity, “ we have” mercifully, “ no such custom, neither the churches of God."
I remain, dear Sir, yours,
Lectures on the Atheistic Controversy; delivered in the Months of
February and March, 1834, at Sion Chapel, Bradford, Yorkshire. By the Rev. B. Godwin, Author of Lectures on British Colonial Slavery, fc. 8vo. pp. 279. London: Jackson and
Walford. A popular View of Atheisn. By James Davies. London:
Seeley and Burnside. It is generally believed that a style strictly argumentative is not adapted to the pulpit. The counsellor, the judge, and the senator, are each of them acquainted with this mode of address; and so necessary is it to the offices they hold, and the various and trying duties they have to perform, that without the knowledge and the habit of reasoning, they would be altogether incompetent to their respective stations. Perhaps we may affirm with truth, that a similar knowledge, in the general absence of the practice of oral ratiocination, is indispensable to every well qualified minister of the gospel. There is an omnipotent power in divine truth, and its final triumph is certain. But it has always had to encounter opposition in this sinful world. Its most mysterious doctrines have been assailed by the pride of human reason; and its most simple and elementary principles have been attacked by men of powerful minds-men who were, however, under the influence of innate and acquired depravity. The proud spirit which will receive no truth which it cannot comprehend; and the mind, sophisticated by the corruption of the moral powers, which, with a daring and reckless eccentricity, argues against propositions which, to the great mass of men, are only so many self-evident truths, are equally remote, the former in its intellectual, and the latter in its moral character, from the humble and lowly in heart, whom God visits with his blessings, and with whom he deigns to dwell. But it is to these, for no class of human beings is excepted, that the gospel message is sent. They are to be urged to partake of its benefits, and every legitimate means is to be employed to prevent them from perishing under the guilt of their pride and their depravity.
But the gospel, be it remembered, is not a bare statement of facts, doctrines, precepts, promises, and threatenings. It is a grand system of adaptation : for without accommodating itself either to the pride of human reason or the grossness of human corruption, it can meet and impart its healing balm both to the diseases of the mind and the more dangerous maladies of the heart. He who administers its salvation aright, will seek, therefore, to know the cases of individuals, and the peculiar circumstances of the different classes of his fellow men; and, like the great preacher of old, become all things to all men, if by any means he may save some. His preaching will not be loose and indefinite, but carefully discriminative ; and while on the spiritually wise his doctrine will drop as the rain and distil as the dew, the opposers and gainsayers will not be left without the strong, the indignant, the argumentative reproof. The great object of the minister of the gospel is, indeed, to satisfy the humble inquiries of the just; but the vain, proud, boastful, and angry accusations of the ungodly are not to be left without a full and a satisfactory reply. This may not convince them; but it may confirm in the truth the anxious inquirer, and the man who has long professed a love to the great salvation.
These considerations, abstractedly considered, may serve to evince that, under certain circumstances, controversy ought not to be excluded from the pulpit; and that it may be the imperative duty of a minister of the gospel to engage in it, as the author of the former of the two volumes on our list evidently has done, with all his powers. But he shall assign his own reasons for the course he pursued.
The following quotation is from the preface :“The circumstances in which this work originated, and which seemed scarcely to leave an alternative, must be his (the author's) apology-if any apology be deemed necessary—for its publication. Something more than twelve years ago, Providence directed the author's steps to one of the most populous manufacturing districts of this kingdom ; he soon observed that the character of the population in general, was marked by no small degree of activity, and energy, and enterprise, extending to every subject which engaged their attention ; that they seldom remained indifferent spectators or silent observers of what was passing around them, but that on all questions of trade, politics, or religion, they generally took a decided part, and whether right or wrong, pursued their object with determination and spirit. While, therefore, he beheld with satisfaction the vigorous efforts which were made to support most of the benevolent institutions which distinguish the present day, he saw, with deep regret, vice assuming a great degree of boldness, and perceived that a daring spirit of infidelity had, to a considerable extent, not only rejected the truths of revelation, but even denied or questioned the being of a God. He found that, besides regular meetings for discussing the favourite topics of scepticism, many works of infidelity were in circulation, and that the opportunities afforded for the inculcation of its tenets, by the frequent intercourse to which manufacturing employments give rise, were by no means lost. He frequently wished that some one qualified for the undertaking would step forward in the cause of truth, and endeavour, by a reference to nature and an appeal to reason, to stop the progress of errors so pernicious.
« Towards the close of 1833, the following placard was posted on the walls of the town and neighbourhood :
«« On Sunday last, in the Primitive Methodist Chapel, Mr. Matfin, accord. ing to previous announcement, repeated a declamation on infidelity, which he had before delivered in the surrounding villages. Its character was therefore known, and prior to its repetition last Sunday evening, he received a letter, of which the following is a copy :
«• Sir,---As you take advantage of the protection of the pulpit to misrepresent and abuse a certain portion of your fellow-creatures, whose only peculiarity is a devotedness to truth, a refusal to profess opinions which appear to them erroneous and absurd, though the reward of their honesty be the persecutions of interested hypocrisy on the one hand, and of prejudice, bigotry, and superstition on the other hand; as you have described such as enemies to human happiness, and fit only to be hunted from society, common justice