Women’s Speaking Justified, Proved, and Allowed of by the Scriptures: All such as speak by the Spirit and Power of the Lord Jesus. And how Women were the first that Preached the Tidings of the Resurrection of Jesus, and were sent by Christ’s own Command, before He Ascended to the Father, John 20:17.
by Margaret Fell, 1656
Whereas it hath been an objection in the minds of many, and several times hath been objected by the clergy or ministers and others, against women’s speaking in the Church; and so consequently may be taken, that they are condemned for meddling in the things of God: The ground of which objection is taken from the Apostle’s words, which he writ in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, Chap. 14, v. 34 & 35 . And also what he writ to Timothy in the first Epistle, Chap. 2, v. 11 & 12 . But how far they wrong the Apostle’s intentions in these scriptures, we shall show clearly when we come to them in their course and order. But first let me lay down how God himself hath manifested his will and mind concerning women, and unto women.
And first, when God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he them, male and female; and God blessed them, and God said unto them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply’: And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you of every herb, &c.’ (Genesis 1:27-9) Here God joins them together in his own image, and makes no such distinctions and differences as men do. For though they be weak, he is strong. And as he said to the apostle, “His Grace is sufficient, and His strength is made manifest in weakness”. (2 Cor. 12:9) And such hath the Lord chosen, even “the weak things of the world, to confound the things which are mighty and things which are despised, hath God chosen, to bring to nought things that are.” (1 Cor. 1:27) And God hath put no such difference between the male and female, as men would make.
It is true, the Serpent, that was more subtle than any other beast of the field, came unto the Woman with his temptations, and with a lie; his subtlety discerning her to be the weaker vessel, or more inclinable to hearken to him, when he said, “If ye eat, your eyes shall be opened; and the woman saw, that the fruit was good to make one wise.”: There the temptation got into her, and she did eat, and gave to her husband, and he did eat also; and so they were both tempted into the transgression and disobedience. And therefore God said unto Adam, (who hid himself when he heard his voice) “Hast thou eaten of the tree, which I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat? And Adam said, the woman which thou gavest me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the Lord said unto the woman, ‘What is this that thou hast done?’ And the woman said, ‘The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.’ ” Here the woman spoke the truth unto the Lord. See what the Lord saith, ver. 15. after he had pronounced sentence on the serpent, I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen. 3)
Let this Word of the Lord, which was from the beginning, stop the mouths of all that oppose women’s speaking in the power of the Lord; for he hath put enmity between the woman and the Serpent; and if the seed of the woman speak not, the seed of the Serpent speaks; for God hath put enmity between the two seeds; and it is manifest, that those that speak against the woman and her Seed’s speaking, speak out of the envy of the old Serpent’s seed. And God hath fulfilled his word and his promise, When the fullness of time was come, he sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. (Gal. 4:4-5)
Moreover, the Lord is pleased, when he mentions his Church, to call her by the name of woman, by his Prophets, saying, I have called thee as a woman forsaken, and grieved in Spirit, and as a wife of youth, (Isaiah 54:6). Again, How long wilt thou go about, thou back-sliding daughter? For the Lord hath created a new thing in the Earth, a woman shall compass a man, (Jer. 31: 22). And David, when he was speaking of Christ and his Church, he saith, The King’s daughter is all glorious within, her clothing is of wrought gold, she shall be brought unto the King; with gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought; they shall enter into the King’s palace, (Psalm 45:13-7) And also King Solomon in his Song, where he speaks of Christ and his Church, where she is complaining and calling for Christ, he saith, If thou knowest not, O thou fairest among Women, go thy way by the footsteps of the flock, (Song of Solomon 1:8). And John, when he saw the wonder that was in Heaven, he saw a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And there appeared another wonder in Heaven, a great red dragon stood ready to devour her child. Here appears the Envy of the Dragon. (Rev. 12:1-6)
Thus much may prove that the Church of Christ is represented as a woman; and those that speak against this woman’s speaking, speak against the Church of Christ, and the Seed of the woman, which Seed is Christ; that is to say, Those that speak against the power of the Lord, and the Spirit of the Lord speaking in a woman, simply by reason of her sex, or because she is a woman, not regarding the Seed, and Spirit, and Power that speaks in her; such speak against Christ and his Church, and are of the seed of the Serpent, wherein lodgeth enmity. And as God the Father made no such difference in the first creation, nor ever since between the male and the female, but always out of his mercy and loving-kindness, had regard unto the weak. So also his Son, Christ Jesus, confirms the same thing; when the pharisees came to him, and asked him, if it were lawful for a man to put away his wife? He answered and said unto them, Have you not read, that he that made them in the beginning, made them male and female; and said, ‘For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh’; wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh? What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder. (Matt. 19:3-4).
