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culiarly qualifies them for acting the part, and discharging the important duties of mothers, which supports them under all the trials they are called to sustain, and in the frequent solitariness of domestic life, from the absence of a husband or the bereavement of children, constitutes their solace and joy. God has often made them the honoured instruments of promoting his cause. In Philippi he used them for keeping alive attention to religion, and preparing the way for the introduction of the Gospel. They had assembled on the Sabbath for the purposes of devotion, without any male with them. No doubt some one or more officiated for the rest.
For women to pray with women is proper. And it is most devoutly to be desired that pious females would associate more with each other for this great and important duty. The direction of the apostle, “ Let your “ women keep silence in the churches : for “ it is not permitted unto them to speak",” does not militate against such associations. For a female to rise in a mixed assembly, to address them, is forbidden by the apostle,
is h I Cor. xiv. 34.
CONVERSION OF LYDIA
THE CONVERSION OF LYDIA. [LEC. I. because indecorous, and contrary to that natural modesty of the sex, which shrinks from unnecessary public exposure. The same objection cannot possibly be made against female associations for prayer and praise. Nor, I add, can it be made against a believing wife, when connected with a husband who is not joined to the Lord, if she officiates in prayer for the family. On the contrary, in both cases the line of duty appears plain, so as to forbid mistake or doubt, where opportunity offers, to discharge the duty.
Wherever devout women thus honour God in the ways of his appointment, there they have a right to expect a blessing. To the women who were met in the oratory at the river side near Philippi, God sent Paul and his companions. Whether they had heard of this place of resort, or wandering out of the city for retirement, were drawn to this place by some appearances attracting their notice, we know not; but to it they went, and sat down in it, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. To them was explained the great truths of the Gospel of salvation with plainess, with force,
with tenderness; for all these qualities were displayed by the apostles, and first preachers. On this occasion, as on others, Christ was the topic of these disciples. The dignity of his person, the greatness of his love, the completeness of his atonement, the evil of sin, the corruption of human nature, the freeness of forgiveness, the necessity of holiness, and fitness for heaven, were the branches into which the topic was divided. How interesting to imagine these illustrious disciples in the midst of these devout women, dwelling upon truths which arouse the fears, and attract the hopes of sinful creatures ; truths on the reception of which eternal life depends! Nor did they labour in vain, for in the 14 v. we are informed that, “ A cer“ tain woman named Lydia, a seller of “ purple of the city of Thyatira, which “ worshipped God, heard us: whose heart - the Lord opened.” · Whether this woman was a Jewess or a proselyte, we cannot tell. The latter seems most probable, however, from the manner in which she is described, " which worshipped 6 God.” This would hardly be said of a Jewess; indeed would sound strange : but i poßopéum tài lov. Pierce, on Act: xii. 43, VOL. II.
spoken of a heathen convert, is natural and satisfactory. She was born in Thyatira, a city in Asia Minor, where there was afterwards a Church, to which John addressed one of his Epistles.Her occupation was merchandise, and the particular article in which she dealt, one of the most famous and costly in all antiquity. She was a seller of purple, either of purple goods or of purple dye.
Purple is celebrated in the prophecies of Ezekiel. Tyrian purple was in high estimation among the ancients, and was almost peculiar to kings and emperors. The colour was produced by the blood of a species of the shell fish. The process of dying was. laborious and expensive, from the number of fish needed. Two kinds of this fish were used, sometimes separately and sometimes together. By different mixtures of these, varieties were obtained, according to the changes of fashion. These remarks are the more necessary, because some writers have described Lydia as poor, whereas the contrary appears the fact. For assuredly from the demand for and the price of purple,
k Swinburne, in his travels through the two Sicilies, gives a particular account of this dye. Sec. xxxi.
it is evident that the sellers must have been persons of considerable property.
The notice taken of Lydia's occupation suggests an observation of a practical nature. Purple was an article not of necessity, but of ornament. As Lydia's conduct is not condemned; as it does not appear that she abandoned her occupation after her conversion, we may safely conclude that a Christian may engage in an occupation which has for its object the supply of articles merely ornamental. Every employment is consistent with faith, which does not administer to the vices or sins of men. Ornaments, in themselves, are perfectly harmless. They only become causes of transgression when they foster pride, and produce an idolatrous love of our own persons, or a desire of attracting the notice and admiration of others. These effects spring from an improper use of ornaments, and are chargeable on those who wear them, not on those who dispose of them.
Lydia's occupation, though it related to such matters, did not affect her conduct. 6 She worshipped God;" she professed her faith in the God of the Jews, and the re