restricted access Marlboro Chapel, Boston, September 23, 1841
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8 Marlboro Chapel, 1841 Orthodox Quakers in the United States (letters reprinted in Liberator, October 9, 1840; see also Hallowell, 175–79; Faulkner, 103–4). Marlboro Chapel, Boston, September 23, 1841 It is highly satisfactory to me, my friends, to meet you. I rejoice to see so many fellow-beings without the usual distinctions which prevail in professing Christendom .1 I believe that when they are so brought together, they may hear, every man in his own tongue, the truths that may be spoken; inasmuch as all truth is from ‘the sempiternal source of light divine.’ There is no change in its principles. They are, and they have been, and will be, from everlasting to everlasting: in their origin, divine—in their nature, eternal. All who are believers in the truth of God, and in the righteousness of God, must come to understand, that this alone can set us free. But have we fully understood and comprehended, how it is that only the truth can make free indeed? In order to do so, educational prejudices and sectarian predilections should be laid aside; though to convince men of the necessity of doing so, might require as notable a miracle as it did to convince men in a former age, that in all nations, those who ‘fear God, and work righteousness, are accepted of him.’ But what is it to fear God? and what is it to work righteousness? It is as necessary now, as when the great apostle uttered it, to say to men, ‘Let no man deceive you. He that doeth righteousness, is righteous.’ But what is the situation of most sects? What is their standard of righteousness? What evidence do they require of the fear of God? Is it not the acknowledgment of some scheme of salvation, or some plan of redemption, as insisted on in theological systems, and taught in theological schools? Is it not a confession of some creed, or a joining of some denomination? And have not many thus blended the fear of God and the working of righteousness with outward and ceremonial rites, till the result has been a lowering of the standard of peace and righteousness, and of common honesty? It becomes us to inquire, whether the plain precepts and principles, which find a response in the soul of every human being, and are confirmed by the inner sense which all possess, and which have not their origin in any sect, or body, or division, have not thereby been thought of less importance than forms and ordinances. If this is so, and if all see it in our various denominations, may we not all profitably come together in the acknowledgment of principles and practices not dependent upon the reception of any abstract doctrine, or form of worship? We may all feel here in thus considering the principles and working of righteousness—the willing and the doing good—not as strangers, but as much at home as in the town in which we were born: for these principles are common to all, and are understood by all. This is not presented by me as a Quaker tenet. I desire not to stand before you as a sectarian, but to hold up principles of universal obligation. I have seen that there is an objection, which seems reasonable to many minds, against woman’s stepping forth to advocate what is right. Let me endeavor to re- Marlboro Chapel, 1841 9 move these prejudices and these objections; for I have often been made sensibly to feel how hard it is to ‘do the work of the Lord, where there is unbelief.’ I know that many claim high apostolic authority against this action of women. I am aware that the apostle Paul recommended to the women of Corinth, when they wanted information, to ‘ask their husbands at home.’ I am not disposed to deny, that under the circumstances of the case, he did it wisely. But do we find him saying, that they were not to preach or prophesy? So far from it, that he has expressly given them directions how to preach and prophesy. And what this preaching and prophesying were, is defined by the same apostle as ‘speaking unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.’ Anyone will, I think, see, that to make a standing rule of the apostle’s directions to the ignorant Corinthian women, is to make him inconsistent with himself, not only to those same Corinthian women, but in his declaration to the...