Again, Christ Jesus, when he came to the city of Samaria, where Jacob’s Well was, where the woman of Samaria was, you may read in John 4. how he was pleased to preach the everlasting Gospel to her; and when the woman said unto him, I know that when the Messiah cometh, (which is called Christ) when he cometh, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. Also he said unto Martha, when she said, she knew that her brother should rise again in the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet should he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth, shall never die. Believest thou this? She answered, Yea, Lord, I believe thou art the Christ, the Son of God. Here she manifested her true and saving faith, which few at that day believed so on him, (John 11:25-6).
Also that woman that came unto Jesus with an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head as he sat at meat; it is manifest that this woman knew more of the secret power and wisdom of God, than his disciples did, who were filled with indignation against her; and therefore Jesus saith, Why do ye trouble the woman, for she hath wrought a good work upon me? Verily, I say unto you, Wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her, (Matt. 26:6-13. Mark 14. 3). Luke saith farther, She was a Sinner, and that she stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with her tears, and did wipe them with the hair of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with ointment. And when Jesus saw the heart of the Pharisee that had bidden him to his house, he took occasion to speak unto Simon, as you may read in Luke 7 and he turned to the Woman, and said, Simon, seest thou this Woman? Thou gavest me no water to my feet; but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss; but this woman, since I came in, hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint; but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven her; for she hath loved much, (Luke 7:36-50).
Also, there were many women which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him, and stood afar off when he was crucified, (Matt. 28:55. Mark 15). Yea even the women of Jerusalem wept for him, insomuch that he said unto them, “Weep not for me. ye daughters of Jerusalem; but weep for yourselves, and for your children.” (Luke 23:28)
And certain women which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary Magdalen, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s Steward’s Wife; and many others which ministered unto him of their substance. (Luke 8:2-3)
Thus we see that Jesus owned the love and grace that appeared in women, and did not despise it: and by what is recorded in the scriptures, he received as much love, kindness, compassion, and tender dealing towards him from women, as he did from any others, both in his lifetime, and also after they had exercised their cruelty upon him. for Mary Magdalene, and Mary the Mother of James, beheld where he was laid. And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, and Salom, had brought sweet spices, that they might anoint him. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun; and they said among themselves, ‘Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked the stone was rolled away, for it was very great. (Mark 16: 1-4) And they went down into the Sepulchre, and as Matthew saith, The Angel rolled away the Stone, and he said unto the women, ‘Fear not, I know whom ye seek, Jesus which was Crucified: He is not here, he is risen, (Matt. 28:1-10) Now Luke saith thus, That there stood two men by them in shining apparel, and as they were perplexed and afraid, the men said unto them, ‘He is not here, remember how he said unto you when he was in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. And they remembered his words, and returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things to the Eleven, and to all the rest. (Luke:24:1-12)
It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and the other women that were with them, which told these things to the Apostles, and their words seemed unto them as idle tales, and they believed them not. Mark this, ye despisers of the weakness of women, and look upon yourselves to be so wise. But Christ Jesus doth not so; for he makes use of the weak. For when he met the women after he was risen, he said unto them, ‘All Hail! And they came and held him by the Feet, and worshipped him; then said Jesus unto them, ‘Be not afraid, go tell my Brethren that they go into Galilee, and there they shall see me.’ (Matt. 28:10. Mark 16:9) And John saith, When Mary was weeping at the sepulchre, that Jesus said unto her, ‘Woman, why weepest thou? What seekest thou?’ And when she supposed him to be the gardner, Jesus said unto her, ‘Mary’, she turned herself, and said unto him, ‘Rabboni’, which is to say, Master; Jesus saith unto her, ‘Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God.’ (John 20:1-18).
Mark this, you that despise and oppose the message of the Lord God that he sends by women: What [would have] become of the redemption of the whole body of mankind, if they had not cause to believe the message that the Lord Jesus sent by these women, of and concerning his resurrection? And if these women had not thus, out of their tenderness, and bowels of Love, who had received mercy, and grace, and forgiveness of sins, and virtue, and healing from him; which many men also had received the like, if their hearts had not been so united and knit unto him in Love, that they could not depart as the men did; but sat watching, and waiting, and weeping about the sepulchre until the time of his resurrection, and so were ready to carry his message, as is manifested, else how should his disciples have known, who were not there?
Oh! blessed and glorified be the glorious Lord; for this may all the whole body of mankind say, though the wisdom of man that never knew God, is always ready to except against the weak, but the weakness of God is stronger than Men, and the foolishness of God is wiser than men, (1 Cor. 1:25)
And in Acts 18:18-27 you may read how Aquilla, and Priscilla, took unto them Apollos, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly, who was an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures; yet we do not read that he despised what Priscilla said, because she was a woman, as many now do.
