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Female Scripture Biography:
Including an Essay on What Christianity Has Done for Women.
By Francis Augustus Cox, A.M.
“It is a necessary charity to the (female) sex to acquaint them with their own value, to animate them to some higher thoughts of themselves, not to yield their suffrage to those injurious estimates the world hath made of them, and from a supposed incapacity of noble things, to neglect the pursuit of them, from which God and nature have no more precluded the feminine than the masculine part of mankind.”
The Ladies’ Calling, Pref.
LINCOLN & EDMANDS.
Notwithstanding the variety of theological publications of a devotional class, which are perpetually issuing from the press, the author concurs in the opinion of those who think they can scarcely be too numerous. It may reasonably be hoped, that in proportion to the multiplication of works of this kind, the almost incalculable diversities of taste will be suited; and that those who may be disinclined to one style of writing, or to a particular series of subjects, may be allured by their predilections to the perusal of others.
Amidst the general plenty, however, there is one department which experiences a degree of scarcity–a department to which these volumes properly belong. Pious families require a supply of religious reading, adapted to occupy the intervals of business, the hours of devotion, and the time which is often and properly appropriated to domestic instruction in the evenings of the Christian Sabbath. To have the minds of the young directed at such seasons, not only to the truths of religion in general, but the more attractive parts of Scripture in particular, seems highly important. By a happy combination of amusement and instruction, piety is divested of her formality, and clothed with fascination: the ear is caught, and the heart gained; while the narrative interests, the best lessons become impressed even upon the gay and the trifling; and he who, when summoned to the social circle, sat down with reluctance, may rise up with regret.
Whoever has been blessed with the advantages of a religious education, and recurs to his own years of juvenile susceptibility, cannot forget the strong impressions he received by these means; and must have had frequent occasion to remark the tenaciousness with which they have lingered in his memory, and sprung up amidst his recollections at every subsequent period. In many cases they have proved the basis, of future eminence in piety, and blended delightfully with the gladdening retrospections of declining life. In those instances, where all the good effects which might be anticipated did not appear, these early lessons have checked the impetuousity of passion, neutralized the force of temptation, and cherished the convictions of an incipient piety.
The writer of the following pages is aware of the just celebrity acquired by some of his predecessors in the same line of composition, and he might have felt wholly deterred from pursuing his design, by an apprehension of having been superseded by the elegant and comprehensive lectures of HUNTER, and the simple, perspicuous, and devotional biography of ROBINSON, had he not remarked that their notices of the women in Scripture formed but a small proportion of their respective works, and that the present performance might be very properly considered as a continuation of their volumes, particularly of those of the latter author.
It will be seen, that some of the same characters which have been given in preceding writers, appear in the “Female Scripture Biography;” but the reader may perhaps be conciliated to this seeming repetition, by being reminded that they were necessarily retouched, in order to complete the series; while the writer satisfies himself with the reflection that, whatever subjects are deduced from Scripture, are not only unexhausted, but will forever remain inexhaustible. The “wells of salvation,” from which preceding ages have drawn, still afford to us, and will supply to far-distant generations, the same spiritual, copious, and unfailing refreshment.
The Introductory Essay to the second volume, respecting the influence of Christianity on the condition of the female sex, has been somewhat divested of that literary cast which it might have been expected to assume, the better to accord with the general drift of the work. The reader will, it is confidently anticipated, deem, it no unacceptable addition.
Contents of Vol. I.
Superiority of man in the universe: present degradation of reason: the mere philosopher and the Christian contrasted: God seen in all his works: creation of man: his corporeal and mental constitution: value of the soul: Adam in paradise: alone: supplied with a help meet: Revelation points out the true dignity of the female character: one woman given to the man: the fall: aggravated and complex nature of the sin of Eve: consequences, the loss of Eden: loss of the favour of God: loss of life: ruin of posterity: remarks to obviate some difficulties attaching to this subject in general.
Abraham’s departure from Chaldea: his faith: its failure: Sarah and Abraham agree to prevaricate: the admonition which Sarah attracted: Abraham’s dismissal from the country of Egypt: beauty and dress: importance of a proper education: parental vanity: source of real attraction: Sarah proposes to Abraham to take Hagar: unhappy consequencies: Hagar’s flight and return: visit of three angels: Sarah’s laughter at the subject of their commission: her subsequent character: general remarks: birth of Isaac: Ishmael’s conduct, and its consequences: Sarah’s death.
