But the most important attainment of woman is personal piety. Though in adverting to the peculiarities of woman, we have remarked that she presents the fairer side of human apostasy, we are not to forget that she is one for whom there is no redemption but through Him who “came to call, not the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” She was the first to fall, and man’s successful tempter. It were no marvel, that the blighting effects of sin should pass over her, and leave her scathed with the tokens of God’s displeasure. With all her defencelessness and sorrows, there is nothing which woman so much needs as personal piety. Frail woman must have the Eternal God for her refuge. The keen storms of adversity will pass over her, and she will sink beneath its billows, if she has not this refuge, and her defenseless head is not covered with the shadow of his wing.
When we speak of piety, we mean something more than a name. By piety, we mean the religion of principle, in distinction from the religion of impulse; a spiritual religion, in distinction from a religion of forms; a religion of which the Spirit of God, and not the wisdom or the will of man, is the author; a self-denying and not a self-indulgent religion; a religion that has a heavenward, and not an earthly tendency; a practical religion, in opposition to the abstractions of theory; and a religion that is so full of Christ, that the crucified One is at the basis of its duties and hopes, its center, its living head, and its glory. “Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain; but the woman that fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Other things there are which constitute her adornment; this is the brightest jewel in her crown. Separate her inferior and incidental adornments from a heart-felt and practical Christianity; associate them with immorality, imbue them with infidelity or atheism; and they are worse than snares—they are a curse to herself and the world. There is nothing of more dangerous tendency and influence than an impious or infidel woman. There are few men in the world so degenerate, and so utterly lost to all sense of right and shame, as to congratulate themselves on an infidel wife, or an infidel mother.
It is without doubt a truth, that there are more pious women in the world than pious men, and that their piety is of a higher order. Nor is this difficult to account for, from the peculiarities of the female character and condition. The fact that she lives in her affections; that she is formed to be confiding; that she is separated from the grosser snares of the world; that she is not unaccustomed to submission; and that God “has chosen her in the furnace of affliction,” are all in keeping with the abounding grace of God to her sex. When piety is engrafted upon woman’s loveliness, I know of nothing so lovely. It is a mantle that covers all her faults and foibles, more than they are veiled even by her beauty. The sweetest emblem of piety, selected by the sacred writers, is woman. She is “the daughter of Zion;” a high-born progeny, attired from heaven’s wardrobe, “coming up from the wilderness leaning upon her Beloved.” Piety makes her everything she can be this side heaven. It elevates and beautifies her when the charms of personal beauty are fled; it supplies her with resources of joy, when the adulations of earth have become faint, its affection cold, and its trials severe; it sanctifies the infirmities of age, and gives her bright anticipations when the bloom and flower of earthly hope languish and decay. It hallows all her domestic virtues, makes her toil pleasant and her self-denial welcome, and carries along with it its own reward. It makes her the better wife, stimulating her husband in his spiritual career, and rejoicing with him as he goes; or if he has not entered upon that career, restrains him from the paths of sin and death, allures him to heavenly wisdom, and by discretion, love, tenderness, sympathy and prayer, it brings him within the fold of God. And does it not make her the better mother?
Of all the untold millions that are now in heaven, how many, do you think, are there, whose conversion is to be attributed to the counsels, the solicitude, the prayers, the tears, the ever-stimulated, ever-hoping faith of her who bore them? As a daughter, a sister, or even a faithful and pious servant, how much has piety done for woman, and what dews of Hermon has it distilled upon her path! In her own unostentatious and retired department, how has she scattered seeds of mercy, which have sprung up, and been cherished, and transplanted to scatter their fragrance under purer and brighter skies!
Piety is essentially the same thing both in man and woman; yet in woman it has her own beautiful and womanly characteristics. Woman’s love and woman’s tenderness adorn it. It has her meek-eyed humility and her robe of cheerfulness. It blends her timidity and her confidence. It has her cautious delicacy and all the refinement of her manners. It has her nobleness and her instinctive abhorrence of all that is low and groveling. It has her unsleeping watchfulness, her patient toil, her self-denying devotedness, and her angel ministrations. And while it has her shrinking fears, it has also her unchanging faithfulness and unshrinking valor. Woman, if she cannot contend for Christ, can die for him. The pages of history do not record finer exemplifications of Christian fortitude and valor, than are furnished by the noble doing, brave daring, and patient suffering of woman. Apathy does not belong to her; stoical indifference forms no part of her nature; a calculating policy finds no place in her warm bosom. It is not she who consults with flesh and blood, when God calls her to advance with an undaunted heart and a firm, undeviating step to the torture, or the death. Flattery cannot move her then; nor is she dismayed by cruel mockings; nor is she confounded before the envenomed tongue of man; nor does desertion leave her deserted. Man’s vigilance sleeps when his Savior lies prostrate. Man’s love hesitates, and falters when his Savior is crowned with thorns. Man denies him, and man betrays. Woman’s heart is faithful.