And now to the Apostle’s words, which is the ground of the great objection against women’s speaking. And first, 1 Cor. 14. Let the reader seriously peruse that chapter, and see the end and drift of the Apostle in speaking these words: For the Apostle is there exhorting the Corinthians unto Charity [loving kindness], and to desire spiritual gifts, and not to speak in an unknown tongue; and not to be children in understanding, nor to be children in malice; but in understanding to be men. And that the spirits of the prophets, should be subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace: And then he saith, Let your Women keep Silence in the Church, &c.
Where it doth plainly appear, that the women, as well as some others that were among them, were in confusion: For he saith, How is it Brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation? Let all things be done to edifying. Here is no edifying, but confusion speaking together. Therefore he saith, If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at most by three, and that by course, and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the Church. Here the man is commanded to keep silence, as well as the woman, when in confusion and out of order.
But the Apostle saith farther, They are commanded to be in obedience, as also saith the Law; and if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for a woman, to speak in the church.
Here the Apostle clearly manifests his intent; for he speaks of women that were under the Law, and in that transgression as Eve was, and such as were to learn, and not to speak publicly, but they must first ask their husbands at home; and it was a shame for such to speak in the Church: And it appears clearly, that such women were speaking among the Corinthians, by the Apostles exhorting them from malice and strife, and confusion, and he preacheth the Law unto them, and he saith, in the Law it is written, With men of other tongues, and other lips, will I speak unto this people, Vers. 2.
And what is all this to women’s speaking? that have the everlasting Gospel to preach, and upon whom the promise of the Lord is fulfilled, and his Spirit poured upon them according to his Word, (Acts 2: 16-18) And if the Apostle would have stopped such as had the Spirit of the Lord poured upon them, why did he say just before, If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace, and you may all prophesy one by one? Here he did not say, that such women should not prophesy as had the revelation and Spirit of God poured upon them, But their women that were under the Law, and in the transgression, and were in strife, confusion and malice; for if he had stop’d women’s praying or prophesying, why doth he say, Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head; but every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head? Judge in yourselves, Is it comely that a woman pray or prophesy uncovered? For the woman is not without the man, neither is the man without the woman in the Lord, (1 Cor. 11:3-4, 13).
Also that other Scripture, in 1 Tim. 2. where he is exhorting that prayer and supplication be made every where, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting; he saith in the like manner also, that women must adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety, not with broidered hair, or gold, or pearl, or costly array. He saith, Let women learn in silence with all subjection; but I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence; for Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived; but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
Here the Apostle speaks particularly to a woman in relation to her husband, to be in subjection to him, and not to teach, nor usurp authority over him, and therefore he mentions Adam and Eve: But let it be strained to the utmost, as the opposers of women’s speaking would have it, that is, that they should not preach nor speak in the church, of which there is nothing here: Yet the Apostle is speaking to such as he is teaching to wear their apparel, what to wear, and what not to wear; such as were not come to wear modest apparel, and such as were not come to shamefacedness and sobriety; but he was exhorting them from broidered hair, gold, and pearls, and costly array; and such are not to usurp authority over the man, but to learn in silence with all subjection, as it becometh women professing godliness with good works.
And what is all this to such as have the Power and Spirit of the Lord Jesus poured upon them, and have the message of the Lord Jesus given unto them? Must not they speak the Word of the Lord, because of these indecent and irreverent women, that the Apostle speaks of, and to, in these two Scriptures? And how are the men of this generation blinded, that bring these scriptures, and pervert the Apostles words, and corrupt his intent in speaking of them? And by these Scriptures, endeavor to stop the Message and Word of the Lord God in women, by condemning and despising of them. If the Apostle would have had women’s speaking stop’d, and did not allow of them; Why did he intreat his true yolk-fellow to help those women who labored with him in the Gospel? (Phillippians. 4:3). And why did the Apostles join together in prayer and supplication with the women, and Mary the Mother of Jesus, and with his Brethren, (Acts 1: 14). if they had not allowed, and had union and fellowship with the Spirit of God, wherever it was revealed, in women as well as others? But all this opposing, and gainsaying of women’s speaking, hath risen out of the bottomless pit, and Spirit of Darkness, that hath spoken for these many hundred years together in this Night of Apostasy, since the Revelations have ceased and been hid. And so that Spirit hath limited and bound all up within its bond and compass; and so would suffer none to speak; but such as that Spirit of Darkness approved of, man or woman.