Retrospective glance at the history: Hagar: the wilderness: angelic manifestation: divine promises: a view of their accomplishment: Hagar’s piety: her second banishment and distress: another interposition: Providence illustrated.
Delusions to which the young in particular are exposed: Lot’s erroneous choice: sin brings punishment: advantages of Lot’s wife: her remarkable deliverance: her guilt: general causes of apostacy traced, fear, love of the world, levity of mind, pride: doom of Lot’s wife.
Progress of time: patriarchal mode of living: Abraham’s solicitude respecting the settlement of his son: sends a servant to procure him a wife: his arrival in the vicinity of Nahor: his meeting with Rebekah: her behaviour, and then conversation: the good qualities already discoverable in Rebekah, which render her worthy of imitation: her industrious and domesticated habits: unaffected simplicity: modesty: courtesy: humanity.
The Servant of Abraham cordially received into the house of Laban tells his story: proposes to take Rebekah: consent of her family: her readiness to go: the interview with Isaac: Rebekah becomes his wife: their anxieties: birth of Jacob and Esau: Isaac’s death-bed, and Rebekah’s unwarrantable proceedings: her solicitude respecting her son’s future conduct.
Proceedings of the new King of Egypt: birth of Moses: conduct of Miriam: preservation of Moses: escape of Israel: Miram’s zeal in celebrating the event: her character formed by early advantages: contrasted with Michael: she engages with Aaron in a plot against Moses: God observes it and punishment of leprosy inflicted upon Miriam: her cure: dies at Kadesh: general remarks on slander: debasing nature of sin: hope of escaping punishment fallacious: danger of opposing Christ: exhortation to imitate the temper of Moses.
History of domestic life most instructive: book of Ruth: sketch of the Family of Elimelech while residing in Moab: reflections arising out of a view of their circumstances: Naomi’s resolution to return, and that of her daughters in-law to accompany her: Orpah soon quits her mother and sister: her character, and that of Ruth: requirements of religion: arrival of Naomi and Ruth at Bethlehem: feelings of the former.
Time of the return to Bethlehem: Ruth offers to go and glean: disposition indicated by this proposal: she happens upon the field of Boaz: his kindness: their conversation: additional favours: Ruth’s return home: her mother-in-law’s wish to connect her in marriage with Boaz: the measures she suggests, and which her daughter adopts with ultimate success: their marriage: birth of a son: concluding remarks.
Historical retrospect: Deborah sitting as a judge and prophetess under a palm-tree: sends to Barak to confront Sisera: accompanies him preparations for battle: victorious result: death of Sisera: reflections.
Capacity of Deborah as a poetess: paraphrase of her remarkable song composed to celebrate the victory over Sisera.
State of Israel: appearance of an angel to the wife of Manoah: she communicates the design of his visit to her husband: second manifestation from heaven: result of the interview: reflection of Manoah’s wife stated and analyzed: considerations deducible from the narrative: to avoid precipitancy of judgment: to avow our convictions at every suitable opportunity: to feel assured that the providence of God does never really, though it may apparently, contradict his word.
Religion a source of peace: account of Elkanah and his two wives: Peninnah reproaches Hannah: sin of despising others for their infirmities: the family at Shiloh: Elkanah endeavours to console his wife: her conduct and prayer: Eli’s unjust imputation: Hannah’s defence, and her accuser’s retraction: return from Shiloh: birth of Samuel: his weaning.
Samuel is devoted to the service of the sanctuary: uniformity of character exemplified in Hannah: her song paraphrased: five other children born to Hannah: view of her natural kindness and self-denying piety.
Many persons naturally capable of great attainments and elevated stations have lived and died unknown: the dispensations of Providence analogous in this respect to the arrangements of nature: Scripture account of Nabal and Abigail: sources of incongruous marriages: ambition: wish to maintain the respectability of a family: persuasion of friends: early disappointments: Nabal’s conduct to David: Abigail’s interposition: death of her husband: she becomes David’s wife.
David’s anxiety for his son: its happy issue: Solomon’s prayer and the answer of God: Solomon’s riches and fame: the queen of Sheba’s visit: her country ascertained: such solicitude for wisdom not common: she proves Solomon with hard questions, her desire of knowledge worthy of imitation: Solomon’s conduct: his buildings: the queen’s congratulatory address: reflections: her presents to Solomon, and his to the queen of Sheba, Christ’s application of the subject.