Brethren, do you appeal from the authority of this divine book? If you do not the question is settled, and the uniform practice of the churches from the apostles till now must stand.
It is due to the Christian women of the nineteenth century to say that only a few of them comparatively, have joined this rebellion against God’s order. The great mass of them are content to remain in the sphere prescribed for them by the precepts of the Bible and the laws of their own nature.
In the field of Christian activity there are tasks for woman that are great enough to tax her utmost capacity, and high enough to satisfy every lawful aspiration of her soul. Within the great circle of her own sex she is permitted to teach, admonish and exhort to her heart’s content. More than half the members of our Sunday Schools are females. Here and in the homes of the people and in religious meetings composed of females, she may do her share of the work which God has committed to his church.
I have always had some sympathy with Adam, because I know the bewitching power of female eloquence. It requires a desperate struggle of the will to overcome it. Women are naturally so much better than men, so much gentler and kinder and sweeter, that men are apt to think it a virtue to yield to them even when they know them to be in error.
But he is woman’s best friend who dares to oppose her in a wrong course. He is most loyal to woman’s welfare, happiness and honor, who is most persistent and determined in his efforts to deter her from those undertakings that are incompatible with the laws of her being.
Woman, self-willed, contentious, arrogant, noisy, combative, is a hideous monstrosity. There is nothing on the earth or under the earth that has less attraction for a right-minded, true-hearted manly-man. But woman clothed with purity, modesty, humility, a gracious temper and a calm spirit; woman cultured in mind and heart, and lovingly and loyally moving in her divinely appointed orbit, is exalted to her highest estate, and in that estate is man’s angel, a wayside sacrament, a handwriting of God, a window opening towards a world of cherubim.
Whence comes this new craze? Whence comes this challenge of apostolic inspiration and authority? Whence comes this clamor for the transmutation of woman? Whence comes this new slogan, “Down with Paul and up with woman?” Whence comes the cry that calls woman to the pulpit, the rostrum, the political caucus, the ballot-box, and the legislative hall? It comes from the same region where every ism that has cursed the country for the last century had its birth. It comes from a section which applauded Theodore Parker for saying, “If Jesus Christ did teach the doctrine of eternal punishment I do not believe it.” It comes from a community so tolerant of heresy that a man can be elected to a chair of theology in a college once distinguished for its orthodoxy, who says there are three ways to God and heaven—the way of the church, the way of the Bible and the way of reason—and that a man is perfectly safe in choosing any one of them. It comes from the birthplace of the New Theology, whose liberality is only another name for infidelity. I confess that I would be less suspicious of it if it had first seen the light on a soil less prolific of evil.
From the birth of the Republic to the present day this sunny Southland has been singularly free from that latitudinarianism in religions belief, and that irreverent spirit towards God's word, which have been the blight and mildew of other sections. There has been nothing in our Southern soil and atmosphere to give nutriment to these noxious weeds. Let us abide in this spirit of loyalty to God and his truth. Let us present to these propagandists of a diluted and perverted Christianity an unbroken front, and looking calmly and trustfully to Him who giveth us the victory, stand with the deathless devotion of martyrs by the old flag of the old faith.
It has been my fear of the sources from which these mischievous innovations come, that has made me for five years a persistent advocate for the creation of a Southern Baptist literature for Southern Baptist Sunday Schools. Such a literature would do much to keep the South “solid” for all time to come. The South needs to be solid; solid, not for sectionalism but against it; solid for the Union our fathers framed; solid for good government; solid against class legislation; solid against laws that are golden girdles for the rich and galling shackles for the poor; solid for peace and fraternity on the basis of mutual respect and confidence, and equal protection and freedom; but above all solid against looseness of religious belief and practice; solid against every appeal from God’s book to the tribunal of human reason or human consciousness; solid for a living ministry of men whose lips and lives are pure, and who will “know nothing among men but Christ and him crucified”; solid for God’s order in the church and the whole social economy; solid against the folly and sin of robbing woman of her native modesty, humility, loveliness and dignity, by thrusting her out of her native sphere into unnatural relations, and clothing her with functions which she was not born to wear; in a word, solid for God and against everything that is false, and wrong and hurtful to man. Heaven grant that my life may be lengthened to see the time when not only the South, but the North, the East, and the West, all this bounteous birth-land of the free, shall have no creed but the Bible, and no Saviour but Christ, and when this great people shall consecrate their magnificent resources to the world’s redemption.
1 - Pastor, First Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA (ca. 1884-1896)
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