And so here hath been the misery of these last ages past, in the time of the Reign of the Beast, that John saw when he stood upon the sand of the sea, rising out of the sea, and out of the earth, having seven heads and ten horns, (Rev. 13) In this great City of Babylon, which is the woman that hath sitten so long upon the scarlet coloured Beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And this woman hath been arrayed and decked with gold, and pearls, and precious stones; and she hath had a golden cup in her hand, full of abominations; and hath made all nations drunk with the cup of her fornication; and all the world hath wondered after the Beast, and hath worshiped the dragon that gave power to the Beast; and this woman hath been drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And this hath been the woman, that hath been speaking, and usurping authority for many hundred years together: And let the times and ages past testify how many have been murdered and slain, in ages and generations past; every religion and profession, (as it hath been called) killing and murdering one another, that would not join one with another: And thus the Spirit of Truth, and the Power of the Lord Jesus Christ, hath been quite lost among them that have done this. And this Mother of Harlots hath sitten as a Queen, and said, She should see no Sorrow: But though her days have been long, even many hundred of years; for there was power given unto the Beast to continue forty and two ponths, and to make war with the Saints, and to overcome them: And all that have dwelt upon the Earth have worshiped him, whose names are not written in the Book of the Life of the Lamb, slain from the Foundation of the World.
But blessed be the Lord, his time is over, which was above twelve hundred years, and the darkness is past, and the Night of Apostasy draws to an end, and the true Light now shines, the Morning Light, the bright Morning Star, the Root and Offspring of David, he is risen, he is risen, glory to the Highest for evermore; and the Joy of the Morning is come, and the Bride, the Lamb’s Wife, is making herself ready, as a Bride that is adorning for her Husband; and to her is granted, that she shall be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; and the fine linen is the Righteousness of the Saints; the holy Jerusalem is descending out of Heaven from God, having the Glory of God; and her Light is like a Jasper Stone, clear as Crystal.
And this is that free woman, that all the Children of the Promise are born of; not the Children of the bond-woman, which is Hagar, which genders to strife and to bondage, and which answers to Jerusalem, which is in bondage with her children; but this is the Jerusalem which is free, which is the Mother of us all. And so this bond-woman and her children, that are born after the flesh, have persecuted them that are born after the Spirit, even until now: But now the bond-woman and her seed is to be cast out, that hath kept so long in bondage and in slavery, and under limits; this bond-woman and her brood is to be cast out, and our holy city, the new Jerusalem, is coming down from Heaven, and her Light will shine throughout the whole Earth, even as a Jasper-Stone, clear as Crystal, which brings freedom and liberty, and perfect redemption to her whole Seed; and this is that woman and image of the Eternal God, that God hath owned, and doth own, and will own for evermore.
More might be added to this purpose, both out of the Old Testament and New, where it is evident that God made no difference, but gave his good Spirit, as it pleased him, both to man and woman, as Deborah, Huldah, and Sarah. The Lord calls by his Prophet Isaiah, Hearken unto me, ye that follow after Righteousness, ye that seek the Lord; look unto the Rock from whence ye were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from whence ye were digged; look unto Abraham your father, and to Sarah that bare you; for the Lord will comfort Sion, &c. Isaiah 5. And Anna the Prophetess, who was a widow of fourscore and four years of age, which departed not from the Temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day; she coming in at that instant, (when old Simeon took the child Jesus in his arms) and she gave thanks unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them who looked for redemption in Jerusalem, Luke 2: 36-8. And Philip the Evangelist, into whose House the Apostle Paul entered, who was one of the seven, Acts 6:3, he had four daughters which were virgins, that did prophesy, Acts 21:7-9.
And so let this serve to stop that opposing Spirit that would limit the Power and Spirit of the Lord Jesus, whose Spirit is poured upon all flesh, both sons and daughters, now in his Resurrection; and since that the Lord God in the Creation, when he made man in his own Image, he made them male and female; and since that Christ Jesus, as the Apostle saith, was made of a woman, and the Power of the Highest overshadowed her, and the Holy Ghost came upon her, and the Holy Thing that was born of her, was called the Son of God; and when he was upon the earth, he manifested his love, and his will, and his mind, both to the woman of Samaria, and Martha, and Mary her Sister, and several others, as hath been shewed; and after his resurrection also, manifested himself unto them first of all, even before he ascended unto his Father: Now when Jesus was risen, the first Day of the Week, he appeared first unto Mary Magdalene, Mark 16:9. And thus the Lord Jesus hath manifested himself and his Power, without respect of persons; and so let all mouths be stopt that would limit him, whose Power and Spirit is infinite, who is pouring it upon all flesh.
And thus much in answer to these two scriptures, which have been made such a stumbling-block, that the ministers of darkness have made such a mountain of: But the Lord is removing all this, and taking it out of the way.