Queen Vashti also gave a banquet for the women in the royal palace of King Xerxes.
I. A PICTURE OF QUEENLY DUTY. As queen, Vashti entered into the king's mind, and gave his projects such support as she could in her own circle of duty and influence.
II. A PICTURE OF WIFELY DUTY. AS wife, Vashti was mistress of the female portion of the king's household. She took charge of the women, and ruled them to the advantage and comfort of her husband.
III. A PICTURE OF ORIENTAL CUSTOM WITH RESPECT TO WOMEN. The two sexes are rigidly separated in public and social life. Women rarely travel beyond the narrow limits of the house or the apartments assigned to them. They live together in mysterious seclusion, and are carefully guarded against intercourse with the outside world.
IV. THE INFLUENCE OF WOMAN.
1. On the field of governmental policies and national events. It has often been dominant, even though unseen, both in civilised and in uncivilised countries. A beautiful and clever woman may easily make a weak prince her slave, and through him affect the current of history either for good or evil. There are not a few instances of the exercise of the feminine power in the region of politics both in sacred and secular history, both in ancient and modern times.
2. On the field of domestic, social, and religious life.
(1) Mothers. To a large extent mothers give the mould of thought and character to each generation. The early years, the formative periods, of men and women alike, are in their hands. The early home, whatever its character, is never forgotten.
(2) Wives. The power of a trusted and loved wife over her husband cannot be estimated. It will, as a rule, work its way gradually and surely, either to his well-being or to his detriment. The effect of so close, and tender, and constant a companionship will inevitably show itself, somehow, in his character, his happiness, and his work. The spirit that rules his wife will come in some real measure to rule him; it will strengthen or weaken his character, brighten or darken his home, benefit or blast his life. Is there anything more beautiful, and strong, and good in human society than the influence of the modest, loving, virtuous, and Christian wife?
(3) Women generally. In societies which allow free intercourse in the family and world between men and women of all ages, feminine influence touches human life at every point. When it is pure it is always purifying. When it is impure it has a terrible power to corrupt. Intercourse with a high-minded and good-hearted Christian woman is a lift heavenward. Willing intercourse with an unprincipled or unsexed woman is a plunge hellward. In all circles, and in all directions, the influence of women powerfully tells. It is at once the best and the worst element in all grades of society.
V. THE IMPORTANCE OF A FULL RECOGNITION OF THE JUST CLAIMS OF WOMEN. The effect of secluding women, and treating them as the chattels and toys of men, has been to degrade them, and to deprive society of their proper influence. It is undoubtedly true that the position assigned to women in Eastern nations has been one of the chief causes of their decay, and is now one of the chief obstacles to all civilising or Christianising movements.
VI. THE BENIGN POWER OF CHRISTIANITY IN RELATION TO WOMEN. Wherever the gospel of Jesus is allowed to govern families or communities, the gentler sex is raised by it into its true relative position. We think of the holy women to whom Jesus gave such a mingled respect and affection, and of those who were associated with the apostles in their work, and of whom such honourable mention is made. The Christian religion ever brings with it the emancipation of women from the thraldom of man's tyrannical lust, and secures to them their rightful share of work and influence. It makes them mistress in their own sphere. It clothes them with a new responsibility and power, and, by surrounding them with high duties and ministries, draws into beneficent activity the best qualities of their nature. Nations that degrade their women are doomed; nations that cherish a Christian respect for them have a spring of life that will make them strong and enduring. The greatest trial of gospel missionaries arises from the utter ignorance of heathen women and the difficulty of reaching them with the Divine truth they teach. - D.
And the drinking was according to the law; none did compel
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
(A. Raleigh, D. D.)
(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
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